Culture of Innovation

Innovation is deeply rooted in human nature which always seeks answer to questions. All innovations are outcome of man’s fundamental nature which is curiosity, which raises the issue of how, when, what if?

But unfortunately our prevailing education and social system doesn’t allow us to question the rationale of doing things the way it is done. The age old wisdom is seldom questioned and we are a happy bunch of people doing things the way it is being done.

Here’what Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, director general, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and secretary, government of India, department of scientific and industrial research, has to say on creating an inquiring society to promote innovation
It has to start at the grassroot level with our education system. In India innovation is something that is not promoted, questioning is not permitted and creativity is subdued. Information is dished out in classrooms and asked for in exams.
Take, for instance, Polaroid. When Edwin Land took his daughter on a holiday and photographed her, the little girl asked her father whether she could see the picture immediately, that’s how Polaroid was created and then patented. Here was an innovator, someone who did not know that it cannot be done. We need to create a system where we develop a culture of asking questions, an inquiring society.
We need a healthy atmosphere of debate and encouraging enterprising minds to raise questions and come up with solutions. Perhaps the process of innovation itself has it roots in questioning. In the initial stage questions will be to raised, after some time the solutions will also come in varied form.
CK Prahlad’s theory has got more to do with the business models of organizations who are trying to spread base for their so called premium brands like Soft Drinks and Personal Hygiene FMCG goods. Here’s what Prahlad has to say

Global firms increasingly realize that the bottom-of-the-pyramid markets are a source of innovation in business models — potentially, even, of “breakthrough” innovation. Innovations in technology, capital intensity, delivery, governance (e.g. in collaboration with civil society organizations) and price-performance levels are all needed to create a market at the lowest-income level. “

To “make poverty history,” leaders in private, public and civil-society organizations need to embrace entrepreneurship and innovation as antidotes to poverty. Wealth-substitution through aid must give way to wealth-creation through entrepreneurship.

I feel that the role of social entrepreneurship here will have a much greater role to play. Probably a model where the large Private players encourage social entrepreneur will be an ideal model for fostering innovations at grass root level.

The Department of Science and Technology set up the NIF in March 2000 as a communication channel between creative voices at the grassroots and policymakers, entrepreneurs, investors and stakeholders in the knowledge and innovation chain.
The Honey Bee network is one such network which has done a commendable job in this direction. Over the years they have documented innovations, traditional practices & collected outstanding examples of contemporary knowledge to form a 10,000 strong database (Honey Bee Database of Grassroots Innovations) part of which we have converted as multimedia database.
ITC’s rural market initiatives are also classic example of private players partnering with local people and fostering a culture of social entrepreneurship.

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2 Responses to Culture of Innovation

  1. Mayank Krishna February 22, 2006 at 6:08 pm #

    I feel that innovation is the starting point of progress and to be fruitful it must begin at grassroots level. A total revamp of our educational system is needed. A transition from a system of cramming to probing is the need of the hour.

    Unless, we ask enough questions we cannot get enough answers. What is needed most is to keep on asking lots of questions. Asking questions is important as answers will follow naturally because every question must have an answer. Without an answer there cannot be a question :-)

  2. KumarVivek September 29, 2007 at 7:14 pm #

    Really people of Bihar have great mind to innovate and solve the local problem in easier way. Every one know scarcity is is the mother of invention, i feel that in no other place where more scarcity than Bihar. Any one from Bihar who want to sent their innovation/idea can send to National innovation Foundation (www.nifindia.org) Ahmedabad. Mohd Saidullah from Motihari had awarded by President of India for the development of Amphibious cycle with help of NIF, Ahmedabad.

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