Thinking : Innovation, education

The Role of Education in Innovation

The Role of Formal Training

"It strikes me that strong rigid formal training, whilst it can be good for giving you an end product which is a known product, such as an Army Officer or something like that, almost be definition is opposite to what you're looking for in innovation, which is flair, your own thinking, independent thinking, and not as rigid as the official training."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering

The Education System

"If you think about it we send children to school and they're told all the time what to do, 'don't do this, don't do that' right through to late teens. Then they get a job, and when you get a job, you're told how to do the job, you're sat down, 'this is it, do that, do the other', and then at the end of this process of 20 odd years, they then come back to you asking for some radical new ideas. Well, to be honest, you've spent all your working life being trained not to have your own ideas, just to do what you're told and follow it through. And so you get the end product hat you want, and in certain instances, in certain jobs that's very good, but I think in the case of innovation it could be detrimental."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering

Education vs. Training

"Yes I definitely would, because you can have education, depending on how it's done, there could be more free area, getting people to explore areas and I think that could actually help innovation if it's in the right area. But what we know as training is probably the rigid area that I'm thinking of that can hinder it. And it's particularly prevalent in things like the Armed forces where they want discipline, they don't want people thinking for themselves, when they say 'Do this' the just want them to do it, they don't want them to come back saying 'Why?' or 'Wouldn't it be better if?', just 'do that, get on, do it'. But in total innovation, education is very very useful and I'm not saying training's wrong I'm just saying if you get rigid training you can end up with somebody with the innovation aspect knocked out of them."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering

Training as a Barrier to Innovation

"I think rigid training, I'd add 'rigid' to it, probably is detrimental to innovation, it's probably the opposite, the antithesis of it. It's almost free-thinking and rigid training is almost the opposite; 'Don't think, do this, do it in this order, do it exactly like that and don't do it any other way. And it does have its uses in certain areas, but I don't think it does in innovation."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering

General Knowledge

"I think in education the more knowledge, areas you draw information from is probably very very useful in innovation. It can't make you innovate cause be definition everything that you're educated in is already known, so that's not innovation either, but if you don't know anything, it's probably more difficult to come up with a good idea."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering


"Really, in nutshell, I think rigid training tends to kill innovation whereas education in the right form, purest education helps but it doesn't actually make you innovative it's just a background which is of use to it."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering

  • Although knowledge is an important factor in innovation, formal qualifications are not essential in innovative people.
  • Education can help innovation but some people are naturally more creative than others.
  • Innovation can be developed in staff by teaching skills such as lateral thinking.
  • Education can also help in the identification of barriers to innovation. This results from a recognition that the nature of innovation and what it means to an organisation can be taught even though innovation itself cannot.
  • It can be argued that training does not help innovation and can even harm the processes of innovation. Training aims to provide people with a fixed view of things and give them a specific methodology for action. Innovation requires new approaches and different ways of looking at problems.