Zero the hero

One of the best inventions is the numeral ‘0’. It is actually empty and meaningless all by itself. It will never harm if it is prefixed with any other number but it multiplies the value of the number that it gets suffixed to. While nothing can divide it, infinite will be the outcome if it tries to divide anything. I’m amazed about how zero was invented and how it is a holistic number!

Innovation opens up new vistas of knowledge and new dimensions to our imagination to make everyday life more meaningful and richer in depth and content. Invention is a manifestation of originality in thinking, originality in conceptualizing and natural inventiveness of the mind. This quality is latent in all of us. What is required is a natural effort to exercise it in the positive direction.

“India is a tremendous talent pool to tap, much of which may be latent, but imagine the situation when the entire sea of talent is allowed to manifest itself in path-breaking innovations! Our country can surely be a torchbearer of progress for the entire world.” ~ said Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the honorable former president of India during his address to the National Innovation Foundation.

Let me now illustrate with a simple case of holistic innovation. Back in the past, ancient Indian civilization as part of their cultural heritage were unique in their culinary taste and serving of meals on a plantain leaf. Even though it is bio-degradable, there was not enough chance for it to degrade by itself was it was used as fodder for cows. Cows loved this natural food and produced great tasting milk. Cows then dropped the dung that was in-turn used as natural fertilizer to grow plants including the plantain trees that produced the plantain leaves which was cut and sold to make a living. Thus, the whole cycle was complete.

In the above illustration, do note that the utilization factor is maximum and the residual waste is nil. This is an example of holistic innovation. Just the way the number zero is!

Look at the e-waste creted that is not easily degradable. For that matter, the new age disposable plates that we use for having a meal. Most of it is only disposable but not degradable, creating a waste. The rate at which our innovation is growing, we probably would need three sizes of our planet to only carry that waste that are generated.

One other important aspect to be noted in the above illustration is that there was commercialization in the whole process of innovation. The emphasis is that the innovations were commercialized only after it was ensured as holistic.

We have been innovating; we will be innovating; we are innovating even right now and it is in every one of us. If this is true, it’s important for us to learn from this little numeral zero, enable ourselves and ensure our innovation is holistic. Come, let’s create a better tomorrow!

Naveen Lakkur is co-founder & Director at Compassites. Naveen has a track record of 5 successful IT start-up initiatives in his professional career. He is an expert in building IT start-ups and has demonstrated his proficiency in innovating, validating and converting ideas into working business models. He has participated in 30+ successful ideations. He has also gained experience from large enterprises such as Wipro and Digital and has donned several roles. “Converting Creative Concepts into Commerce with Compassion” is a one line intro of Naveen.

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