Innovators are all around us; maybe you're one of them

Aug 11, 2014

Credit Missy Schmidt / Flickr

Cass Community Services in Detroit has come up with a design that repurposes old tires and turns them into sandals and mud mats.

The city gets rid of some of the illegally dumped tires and folks who need a job can get one. They've got 80 people working on the mats and sandals and plan to add another 20.

That led us to wonder: Where does innovation come from and can you teach it?

Richard Price is the Stanley Seashore Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan. He taught a class called “The Psychology of Innovation: Creating a New Enterprise.”

Price defines innovation as anything that changes the status quo in ways that improves it from the point of view of some potential user. He argues that it is teachable, and rather than being an intangible quality, innovation is a set of skills and a way to see the world.

Price said innovation happens between people, and it's a team sport. It takes ideas and skills all put together to make something happen.

“I think the big myth you really have to bust is that there are only a few people who are innovators,” Price said. “Actually, in our daily lives, we innovate all the time and you don’t have to be a super expert or a super scientist.”

*Listen to the full interview above.

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