Working in startups, corporate innovation and business transformation for almost a decade, the concept of innovation still eludes me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not difficult to deliver on the promise of innovation to the board and management when it comes to the literal definition of innovation - trying something new and enabling change for the organisation. What eludes me is the kind of innovation which brings a sense of purpose to a career in innovation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a rewarding career in innovation and still enjoy the funs of being in a job where ambiguity is the prize and price of my daily routine. The experience of different industries allows me to see how each tackle disruption in their unique way.
However, one thing was consistent for me which I also noticed in many of the innovators i’ve had the privilege to work with - the proverbial question of where does these innovation lead to? We had the hopes of pushing the industry into unchartered waters, dabble in areas where no one else was willing to go, and plant the flag of a frontiersman as we topple the industry from where we stand and build a new empire on top of new foundations.
Maybe what we’ve been familiar with is the pop culture of innovation - where Facebook, Google, Amazon and Netflix toppled the industries and redefined the mechanics of it. Maybe innovation isn’t about restructuring legacy and sparking a revolutionised future. Perhaps innovating legacy is just that safe answer to a world where if you weren’t ready to innovate, you’ll be replaced.
But regardless of what it is, people like us still stand strong with the belief that we can break the industry’s mould. In that case, maybe innovation is giving others hope in a rat race world where everything remains constant; perhaps, innovation exist to present a glimpse of light that there must be a better way to do what we’ve all known to be the norm - seeding hopes that they, too, can change the world.