Innovation: Analytical capability building

M Rokonuzzaman | Published: September 11, 2018 21:16:02

Asking question about the status quo of a particular situation could be the precursor to innovation. Such questioning should lead to a systematic analysis of the situation to figure out the opportunity to innovate. In the absence of having adequate thinking and analytical capability, often people get emotionally charged in discussing painful issues. An emotional response to these issues often leads to chaos and destruction as opposed to finding a solution. On the other hand, systematic analysis of those issues could lead to innovation creating new wealth for the society. Being engulfed by many burning issues, it's high time to focus on building analytical thinking capability to transform pain to innovation, as opposed to showing an emotional response. 

There appears to be thinking limitations at different levels of society, which is constraining the capability to find a meaningful resolution to address painful issues.  For example, the education system in Bangladesh and many other developing countries is primarily focusing on memorising textbooks. Analytical capability is not being built among them to analyse real-life situations to understand the underlying variables and their interrelationships. As a result, once they encounter a problem, instead of focusing on analysis, they often express emotional outburst. Similarly, due to the weak analytical capability, firms or entrepreneurs are failing to innovate to build a profitable business to address agonising issues facing the society. For example, technology solution has the potential to address the road safety issue, while creating a profitable business. On the other hand, without having adequate analysis the government often attempts to find solution, often imported. Such a lack of thinking capacity at individual, family, firm and government levels appear to be a significant development constraint.  

Due to this weakness of thinking capability, often we are deprived of taking the benefit of growing awareness of our youths raising questions about the existing state of affairs.

Recently, the death of two students in road accidents brought thousands of students on the street making the capital city of Bangladesh standstill for almost a week. Silent protest eventually escalated to a violent clash, leading to injuries and arrest of students. There is no denying that unsafe road situation has crossed the limit of tolerance. On the other hand, an emotionally charged response is failing to find a solution to address the issue. 

 But if students do not develop the habit to ask, how can they detect the opportunity to find a solution to improve?  On the other hand, there could be a point that such questioning should not lead to paralysing city life. It appears that accumulated emotion due to deficiency of analytical reasoning and its application in finding a solution has led to such a prolonged unmanaged outburst.

Bangladesh and many other developing countries are aspiring to keep growing their economy to reach developed country status. But how can they pursue this aspiration? Many of these countries like Bangladesh have very little per capita natural resources. Moreover, exploitation of labour in creating wealth has already reached saturation level. The only option for them to keep growing is to transfer the mental capacity of their increasing student population into wealth. And that is going to take place through innovation. But innovation requires mental alertness for questioning current affairs, leading to finding ideas for improvement. But if different actors of society, including students, do not acquire adequate thinking capability to analyse to reason, often they are going to encounter emotional outburst as opposed to finding advanced solutions.

To proceed with the economic growth agenda, we must focus on nurturing our capability to think, question and generate ideas for change. To address this issue we must bring changes at different levels of society.  To begin with, we should change the focus of our education. Instead of building memorising capability, it's time to focus on nurturing analytical reasoning and applying it to understand real life issues. The progress of education in building analytical capacity among students in understanding the reality should be complemented with similar capabilities of our families, firms, and government. Because once our students are empowered with the mental capacity to understand and generate ideas for change, they are likely to pursue them. In the process, they will also be starting questioning the state of current affairs.

At the government level, there should be more focus on research-based analytical understanding about diverse issues starting from road safety to food adulteration. We should start taking step-by-step actions in addressing them in an appropriate way, which creates confidence among our next generation. Similarly, firms should be empowered to analyse development issues and innovate the most appropriate solutions as opposed to dumping imported products having limited effectiveness and efficiency.

M Rokonuzzaman, Ph.D is academic, researcher and activist on Technology, Innovation and Policy. zaman.rokon.bd@gmail.com




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