Saturday, September 28, 2013

Is Innovation a Science?

Innovation is the art in the eyes of the artist; innovation is the science in the mind of the scientist; innovation is the bridge between the art and science. 

Creativity is about thinking a new idea, and innovation is about creating or doing the new things, so is innovation serendipitous or is innovation  a science or art? If there is such a thing as 'innovation science', then what are its core principles, practices & operational theories?

Innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity in the real life. The first hint was coining of the word "retro-synthesis", wiki summed up synthesis as: “the noun synthesis refers to a combination of two or more entities that together form something new; alternately, it refers to the creating of something by artificial means.”. The science of innovation can be understood as retro-synthesis-“planning a synthesis backward, by starting at the product, the "target" and taking it back a step at a time.". Simply put, start with what you want to see or do or have. Then think backward from there to what the next simpler step is, then back to what are the next simpler components,  back to what you have at hand. Simply put, creating is being able to think backward (from product or outcome of components) and forwards (from materials or resources at hand) at the same time. 

Innovation, in general, is surely a discipline. It covers innovation management, knowledge, and technology transfer, entrepreneurship and it is closely related to several other disciplines. It stands in between management, economy, psychology, sociology, and law, not speaking about disciplines that are related to technologies implemented by the particular innovation. Theoretical treatment of the discipline may give rise to a science. The bulk of data, methods, and approaches involved as well as the complexity of processes encountered speaks in favor of scientific approach.  On the other hand, the subject of the study is very subtle and difficult to distinguish from other sciences mentioned above - in a sense innovation would be a "cross-science". 

The science is "the ability to produce solutions in a problem domain repeatedly." What defines science from chance is the ability to repeat a process with the same resultant solution every time, through the application of known facts. The core principles are the Scientific Method, using the design of experiment type approaches where a portfolio of options are pursued knowing there will be pruning as new facts emerge; this is the fundamental principle where the facts are left to speak for themselves. At the current situation "innovation science", if there is such a thing,  is rather more a complex of rules, practices, and examples than a science. Also, innovation is a good mix of art and science. 

There are innovation methodologies & tools based on a theory first formulated 65 years ago by Altshuller and is known as TRIZ, which has four major tools for innovative management:
1). Problem-solving tool,
2). Failures prediction and analysis tools
3). Tools to develop new products and new technology.
4). Tools to develop and protect patents. 

Business innovation management is more science than art. At the individual level, innovation is a personal irrationality that is unique to every individual, it’s one’s inward creativity leading to outward innovation, we can describe the outer silhouette as a statistical percentile, but the crazy things that each of us does to arrive at a new idea will be different. However, at business scope, innovation expands its horizon and flexes its muscles, goes beyond creating the new things, it also includes the communication innovation, culture innovation, business model innovation, process innovation, structure innovation, innovation management is more science than art, it takes an effective framework, core principles, systematic management discipline, as well as best & next practices.



Thank you for the very nice article.


A Great Scientist is an Artist as a Great Artist a Scientist. Creativity needs a symbolic representation in a thousand form -a formula, an equation, a model, a new design, a recreation of the existing ones, a new practical application for the familiar or common thing. Creativity also needs an expression in the form of a poem, a drama, a painting, a song, a music,a dance. Nobody can predict how a creative mind works.A creative mind needs a source of inspiration. In short a True Science is an Art and A True Art a Science.

All Ph.D. Degree holders in Science or Professors in Science cannot become Scientists. A Ph.D. Degree holder in Dance need not be a Dancer. Even uneducated people can make scientific discoveries or industrial or business innovations. Creativity is beyond our criteria. Without creative minds Humanity cannot survive.

Nice said. One quote from William Plommer: “Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.”

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