By: Colin Crabtree
Is there a God of Innovation? And if there is, how can we invoke its qualities to help us innovate more effectively?
Recently, I did an online search for “God of innovation,” just to see what it would come up with. It was a completely tongue-in-cheek inquiry, but it delivered a fascinating definition that is excellent food for thought about how we can be enablers of innovation. Who is the God of Innovation? Here is the answer I found, which comes to us from the world of Hindu beliefs:
“Ganesh – God of Innovation – Ganpati Ganesh is worshipped at the start of all auspicious works. Ganesh is elephant headed god who is harbinger of success, prosperity and wisdom. Ganesh is the fountainhead of innovation and dispeller of obstacles.
Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles as well as patron of arts and sciences, and the diva of intellect and wisdom.”
Let’s deconstruct this definition, and see how it fits into our roles as innovators.
I liked the phrases “Dispeller of Obstacles,” “Remover of Obstacles” and “Lord of Obstacles.” Is this not the essence of innovation – the removal of the traditional obstacles or boundaries that exist between teams, projects and divisions internally within a company and between companies, countries, continents and economies outside of the company? These are the boundaries that hamper the free movement of information and knowledge that fosters a culture of collaboration, which ultimately drives the development of new products and ways of doing things. Anything that can remove these obstacles is a big plus toward our innovation initiatives.
How about “Lord of Beginnings?” I like to think of “beginnings” as the moment when all obstacles to knowledge sharing have been removed, creativeness is stimulated and the innovation process starts. It’s an ideal state.
The “patron of arts and sciences.” Art and science are two fertile fields for new ideas and innovations. Stewardship of these two areas is essential for the advancement of any society. They bring a certain color and richness to our world. Any serious investment in innovation activities in any field is bound to produce positive results and if time, effort and finances are channelled correctly into the creation and maintenance of such innovation activities, then I am behind Ganesh all the way.
“The diva of intellect and wisdom.” Well it seems that the God of intellect has the challenging task of being the God of intelligence as well – these titles are definitely complementary, in my opinion. It takes intellect and wisdom to foresee barriers and to develop creative ways to sidestep or remove them. It takes intellect and wisdom to envision new opportunities. And it takes wisdom and intelligence to develop a compelling vision that we can use to mobilize the hearts and minds of the people who work for us to support our noble innovation efforts.
The bottom line is, we can all be Gods of Innovation – albeit it not of the divine type. We can actively embrace, mimic and take responsibility in our own companies the role of a Ganesh. It’s a matter of accepting that boundaries do exist, and taking responsibility to seek them out, recognize them for what they are and how they are hindering our progress, and work to make them more permeable and supportive of knowledge sharing. If we all consciously worked on this aspect this alone, it would go a long way to addressing the cultural changes necessary for creative thought and innovation to flourish.
So, release the Ganesh in you – go forth and be a God of Innovation, I say.
Colin Crabtree has been in the IT industry for over 30 years in various positions and is currently involved in a number of initiatives at Gijima to promote and support innovation in the workspace.