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Research, development and innovation – connecting the dots

We have our defined research areas, like stars in the night sky they guide our processes and help us navigate a path, says William O’Gorman.


William O’Gorman

AI hub officer, Ulysseus
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 13.11.2020

“If you can imagine it, you can create it” according to Walt Disney and I would concur with his thoughts on this. This logic transfers to research, development and innovation (RDI) activities where our role is to see the connections and patterns that co-exist between various points within the RDI world.

Professional dot connecting

As I write this, my mind is visualising those dots, here at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. We have our defined research areas, like stars in the night sky they guide our processes and help us navigate a path. Other dots that pop into my mind point to our intellectual capacity, our lectures, students and researchers that provide so much fuel for our innovative activities. There is the source funding with its instructions and prerequisites that provide so many points of reference along the RDI journey. Finally, there are our experiences, points of view and creativity and the way those elements will influence our ability to innovate and generate our inventive capacities.

We build our practices, experiences and activities on the currently existing dots, those dots we know and trust and whose patterns and clusters we comfortably recognize.

Bravely infusing the already existing with opportunities

I am not new to innovation but I think Innovation should always be new to me. I quite like the intransitive meaning of innovate which is “bring in new things, alter established practices”. The etymological understanding of the word adds a new perspective to its meaning in a modern context.

Although the creation of new things is an intrinsic part of innovation, I find that a balance needs to exist where there are synergies identified with practices already existing, infusing them with opportunities you wish to exploit. Thus, I am an avid believer in the idea of learning to connect the dots that already exist all around us.

The innovative aspect of connecting the dots will unveil itself for those willing and able to see the existing obscure or hidden dots, the dots that someone else missed, the connections that could not be figured out until aligned in a certain manner. That is how to create something new, which will alter established practices. The trick is to be brave enough to trust that this new connection of dots is valid, useful and necessary.