Innovation & Research – The Meeting Point | The Innovation Series

Innovation is the wheel of progress. Without it, we all will find ourselves in a painful rut - with no improvements, no challenges, and most importantly no adventures.

Innovation & Research – The Meeting Point

The Innovation Series

There is a point where these two incredible concepts meet, forming a beautiful and adorable confluence, a merge, a meeting point, which we will need to have a deeper understanding of for us to appreciate the synergy.

Can we talk a bit about innovation before we go on? I have written an article that talked briefly about “The Pillars of Innovation Education,” take a look at it, I featured fine definitions of innovation from leading thinkers in the field of innovation.

Innovation is the wheel of progress. Without it, we all will find ourselves in a painful rut – with no improvements, no challenges, and most importantly no adventures.

The adventure side of innovation is what makes it inviting. As we explore, discover, and create, we are learning; learning how to do things differently and more effectively. Where innovation is not welcomed, there is certainly going to be no improvements, no progress, and no fun.

Systems must make it a primary goal to encourage the culture of innovation, accept it, and nurture it. Systems that refuse to embrace the innovation culture will be left in the past, struggling with methods and styles that are outdated, old-fashioned, and ineffective.

Innovation is more than thinking. It is creating, bringing to life those things we have built in our hearts.

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Innovation & Research

Research is like a great window that opens us up to the world of new things, while innovation can be likened to the actions that we take to turn these things we have seen into real-life solutions.

While research develops the strategy, innovation implements the strategy. The process of putting the product of research to work – implementing research is innovation. Does this make any sense?

Innovation looks at action, implementation, while research has to do with the rigors of evaluation, analysing relevant data, critiquing already existing theories, laws, and principles, for the sole aim of either improving or discarding.

The innovation process takes of where research stops – and that is when the time comes for us to put things into practice; innovation time. There’s a thin line that demarcates, but once you can understand what forms the substance of these two elements, you should be able to tell where research terminates, so to say and where innovation picks up.

Research never really stops. If there’s a need for us to re-evaluate our methods, we quickly go back to the research laboratory and begin the process of research all over.

I strongly believe that there should be no innovation without research. Innovation builds on the output of research. It is on the strength of research that innovation gets strength. Innovators should depend on researchers and vice-versa.

If you were an innovator, seeking ways of introducing a new product or service or system, you need an eye on the field, and that eye is your researcher. They go out [the researcher], armed with techniques, methods, and analytical skills to critically look at existing products, services, and systems, with the data extracted, they can design a path for the innovator to tread on.

Innovation might not exist alone. We can also talk about concepts like discovery and invention, which are also very relevant & distinct elements, but I have decided to deliberately leave them out of the discussion.

Innovators who rush into the art of innovating without considering extensive research are missing a whole lot. The researcher is your eye, they see while you do! It’s synergy. Your idea, whether fresh [an invention] or geared towards improving a new service, product or system [which some like to term innovation], needs the searchlights of research.

In a nutshell, innovation is:

  • Enhancing something.
  • Eliminating something.
  • Returning us to something in our past.
  • Overtime reverses into the opposite.

This is according to McLuhan, and I agree with him. Do you? There is actually no hard and fast rule that instructs us on how to define or describe innovation. The one-size-fits-all approach can not be used to determine what is innovation and what isn’t innovation. But, there is one element that seems to be popular with the art of innovation, and that is “Improving On Something.” The innovation culture is bounded by the pure desire to make improvements.

Defining Research

Defining Research should not be too difficult a task for us. Unlike innovation, which is somewhat nebulous, research is a term that isn’t shrouded in much mystery. So, what is research?

I am not going to bother you with many terminologies, I will just be crude and go straight to the point. Research in a general and a basic sense is using certain prescribed methods to discover new ideas, improve already existing ones; scrutinize principles, theories and laws; develop explanations, test how valid explanations are [my crude definition/description, hope you like it?]

Research is very systematic. It makes use of detailed steps and processes to achieve its goals – to detect, to refute, to explain, to suggest, and to direct/guide.

While studying along these lines – trying to plait the concept of innovation and research into one cord, I stumbled upon the thoughts of some people. I agreed with some and blatantly disagreed with a few of them. Dr. MacKenzie’s idea is one that I think I will agree with.

Here’s what he said in an article.

“I have a very different view, one that I suspect is shared by many, if not most, of your clients: that discovery, rather than being a component of research, IS research, while innovation is a completely different activity, one largely concerned with taking scientific discoveries and other ideas and developing useful products out of them. The researcher studies thermodynamics; the innovator develops the toaster. Thus, innovation is in my mind more a synonym of product development than a component of research.”

Dr. MacKenzie also mentioned something very important in that article that I resonate with; he said that research gives innovation a better future because it can use brilliant analyses to detect the future of any product, service, or system which we want to bring into the game. These were not his words, these are mine, and I have reproduced them using his idea, mixed with mine, which I believe agree in many ways.

I am not concerned about the scenario that warranted Dr.MacKenzie to say all these, what I am more concerned with is his perspective that aligns with mine.

I am not intending to make this article any longer. But I hope that you have been able to understand a little bit, where the meeting point is. You may have different ideas and perspectives, I am not trying to change them, I just want to expose you to mine, allowing you to re-think and re-construct your ideas.

So, what is the meeting point? These two concepts meet at the important juncture of discovery, creativity & purpose. The process of research is incomplete and useless if innovation does not play its role and run with the result of research.

On the other hand, innovation without research can be likened to walking without eyes, you can bump into something obstructing you, an obstacle that you should have avoided if you had the bright eyes of research. Research gives the innovator an eye.

Registered Nurses should begin to understand “in-depth” the principles of innovation. There’s so much good work going on in the field of Nursing Research, and there is still more work to be done. It is time that we begin to bring research to life, and it is only the art of innovation that has the power to give life to research – as we have discussed in this essay.

Like I always say and write, that registered nurses are in the best position in health care to tap into the wealth of innovative opportunities, because they are the closest to the patient, they form a link between the patient and other health care outlets, they are in the middle of what I call the “care-web.”

In the next article in “The Innovation Series,” we will look at another interesting innovation concept.


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