Welcome to Emerging Futures - Volume 4!
This week our focus is worldmaking.
In COVID world it's been a while since we did a workshop in person!
But, this week we facilitated a Montclair Design Week workshop titled: “Other Worlds are Possible.”
We set out to experimentally explore in a fast, fun and engaging manner how we can tackle and pivot away from two big problems that hinder transformative creativity: solution thinking (jumping to answers before inventing the problem), and the conflation of creativity with ideation. Our hope was that we could provide a powerful experience of this problem and an equally powerful experience of an alternative.
The first objective was to demonstrate that you can’t get to novelty if you focus on ideas (we get it! Most innovation processes assume big cool novel ideas — especially at the beginning of the process are really important). But that's the crux of the innovation paradox: if something is genuinely new -- ideas, which rely on existing concepts and language, can’t get you there — they are always connected to the past and what exists. We need to leapfrog ideation.
And that's what made the workshop really fun — by taking an embodied approach — doing things and playing a fast crazy game, an alternative pathway emerged that allowed for the generation of new worlds — that none of us in the workshop could have conceived.
And, we have to say this was lots of fun — we played an iterative building game that got pretty crazy! Lot’s of failures and lots of unintended outcomes! Things were pretty fast paced — time pressures are great for crazy antics and interesting outcomes!
But the best of all is that we got there — by the end of many rounds of making and the discussion that followed it was organically revealed: the problems and limitations of sticky note world and ideation heavy models of innovation — and more importantly that we can avoid these limitations by following real innovation processes.
If you were unable to join us here are a few of the great takeaways from the workshop:
Innovation is Worldmaking
“All thoughts, ideas, concepts and practices necessarily depend upon a space of implicit “pre-understanding.” This pre-understanding hangs together in a holistic manner. It relies on an implicit set of embodied practices, environments, ecologies, tools and mentalities (mindsets) that ground and support a way of seeing, understanding and engaging with reality.”
The crux of disruptive innovation is not some singular novel thing but a genuinely novel world.
Not enough? We went deeper into worlds and worldmaking by pulling an example from the Grateful Dead’s experimental use of LSD. Here we explored how a world comes into being. Or how you might develop your own world.
Ultimately, we believe, innovation for any problem you love is quite similar.
To reach novelty an innovator needs to connect deeply with the issue at hand. Understand and disclose it’s rules and how it exists. Then block those expectations and rules at a fundamental level, over and over and over again — iterating until something unintended and novel reveals itself as worth following. We discover it’s unexpected potential via iterating, testing and probing new ways of being till differences worth following emerge. Rinse and repeat. Till a new world evolves!
Our approach to innovation is to drift through space and time with problems we love – experimentally blocking what exists to discover the new. Accumulating readings, research, experiences, experiments, and collectively new modes of making doing embodying tool making and practicing. Following emergent fascinations till we’ve left behind what exists, tripping into something new at the level of a world.
Ultimately all innovation is worldmaking.(we’ve got much more to say, but that's for another time…)
It’s how we've developed the Emergent Futures Lab world, and we are really glad to have you collaborating with us on it.
Special thanks to the new collaborators and co-conspirators we met this week. We remain inspired by you!
Till next week we stand alongside,
Iain and Jason
Emergent Futures Lab
We’re How You Innovate
P.S.: Special thanks to Sharon Waters for lending us her photos of the workshop.