Innovation – nature or nurture?

Have been thinking a lot about innovation recently and pondering if it is the result of nature or nurture in the workplace.

In business we spend a lot of time encouraging innovation with suggestions from staff and brainstorming activities. But I still wonder how much of that drives true innovation?

Given my background in history and philosophy of science (see Dad it did come in handy one day) and thinking about how scientific discoveries are made I remain unsure if what we are doing in the corporate world is really going to drive innovation. Can you really hothouse innovation? What kind of environment enables that?

One of the things that enables scientific discovery is time and funding for research, a luxury we don’t often get in corporate life. Also in business failure is rarely accepted, while scientific innovation is built on top of failures (since each failure adds information to build with).

Further, consider most ‘new’ products. Often they are not really ‘new’, instead they are line or product extensions. The truly new products are usually the result of a persistent few and are brought to market in spite of corporate efforts to strangle them quietly in a corner.

It is an interesting area to think about, I don’t have many answers but have lots of questions. Any thoughts are most welcome.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

Author: Kate Carruthers

Kate Carruthers is Chief Data & Insights Officer for UNSW Sydney, and is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science & Engineering. She is certified in information security and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies terrorism and security. Kate has extensive experience in senior roles in ICT, marketing, data and digital; and is a member of the NSW Government’s Data Analytics Centre Advisory Board. Kate is currently working at the intersection of data analytics, AI, ML, privacy, cyber security, and data protection.

One thought

  1. I think it depends on the corporation. If you were to look at the likes of Google or Apple I think they openly welcome and commit to


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