Finding Innovation

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last week I tried to connect the idea of disruptive innovation to Lewis Hyde's anthropological analysis of the mythological trickster. The comparison hinged on a couple ideas, namely that both are focused on the breaking of traditional trade-offs, and that breaking those trade-offs results in a re-ordering of the status quo, a re-ordering that reveals a particular abundance that was previously hidden by man made structures or convention.

I also argued that would be innovators could learn from Hyde's work on the trickster by reading his book with an eye for insight into their behaviours, but it can also be read in a way that helps you find the innovators.
Badi b/w by Emilia Tjernström [Arriving at the horizon]
If you are looking for innovators ...

Look to immigrants or nomads. Those who are new to your organization or those who move around a lot may in fact be your most innovative. New arrivals bring fresh eyes, instinctively connect their new experiences with their previous ones creating a new middle ground for the organization to explore.

Look to people who can take more than a single world view. They have a diversity of interests that drives them to read things from and maintain relationship in different sectors. As a result they bring in ideas that seem foreign to many but yet always seem to contain some nugget of merit.

Look to those who are willing to start from square one, willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater and challenge the fundamental assumptions that dominate the discourse. People who don't simply tear down straw men but build something out of bricks and mortar (or in a digital era perhaps I should say "1s and 0s") to replace it.

Look to people who are good communicators. People who make you feel at ease about things that you are usually uneasy about, who easily bridge the gap between those at the working level and senior managers, knowing how to couch their words with either group.

Look to the people who are comfortable with change. They see everything as an opportunity and welcome whatever the newly reshaped world has in store for them.

Finally, look to the troublemakers. The peoples whose transgressive nature exposes the more deeply problematic roots of more systemic and pressing problems. They use intellect, humour and satire whenever possible, nothing is off limits, and as a result they wind up getting into hot water now and again.

Originally published by Nick Charney at cpsrenewal.ca
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