There is no i in innovation

Photo: Atlas network

A blog about a blog. But a pet topic of mine – innovation. 

I read this article in Devnet and I admired its attempt to review where the whole innovation thing is at. 

Are Innovation labs delivering on their promise
The title is a bit click bait in its suggestion of a buzzword pile on, but the review of what is complete ngvout of this opportunity for donor accepted ‘research and development’ is interesting. The references to ‘more than drones’ and scale is worth noting. I’d probably add a few things:

Innovation = risk. Innovation is trying new things that are not yet tested and will need refining before it is clear if this will work. 

Secondly, failure doesn’t always mean no useful results. As in science, if ‘innovation’ is done well, it will help build knowledge about what doesn’t work that can be used in the future both to avoid the pitfalls but maybe tweak to make it work in a different context. 

A third thing I would add is that innovation is an approach. It can’t be lumped together to say “all innovation labs have failed”. Some things have worked. Others won’t – although as mentioned earlier, failure does not mean lack of learning or success. But more importantly, the willingness to think creatively and try new things is always important. Both for the potential improvement, and the focus new things can bring to old issues. Aid and development get a bad rap for not solving poverty. New approaches can show where it’s not aid as usual or the definition of insanity – though to those who use that alalogy I say “come up with a better idea people”. There is no option to stop, so we gotta try. Criticism doesn’t get skin in the game. 

And a final thing – while I agree that innovation in development often means technologies that are processes, drones are cool and I refuse to rule them out just yet. 

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