Innovators: What Enables You to See Things Differently?
Can We Create Innovations That Change the Game If We're Not Always Questioning Today's Answers?
As we plan for PIPELINE 2013, I'm actively researching innovation topics and authors. This year, we again seek to engage visionary speakers, but also ensure that attendees receive practical guidance for implementing processes and techniques to deliver innovation that truly changes the game. To that end, we are delving into what innovations have changed the game and how they came about. We are finding that innovation is sometimes an accident, sometimes perseverance, often long, hard work, and occasionally true brilliance; but always one must be willing to see something in a different, new way.
Today I am again inspired by a 15-year-old innovator who will save lives. I had the pleasure of meeting this young man at Frost & Sullivan's GIL conference last fall and just read another article about his mind-boggling story. Jack Andraka and his family lost a friend to pancreatic cancer and it struck him that in a society as advanced as the U.S. there should not be a disease that kills 96% of its victims within 5 years. He chose to look at the situation differently; to ask questions that hadn't been asked because he refused to believe that the right answers had been found. At 15, while daydreaming in science class, an answer came to him and he subsequently developed what turns out to be a very simple and inexpensive dip-stick test to detect the cancer very early on. What's more, this test may not only save the lives of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but it may also be used to identify other diseases as well. (Read more on the Take Part Website.)
As I look into different approaches for innovation, Jack's story makes me wonder: What problems do we assume already have the best solutions we're able to find? What questions are we not asking? And what motivates us to refuse to accept things as they are and to not take "no" for an answer? By the way, when soliciting research labs for space to develop his concept, Jack was rejected by 197 of them. Would you be motivated to call lab #198? Good thing Jack was!