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Ideatrek - Innovation Questions - Chris Euston - Bates College ‘23

Innovation is finding new ways to solve problems through original combinations. It is the creation of new ideas, products, and methods that provide solutions that carry the most weight and add the most value. However, innovation cannot simply be an idea; it must be the proper execution of that idea. Although a smartphone is brilliant, it cannot be deemed innovative until it has connected people in a way that prior forms of communication haven't. The smartphone must not only be a physical product in the market, but it must add value or solve a problem in some way to be considered innovation.

Who should be innovating?

Those with the resources to properly carry out and realize their new combinations should be the ones innovating. From a business standpoint, financial health, availability of capital, as well as a proper understanding of the idea by a team with experience, are all things that would be necessary to see the idea through to the level of “innovative”. If one cannot properly execute the idea or does not have the proper amount of resources required, innovation will not be possible.

However, it is human nature to find solutions to problems in everyday life. Whether the task is big or small, we try to solve our own problems. I firmly believe that everyone should constantly be trying to innovate and make the world a better place. People can do big things with very little.

How should we value innovations?

I believe that innovation should be valued based on the amount of value that it adds; innovation should be valued based on the size of the problem that it solves. For example, Zoom played a big part in finding new ways to communicate and work remotely during the current pandemic. The value of innovation in this example is both tangible and intangible. Tangibly, we can, with a lot of resources, find and calculate the number of profits captured by society through the use of the platform. I am sure that many companies were able to cut some expenses by not having to rent an office space and pay for things such as utilities and travel expenses. Intangibly, families were able to communicate more effectively with one another over long distances and working parents have been able to spend more time with their kids by using Zoom to work from home. In this sense, the value added by the innovation of telecommunication is priceless.

I believe that it takes an understanding of a product, company, or idea to truly understand the amount of value-added through innovation. By working with people and maintaining relationships, in addition to research and conversation, understanding the value of innovation is possible.

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