When it comes to innovation, there are two types of people in this world. Here's why businesses need both to get things done. A research study tested American and Japanese students on innovation and discovered there were some striking differences. The study found that Americans typically link innovation to ideation. This means they outperformed their Japanese counterparts in the sort of original and open thinking that characterises wild imagination. The Japanese students, on the other hand, excelled in systematic follow through to implementation.
In comparison to the US, Japan is considered one of the most innovative countries in the world, yet the Japanese often interpret it as a process of gradual adaptation and implementation through prototyping. This is where the Japanese students were found to excel.
Seeing from different perspectives
These different perspectives could be related to different cultural traits. Openness to new ideas, for example, requires the ability and desire to seek new experiences. It involves being unconstrained by social expectations – to live with ambiguity and think divergently.
On the other hand, adaptive innovation, which works on building incrementally on existing ideas, is typical of a more conservative approach than the sort of creative thinking that seeks original, breakthrough ideas.
There are plenty of stories about how Asian businesses are great at finding more efficient and effective ways of doing things, building on existing ideas rather than starting from scratch with new ideas. Yet it is by applying both of these modes simultaneously that innovation is best fuelled.
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