Non Human-Centric Approach to Innovation - A Podcast Interview with Future Fit Company

Iain Kerr and Jason Frasca are Podcast guests on Future Fit Company Podcast - Episode 46

Thrilling to record a podcast with  Florian Rustler of Creaffective where we discussed the critical topic of innovation.

On the Future Fit Company - A podcast for the new world of work, Iain Kerr, Florian, and Jason dig into:

★ Innovation beyond individualism
★ Demystifying ideation by a lone genius
★ How humans are entangled with emergent processes
★ Deliberately creating difference
★ How innovation happens
... and more!

Here is the link to the podcast:

Transcript: Future Fit Company #46: Innovation Design Approach

Note: Lightly edited for readability...

Florian Rustler: [00:00:00] In this episode, I, Florian, speak with Iain and Jason, the two founders of the Emerging Futures Lab. They developed something they called Innovation Design Approach, a non human centric approach to innovation.

So it's also about... Doing innovation without relying on ideation, a model they call the God model. And how innovation under these conditions can actually happen, and what organizations can do to create those conditions, that's what this conversation explores. Have fun! So, welcome to another episode of the future fit company podcast.

So this time again with me Florian and regular listeners, you will already notice this one is an English speaking episode. Again. A lot of our episodes are in German. [00:01:00] This one is an English speaking episode because there are a lot of great people on the planet that don't speak German. And therefore sometimes we switch to English and.

I have two of those great people today in the episode I have Iain and Jason. I got to know them beginning of this year at an online conference. And I think, what was it called agile to agility, I think, right? That was the, yeah, that was the name. Okay. So, and, and, and I've been in the innovation space for a long time.

And Those two guys had a, a session that I found very intriguing and very, I was very interested in it about innovation, a different view, I would say, than most people would have on innovation and especially around how to get to radical innovation. And this is what today's episode will be. About.

[00:02:00] So I will have a conversation with them. We will talk about something called innovation designer bro approach. You might be curious what a God model of creativity is. So all these things we will touch upon. But before we do that, maybe let's have a quick round of introductions for my two guests so that the listeners, the audience knows who is with me and maybe just going in alphabetical order.

Iain. Could you start

Iain Kerr: Damn ? Sure. I I can start. So I'm Ian, you know, originally I'm from the west coast of Canada a long time ago. My background is in you know, is, is pretty varied working in the arts and architecture and philosophy design. You know, a community based change making environmental change, making things like that.

I've [00:03:00] taught at various universities wearing various hats and now, you know, 1 of the hats I wear is at. Montclair State University, just outside New York City, where, along with Jason, I co direct the university's innovation lab, the MIX lab, making and innovating for X, you know, and, and I think I'll just stop there and pass it over to Frasca.

Jason Frasca: Wonderful. Thank you. Hi, Florian. Great to be here. Thanks so much for having us on today. My name is Jason Frasca. I am a co founder of Emergent Futures Lab with Iain Kerr also a full time professor at Montclair State University. Thank you. Had a number of twisting and turning careers which probably would be boring to most for this podcast.

So I'll skip them. [00:04:00] But what I will say is, you know, I guess Iain and I co founded this innovation consultancy wrestling Bye. Wrestling with two questions that can drive all of our work. What is innovation and how do you innovate? You know, we find that most people proclaim the importance of innovation, but don't have a definite working definition that they they use.

It's more buzzword speak that sort of thing. And so we felt we wanted to define what that means, help people define what it means and then and then provide a process because we find that most don't have a process for how to actually innovate, generate something new. So that's kind of the background and basis of our work and focus.


Florian Rustler: So what, what I hear already, which is, I think, interesting is on the one hand, you are in, you're both are professors, you're in academia, but at the same time, You also have an innovation [00:05:00] consultancy and you're practitioners and you work with, you work with companies. So not just thinking through things theoretically, but also working with real organizations applying things.

And I think that's going to be a very it's, it's a very useful combination that you can also apply what you come up with in, in, in practice with organizations. Yeah. Yeah. So I, you mentioned outside New York City my U. S. experience is, is limited to New York State and, and especially Buffalo, because we talked about this, I, I got my master's degree in, in, in creativity in, at the International Center for Studies in Creativity and they are much, they're very known for the creative problem solving, Model for creativity and, and creative problem solving.

So Osborne Parm's model of creative problem solving. And I [00:06:00] remember back in your, in your session at the conference you, you showed different models that looked very much similar to, to that model. It's a specific approach, right? How you go about creative problem solving and you called it the God model of creativity.

So that was a very, that was a very intriguing name. First of all. And, and you also directly said, well, we got it all wrong. And now, of course, I'm super curious to have you say, first of all, what is the God model of creativity and what's wrong with it?

Iain Kerr: Yeah, I think it's great, you know, mentioning that history with Osborne and, and others, you know, and that slide we were showing where if you look at.

You know, in a really abstract way, almost every definition slash model of creativity that's used, it has something like [00:07:00] four steps. It says, you know, something like prepare and the prepare stage could be like empathize, do something, and then after you've done prepare, you ideate, you, you, you come up with whatever it is.

And then there's some kind of planning process. It could be iterative, whatever it might be. So it's, you know, prepare, ideate, plan. And then make, execute, it's done and if you, if you look at everything from design thinking where it's empathize ideate prototype make to like the Osborne type model of creativity, where, you know, it's, you've come up with some type of new thought, and then you figure out how to ideate You can the first thing to say is this is a linear approach.

You know, and so it imagines you [00:08:00] can have an idea. It can be totally new and then you can just execute it now. So it turns out that this model goes all the way back to the Greeks. And on 1 hand, and we've been using this model since then, and it, it comes from a model of, you know, with Aristotle and then early translated to early Christianity of that.

There's a God. Who comes up with ideas and makes it so. So that's why we call it the God model.

Florian Rustler: That's because of that assumption that you can come up with something and then you're just executed

Iain Kerr: and just executed. Right? And so it's it's kind of and it's. It's in a way, like, deeply, deeply ingrained into Western culture.

It's, it's, it's, it's some kind of implicit working model. So then every time people come up with new versions, they think it's something new, but it's really following this pattern. The big, big, big [00:09:00] problem with this is that ideas. You know, which rely on concepts language, all of these types of things, they're inherently conservative because they're referencing existing things, existing ideas, concepts, logics, practices.

So if you just take the model and face value, and it's like, okay, ideate and the ideation will be the creativity will get you something new that then you just execute. You will never get. To the new, if the new means something like something that's genuinely never happened before if it's genuinely new, it will not start and end in ideas ideas will play a role.

But the God model, which is like comes springs forth from the mind, the head is an [00:10:00] idea is not the core way to get to innovation creativity.

Florian Rustler: So basically what I, what I get is if, if the assumption is we, we always reference back to existing things, then in this case, ideation is basically remixing existing things in a new, in, in, in some kind of a new way.

Right. But it's still always based on. Existing things that we would put together. Yeah. Can you give, just to make it more, can you give one example of, it can be historic from something that was completely new that cannot or could not have come out just purely applying an ideation way of getting there.

Iain Kerr: We like to go, and I think this is really important to, to get out of the human centric model as well. You know, so. If you look at the universe around us, [00:11:00] everything, unless you're, you know, believe in God and yet the God model, everything emerged and without ideation. So we live in a highly creative universe where everything's emerging through other means.

And so then if you look at evolution, which we like to do a lot and draw from, you can see how a dinosaur turned into a bird. And the dinosaur didn't have, like, there wasn't some bird essence already in it where it was thinking, you know, in 20 million years, I'd love to be able to fly. How do I get there?

But it was, it was through unintended capacities in its body plan, essentially, that allowed it and what's called exaptation. So, you know, feathers first emerged in dinosaurs. With nothing to do with flight, they had to do with [00:12:00] sequestering toxins, keeping bodies warm, thermoregulation, looking sexy, sex, sexual selection, and that led to things that look, you know, that were wings, but wings that had nothing to do with flying, wings that had to do with looking scarier, keeping eggs warm You know, mating dances and what have you, but it had those things started to have the unintended capacity to help them run up trees and do other things.

And eventually, like parachute and fall. But so you can see that there is in fact like Jason was saying at the beginning, there's ways to do innovation. That don't rely on ideation, but fought like experiment and probe for unintended possibilities. Stabilize them, go to the next one. And then you see these, it turns out, and there's a burgeoning field of research [00:13:00] around this, like these exaptations.

We would argue, we do argue, are found in every single human innovation. So the process in human innovation is not that different than evolution. You know, the, the classic examples of penicillin or, you know, the microwave or like Viagra, but it's in every single one. And I, I think at that point you have to overthrow the whole God model.

Completely and be like, okay, that's a type of illusion. Let's do something else.

Florian Rustler: Now you, you said one, one thing that I found when I, when I listened to the dinosaur example the first thing that came to my mind, my first thought was, well, it didn't do it on purpose, right? It, it, that, that happened like evolution, and it was not a purposeful direction that it was developing in, but more like.[00:14:00]

Mutations and then it was useful. And because of that, it kept replicating. And you just in the last sentence, you said one thing you said human innovation, right? Because I was always like, where is like, normally, when we talk about creativity. And innovation, there is always the assumption it needs humans and humans are always part of that equation, right?

So when it's creativity, when it's innovation, it's something humans do. Yeah. Is, is that something, or maybe we can also come to your definition of innovation. So is, is, are humans necessary for that? Or can there be an innovation that like the dinosaur development into birds that you would also call innovation, but it has nothing to do with human beings.

Iain Kerr: I guess, Jason, you want to jump in or well, I mean, I

Jason Frasca: think humans are a part of it, right? They're a part of the ecosystem. They're a part of the environment. [00:15:00] They're, they're contributing factor. But not unto themselves. And I think this gets back to the God model a We've humans tend to put themselves at the center of the universe.

They are the generating force behind the new. It's solely the human individual that created something, innovated something, right? And I think it's This this myth that you know, we're kind of trying to address with the God model as a whole that it's much bigger than a human being, but we, of course, we're part of it in some way, right?

But it's relational. It's Ecosystems, it's environments, it's constraints, it's affordances, it's agency between all of these elements, right? And so you know, it's part of this demystification of the lone genius, [00:16:00] right? The creative genius in an organization, the The, the the genius problem solver, you know, I, oh, you know, you read this all the time on like on LinkedIn posts, right?

I'm a, I'm a, I'm the problem solver, right? I hear a problem and I've got the answer right away, right? Which is actually an anti creative act. By getting right to a solution and, and, and, and getting into solution thinking, which is a little bit of a divergence from this conversation here. But so, you know, it's, it's it's, it's much more than any 1 individual.

And so that's, I think, a lot of why we look to nature as in our examples, but certainly not limited to

Florian Rustler: that. Okay. So that means if I, just to summarize, if I get that right, so that means there can be innovation without human beings, right? Because it was in the past.[00:17:00] So, and maybe then my, my definition would, for the innovation would include, it's, it's about the, the creation of something new.

I'd be curious to hear what you say, but what, what, what I get from you is there can be innovation without human beings, because for example, we have not been around at certain times and something new was created, or we are around, but we are not relevant to what's being created in the sense of we don't have any interaction with it.

And I understand, and that's now coming to. Also organizations humans can play a part in innovation in the sense of they're part of the, the ecosystem and the, the, the system itself. And we might even say that humans can have the intention of creating something new. And so they can have the intention to innovate and to somehow actively influence that process.

Iain Kerr: [00:18:00] Yeah, absolutely. I think what the really important thing is. And I, and, and, you know, you said this really well, but what we often hear is. Where somebody will say, like, yeah, yeah, that's great, you know, the world's creative dinosaurs, birds, but what about humans and to take humans into some separate category and then be like, we have to address this with different methods, different logics, but the really important thing is that our creativity, our ability to come up to Help nurture something genuinely new coming into being.

Surf's arises from is entangled with. A larger universe that's inherently creative, and so it's not an exception, a distinct case when we're really innovative or [00:19:00] creative. We're working with emergent processes that are happening around us. I think this gets to another really important part that Jason was like hinting at.

The what's actually creative, you know, isn't the individual, but the system, the larger process. So you could have, which is what you would see in evolution with the dinosaur bird, like the the system. Is allowing something novel, genuinely new to come into being so an organization can be creative or should be thought to be creative rather than putting the, the emphasis on one person coming up with an idea and thinking they're pushing it through.

So really the, the [00:20:00] focus when we, when we think about. Human creativity has to be also in the ecosystem. Like, how do we make the conditions? That will allow for the genuinely new to emerge, and it won't be one thing like the God model, come up with a new idea, see it through, but you have to set up multiple, you know, multiple levels and ways, systems that will afford the emergence of something new.

You know, so that's kind of our focus

Florian Rustler: now, because I want to dig deeper a bit because of something you just mentioned. So, first of all, that might be a blow to the ego of some people now realizing, Hey, it's not just about you, the great genius and being the big the big inventor. But it's more about the system and allowing the system or, or, or having a system that [00:21:00] allows the emergence.

Yeah. Yeah. Of new things now we could say, and you said, it's more about looking at the organization and does the organization support or allow or, or make it more likely for things to emerge. And I would assume as an organization and again, now looking at human beings, and we could try to try to influence that in a way that the new can happen.

Can you say something a bit about what conditions do we need to create so that this is more likely?

Iain Kerr: Yeah you know, this is, this is you know, it's a great question where there's two parts, like conditions that you have to change so that we don't keep repeating the God model is one part, you know, so there's a lot of you know, the God models become habitual. It's [00:22:00] We think you know, Osborne is a great example where, you know, for that model, creativity is inside the head.

It's something you have. It's like, you can measure IQ and you could measure a kind of creativity, quality of people and you could support it, but you have to, you have to help people move out of it through developing practices and techniques that lead them to sense and work differently. So there's a, there's part of it that you could say is educational you know, through things like workshops that give them a sense of Embodied distributed creativity and nonlinear processes, what have you, and we do a lot of that.

And what's really good about starting with those kinds of things, it's always you want the, the [00:23:00] people involved to be the ones generating the changes to the system, you know, so where you could imagine consultants could come in and just move all sorts of little pieces around in a system and be like, well you could be more creative, but I think it's really important that you want the system itself to start generating those. So changing, like giving people a sense that there's another way is really important so that they start to have the agency to make changes and then to start to put these in.

Some of these are Would look architectural, like how spaces are laid out. Others would look infrastructural, like how job flows and workflows are laid out. You know, if something's emergent, for example and, you know, it's coming into being, it's changing the people who are [00:24:00] involved. You have to be able to with it.

Change the description of your job in a way you have to be able to stop doing certain things and give them to other people and take on other things. The team, the team that you're working with might change, you know, and it, it might require that new people are brought into the organization. New environments are built, but organizations really don't have those kinds of.

Flexibilities and dynamics. So part of it is is like modeling those in workshops. So people see that we have to do them and then helping organizations be able to do that. You know, so there's there's like a lot of these parts that are working at different levels and scales. You have to get buy in. You know, so upper level management has to, has to see a value in [00:25:00] this kind of approach and since organizations are set up in usually very linear ways to do one thing really well, and they imagine it's just about coming in with the new idea, goes back into the same workflow the God model's baked into an organization in a way, and an emergent model means building a new Thank you.

All the parts bit by bit in a. But you want to do it in a way that it's, it's emerging through the people and the organization that's very much reminds me of what you said. It actually we, we talked about this before briefly that, like, like, my, my company, creative, effective, we work on innovation, but we also are like organizational developers for supporting More adaptive and flexible organizations that allow those things to happen.

Florian Rustler: And one of the reasons why we, we kind of. [00:26:00] Shifted into that field or or diversified into that field was exactly because we had some experiences around innovation where we would see that the organization and the setting in the organization was unable to deal with some of the. In this case ideas and concepts that were coming up that that people found value in but the organization Hadn't was unable to process them in the way to what you said to hey, we would need new teams We would need people from Different departments actually starting working together and all this was like, no way.

Right. And then for that, that's when we realized it's not really just about having an idea. And then here's a great concept because it's very likely that the organization will kill it. Very quickly because it's I'm able to process

Iain Kerr: it and and this is where like it's, [00:27:00] you know, new ideas will emerge in the process.

I think it's important to say, like, we're not anti idea. It's just that they're not there at the beginning and and as you say, organizations have an incredibly hard time dealing with these things. You know, and then when you show up to your boss and say, well, you know, like last week I was this, but now I need to turn into this kind of person or, you know, we need to work in this environment.

We need to build these things. It's like, what the fuck? Like, that's not. That's not why we hired you. That's not what we expected. Yeah. You know, so I think, you know,

Jason Frasca: at elasticity, I think you're describing it has to come from the top, right? Like it can't, it can't come from the middle. It can't come from the bottom alone.

Right? It's got to be injected. The elasticity has to be injected into the rigidity from the top. [00:28:00] With with complete buy in to allow for that emergent dynamic processes to take

Florian Rustler: place. There is that term I heard, which somebody said or wrote about. It's like the holder of the space. So you would need somebody to allow that actually to happen and to make sure that the organization.

Is allowing that to happen. And that's where the top top end of buying comes in. Yeah. You also mentioned already like, okay, the God model of creativity and the linear process is, is not it. So we need something that, that, like a system, an organization that allows the new to emerge and, and, and, and react to it.

And you said, well, we propose a different approach to how to, because you mentioned, well, we, we also do have a process, but then I would assume it's a lot non linear process. Well, I don't assume because I've read the book, but I'd like to talk to you about it. So you, you've written a [00:29:00] book Help me get with the title.

Jason Frasca: It's called Innovating Emerging Futures.

Florian Rustler: Innovating Emerging Futures. So it's the Emerging Futures Lab that the two of you created and the book is Innovating Emerging Futures. Yeah. So here we see it. Right. And so we, it's, you know, we call it the innovation design approach for change

and world making.

Tell us more about then how does that alternative approach or different approach that you're advocating, how does that work?

Iain Kerr: Maybe I just say that the abstract stuff and then you, you jump in from it. So I would say they're really important. 1st thing. You know, 2 things, it's, it's an approach and not a model, and I think a model goes back into, like, it's very.

It's do this then do that and do that. It's it's more of like a [00:30:00] general framework and at the core of the framework is an idea of emergence, you know, and I think the important thing in a nutshell with emergence is that things come together. And they, they synergize into a type of whole, you know, you can think of an organization whatever it might be, where the, something emerges from it.

You know, you could say like a new direction towards novelty. But what's emerging the new is irreducible to any one part. And that's like the nonlinear part. Like you can't trace it back and go, Oh, that was Jason's idea. No, no, no, no, no. That person came up with this. It's like everything comes together.

Something new emerges. That's irreducible now. They're really, really important part to add to that is that whatever the new is has a type of [00:31:00] system causation, or sometimes it's called like downward causation where the new starts to make the parts so. If, you know, if the 3 of us are working on something, let's say that whatever that new that's emerging from our work, it's actually making each of us.

We're being changed the environments being changed the tools. So it's not like it's spit something out, but it feeds back in and it's changing it. And so the innovation design approach is really. Built on that kind of model. So that's what I just wanted to say at the beginning. Okay, Jason.

Jason Frasca: Yeah, no, I'm really important in for that to provide that context.

You know, it's, it's a, it's a, it's a approach that requires engaging [00:32:00] with your practice through a doing you know we, you know, if ideation is conservative, right, if ideation is rooted in the known we, you know, we believe deeply in embodied experience in making and doing, experiencing with the area of interest.

And so we kind of break it down into four main tasks where you begin by engaging with the area of interest, the matter of concern you know, beyond thinking about it, right? So I just I don't want to just think about this sort of change, right? I want to engage with it. I want to become a part of it.

I need to interact with it.

Florian Rustler: So let's assume just make let's make an example that we are thinking about creating a new kind of conference. Format, right? So there's lots of standardized conferences out there and we have somehow the intention [00:33:00] in it going, thinking in that direction to see, isn't there a radically different, better way or of, of, of having some kind of a conference?

Let's call it this way. Right? Could, could that be an example? Let me say, you think about that. Okay. So when you now say engage, Okay. In that would then most likely also mean that I would not just sit there and think about what to do different. But I would maybe check out different

Iain Kerr: existing. Yeah, the key there is like it's like you're you're working in an embodied with things doing things.

You're not sitting back and looking at it because that way you can think it's really important. You can start to poke things and you can And they give you feedback and the feedback allows you to see two things like what's the underlying logic of something, which then you can start to block, you know, to, [00:34:00] because I think if something's genuinely new coming back to that definition of innovation, you can't know it, but you can know what it's not.

Florian Rustler: I just try to make it up if, if I, if I see if I can get it right, but in the conference space, so I go to conferences, right? And then what I see is what always happens in the conferences is that we would have speakers. Right. Speakers in front, people listening. I could see, hey, that's, that's a repeating pattern.

Now, now I could start thinking about what would happen if I would block that element. Would that be? Yeah, I

Jason Frasca: would just, I would just point out real quick, you know, that, that where you're noticing there's always speakers, right? This is what we would call the process of disclosing, right? You're starting to understand.

Before we get to blocking, we have to understand what's taking place. We have to understand what exists. We have to understand [00:35:00] all the ways as best we can, right? That conferences, yes. Are being conducted. So we have speakers, we have panels, we have keynotes, we have lectures, we have experiential, right? We have large, we have small, we have virtual, we have in person, right?

And, and so you're, you're, you're, you're Your instinct to go to the speakers. Yes, absolutely. Right. But let's before we can create difference, right? We have to understand what's already existing. What's already taking place before we can start to block what's taking place. We've really tried to disclose as much about it as we possibly can.

Let's talk to those that are doing great things. In workshops. Mm-hmm. , you know, let's talk to, let's understand what the big ones are doing well, what the small ones are doing well. Mm-hmm. , why, you know, that sort of thing, like mm-hmm. , so truly disclosing all there is around that world. Mm-hmm. of conferences.

Alright. Then we can get into that [00:36:00] blocking. Right.

Iain Kerr: Okay. Yeah.

Florian Rustler: So like, let's, that one you call the

Iain Kerr: engagement part, right? Yeah. The engage and the disclose. Mm-hmm. , I think what's really important is, so you start experimentally blocking something. Mm-hmm. And, you know, so like, for example, you know, I like your idea, like say we will not have speakers, you know, panels, what have you, any of that but other parts will stay.

Now, the important thing is you, you're not interested in doing an abstract exercise, like where you're just like, what would happen if, let's think about it. But you, you want to actually do like a non speaker thing. We're going to organize something without speakers and you're interested in what emerges.

What's You know, because you understand what exists and in some deep way of what's its underlying [00:37:00] logic, what's the paradigm of conferencing, you could say, how does it fit into our life form that you can notice then on unexpected things, exaptations that are emerging that move away from That logic and you and you can be like, huh, that's interesting.

That's surprising. What would happen if we now focused more on that new novelty? What if we stabilized it? What if we made that the thing and you, you know, we can't predict what that will be in advance, but we've kind of set up this experiment, you know, and then you can start to follow these things and stabilize them.

And then block some other things and then see, can it go further and you're following what's emerging that's novel and you're, you're starting [00:38:00] to ask, how does this make a new framework, a new approach, a new paradigm, and you're thinking, what else can we add to it? And how can we stabilize that? So the important thing is, because you're engaged, because you've disclosed and you're trying to figure out what's the deeper framework paradigm that something's in you and you're probing, you have these feedback loops that are taking you into the novel and used in it.

You're trying to kick in a process of co-emergence where you're emerging with what's new and stabilizing it. Now what comes out, we can't say predict in advance. It might be nothing like a conference. It might be nothing like, you know, any un conference or something that goes elsewhere. There'll be something You know, like what we call a change in [00:39:00] kind.

It's not a change in degree like a better conference. There's some genuinely new approach to I don't know what we would call it, but say human collective gathering, whatever, gathering, like some very general. I'm saying and that's what we're looking for. And as that approach emerges, that's a genuine change in kind.

It's not. An improvement, a development at something else, then we can figure out how to explore it and do things with it. So this is what, you know, Jason was saying as these tasks of the innovation design framework of engaging, disclosing, then we say it's deviating the beginning of that following and blocking.

And then it's co emergence at the end [00:40:00] so those are kind of the tasks you could also, you know, mix them up and do different things with them or just one part or something. But that would be kind of, I would say, Jason, a way of like taking your prompt and working with it. Yeah, that was a great example.

Florian Rustler: Yeah, so That's what I got from your book as well when you look at the approach is that it's not so it's it's it's an approach But not a very specific. It's always one two, three four, right? and always do that way, but you had these visuals also in the book that you could depending on what you were That's what I got what your intention is also and what the context is in which you are you can start a different Elements of the approach, right?

And sometimes you would also skip something and sometimes you would not. And that's a bit depending on what's the specific [00:41:00] context you're in. And maybe also you can have an intention, right? That I understood that what you kind of want to do, and then depending on that, choosing your approach.

Iain Kerr: Yeah,

Jason Frasca: I think entrepreneurs tend to, you know, have no beginning, right?

They have no fixed starting place, just an area of interest. Whereas organizations tend to have you know, a number of starting points in which they can you know, connect with and use that, this type of an approach. So they, there's, there's like disclosures already, you know, quite quite full. They've been iterating over time and they're trying to push into some area of novelty with some area that they're already successful with, right?

You know, that would be one example. There's a number of different spots that you can jump right in as opposed to everybody starting from this base foundation of [00:42:00] of an area of interest and picking something new to begin with.

Florian Rustler: I mean, just listening to you describing Like Iain before, when you just, when you described what you would do on with the conferencing example, right?

It felt like, oh, wow, that's a lot of effort. That's required, right? It would go and it would test and block and see, and I could imagine that, like, that. You wouldn't really need an understanding and a dedication as an organization to say we are comfortable and willing to engage in that, right? Because it's not, Hey, Jason and Iain, can we set aside two hours to think about a new conference and then just go get and start introducing it?

Right. But it's, it's, it, it doesn't work that

Iain Kerr: way. No, I think this is really important. And this is like coming back to what Jason was saying at the beginning, like everyone has some idea of innovation, creativity. You know, and everyone thinks they can do it. And then when you hone in, it's all vague and nebulous.

And one of the big [00:43:00] assumptions is like that it's about a eureka moment, a moment. And even if it were, it's, it's, you still have to make it real. And that's where it meets the world, which is highly nonlinear. But I think the really important thing is like. Innovation takes time. Innovation is slow.

Or maybe even a better way is like each thing has its own context and its own speed and you have to figure out how to attune yourself to it. And if you. The more you try and think you're smarter than a process, an emergent process, the more you want to, like, leapfrog things, it just really undermines the whole thing.

And I, and I think, you know, like, you often hear that phrase, we use it a lot, you have to trust the process. [00:44:00] You know, and I think it's. Building the capacity and in organizations and teams to, to, to live processes to trust them, to test them and to take the time. You know, if, if it's actually worth doing, it'll take time, but you'll get to novelty.

You'll get to something interesting. Okay. Tell me a bit because. I think we have a lot of listeners that are in organizations. Now let's assume that'd be really curious to say, if you work with client organizations we, we talked about the approach and that it takes time. How do you, how do you normally work with clients if there is something like a normally, but I would assume you have a way of doing that.

Florian Rustler: So how, how do you normally work with your client organization? What what what happens or how do you work with them? Can you give us a bit of detail? [00:45:00]

Jason Frasca: Yeah. So I think, you know, it begins in in a commitment to conversations where assumptions can be challenged and an understanding of ecosystems and environments can be shared.

The challenges before the organization can be articulated deeply so that. There's a real genuine cohesive, co, co, co creative approach to the organizational goals that that would like to be transformed. So you know, that it starts there. And then through an understanding of, of. The current conditions and, and, and the, and the the transformation that's desired, you know, then a series of probes [00:46:00] experiments can start to be embedded for an understanding of of what's taking place.

Where there's resistance, where there's opportunity and how that deeper transformation can take place. And then from there, you know, opens into experiential workshops and and curriculum and and content and and the like. To help transform the organization into a more resilient dynamic organically, you know you know innovative organization in what I miss

Florian Rustler: immediately questions come up.

And let's let's let me. Yeah, sure. So that would mean what you just said, Jason, that, like the way you work with organizations, with client [00:47:00] organizations, it's not just on a very specific project in that sense of, Hey, we want to create a, we are conference organizing company and we want to create a new conference format.

Can you help us? But you are more also Jason, what you just mentioned, you were actually also like organizational developers, right? Because you help them create conditions that would change the way the organization. So that new stuff can emerge. Is that

Iain Kerr: right? That's really the, the key. I think, you know, Jason, what you were saying at the end, like we, we don't want to come in, you know, we're not opposed to coming in, helping working on a problem per se, but really the goal is to put ourselves out of business where we've helped an organization.

Become one that can in a kind of organic or spontaneous way, be more innovative. So it's not reliant on [00:48:00] consultants coming in and being like, okay, we'll do another whatever type of innovation workshop to help you get going on this. X, Y, or Z question, but how do you, how do you develop an organizational ecosystem such that genuine novelty can emerge more effectively, more spontaneously, more frequently and be carried through to realization?

Like, that's our goal. Okay. So just working with, say, like your conference company, you know, We we wouldn't be just like, how do you come up with a new product like a new type of conference you know, because that's not a really resilient model. It's not, you know, it's there's a kind of brittleness like we're well.

Now you've got a new. You put all your eggs in one basket. You got a new whatever widget. Is that really what you need? [00:49:00] It also doesn't allow like for that continuous like emergence and development because nothing's static. You know, you come up with a new conference format. It meets the world. It has to keep evolving and change adapting.

And so that's really what we're trying to get, help organizations. And organizations broadly, they could be communities, businesses, nonprofits, movements, you know.

Florian Rustler: Okay. So organizations really working with you really have to be, let's say, open to really have a very broad conversation. Right about how we do things and not be very specific on here.

This is the conference project. And after two years, we're going to ask you in again, because reality changed and conference is not working anymore. Now we need an update of that, but it's really more like you support them, how to become an [00:50:00] organization that. Is, is, is able to allow the radical new to emerge in the organization and create conditions that makes that more likely to happen.

Iain Kerr: Yeah. So

Jason Frasca: that they can generate the answers to those questions on the conferences, right? Both today and in 2 years, you know, per year example. Yeah. Yeah.

Florian Rustler: So I would assume. I would assume that the just now be getting very practical because we are also like an innovation consultancy and often the kind of, so there are certain requests that we get that is really like, Hey, I'm department X, Y, Z, and we want to do this new product.

Can you facilitate a workshop for us helping us? And if I would then engage in them and say, Hey, we need to have a much broader conversation about your organization. They would say, Hey, that's out of my box. Right? Nothing I can do here. So I would, I would assume that the kind of conversation partners that you would need to speak to in the organization would have to be pretty high up [00:51:00] so that you can have a conversation about these broader boundaries in the first place.

Iain Kerr: It can be. I mean, I think in organizations, everything is moving up and down and to the side, you know, but I think like where you, you know, we often also have those. You know inquiries where it's some unit, some component, you know, has needs assistance and whatever. I think the important part there is, is to, is to be able to frame the question in a similar way.

Like, we, we want to put ourselves out of business in that context. You know, so if, if you're like the I don't know, like a product design department. How do you, how do you you know, and you're working on a certain question. How do we, in a sense, have the added value of helping you shift to a much more [00:52:00] adaptive, dynamic, responsive, emergent.

Innovation process and approach so we can help you with this one issue, but we've moved you from being, you know, like this kind of issue driven cycle of needing to restart everything over again to being more adaptive. And organically innovative,

Florian Rustler: even if it's just within that 1 unit, right?

Iain Kerr: Yeah. To the degree that that's possible.

I think we're often we're often doing that. Like, that's the reality, you know, that you you're working with you know, in some. Corporation, you know, a lot of corporations today are are massive, sprawling, complex. There really isn't any top or bottom in those ways. And [00:53:00] and I think there's like a catalytical power to, like, working with one part and these things can have ripple effects and what have you with this.

Okay. Yeah,

Florian Rustler: I have to look a bit about on time. So I found this very fascinating and time is going very fast, but maybe so there is something that the three of us are. Trying and we will see if that will work, but we're thinking about so this is now June we're recording this in June 2023 The podcast will be live beginning of July and we're thinking of Because I'm so fascinated about all this we are thinking about having a an experience, a one day workshop experience in Munich.

So for, for people who are interested in that experiencing that innovation design approach in November, and I will link stuff into the show notes. So. [00:54:00] We will see but that's our intention to, to make that happen. Can you tell a little bit about this at the very end? Like this is going to be only a one day thing.

What's to be expected, what's going to happen.

Iain Kerr: This is going to be a. You know, a really powerful, deep dive, immersive experience of emergent innovation, you know, all the things we're talking about. It's not where there's lectures, or even many lectures and then example, experiential examples. We're really interested in.

Putting people into an actual just, you know, genuinely emergent innovation experience where you will, without ideating, develop something genuinely new that we will unpack that [00:55:00] experience and that process and that event and help everyone understand Thank you. In their own way, what happened such that they can take that out into the world, their worlds and use it in really meaningful and concrete ways.

So it's it's a kind of itself an emergent. Innovation event you know, you'll leave with. Tools, processes, embodied understandings and experiences that can be genuinely taken into your own work and practice. It will get you out of, you know, the God model and all of these kind of linear approaches and give you a sense that you.

These other things aren't abstract. They're not theoretical. They're not jumbo jumbo. They're real. They're doable. They're [00:56:00] reachable. They're actualizable. That's really where we want, you know, so people have that sense like...

Florian Rustler: Okay, I get it by experiencing it.

Iain Kerr: By experiencing it, not like just have another lecture, you know, but it's in your body.

And it's, and you know, there'll be takeaways, you know, various tools and other things. And, you know, we'll end with, we'll start from breakfast and go through a wonderful dinner. We'll have curated and shaped. All of these things in a very deliberate ways to get at these. So there's there's no generic qualities to these things.

It's it's going to be something very special, really beautiful and hopefully. Transformative for people. [00:57:00]

Florian Rustler: I very much hope that got people curious. So I'm yeah, I will link in the show notes. I will link to to a landing page where we have more information on that for Munich for, for November. And anyway, I will link also to the emergent futures lab.

So that people Yeah. Who are intrigued and curious about this can read more and I have to say even for me being, I would say, knowing something about innovation. It's not. A super easy read, so you have to be, you have to be willing to engage with it because there's a, you have a lot of substance to, to things and it's in the book, but I think for, I already got feedback from one customer said, Hey, this is very fascinating, but it's not easy.

I shouldn't be reading this at 10 PM but when you're awake, right? So, yeah. Just as a disclaimer, as a warning I will link [00:58:00] to your, your page Emerging Future Lab and to the book. We can also include a LinkedIn profile. So people are, that are curious and want to get in touch with you, will find ways of how to reach.

Wonderful. Iain, Jason, thank you very much for taking the time for this fascinating conversation. Thanks. Thank you,

Jason Frasca: Florian. This was wonderful.

Iain Kerr: It's really great talking again.

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