Innovation & traditions

Can there be such thing as a tradition of innovation? Are traditions inherently some kind of constraint to innovation? What really constitutes innovation; is it just about change? If it’s about improvements, along what dimension is the improvement being made in?

Corporates and big organisations have resources to make change happen. But they are also have the reputation of being uninnovative. The fact is that they are actually good at making improvements along the dimensions they already measure: response times to customers, reliability of products, and even reducing costs. These are all some kind of improvement but we may not think of them as innovation. In fact, improving along those metrics are simply part of the tradition.

What we see as innovation isn’t just change. It is something more along the lines of picking up a new dimension in which we want to progress along. It’s the confession that our traditions might have been serving something that was great but it’s perhaps no longer that important. And there’s something else worth progressing along.

As societies evolve, I think the question we are asking ourselves when confronted with whether we want to accept this or that change is to think about what is important to us at this point of time. And what are the dimensions we really want to progress along.


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