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The story of the rise and influence of technology as a major force in our society is one of innovation. Technology needs to stay innovative to remain relevant and to keep…
The story of the rise and influence of technology as a major force in our society is one of innovation. Technology needs to stay innovative to remain relevant and to keep adding value. The economist Schumpeter has shown us that technology moves in a creative destructive path. It is safe to say that the two, technology and innovation, are synonymous. Joseph Nadan, NYU-Poly Professor of Technology and Business Innovation, defines innovation as "people creating value by implementing new ideas." At the heart of that definition is the individual. It is also clear, that every nation and society needs more innovation and innovators to move forward and improve our economic conditions. Understanding who is an innovator and how we can create and educate more innovators is critical to the well-being of societies. To foster understanding it is useful to visualize the innovator as being on a journey. Joseph Campbell has shown us that since ancient times myths teach us profound lessons about the path of heroes that fulfill certain roles in society. One such role, the innovator, has a deep tradition in the myths of all societies. It is important to understand these myths and what lessons they teach us about the innovator's journey. By observing the characteristics of the path they follow and the motivations of the individual innovator, we are better positioned to educate innovators, to nurture them so they are productive in any organization, to recognize them when we are ready to employ them, and to clear a path for them to be innovative when they are ready to implement new ideas. Many ancient myths and stories of heroes are available to study the innovator's journey. The myth of Prometheus is one powerful example. In this paper we examine this myth and what it teaches us about the elements of the innovator's journey and the lessons we may learn to nurture innovation and innovators who benefit organizations. We will also examine how to foster the education of future innovators who, we trust, will push the frontiers of technology and contribute to its creative destructive path. We contend that innovation as a profession is just starting to be defined and that the elements of the Promethean journey can inform the conversation.