The 3 i’s: Imagination, innovation and improvement

  • Originally Published on October 30, 2015

How do these three words intersect?

In 2013, Deloitte published the global Millennial Innovation Survey. One of its key findings was that: “Innovation is considered to be one of the top three ‘purposes’ of business and just as important as profit.”

At a recent workshop at MaRS, Jennifer Rosart, innovation project manager at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, posed the question: “What is the difference between improvement and innovation?” The smiles on the faces of the workshop’s participants indicated that it was a provocative question. Jennifer expanded on the hospital’s distinction between improvement and innovation by adding the word imagination. Improvement is solving a problem with an existing technology or tool. Innovation is solving a problem by imagining a solution that does not yet exist.

In my work with entrepreneurship education, I am fortunate enough to be involved with an amazing array of companies and ideas. What I find fascinating about all of them is the human capacity to imagine a different way of being or doing.

One impactful example of the 3 i’s in action is MaRS venture eSight. eSight’s goal was to give sight to those deemed legally blind. By imagining a solution that would enable users to have freedom, self-efficacy and confidence with seamless vision, the eSight team was able to innovate a hands-free, mobile and multi-use technology that allows users to move seamlessly through their activities.

Entrepreneurs imagine a different future and find innovative ways to bring it to reality and to improve lives.

If you want to innovate, here are some ways to get started.

  • Respect your mistakes and learn from them.

  • Be a dissenter—but not the type who goes to jail! Be the type of dissenter who questions existing models.

  • Embrace the unknown, don’t fear it.

Sima Gandhi