Interdisciplinary Innovation: Being Innovative is a Way of Imagining, Perceiving, Expressing, Inventing & Inspiring

Interdisciplinary Innovation: Being Innovative is a Way of Imagining, Perceiving, Expressing, Inventing & Inspiring
By: Pearl Zhu

Innovators present creatively disruptive traits, disrupt old ways, and inspire better ways to do things. They are passionate to connect, to learn, and to explore by understanding commonalities and appreciating uniqueness. Being innovative is a growth mindset and a proactive attitude. You cannot wait for something to happen—keep curious, always think profoundly, learn fresh knowledge, and acquire new capabilities.

It’s important to connect the wider dots, and to apply an interdisciplinary approach to shape great ideas and spur innovation continually.

Innovativeness and Psychology

Psychologically speaking, all humans are bestowed with three basic instincts, which are humility, curiosity, and creativity, and they are intertwined. Curiosity drives us to ask good questions and learn new things. Humility allows us to understand ourselves better by self-reflection and brings egoless awareness of knowledge limitation or the level of competency. Creativity urges us to change and figure out new ways to solve problems. There are many ways to differentiate, there are many ways to pursue innovation, and there is a full emotional cycle behind innovation when you think that every rational thought is linked to emotions and creates a feeling.

Psychologically, innovativeness is a state of mind that combines restless dissatisfaction with the current state coupled with curiosity or excitement to find innovative solutions that will produce great results. Innovativeness is a state of mind which is infused with an inner cohesion, or an emotional wholeness, and comes from a vision of uniqueness. Creativity involves multiple thought processes and complex emotional stimulation. Even though we might all have similar guideposts for our inner wholeness, people have different perceptions and personalities, they might need different emotions to trigger creative processes. The kind of emotions within a person that invokes a creative process can be numerous and most likely will be a combination of emotions! This is an ongoing process just like the feeling to improve and to create.

Innovativeness and Anthropology

Anthropology presents every aspect of human life and elucidates the cultural traits, complexes, and motives of human behavioral aspects. The workforce today is multigenerational, multicultural, and multi-devicing. Anthropological perspectives open one’s eyes to a spectrum of things with so many different shades and colors of the same world; so people become more informative and innovative. It helps people connect the wider dots to spark creativity, while creativity will add enriched content and unconventional wisdom to anthropology; as different knowledge domains, they mutually reinforce each other.

Innovation is the only way to drive societal evolution; anthropology helps to open one’s eyes and discover the amazing and fascinating things that human beings have done. It can give people a positive outlook on the world and the idea that human beings are really amazing creatures who can also generate numerous great ideas and roll their imagination into reality. Anthropology expands people’s vision of society, cultural diversity, and human potential, to achieve the art of possibility. By applying anthropological disciplines, people can learn how to work together with harmony and connect the wider dots to spark creativity.

Innovation and Biology

Innovativeness starts with the biological basis of creativity; then the development of those characteristics during maturation, then the biological and social support of those traits. Brain is hardware, and the mind is software. The brain is an apparatus—a tool that is wired for collective sensation and awareness. A mind is something more personal, with cognitive abilities to generate thoughts continually, functioning smoothly by doing correlations, categorizing, classifying and sorting—multidimensional multimedia correlations to spark innovative thoughts once a while. A mind is the subjective and qualitative aspects of a self-organizing biological system of energy in which it builds models of itself and its environment in order to discover patterns of experience, and wire up to nurture creative thoughts and fresh ideas.

Everything is energy and the human condition is the conditional form of energy signature; it moves from one conditional state to another, and such transcendent energy stimulates imagination and catalyzes creativity. To keep the mind growing, knowledge is the “spiritual food” that the human mind needs to absorb, in order to ponder the creation of the new insight which feeds into the consciousness. By deepening biological understanding of mind and thoughts, we can understand the interaction between what is within us and how we project to the exterior world as the bridge to achieving wholeness and what triggers creativity.

Innovation and Technology

Today’s technology enables companies to leverage their various environments or ecosystems to fuel innovation and accelerate performance. Innovation is about figuring out the better ways to do things. Highly innovative organizations depend more heavily on their technological knowledge and market capabilities to develop and commercialize innovation. Not only should information and technology play an active role in designing, developing, and producing innovative products or services, but also it can help to foster a creative environment in which people can grow and innovate all the time.

Organizations today rely more and more on technology, technology needs will only expand to fuel innovation and create business opportunities. In fact, information and technology become the most time-intensive piece for solving innovation puzzles. By leveraging powerful digital platforms and technologies, organizations become more effective in executing innovative ideas, relying less on silo functions, more on cross-functional communication and collaboration.

Innovation and Culturology

Culture is about how people think and do things in the organization; keep in mind, culture and innovation are not always getting along so easily. In fact, there’s inertias, frictions, conflicts happening when taking innovation initiatives in many companies. In order to sow innovation seeds in organizations, cultivating the culture of innovation is more important than training. Putting the right innovation elements to nurture a creative environment is about rejuvenating a “culture of innovation” which incorporates multiple and diverse components such as value, trust, communication, collaboration, simplicity, adaptability, and continuous improvement, etc. Analogously, culture of innovation is like a blender, mixing three important ingredients in a high performance team—focus, passion, and teamwork seamlessly.

Technically, the culture of an organization is composed of many intricate and interconnected parts, including corporate strategy and related strategic goals, roles and positions, core values, business policies and principles, communications practices, corporate attitudes, business processes and structures, etc. Thus, changing the organizational culture is not so easy because traditions are closely held as norms, values, and beliefs. In addition, the nature of organizational structure or the overly rigid hierarchy can slow the process of culture review and adaptation. To build a highly innovative organization, it’s critical to foster a culture of creativity across functional disciplines and embed innovation management mechanisms into the corporate culture smoothly.

Innovation and Philosophy

Philosophy is the mother of all sciences; science is the methodical process of identifying scientific reasons, methods, processes, and concrete, provable outcomes. Philosophy is the compass behind breakthrough innovation; innovation is a process that can be managed by leveraging scientific disciplines and processes. Observation, inquisitiveness, experimenting, prototyping, risk managing, etc., are all important stages of innovation. Philosophical guidelines can improve the overall innovation success rate by questioning, reasoning, identifying faulty reasoning, and thinking outside the box for both generating great ideas and implementing them effectively.

Innovation philosophy comprises logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, etc. Philosophy is abstract, but it could provoke the chain of thoughts to stimulate fresh ideas. Many times, innovation is about simplifying and optimizing. Philosophers want to see complexity explained away in terms of a few simple principles an issue cannot be attained. Highly innovative companies develop innovation philosophy and make it the part of the DNA of the business for inspiring creativity, catalyzing innovation and managing a healthy innovation portfolio with the right combination of incremental and breakthrough innovation.

Innovativeness and Education

Creativity can be developed, but cannot be taught completely. We have to admit that some people are just more creative than others. A person must find ways to stimulate creativity, break down conventional thinking boxes, be original and be themselves. Creativity is an innate thought process to generate novel ideas. Education can instill certain knowledge or thinking techniques, but creativity cannot be taught completely. In the traditional education setting, creativity is neither encouraged nor evaluated cohesively. The focus to tap the creative power is on how creativity is viewed, citing two views: One being innate and the other of teaching some mechanics. Sometimes, the outdated education methodologies stifle creative thinking and add a static little box to limit imagination and block the fountain of creativity.

Creativity is both natural and nurtured. It is not something you can learn as a topic, it is something you acquire and use, not only for learning, but also for life itself. To be creative, you have to enjoy the freedom of thinking, imagining, metaphorically communicating, trying, learning, doing, failing, and improving, etc. One of the things essential for education in creativity to really thrive is that people understand that creativity is a way of being, being innovative is the state of mind; it requires internal motivation and self-awareness; it’s very personal, and it also takes continuous practices. Creativity is like a muscle; you must exercise it daily or it atrophies.

Being innovative is a way of imagining, of perceiving, of expressing, of inventing, of inspiring, etc. Creativity is a lonely trip and innovation is a thorny journey, with many bumps and curves, pitfalls and roadblocks on the way. Be dissatisfied with conventional ways to do things, but be grateful for great ideas shared or precious feedback offered. Creativity today asks for a new mindset, a connected world image, global consciousness, and cognitive intelligence, etc. By connecting interdisciplinary dots, the mind becomes an enriched environment in which innovative plants can grow without limit, an innovator can shape great vision and generate great ideas, unique insight all the time. Collectively, innovation makes the world a better place full of creative energy.

About the Author

Pearl Zhu is an innovative “Corporate Global Executive” with more than twenty-one years of technical and business working experience in strategic planning, Information Technology, software development, e-commerce and international trading, etc. She holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, and she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15+ years. She is the author of “Digital Master” book series and the Future of CIO blog.

Featured image via Shutterstock.

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