For sure this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this one. For sure this isn’t the first time we smile once we think about it and start to understand it a bit. But, as our teachers used to ask us years ago, “what did the author mean by this?“
Beauty is the first parasite of the world. No, no, no! By this I didn’t mean to say that beauty is something bad. Not all parasites are bad by nature but of course all parasites are highly dependent on something / someone. In this context, I believe that the “host” of this “parasite” is the observer itself. Without having somebody to notice it, observe it and measure it, Beauty can not exist. It’s merely an abstract concept.
What else might be an abstract concept ? Well I think that the same thing can be said about Innovation. It lies in the eyes of the beholder. If there isn’t an observer to notice,observe and measure exactly what can be improved and how it can be improved, Innovation can not exist. It’s merely an abstract concept.
What does Innovation mean anyway? To define beauty it’s both easy and difficult in the same time. It’s like you’re trying to describe the color green. It’s…green. Regarding Innovation, according to Wikipedia, it’s “a new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in form of device or method”. Still sounds kind of blunt and not very descriptive,but Innovation also means (or, better said, implies) to be human. I won’t go into detail to discuss exactly what to be human means (actually I don’t think anybody figured that one yet) but what I do know for sure is that it’s more or less a specter. There are certain things that you should do in order to receive points that help you gain that Human title.
As I always like to say, the first thing you should do in order to be Human (which also implies that you are Innovative) is not to be a jerk. Be nice, listen, have empathy. Be human. Having empathy grants you the super-power to start a very constructive journey.
The 1st step in this empathy-fueled journey is exploring the user’s problem. “What’s the matter? How can I be of help?” you should ask. If you’re actively listening, then it’s easy for the 2nd step to come forth, which is to define. If you really paid attention and had empathy, it shouldn’t be a problem to understand exactly what are the pain-points and clearly pin point them. Having empathy is not your only human trait. Another one is creativity and imagination. The 3rd step is to to be even more human and start coming up with ideas that could address the previously mentioned pain points.
Congrats! You’re more than half way there!
But no time to relax now, you’re on a roll. The 4th step makes sure to translate those (crazy) ideas into something more palpable. Prototype those probable solutions annnnnndddddddd……. the 5th step is realizing that these were never really your pain-points, the prototype/s shouldn’t make you happy. What do you do? You realize that YANTU (You Are Not The User) and you test the prototypes with the ones towards whom you showed empathy in the first place.
One of my favorite examples that describes this journey is “The honey, the bear and the chopper” exercise which is used to enable creativity and confidence during a brain-storming event. You can check this one out here : http://singaporeteambuilding.com/teambuilding/brainstorming-in-a-team.htm
Way too many words used to describe my take on Innovation, right? It might have been less work to try and describe the color green. Innovation really is like beauty and like the color green. It’s …. Innovation. It’s about being a human professional. Even better is to strive to become a professional human. If we wouldn’t have had human professionals out there, then Agile and Design Thinking would have never become reality. If we wouldn’t have had human professionals, then clients would have never benefited from 301% ROI, 2x faster time to market, 75% reduced design time and 33% reduced development time (source). If we wouldn’t have had human professionals, there would not have been Innovation.
Bottom line is that it really pays off not to be a jerk. Remember : Be nice, listen, have empathy. Be human.