Saturday, December 13, 2008

Innovation for Ukraine?

I listened to podcast today, part of the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series organized by the Stanford Technology Ventures program. Tom Kelley from IDEO spoke to group of students at the opening of the Global Innovation Tournament about how to form habits that preserve their creativity, stay young at heart, and be an innovator for life. He had 5 pieces of advice:

  1. Keep an "international traveller's" mentality. In other words, a heightened state of alertness and awareness of your surroundings and human behavior.

  2. Treat life as an experiment. Be willing to fail, and learning from your failures.

  3. Have an attitude of wisdom. A healthy balance between a confidence in what you know, and distrusting what you know just enough to give you a thirst for knowledge.

  4. Use your whole brain. Applying the left brain, which is what most education trains us to us, and right brain at the same time. Find time to let your "tortoise mind" work. This is the part of your mind that kind of works in the background, and which grows ideas over time, and leads you to the "aha!" moments.

  5. Find your muse. Know what makes you most creative. It can be while listening to a certain kind of music, being stimulated by lots of noise or quiet, or certain times of day. Follow your passion.
Coincidentally, he mentioned a quote by Marcel Proust that I had until recently put on my Windows Messenger message: "The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes." So that grabbed my attention.

I have 2 questions that I'm hoping to get a lot of commentary about.

Is there innovation being done in Ukraine for Ukrainians?

Honestly, I haven't seen much of this although I'm sure it must be happening somewhere. In the course of daily life I tend to notice the lack of innovation, or even the effort by many companies to take advantage of past innovations. Stuff like packaging milk in a box or other sturdy container instead of a bag. Packaging plastic wrap in boxes with a serrated edge so you can tear it off without shredding it or cutting it with a knife.

Don't confuse this with creativity. I see acts of creativity and even ingenuity regularly. As usual Wikipedia offers a good explanation of what I mean:

Innovation typically involves creativity, but is not identical to it: innovation involves acting on the creative ideas to make some specific and tangible difference in the domain in which the innovation occurs. For example, Amabile et al (1996) propose:

"All innovation begins with creative ideas . . . We define innovation as the successful implementation of creative ideas within an organization. In this view, creativity by individuals and teams is a starting point for innovation; the first is necessary but not sufficient condition for the second".

For innovation to occur, something more than the generation of a creative idea or insight is required: the insight must be put into action to make a genuine difference, resulting for example in new or altered business processes within the organization, or changes in the products and services provided.

If you know there is innovation happening, what are some examples and which companies and/or individuals are leading this innovation?

The only industries I can think where innovation is taking place in Ukraine is in the IT, science and pharmaceutical industries. But, unfortunately, I think most of this innovation is being done by or for foreign companies and most Ukrainians don't feel it. I'm looking for products, services and methods that are being offered and applied in Ukraine.

I'd love to be surprised with a lot of examples. Looking forward to your comments.