Embracing Innovation

August 20, 2019

How do organizations embrace innovation? This has been the center of countless conversations for decades now. Some believe that institutionalizing innovation means conducting hackathons, investing in research & startups, open office seating and working in shorts J. Others say that innovation is about investing in new technologies (Blockchain it is !!) or embracing new business models.  Enterprises spend a lot of capital to identify paths of innovation, innovation paradigms and innovation models. The answer is all of these. However, there is something far more fundamental about innovation that it is simple and driven by Common Sense.

We have evolved from a single cell organism under water to space travelling complex human beings that we are today. As humanity we have advanced from hunter gatherers to organized workforce during the industrial age. In the last semicentennial, Internet and personal machines like smartphones have become brain augmenting tools. Today, we supplement our capacity through machines by leveraging natural language processing and computer vision. Demonstrating curiosity and evolving to survive and lead forms a strong basis to innovation.

We used tools like hammers and spears during the agricultural age to gain advantage over other species. We embraced large scale manufacturing using automation and assembly line to produce goods economically and at scale. With the advancement in computing power and artificial intelligence, we can now accomplish tasks that were not viable / possible in the past.  Realizing the need to develop, understand the constraints of the environment and navigating through them propelled us forward. Continuous learning to develop skills and tools helped us evolve.

We are moving into an age where algorithms can learn and perform tasks at a pace that is humanly not feasible. Organizations should embrace machine learning to automate functions and processes to not just gain competitive advantage but also to free up their thinking capital and focus on areas like creativity and empathy – two areas where there is time for machine intelligence to catchup. Thus, in my opinion when organizations embrace automation powered by machines and learning, they will propel themselves to learn, evolve and innovate.

We are dawning into an age where other forms of carbon (without flesh and blood) learn by themselves to replicate and reproduce brain function equivalents. However, this is for a different post at a different time!