Thinking outside the box

August 25, 2012

The “empowering people. Award” is looking for smart innovators who help to tackle basic supply problems with their ideas and technologies. But what kind of skills does an inventor need in order to develop appropriate solutions? Our last blog postings on social entrepreneurs using simple and innovative technology prove that innovation skills can be acquired and learned if people are given the opportunity to discover their inventive talent.

The authors Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen have identified five skills that succesful innovators should have:

  •  Associating

The challenge here lies in linking questions, problems and topics that appear to be unrelated  - at first sight. By putting them together, new insights and directions can be discovered.
GCS: How can we facilitate agricultural tasks with simple devices?

  • Questioning

A good question is as important as the answer to it. Good innovators never stop asking and are passionate about questioning their environment.
EHAS: How can we bridge commmunication gaps?

  • Observing

Before thinking about the invention, a smart thinker carefully observes the situation around him. Only then is he able to find an appropriate solution that meets the needs of its customers.
TA observes village life in order to assess the communities’ requirements.

  • Networking

Interacting with people offering different backgrounds and views can also be a source of innovation.
FogQuest develops solutions in cooperation with the communities.

  • Experimenting

Trying out, again and again. That’s what a good innovator does in order to learn and further develop his idea.
It took a while for the Portable Light Project to develop energy-harvesting textiles.

Now that you know what the keys to creative and innovative thinking are, give it a try and take part in the “empowering people. Award”! We look forward to your entries!

Caroline Weimann
Caroline Weimann

Caroline Weimann is member of the “empowering people. Award” team at the Siemens Stiftung (foundation). She studied International Law, Economics and Diplomacy at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London as well as Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford. Before joining the Siemens Stiftung, she worked on health and development issues at the European Commission and at a consultancy firm for non-profit organizations.


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