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September 11, 2014

A farewell to the Porvir office, but thank-heavens for Skype!

by pdranoff

While my time in São Paulo this summer was very busy, the work with the innova+ project is really just beginning. My role at Porvir was to get this project off the ground. I established connections with our partners, created proposals and presentations explaining the project and drafted a plan for the initiative to continue moving forward once I was back in Providence. I also understood the inner-workings of an organization whose work I had always admired from afar. As school is just about to start, I am eager to continue working on the innova+ project, but this time more as an advisor to the team of journalists. The innovations have been submitted by the network of specialists we have gathered from California to London to New Zealand, and now it’s the journalists’ turn to take over in editing our content.

Before leaving, I also contacted a talented graphic designer (and self-taught web developer) to take on the job of creating the site for the final publication. Though our deadlines have shifted a bit more down the road, we hope to have the publication ready to go by the end of October. I will keep updating this blog with important news along the way, and of course, on the big day of the publication release.


Group selfie at the office


innova+ specialists invitation english

Invitation to our specialists

Some reflections on the topic of my research: What is innovation anyway?

I spent a good chunk of time this summer trying to define the term “innovation.” While I didn’t come upon any answers that I felt passionate about, my search has helped me understand some of my own concerns regarding education and the role of “changemaking” in a fast-paced world, where technology is making big moves and potentials for scalability of projects are expanding exponentially.

After much deliberation, we decided to let each contributing specialist give his or her own definition of innovation when submitting their suggested projects. This way, we will also learn how people define this concept, and embrace the idea that there may simply not be an answer to this question. In my own research for this semester, I plan to reflect on my experiences, both at RISD and beyond, to understand how I have applied my own design background into projects that will make a difference in the world. Designers are at a critical point in the working world, as we are trained to navigate between spheres of communication. To me, using innovative approaches to communicate ideas, solutions or even just a thought is the best application of design toward making a difference. The key is understanding all the components, and finding the best means to pull the parts together, making everything accessible to the players involved.

Below are a few of the definitions I came upon:

Innovation is about finding a better way of doing something.[1] Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs.[2] This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into” the market or society. A definition consistent with these aspects would be the following: “An innovation is something original, new, and important in whatever field that breaks in to a market or society”.[3]

While something novel is often described as an innovation, in economics, management science, and other fields of practice and analysis it is generally considered a process that brings together various novel ideas in a way that they have an impact on society.

Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.

Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.

I will continue to elaborate on my definition, but will allow it to happen organically. Afterall, the “lightbulb moment” is a glorious one, but the process is where the magic happens.

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