To Innovation

Our Ethos and Approach to the Innovation Process:

To allow creative processes to flourish in our lives we need to change our general approach to life. Here are the reminders we like to pin up as we approach a project:

The Innovation Process Values:

  • ...becoming over being
  • ...novelty over permanence
  • ...difference over identity
  • ...repetition over reflection
  • ...long emergence over sudden eureka moments
  • ...joining, following, emerging and transforming-with over founding, visioning, authoring
  • ...vague feeling, and sensing of what is odd and different of knowing what is clear and distinct
  • ...creativity as a worldly process and not a human mental capacity
  • ...experimental doing over removed ideation
  • ...blocking the known and moving sideways
  • ...that innovation does not set out to “solve” anything
  • ...the non-linear
  • ...the work of avoiding reducing things to essences, magic bullets, or origins
  • ...multiplicity and variation, and integrate this into everything
  • ...processes — this means developing and following procedures
  • ...collaboration and collaborations over the illusion of individuality — all great acts of innovation and creativity happened collectively — with others (and not just human others)
  • ...joy, surprise, curiosity
  • ...schock, disgust, horror
  • ...humility and wonder

Innovation and Growth ask us to Become:

  • ...alien and playful
  • ...sensitive to the liberating force of life, chaos, difference and creativity over the forces of law, order, repetition, and sameness
  • ...an experiment: live life as an open experimental project
  • ...a transdisciplinary networker, amateur, and generalist
  • ...willing to trust the process
  • ...comfortable with being confused, and that we will fail, and that there will be no guarantee in what we do
  • ...OK with the fact that creativity will involve radical forms of rupture and betrayal of the given
  • ...a great collaborator

The Process of Innovation Understands that:

  • … you will change
  • ...creation as iterative (but not linear)
  • ...assemblages matter
  • ...everything is “networked” and relational (without a single author, or any author)
  • That the “outcome” cannot be known in advance (& is not the final “purpose”)
  • That the origin of anything need not have any purpose, nor does it directly relate to its current use
  • That the most interesting “traits” are nonadaptive (exaptive) –they are world opening (for a world that does not yet exist)
  • Making/Thinking is a conjoined practice (not thinking then making). Ideas come later.
  • Treat things as being active and having agency.
  • Things shape us. Tools make us. Understand how this works.
  • Innovation is messy, challenges our belief in solving problems head on, and requires a lot of seemingly “useless” experimentation
  • It is going to be messy (figuratively and literally). You need dedicated spaces
  • It is going to take time – which will be hard to fit into the semester format, or even in the standard class period. New models need to be developed
  • It is not based primarily in ideas (or in the mind).
  • Things play a significant active role.
  • Experiments invent their own criteria, questions/problems, fields, frameworks, and worlds.
  • It is emergent--it involves following: wayfinding in waymaking.
  • Causality isn’t linear – it is crazy
  • Creativity is not a willy-nilly free-for-all — there are processes
    ...creativity is creativity leadership. We are learning and teaching how to be comfortable leading oneself and others into discomfort and open-endedness. Play. Comfort. Seeing ethos and space.

What our Innovation Methodology Wants Us to Do:

  • Cross thresholds from difference-in-degree to difference-in-kind
  • Utilize the non-intended capacities of things and betray their original purpose
  • Co-evolve with an environment
  • Make a space that protects novelty (the lab) – keeps it away from “survival of the fittest” experiments/situations – and keep it away from having to be “something” as long as possible (needs to iteratively betray multiple “identities”)
  • Develop pirate projects-- probes into the unknown – open ended – perturbing a field – activating emergent unknowable (in advance) potentials – and then transforming with them…
  • Use things as probes and not products
  • Develop ways to understand and move between differing frameworks, cosmologies & paradigms (learn, collect, develop the knowledge of alternative frameworks)
  • Train oneself to limit moral or factual judgements (follow practices, and ideas with an open mind).
  • Stop the habit of being a “devil’s advocate”
  • Shift your focus from thinking about what some-thing “is” to only considering: “What can it do?”
  • This is a key disposition to acquire to have a truly experimental approach. Once you get good at asking “what can it do?” now ask: “and what else can it do?” Don’t stop at one or two options, figure out 10 or more (this is where it gets interesting)
  • Treat innovation/creativity as a process not a product.
  • Worldmaking before problem tackling. Problem producing not problem solving. Problem producing before solution producing.
  • Engage reality as a dynamic system and not composed of discrete things.
  • It is a collective process (need to work & network with others--things, ideas, cultures, creatures, humans).
  • Test, experiment, observe, multiply
  • Work at a systems scale
  • We need to move away from thinking of creativity as a thing – especially a mysterious internal property to be “unlocked”. (The genius model).
  • Invent rules and follow them (it won’t be pregiven)
  • ...we need to overcome our sense of self. Especially that we feel inadequate. “I’m not creative.”
  • “Why bother – every form of this has already been invented, nothing new can be done.” This feeling will be the beginning of any creative endeavor. Ignore it. Push on. This feeling will always be there. Remember it is not about us.

We Hold Ourselves to the following Innovation Values:

  1. We are in the business of making other worlds possible
  2. Transformational creativity is necessary
  3. Creativity should be a force for the good  
  4. Innovation isn’t mysterious — we have the tools and processes
  5. Change happens when we work at the level of systems
  6. Get out in the world
  7. Collaborate with others from the beginning
  8. No ideas but in doing
  9. Making is thinking
  10. Be open — let events surprise you
  11. The new emerges from the middle
  12. Follow and be changed by what happens
  13. Don’t sit this out — stay in it for the long haul
  14. Leave the world a better place than you found it

Want to learn more about us? Have a look at how we work:

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

Delivered Every Friday