CIPD podcast 67 discusses “Innovation and HR.” We discuss innovation as if it were something unusual, something that came into existence only recently, and yet innovation has always been part of us and, indeed, is all around us. Yet we tend to view it the same way we view natural processes like childbirth and breastfeeding. What used to be a normal part of life is now almost a medical emergency. What used to be part of raising children is viewed with distaste. Perhaps it’s also one of the effects of constantly being dumbed down. We are made to feel that innovation is the sole province, the exclusive bailiwick, of an anointed few like Steve Jobs. In our desperate attempts to become Steve Jobs ourselves, we purport that we must all wear T-shirts and jeans on “Innovation Days”, or we would have no access to this thing called “Innovation.” Yet innovation is not separate from optimization, which is doing the same things better. Indeed, if the right structures were used, there would be more innovation! Right structures are meant to support innovation, not become substitutes for innovation.
I think we’ve been had! Just look around us at what happens in nature! Indeed, there is a whole science of biomimicry going on, that is looking at innovations in the world of nature, investigating the relationships and contexts of those perceived innovations, and exploring the applications thereof. Yesterday, I saw a post by one of my Facebook friends, Yutapun, about the weird mating rituals of the deep sea angler fish. Apparently, the much smaller males use their teeth to attach themselves to the much larger females. The body of the male then fuses with the female’s body, leaving only his reproductive organs still intact. The female uses them to fertilize her eggs. Each female can apparently take six males at a time! Not quite Black Widow, but definitely another way of doing things! Then there are the technologies and ideas spinning off from the study of the silk that spiders use for their webs, buildings that use the same principles termites use in keeping their mounds cool, and a whole host of others. Just keep your eyes, ears, and senses of touch, taste and smell open, and you’ll have hundreds of ideas for innovations every day! Look to the birds and the bees to teach us. Or was it “beasts”?
Naturovation. Innovating. Naturally.