When I started to reflect about my purpose in innovation in the near future, I realized that, probably, it would be nice to start defining what innovation means to me. The word innovation has become into something of a buzzword in the last few years, and most of the companies ensure that they are working in innovation in their own fields, but are they really doing it?
To get started with this activity, I decided to dedicate a few minutes to generate a small mind map with the main concepts that I associate with this term.
Analyzing those concepts, I understood that innovation, for me, is a process. It involves to generate a new solution, and probably this is linked with creativity and curiosity. From my own perspective, I definitely see a link between innovation and design, as this is my own field. And maybe the most important characteristic is that innovation should always solve problems, generate value and create meaningful and positive impact in people’s lives.
After this first general analysis, I came back to the first question, and asked myself again:
What is my purpose in innovation in the near future?
As I said in the definition, I want to work participating in a process that aims to create something new that generates value and positive impact. Nowadays, I am working in a big company that is focused on changing the concept of digital manufacturing, and this is where I would like to focus.
I see myself thinking about how to use innovation into my current job to re-think workflows and processes that had been studied during hundreds of years, and adapting them to the existing possibilities of the present days. This may not sound as something that can impact in people’s lives, but it does, when this technology can be applied in so many different fields such as medicine or aerospace industry. The direct correlation might not seem related, but we all now how the domino effect can generate big changes only by letting one piece fall. I see myself growing as a professional during this process, getting more and more familiarized with methodologies that might help me in my purpose. System thinking and service design will play a significant role in this effort, as the whole ecosystem is complex and thinking on solutions as isolated products doesn’t apply to this. I also feel this process will imply some level of knowledge sharing, among team members and also trying to generate impact at an organization level, and proving that ‘innovation’ is not a catchy word that should be overused by marketing material, but it should be one of the main pillars of an organization. I think innovation should reach the DNA level of companies and be present in all of them departments.
During this process, I would like to begin a personal project in parallel. Munich trip was personally very inspiring for me, and discovering disciplines as Speculative Design and having a deeper understanding on Social Entrepreneurship woke up something in me. In this personal project, I would like to focus in generating meaningful impact. At first, I would like to apply it at a local level, and probably focus on things like opening ‘spaces’ to debate and create awareness of different current situations of our society, maybe linked to any group of society that suffers any kind of oppression and discrimination or to any other concepts that are related with today’s wellness. This is not defined yet, but I definitely would like to dedicate part of my time to work in a project closer to the social side and not that related with corporate’s life.
This all was about the closest future but, how do I envision myself in a not that near future? There are a lot of possibilities around innovation and my career path, and I don’t close any possibility that could both challenge myself as a professional and providing something valuable as a result of my work. There are a lot of fields where I believe there is a lot of room and possibilities for innovation; and a great example would be the health industry. This is one of the most human-centered topics that could exist, because is basically linked to an individual patient health status, but I think a human centered design approach could have a huge impact in the health system in my country. A simple patient’s end to end journey could be a powerful tool for easily identify a huge amount of painpoints and opportunities for improvement. And probably, any kind of service design approach to the internal organizational processes could have a huge impact in the staff efficiency.
Another fields that I see interesting are any kind of topics related with the social wellness, as could be the field of energies and the future of cities. I think those are industries that may seem really stablished nowadays, but that will have to suffer dramatic changes in the middle-future as our existent models are not longer sustainable. It will be challenging, but innovation and design will play a key role in this change, from the creation of new solutions and systems to the engagement and awareness of the broader population to this new realities.
And last, but not least, I’ve always felt a special attraction to education. I really believe in its power as one of the main tools that can generate meaningful impact, so I also see that linked to innovation. Educating the future generations and giving them the tools they need to keep this purpose is one of the better ways to ensure a good future. I see myself being closer to the academic side, and dedicate part of my time to teach at any university about Design Thinking, Innovation and Human-centered design. I think this will also help me to keep growing in my career path, challenging myself to be always up to date, bringing me closer to different people with different backgrounds and different points of view. And maybe, one day, I could also help another young professionals to challenge themselves and start reflecting about how they envision themselves in relation with innovation, and maybe cultivate the seed that makes them start their own journey towards it.