Monday, May 5, 2008

What is an innovation

I always have been having this lurking doubt about how we miss out on some opportunities in supporting some "innovations' as we tend to dissect a proposal too much and tend to get bogged down on its innovativeness . Here is something someone wrote elsewhere which I am pasting here
(As Ajit says) when we are intervening in difficult areas, working with extremely poor communities, any substantial intervention in redeeming the squalor and abject poverty sustainably should be considered as an innovation, even if it is revival of tasar sericulture that these communities may have been doing for ages. Adapting an activity or a set of activities for poor people, identifying the right mix of modern and indigenous technology, creating sustainable and profitable market linkages, helping establish their institutions for providing these linkages and various services they require – all these lead to the poor people earning their livelihoods in radically “new” ways than what might happened earlier.

Recently we had a case in MP where NABARD rejected a proposal from us under RIF , because the proposal was for doing mulberry sericulture with poor people. The reason - it is an established activity. If it is, why are not large numbers of poor people in tribal areas in MP not doing it already? Adapting an activity for poor people requires innovation, and that has to be recognized. Innovation has a context. An activity that is successful on one area cannot be transplanted to another area without a great deal of adaptation. This adaptation needs innovative thinking.

Therefore, my opinion is that the innovation is not in doing something “new and different’ from our point of view, but in doing something in a way so that the poor families earn their livelihoods in “new and different” ways. The “innovation” is in the eyes of the user.




No comments: