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Innovation and Philosophy

MIAMI – Is it possible to learn to innovate? Is innovation something that can be taught at school?

After reading literature by some of the world’s leading experts on innovation – Clayton Christensen, Henry Chesbrough, John Kao, James Andrew, and Harold Sirkin – I was fascinated, but, alas, also frustrated. Innovation is the production of new knowledge that generates value. It is about fresh ideas that give rise to novel products, services, and processes, new management methods, and original designs and inventions that generate greater profits for firms, regions and countries.

Most experts agree that there are no ready-made formulas or recipes for how to innovate. But is it possible to create the appropriate conditions – to filter ideas and execute plans, and thus to facilitate creativity – under which innovation may flourish?

Managers can perhaps be taught how to nurture innovation by creating an environment that stimulates and encourages individual freedom, creativity, and constructive criticism.  Innovation is more likely where it is possible to defy restrictions and authority; where individuals and groups are allowed to ignore conventions; where a mixing of ideas, people, and cultures is permitted and stimulated; and where management techniques enable firms and industries to acknowledge, identify, and learn from errors as quickly as possible.