Ingenuity vs. Innovation: Creativity in a Time of Crisis

  • By Emily French
  • in
  • on April 17, 2020

As originally published by David Sable on Linkedin

In a discussion today about what shape the world takes when the lockdown ends, it occurred to me that we in the Developed World…the Very Developed World can learn a lot from the Developing one.

In fact, we might be (unconsciously) doing so already.

I have written before about the innovation of even our biggest “Tech Giants” (my readers know I hate that term) in helping problem-solve in countries where Internet coverage is spotty, device ownership even more so, and the level of device sophistication often begins and ends with an SMS enabled phone.

In these places, search requests are not the ubiquitous, Google Search bar, banking is non-existent, and payment sums to be transferred online can be micro. Information sharing has never seen an e-mail, let alone Slack, and ZOOM is still just a noise made by little kids playing.

I used the word “innovation” earlier, but it is actually the wrong term. You see, “innovation,” as a concept in our society, has evolved to mean big technical solutions—so called “disruptions” in software, devices, data and banking. But what I have in mind is much simpler—it’s called, “Ingenuity”—and it was once a calling card of American thinking throughout its history…that is, until now.

“Ingenuity” differs from “Innovation” in that it’s still about being cleverly inventive and resourceful.

Why is that different?

It’s different because it focuses on the problem at hand, not on grandiose exits; not on declaring disruption; not on transformation. In short, it’s not focused on buzzwords and hot concepts. You don’t need billions of dollars or obscure specialists to practice ingenuity.

Ingenuity is focused on solving, not creating, and in solving by using the most efficient and effective resources at hand (because those are often the only resources at hand).

Ingenuity isn’t always the prettiest, delivered to us tied up in a neat bow, but it gets the job done—and quickly.

Here is where I ask for your honest reflection and/or sharing.

I am ready to bet that most of you have discovered your latent ingenuity over the past weeks during this lockdown. And those of you with children, have probably also witnessed it in spades.

We have figured out how to use technology as resource and not an end game, as we continued to search for every opportunity to connect in a human way. My daughter’s exercise bootcamps, and the way she has moved her clients to screen time, have left me in awe…and it’s not virtual, it’s real. We need a new definition here…

We have made do with fewer supplies and found ingenious workarounds to fill in where we were previously lacking. And best of all, we have shared those fixes with each other proudly and openly.

Our kids don’t just sit on their iPads all day. They create movie theaters with tickets and snacks (like my grandsons did). Empty cardboard boxes (once thoroughly Lysol-ed, of course) become castles and houses and cars and trucks (a granddaughter’s project), reminiscent of the days of the Sears Wish Book, when the wood from the shipping crates made fences and outhouses…

And the sheer number of new recipes with new ingredients and mixed drinks is staggering, as our ingenuity impacts our meals and down time.

Ingenuity might be a lasting outcome of The Plague of 2020…maybe, just maybe we will regain our MOJO in newly creative ways that celebrate our humanity and our very human ability to make do in the worst of circumstances. Listen:

Anywhere the struggle is great, the level of ingenuity and inventiveness is high”— Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin

First of all look her up…you will be inspired. And make sure to read The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larsen for more inspiration…

Bottom line, in our lifetimes, in most of the Developed World, we have not been faced with this kind of struggle…the kind that’s as existential as it is physical. These are the struggles that bring out our ingenuity, these are the kind that force us to solve problems with the few resources we have at our fingertips, reminding ourselves of our awesome ability to change the world, even if it’s just our own, small immediate one.

We are all asking, “What’s next? What did we learn from this?” Let’s not forget that we’ve learned ingenuity. Share your stories and pictures of ingenuity. Let’s emerge from this period with our flame of creativity rekindled and our commitment to ingenuity renewed.

Leave a Reply

PUBLISHED BY Emily French

View all posts by Emily French

Related Posts

Podcast , Security

#MillenniumLive on Leading The Change and Preventing Inside Attacks

On this episode of the #MillenniumLive Keynote Panel Series, we tackle the subject of Building Your Framework: Leading The Change and Preventing Inside Attacks. The panelists delve into the different ways to identify and prevent potential insider attacks, utilize behavior analytics to maintain a safe workplace, create insider threat mitigation programs, and more. This panel […]

Technology

How Can IT Organizations Rise to the Occasion in the New World of Remote Work?

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the nature of remote work as organizations throughout the United States abruptly had to close workplaces. Over a matter of days and weeks, organizations scrambled to accommodate millions of workers trying to connect and collaborate full time over remote connections. The ability to communicate with remote sites, customers, partners, […]

#MillenniumLive , Healthcare , Marketing , Podcast

#MillenniumLive is Joined by Healthcare Marketing Legend, David Edelman!

This week on #MillenniumLive, we are joined by David Edelman, an Executive Advisor, who until recently was the Chief Marketing Officer of Aetna. Edelman has been repeatedly recognized by Forbes as one of the most influential CMOs in the world, and by Adweek, one of the top 20 marketing technology executives. Millennium Alliance Co-Founder, Alex […]

Marketing , Retail

Upcoming Keynote, Jon Iwata, Answers Your Questions!

We are undoubtedly living through a turbulent and pivotal time, and every industry is feeling the impact. That’s why we’re bringing together top marketing and retail executives and academics for two days of peer-to-peer learning, collaboration, and networking. Kicking off the Transformational CMO & Retail Virtual Assembly with a keynote address is Jon Iwata, Former […]

Lovin’ Digital Diary?

Premium content to our readers interested in all things business.

Check Us Out!

Millennium Membership offers Fortune 1000 C-Level executives, leading public sector/government officials, and thought leaders across a variety of disciplines unique and exclusive opportunities to meet their peers, understand industry developments, and receive introductions to new technology and service advancements to help grow their career and overall company value.

About Millenium Alliance Next

About Digital Diary

Created to provide premium content to our readers interested in all things business.

Launched in 2017, Digital Diary was created to provide premium content to our readers interested in all things business. With our blogs catered to deliver the top news stories, trends, and interviews from across all industries.

Read all story Next

Interested in Millennium Membership?
Find out if you qualify here.

arrow