What Success Looks Like
Learning to be Innovative
March 15, 2010
People may think it’s hard to come up with a creative solution to a problem, or that it rarely happens. But when you talk with people who make innovation a part of their daily lives, anyone can come up with the next great idea. A few simple concepts are all you need.
Dr. Rene Anand, a professor and researcher in the College of Medicine-Pharmacology, is always looking for new ways to solve common health problems. Four principles have helped him make a big difference.
- Identify a significant problem, and then think about how to solve it. This is a great way to find an area where innovation is needed - what’s been tried isn’t working, and so coming up with new ideas becomes not only necessary but also worthy.
- Always learn new things. Keep up on what’s going on in your field, such as new findings and ideas that haven’t worked. Also, learn about what’s happening in other areas; this helps you think about problems in a different light.
- Put your thinking together. Think about how all the different things you know tie together. This way, you can see how borrowing a concept from another field could be just the solution you’re looking for. Dr. Anand said you have to consciously put your best thinking together, it’s not something that just magically happens.
- Be willing to take risks. Sometimes, an idea just doesn’t work. It’s the process of coming up with and trying new ideas that leads to a solution – often that means wading through a thousand “good” ideas to find one “great” one. When something doesn’t turn out like you’d hoped, you then know what doesn’t work and can focus on trying something else that does.
“Failure is a big part of the discovery process,” said Dr. Anand. “Innovation only comes when one is willing to tolerate risk and failure.”
Dr. Anand’s tips are working. He was recently awarded a EUREKA grant for an innovative research project that will help him find new ways to develop targeted treatments for mental illness, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. He’s also working on other independent projects to treat autism - a disorder that now affects 1 in 70 boys and 1 in 110 children.
But for Dr. Anand, it’s not the recognition or grant money alone that keeps him looking for innovative ways to study and treat diseases.
“For me, making a difference is the most exciting thing about research in biomedical science,” he said.
If you have a story about faculty and staff making a difference, send it to email@example.com.
Failure is a big part of the discovery process. Innovation only comes when one is willing to tolerate risk and failure.
Dr. Rene Anand, professor and researcher, College of Medicine-Pharmacology