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Can innovation be taught? Yes.

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Each generation has a few common characteristics and there is a lot that has been said already about millennials. It’s a well-known fact that millennials are at a great advantage in modern days, when compared to previous generations such as Baby-Boomers or Gen Xers. Millennials are native technology users, have an ingrained sense of “having something to say” and self-worth. It’s also a generation that’s defined by its creativity, something that’s been widely explored (or exploited, depending on the perspective) by marketing campaigns, as some companies have cleverly found a way to harness that inventiveness and use it to their own benefit, while consumers feel happy they have contributed something. Crowdsourcing as its best, we could say.

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But millennials are, if we are thinking in the long term, a thing of the past, if only in the sense that new generations are already growing up and will have their own special traits (experts say millennials are those born between 1980 and 1995 or somewhere around there). So, what will define the new generations that are now growing up? A good guess would be to say that the tendency to be creative and the easiness around technology will also be present, plus other traits we are still yet to start observing. But what is the use of spurts of creativity and ideas, if they’re not structured or channelled? Teaching small children from a young age to systematically innovate is then something that’s important to take into consideration.  Drew Boyd, professor of marketing and innovation at the University of Cincinnati wrote a very interesting article over at Psychology Today with a few pointers on how to harness children’s creativity and prepare the next generation to be natural innovators.

I would also add that instilling a strong sense of collaboration will also benefit the spirit of innovation. Creativity can be practised or stimulated but in order to be truly innovative and useful, it has to be systematised.  Teaching children to use their creativity skills in a systematic way will help better prepare the future’s innovators, and this will have a profound impact in the world.

As a company that offers idea management software, this approach makes a lot of sense, as we believe that by providing a structure and framework for innovation, organisations can utilise the creativity in their workforce to effect real change. If our future workforce arrives in the job market already acquainted with innovation processes, this can only be good for everyone: businesses will benefit from their employees and they in turn, will be happier and more engaged and then, we will have had a complete change in culture.

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