On Innovation: Many Small Steps, One at a Time

When I was invited to speak at the DMI College of Engineering this week, I happened to talk to a bunch of students from bothPictofigo_-_Idea bachelors and masters level courses in Engineering and Technology. I shared with them my thoughts on creativity and the art of coming up with ideas.

When one of the students asked me if he can think of entrepreneurship without that single out-of-the-box idea, it got me thinking! Is innovation only for companies like Apple and Google? Is innovation only for people like Steve Jobs and Mohammed Yunus? I think it is for everyone. Every little improvement, every little advancement, every little progress is innovation maybe on a smaller scale. It is many small steps that take you to the possibility of a paradigm shift.

The message I left for the students was to make progress one step at a time. I asked them to keep attempting to figure problems in the world and come up with solutions one at a time. It may be an idea that solves only a part of the equation – so be it! When they do this regularly, they will start with simple solutions, but along the way, their ideas will get better. Archimedes did not come up with the idea of buoyancy suddenly – neither was it his first bath! Staying with the problem as he lived his life made the solution build up in his mind over time. Every single small improvement in thought must have led him to suddenly discover that big shift. In a similar manner when a student keeps working on the challenge, problem, or subject of his interest – there will be many small ideas that will come along. He / She has to learn to accept it and build on it. As they stay with the problem and keep coming with number of ideas, at some point they will come up with a break through idea.

The best part is they will never know which one it is for a long time after they have come up with it. But if one is courageous to come up with it and make the world a better place, they will be remembered. If not directly, definitely through their product or service! So keep ideating for no idea is good or bad, its just one more along the way…

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