Thursday, 18 July 2013

Innovating with others

This was the most inspiring element of the research that I have been carrying out, for the simple realisation that you don't have to be innovative on your own. I found there to be a number of reasons for this. The first of which is to do with where ideas come from. I spent some time watching TED talks (which I recommend doing, as there are lot of interesting talks on there, covering a huge range of subjects) to find out what other people say on innovation.

This talk from Rodney Mullen, professional skateboarder, covers how the development of skateboard tricks comes not only from an individual's skill, but as a product of the environment they find themselves in and the community surrounding them. So although his skill is important, how those ideas he has stick and get developed is down to how he fits into his surroundings.

An entertaining and thought provoking series of films by film-maker Kirby Ferguson called Everything Is A Remix argues that breakthroughs and advances come from using and combining old ideas and concepts, in order to create something new and different. Again, there is acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of the ideas of individuals to the ideas of others around them. A quote from Ferguson's TED talk that resonated with me was "We are dependent on one another, and admitting this to ourselves isn't an embrace of mediocrity and derivativeness. It's a liberation from our misconceptions, and it's an incentive to not expect so much from ourselves and to simply begin".

This talk from Steven Johnson, on "Where good ideas come from", outlines how ideas grow from networks with other people with other ideas, and the evolution of our own thoughts over time. Johnson tells a story of how innovations happen, which highlights that sometimes we start off working on a particular issue, but develops and changes over time to be something completely different and unintended.

As stimulating as all of this might be, how does this affect what our provision of development activity contains? Something we could think about is providing tools and techniques for individuals and teams to use to help facilitate this creative process. It also highlights the importance of encouraging group discussion and sharing of ideas in development events, in order that the evolution of ideas and thoughts can continue. There is plenty to think about and digest!