“The hardest thi​n​g about innovation is innovation”

Today we had a site visit with Eaton. I was surprised to find out exactly how many products Eaton produces in order to make power mamagment technology that is safe, efficient and reliable. During our visit, we were split into 3 groups and spent 45 minutes trying to brainstorm methods to how artificial intelligence could help manage resources and finances and ultimately make the business more efficient in the future.

We listened to the CTO of Eaton, Ramanath Ramakrishnan. He emphasized how important innovating is for any business and that a business should never stop innovating. The environment where businesses practice is constantly changing so it makes sense for the business to have to adapt to stay current and competitive. Especially with a mission like “change the world for the better”, Eaton needs to constantly be adapting to the trends of the world and innovate constantly. Once the new ideas are adopted by the public, it can be considered innovation. One of the biggest takeaways from today was the difference between inventing and innovating. Inventors and Innovators are not the same and both require certain strengths, skills and personal characteristics to succeed.

After learning about this I started to reflect on my own strengths, skills and personal characteristics to see how well they correlate to success with innovation. I also thought of strengths, skills and personal characteristics that I hope to cultivate over the next couple of years to better my ability to innovate.

The first strength/skill that I believe strengthens my ability to innovate is having constant goals. I have an attitude towards projects that has me always asking “what’s next”. When I accomplish a goal that I set out to do, once I complete it, I celebrate the success but I also look forward to what the next goal will be. I believe this correlates well to successful innovation because businesses always need to be thinking forward and having goals along the way. There is no time for businesses to sit back and relax after reaching an accomplishment. They need to be constantly innovating and improving in order to stay competetive. The second strength/skill that strengthens my ability to innovate is that I am very organized and detail oriented. Ever since a young age, I’ve organized my thoughts and ideas and write them down. In addition, I am a visual learner. I like to make sense of notes and ideas by writing them down in detail and looking at them. I believe this correlates to successful innovation because it is helpful to make sure all the facts are straight and that you have a clear direction before problem-solving.

One skill that I would like to cultivate in the future is the ability to problem solve broad, unstructured problems with very few guidelines. Very similar to today’s exercise, when I am given a problem with little framework or restrictions, I find it difficult to determine where to start. My strength is problem-solving when there are clear constraints, an objective, and a starting point but I realize many business problems will not be structured this way. If I can strengthen my ability to problem solve and brainstorm when there are very few guidelines I believe I can drastically improve my ability to improvise.

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