In the recent past, for all good reasons, there were a lot of dicussions that I happened to be on where Innovation was a term that was coming across as the most important thing. I do not deny it and for an organization that is as huge as mine, innovation should be the bare minimum we have to have in us.
However, when I heard something like let us start innovating, bring people together to innovate, I was a bit amused.
Is Innovation so simple? Can I bring in a few people together and say Innovate and they start doing that. I mean not just straight away, but say within an years time can they innovate? I bet no. Because, there is something called lateral thinking which is very important in any innovation as is the ability to have crazy ideas. People have to have it in them to be innovative. It needs a lot of passion, commitment, courage, hard work and ability to perservere as the pressure of time will always be there.
To me, Innovation can neither be a choice nor a force. I cannot, one day, stand up and say from today on I'll be an innovator, nor my boss can come and say, come on Raj you will have to be an innovator and I feel very stupid to even think that from next day onwards I shall start doing things differently.
Innovation is not just doing things differently. It is also doing different things. It requires will to change the way of life. It needs support. It can be in any form or department of the organization. It can be anything technical, operational and a lot of times even in management.
Innovation has to be a culture. It has to be in the DNA of a person and in the larger context, should also be in the DNA of the organization. As always, culture can only be fostered and not forced. We will have to give and take time to bring in the culture or even change or nuture this culture.
And in today's world, with everyone talking about time and cost (not price) it is not easy for someone to just innovate as he/she will need time and space to even think, then execute, test and have the fruits of the results.
Looking back, I know I have a few things that I have innovated at work and I think it helped. I just have to document them and may be share it with larger audience.
So in essence, innovation can never be forced upon. It can be fostered by instilling passion within the organizaation to be different and think differently.