Welcome to Emerging Futures -- Volume 5! Innovation - Wrong Models & New Models...
Welcome to Emerging Futures - Volume 5!
This week we had some great broad ranging discussions on and off our devices. Which led us to think — we really need to share these:
So, in this week's newsletter we are sharing and developing some of these conversations with the hope that if they are meaningful to one person they probably are of interest to more.
Our real hope is to foster a community via discussion and experimentation. So please reach out to the people we mention, join our discussions on Linkedin and email us.
Let’s reinvent innovation together.
For us this week was all about deconstructing existing models of creativity, but if you look below you will see we also get into:
This week we launched our five part series on the problems with existing models of innovation (and creativity).
We published the first article in this series “You Can’t do Innovation till you Realize what it is not” The three key takeaways from this are:
Check it out and on Monday we will publish our next installment.
Based on the article we posed the question:
If generating ideas is not the key to beginning the innovation process — what is?
This led to really interesting conversations on and off the web with friends and colleagues: here are two great responses:
Elizabeth Hoffecker: “From my field research and personal experience, in the context of rural, low-income (often agriculturally-based) communities, the "trigger" for an innovation process is definitely NOT ideation- it's more often a persistent/nagging sense that one should be able to do something that one is currently not able to do, or not able to do as one wishes one could (e.g. get water more efficiently into one's field, or compost one's organic waste, or whatever). It's the sense that: "there has GOT to be a better way to do this than the way that I and my neighbors are currently going about it. I don't know what that is, but I want to try to figure it out."
Tim Giordano: “I'm enjoying thinking about these questions. And not to sidetrack or jump ahead or backwards or... but, if we accept ideas isn't the key, so we stop asking or chasing them so much, what do we do with them when we inevitably have them? i.e. How do we best 'start' from something we maybe agree isn't the best start - but it's there... is the work then to 'free' ourselves of the idea in some way? And/or is part of the point that the/a new model embraced we will find ourselves less and less in that spot?”
Over the coming weeks our newsletter will dig deeper into this question. Here is how we start:
For us the key is embedded and engaged experimentation that is informed by critical analysis (which allows you to block existing patterns and processes). Where this experimentation is directed towards following unintended possibilities (discovered in action) towards new paradigms/frameworks.
We shared an absolutely brilliant critical history about how, why and when the concept of creativity first emerged in the west — the shocking answer to when is: very recently and very poorly. It’s worth a close read — even if it is dense. Unsure? Our colleague Stan Pipkin said this after reading “Timely and compelling- perhaps a viral shock helps dislodge these embedded habits” — that is what it was for us times ten...
Here are our key takeaways:
“The decades of the 50s & 60s saw an unprecedented proliferation of institutes & foundations devoted to the fostering of creativity in the US, a phenomena that J.P. Guilford… allegedly attributed to the massive redirection of funds from the US defense budget in the wake of the ‘Sputnik Shock’ — the US, it was feared, was losing the Space Race because its scientists were not ‘creative’ enough. Shortly afterwards… an estimated one trillion dollars flooded into tertiary education institutions through the National Defense Education Act, Osborn’s Creative Education Foundation received contracts from the Air Force, & Guilford’s research at USC was funded by the Navy. These government sponsored initiatives shifted the focus of the discourse once again — this time onto the identification & study of individuals & individual traits as a means to combat Soviet totalitarianism”
Ana Munoz – An Innovation Designer wonderfully challenged us this week after reading our report on last weeks workshop in which we claimed we were doing something antithetical to Design Thinking:
“I still don't get how different your approach is from the Design Thinking approach. It would be interesting to have a comparison.
DT it's not only sticky notes and widgets, is many of the concepts you mention in your e-mail:
This is pretty much the same things you learn at the IDEO's certification.”
Ana, you are totally right: We shared outcomes that were too generic. We love your suggestion of having a comparison. We began this process, but not by first comparing DT to our model — we wanted to start more generally comparing “classical creativity” — that which has emerged since the 1960s with the underlying theoretical alternative we call “worldly creativity”.
Please let us know what you think of this diagram (And we promise the DT vs IDA is coming soon!):
Chris Lundy, who attended our workshop, emailed a really insightful follow up — really continuing the discussion: what should we do if we are not focused on ideation.
He reminded us about how important the process of emergence is to all of this.
For us emergence is the answer to the classical problem “how can you get something from nothing” — which is usually solved by the god model of innovation (have an idea and then make it real).
Emergence, in a nutshell, is how something can exist that is greater and different than everything that went into making it. Obviously it is more complex than this so we annotated one of the diagrams that appears in our book (Innovating Emergent Futures) to help explain it:
We would love to hear your thoughts on the process of emergence in creativity and innovation? Plus, we're curious if you find this helpful?
All of this discussion and your amazing questions on how to innovate if we don’t start with ideas, what is emergence, etc... can get overwhelming. So we have an an entertaining take on how to continue to think about innovation deeply - just watch the movie Dogtown & Z-boys. It's about the invention of modern skateboarding — it has it all — seriously.
If you have a moment, we highly recommend watching: — it’s on Amazon, Youtube and Google Play — take your pick and enjoy!
That’s it for this issue! 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