Innovation in Mexico… here, as in all Latin America, we talk about “innovation” quite a bit… we hear it from the politicians and government programs.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. – George Bernard Shaw
By Rob Ryan
In Mexico today do we have a system of reasonable men trying to “teach” the unreasonable to innovate and transform the country? Are we enabling truly innovative people to experiment and transform our future? or are we just selling a hot marketing concept?
Here, as in all Latin America, we talk about “innovation” quite a bit… we hear it from the politicians and government programs. We hear it in our universities and all over the media where it is attached to the rising world of “entrepreneurship”, it has a magical allure to it.
Just attaching the word innovation to the title of your platica or conferencia sprinkles a bit of magical, mysterious dust of importance to your efforts and draws in huge audiences.
Every organization “wants it” and selling it as a concept is making many consultants lots and lots of money.
Innovation or a hot buzzword
BUT… is this really “innovation”? Or is this simply a hot buzzword, which very few people understand? And the real question for our leaders; “can we teach innovation at a mass scale to change the future of Mexico?”
According to the Webster’s English dictionary, the definition of “innovation” is:
- The introduction of something new
- A new idea, method, or device.
Innovation in Mexico, the confusion
In the opinions of many of the leading global experts on innovation, we have cheapened and over-used the word. We’re confusing ‘innovation” with idea creation or invention. Innovation is a deeply complex process.
It is highly unique to each organization and it is as much about an organizational culture and environments which encourage experimentation and failure, as it is about “big disruptive outcomes.”
We are producing
Today in Mexico we have more talent than ever before. We are producing more;
- College graduates than ever before.
- Scientific research (and scientists) than ever before
- New products and technologies than ever before
- Private capital and corporate support to our economic markets than ever before.
Create a culture
But we need to train our current innovators how to innovate AND commercialize, and we need to begin to create a culture that emphasizes all the necessary attributes of innovation because pursuing innovative new policies is critical to the competitiveness of mexican companies and Mexico as a country.
The 4 steps
Can we teach it? YES is the simple answer and here are (4) steps that should be taken:
1. Organizations can set up formal courses teaching these systematic methods such as SIT, TRIZ and TRIPS. We can develop it as a skill, by teaching people about idea management, idea selection, pipeline development and commercialization. We can move beyond the “buzzword” and into training “innovating thinking and decision making”.
2. Make long term sustained investments in “a culture of innovation”. Cultures that nurture big thinkers, big ideas, and people willing to fail (but continue trying) will create greater innovation. Like early 1900’s USA saw the rise of public libraries in every city, in 21st century every city should house public “fab labs and fully equipped innovation centers”.
3. Place more women in top management/decision making roles, or add more women/girls to teams earlier on. Research shows that this improves the success rate of innovation, and produces more profitable outcomes in business.
4. Be specific. Innovation programs that are tied to specific problem solution, for public needs or industries, are shown to be much more “successful” long term.
Ultimately, the need for Mexico’s systems and culture to become much more specifically and sustainably innovative is critical to the next 50 years’ competitive relevance. It’s up to all of us to create the real conditions, so let’s all accept a little more from “unreasonable people” and stop selling cheap sexy buzzwords.