Organizations interested in developing creative practices need to put far more attention towards ecosystemic questions – architecture, organizational logics, infrastructure, practices, tools, rituals, etc. and far less towards the usual suspects of mindsets, beliefs, and individuals. Here are four examples that illuminate the befits of an ecosystemic approach to genuine creativity and innovation:

  1. Ecosystems & Not Brains: Don’t obsess about what is inside the head — the psychology of individuals, mindsets, etc. Creativity in general and early-stage innovation in particular is about what emerges from collaborations — collaborations with others, with tools, and with environments. The focus needs to be on the conditions that will foster and support an ecosystem for innovation.
  2. Thinking is Extended — cognition is extended — it is distributed this brings us to a better way to understand “thinking”  and “knowing,” — especially in regard to early-stage Innovation — Thinking does not happen somewhere deep in the head — but it arises from the middle of doing things with things — this is called Extended Cognition or Enactive Cognition.
  3. Ecosystems, not Moon Shots: Don’t focus on a one-off process with a singularly focused problems and goals. Focus on developing a holistic ecosystem for disruptive early-stage innovation in general. This focus on ecosystems will allow for a resilient practice of innovation to emerge in a dynamic, responsive, and ongoing manner — rather than just being a one-off gamble.
  4. Ecosystems are Assemblages, and Assemblages are Processes: The new — whether it is a thought, or a practice, or a tool — does not come about in a linear manner from a solitary individual or source of any kind. The new always emerges from the middle of an assemblage. The focus needs to be on producing the right ecosystem (think Kitty Hawk). And protecting this ecosystem. It is open and protected — protected from falling back into the known.
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