Saturday, February 8, 2014

Innovation Debate: An Ounce of Practice is better than a Ton of Theory?

Theories are abstracted from certain practices, and practice is rooted in the theory of some kind.

Innovation is the most critical type of activities to push the human world forward, and innovation is always a hot topic when searching for innovation, it comes out more than 100 million relevant results. However, the majority of innovation efforts fail to reach expectation. Here is an interesting debate: Do you agree, that an ounce of practice is better than the tons of theory when comes to the innovation?

Theory can be useful, but innovation starts out as a creative process - a fairly intangible skill. The experience provides the ability to validate the viable from the not-so-viable and goes on to define a bespoke process to deliver the successful implementation. The theory is extracted from the practice as a third party activity.

There are wise quotes to support both opposite viewpoints upon theories, either for innovation or beyond. It is hugely difficult to replicate the dynamics of complex processes and systems - but it's riskier to imagine the impacts of change than it is to model, simulate and measure them.
All models are wrong, some are useful" - George Box
"There's nothing more practical than a good theory." - Kurt Levin

The balance of the innovation theories, best practice and lesson learned: The theory is designed from actual contexts, practice is governed by theory. All practice is rooted in the theory of some kind, in the sense that human behavior is predicated on some kind of cause and effect model that resides somewhere inside one’s brains. If the innovation theory is sound, then it can help the innovation practice achieve repeatability of outcome, but do not forget to use the Lessons Learned to change something you got as Best Practice, because maybe due to the circumstances it is no longer the Best Practice for you, by any reason, or exception, do not take the theories and Best Practice as absolute truth. When innovation fails, businesses should take the time to analyze the process to find the point of failure to avoid it in the future.

The “Great Man Theory” in Innovation: It postulated that great men and heroes had so much influence that the course of movements and leadership could be traced back. There’s evidently a paradigm shift taking place in management circles as we move to the digital era, organizations can no longer rely on a single individual or team to drive innovation. This is largely due to the fact that innovating in today’s business world has become increasingly complex in nature. Despite all that, the creative soul is a great requirement, that is still relevant and true to certain extent, since creative individuals are far and few, and that is at the core of innovation, which is not every person’s game or an everyday affair, just because there is a collaborative platform even if it is an open one and internet-enabled. But at the same time, it is not often a one-man show as before, and collaboration research networking, strategic alliances, etc, are all the order of the day and needed to a great extent to judge from their limited successes. So collaborative innovation needs to be coupled to the 'Great Man' theory-based approaches for the next frontier challenges

Overcome Innovation Roadblocks beyond Theories & Practices: And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has enemies, those who have done well under the old conditions, those who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus, besides theories and practices, it takes courage, persistence, and wisdom to overcome innovation roadblocks and achieve innovation success.

Therefore, the right dose of theories needs to well mix with the right sets of best and next practices, the strong innovation leaders, culture, as well as the collaborative platforms and efforts are all success factors in effective innovation management. 


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