I had the pleasure of working with Michael Joseph at the Global Youth Conference in Vienna. He is a member of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Youth Commission, from the Antigua and Barbuda RC. A number of points he made in his theme paper, "Youth as Innovators," caught my attention. We had a chance to sit down and talk about his paper at the conference.
He saw the problem of differentiating creativity and innovation. Innovation, he notes, has a very pragmatic side; it brings "ideas to life"; it moves them forward. Innovation gives ideas arms and legs. Conversely, "ideas without motion are nothing but fairy tales." That may be a bit strong, especially if creative thinking is a prerequisite to innovative action. But nevertheless action is needed to have impact. I'd like to think of creative thoughts as actions in waiting.
I found the Wikipedia entry on Innovation interesting. The authors write:
“Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different (Lat. innovare: "to change") rather than doing the same thing better.”
The "use of a... novel idea" is exactly what Michael was driving at.
I asked him what he felt was the most important idea in his paper. He said, "to try it". I love one of his closing remarks: "try a bad idea for the right reasons". It reminded me of the famous Thomas Edison quote on failure: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Michael liked that.
For some additional thoughts, see my "Six Views on Innovation"
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