A Strategic Daydreamer

Everyone seems to know what innovation is, until asked to give a definition. Commonly received as an answer is probably a blank look followed by a long and unnecessarily complicated paragraph. The thing is: innovation is not easy to define, especially if you are looking for a single phrase to do the job. The one that do me is put forth by the DTI (2005).

“Innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas”

I like the term “new ideas” as it is open for a wide range of possibilities, and eliminate the misconception of innovation representing new products or Cutting-Edge technology. It also implies the intangibility. In this sense, innovation can be new approaches or new processes. Drucker recognised ‘management’ as an innovation in the 20th century. In his classic book ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’, it is highlighted:

“Management, that is, the useful knowledge that enables man for the first time to render productive people of different skills and knowledge working together in an organisation, is an innovation of this century (1985, p.28).”

In sum, innovation does not always refer to a “thing” or an “output”. It encompasses the whole process of fostering the new idea, and luckily this process can be managed. If we put ‘innovation’ and ‘management’ together, it is the knowledge of recognising and organising resources to turn your great idea into reality. Doing this needs strategies, and these strategies need someone to take care of. That’s why you need an innovation manager.

Why MA Innovation Management (MAIM) at Central Saint Martins?

The idea of pursuing a Master’s Degree in this area struck me when I was working in the music industry, which has become one of the most cliché case studies of disruptive market, and is in need of rescue (well, at least, it is from our client’s perspective). I didn’t like being a young designer who continued working with the complaint about the dying industry. I wanted to be proactive. I would look for new approaches to deal with problems, a tool to help us capture abundant opportunities available in the 21st century, grow sustainably, and survive uncertainties. There are several Innovation Management courses around the UK when I started researching postgraduate programmes. But the one that seems to suit me most is MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins. I love the liberal approach to innovation here. Instead of focusing only on the innovative business plan, MAIM is studying innovation in a much broader sense. Innovation doesn’t have to end up selling something so to speak. Now, I’m half way through the journey. It’s fun and challenging to dive into the topics I have never been interested before like political ideologies, philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. Throughout the program, we have a lot of group projects and pragmatic learning from identifying and verifying opportunity, deriving consumer and business insights, doing industry research and analyses, generating foresight, and proposing viable solutions. I’m aware that Innovation Management is quite a new discipline, and not many people understand what MAIM cohorts can do. However, As Thomas Frey once said:

“60% of the best jobs in the next ten years haven’t been invented yet”.

I believe that people with innovative mindset are not afraid to enter a profession that has not been included in the dictionary yet. We should be able to introduce new careers to the world. I would depict MAIM cohort as the 21st-century creatures that have a good combination of logic and imagination. This means we have the ability to harness the mess, make sense of the nonsense, and activate the utterly crazy and seemingly impossible ideas. We are immune to change. We are the strategic daydreamers. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Bibliography Drucker, P. (1985) Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Glasgow: Bell & Bain. Department of Trade and Industry (2005) The 2005 R&D Scoreboard, UK Department for Trade and Industry, London, http://www.innovation.gov.uk/rd_scoreboard/


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