Human needs & aspirations, jostling competition and a problematic world have plagued individuals for a long time. The potential for global insights delivered alongside a world responsive to our uniqueness are new features, recently enabled by the Internet.
It is a cruel irony that the machines that we looked forward to in the 1950s and 60s to save us from drudgery and provide an easy life have taken over the routine jobs and pushed many of us into more complex service-based roles, especially in the West. In order to maintain progress towards our rising life expectations, we must constantly hone our skills and deliver the fruits of higher order thinking at work to keep our place in the system.
This peculiarly human contribution to the world which we strive for is called innovation. It is usually a collaborative pursuit and it can be learned by individuals and organisations. In order for innovation to occur, the individual and the organisation must both play their roles. Although the innovative idea probably came from one person, some form of interdisciplinary collaboration will be required to execute it and to where it is taken up and used.
Businesses can become innovative by emphasising the tentative nature of daily operations, running production facilities as if they are complex, interconnected scientific experiments. The aim being to optimise the entire production process on a continuing basis. More info about the techniques of action research can be found here and about the Toyota Production system can be found here.