Understanding Innovation for Inventors and Startups

“Necessity is the mother of innovation”

All innovation occurs in this backdrop. Necessity. Need. Demand. Call it what you will.

Innovation, put very simply, is a process of coming up with a solution to an unresolved problem. Since no solution is truly absolute there always exists a better way to do what was previously done; innovation is also therefore a continuous process.

Innovation can, at the risk of oversimplification, primarily be classified as ‘Jugaad’ or ‘A Life Hack’ and ‘Systematic Innovation’. As with all innovation, at the center of the above types of innovation lies an unresolved problem and it is the approach one takes to address the problem that distinguishes ‘Jugaad’ from ‘Systematic Innovation’.

When the unresolved problem is faced by a curious and resourceful individual, who then endeavors to overcome it with the intention of making life convenient for himself, with perhaps an unsophisticated and almost always narrow approach evolved to solve an immediate life problem with limited resources at disposal is essentially a ‘Jugaad’.

The inventor in this case is equipped with nothing more than his desire to overcome the problem, intuition gathered from past experience, a logical and analytical reasoning mind and modest resources in form of parts or components required therefor.

Having said that, Jugaad may by no means be belittled, for even against all the high technology of the premier research institutions in the world, it is this humble Jugaad with its ingenuity and simplicity that will put a smile on your face. Flash of genius, if you will. This flash of genius can form the basis for a refined and robust product or service when taken through the Systematic route.

Systematic Innovation on the other hand is when the identified unresolved problem is faced by a number of people so significant that there is a sizable economic value which stands to be created by resolving the problem. A problem prevalent so widely and in need of a solution so desperately, that there exists an abundant economic reward for the individual who undertakes to solve it. And where there is so much money to be made, things are seldom left to serendipity. This is where the ‘Systematic’ comes in.

Typically the first step in Systematic Innovating is reducing the unresolved problem into a technical problem. This is important as a well defined technical problem, which factors in all the variables including market expectations, when solved provides a solution which is efficient, scalable and therefore profitable. Having reduced the problem into its technical equivalent, resources are organised and competing solution in the form of proposals are sought. The wider the range of proposed solutions, the better!

Upon a painstaking and diligent analysis of the pros and cons of each of the proposals along with their financial viability and scalability among other crucial factors, a proposal is finalized and tested in lab as well as real world conditions to ensure its performance. Optimization is then carried out to suit any variations as may be required.

As you can see, there is a system in place for addressing the problem and individuals or organizations are guided by their own philosophy in the way they go about it. Only the most efficient and cost effective solution can succeed in the market.

Research and development is one central activity which amplifies the chances of a products success. This is where Systematic Innovation takes place and for anyone who aspires to innovate, this is the place to lookout for. For anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations, this is a place worth investing in.