Definition of Slow Innovation

What is Slow Innovation?

In general it is fair to say that Innovation is slow – mainly because there is such a cultural focus on fast everything – and especially fast innovation. 

The assumption behind fast innovation is that innovation can be reduced to a moment of inspiration that comes in a flash – and everything else is, well, something else. But this model is pretty much wrong in all of its aspects – it reduces innovation to an individual, an internal idea that can be executed, a single moment, makes it human etc. – And it leaves us bereft of others, our own full being, techniques, practices, tools, processes, and ecosystems – in short all the collaborators that might lead to the emergence of novelty.

But to say that “innovation is slow” can also be a mistake. Innovation is not one thing – it necessarily has many speeds – some astonishingly slow and other instantaneous – continuities and ruptures. But more importantly, it is also something that has no clear end – you simply cannot predict when novelty will emerge or what it will be and become. Because of this there can be no clear method that could be labeled “the slow innovation method”.

Slow and fast give one too much of a sense that innovation is a discrete thing and that there is a clear method that will lead to innovation. 

It is not that innovation is wholly mysterious – rather, the radically new is highly contingent on contextual – it is reliant on relational conditions that are themselves emergent in the process. Techniques and practices follow and emerge alongside of what new things are happening. 

While there is no method (Design Thinking for example) that can be applied, and there is no single speed to innovation, there are many things we can say about assumptions, approaches, practices, tools, techniques and ecosystems that are more often more helpful than many others. 

But trying to put it in a neat package – say of “slow” or “fast” is ultimately not as helpful and we might hope…

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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