To prepare for my senior seminar this semester, I’ve been reading a lot about innovation. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Innovation is linked to business growth. According to Making Innovation Work: How to Measure It, Manage It, and Profit From It, “Innovation is the key element in providing aggressive top-line growth, and for increasing bottom-line results.”
- Business is currently experiencing an “innovation gap.” Several sources I read stated the need for students to be better trained in creative and critical thinking skills in order to be able to help businesses improve their profits through innovation.
- The arts are commonly cited as a tool that can be beneficial for innovation. Exposing students to the arts, we read, is a wonderful way to help them learn the creativity that they will need in order to succeed in business.
You might think that this post is going to be about increasing funding for arts education, and how wonderful it is that the corporate world is starting to understand the arts. It’s not. Aside from the obvious concern that the arts seen in this context as merely a means to an end, and not an end in themselves, my question is about the very nature of innovation.
I have never thought of innovation as a word that applies to business alone. Is innovation something that happens only when there is a purpose for it; i.e. to create a new product to sell or an efficiency that spurs growth and creates profit? Is it possible to have innovation for innovation’s sake?
And, if innovation is linked to product or profit, how does that definition fit into what arts organizations do?
Your thoughts would help me and my students sort this one out.