Pillars of innovation development

Sam McNerney wrote an article “Is Too Much Familiarity Bad For Creativity?” that I highly recommend it causes a good reflection. From this text I chose three quotes that I expressed here, separated and without proper context to enable an extension of this reflection addressed to creativity and innovation.

From there we read:

– “If you want a creative solution to a problem, you’d better find someone who knows a little about the situation but not too much.”

– “Solvers tend to solve problems that are at the fringe of their expertise.”

– “The greatest innovators of any field share a few characteristics in common: years of intensive preparation and technical competence.”

At first glance we can easily identify some contradiction between statements, since in the first we have given priority to a not specialization in the second we accept some specialization and in third we have given priority to the experience and focus on specific matters.

However with some skill in handling this information we can confirm that all are true and we could find, in the past, representatives (people) of these avenues of approach to creativity in innovation.

There is however a note that goes unnoticed and which refers to the number of players in the epics of innovation. In the three statements made upon people are referred to as individual entities and not as groups or organizations.

It is here, in my opinion that is the major differentiation:

How the organizations where these people are inserted, works?

The complexity of contemporary issues suggests that a discipline just can’t solve them.

The good news for innovators is that, given this incredible complexity and diversity of today’s world, the opportunities for innovation are plentiful.

“Working together as a team, professionals must balance responsibilities, values, knowledge, skills, and even goals about patient care, against their role as a team member in shared decision-making. Because many physicians, in particular, are accustomed to a practice environment in which decisions are “made” by the doctor, and “carried out” by other professionals, it is difficult sometimes for physicians to adjust to a team approach, in which majority opinion, deference to more expert opinion, unanimity, or consensus may b more appropriate methods of decision-making than autocratic choice. Further, physicians who maintain a hierarchical concept of medical care may face serious problems when disagreements arise with other physicians of equal “stature” on the medical team. Interdisciplinary conflicts are seen in all areas of medical practice, but the operating room environment is particularly rich in examples in which patient care involves interdisciplinary cooperation, conflict, and compromise.” – University of Washington School of Medicine

Interdisciplinary teams are certainly a good example of working with the diversity that joins the diversity of opinions in a process of constant innovation and critical thinking.

To facilitate the work in an environment of diversity is not enough for the team to be conducted according to a perspective of interdisciplinarity, it is also necessary that the members of the team or teams are T shaped.

This means that, for example, engineers or other specialists in specific areas must have a basic knowledge of adjacent fields or link to be good collaboration partners and interlocutors, both inside and outside the organization.

This interdisciplinary connection assumes the character of actual collaboration where are needed competencies in the areas of research, creativity, communication and cooperation.

And for that these skills are translated into results it is essential that the predominant attitude is perseverance and enthusiasm to experiment with new ideas and continue searching and experimenting until they find the best solution, but also investing in curiosity and openness to ideas coming from outside.

This diversity in any innovation process is easily transformed into combined result if the common language is established and if the members of the teams are equipped with the skills and attitudes listed above.

To operate within an interdisciplinary environment, an individual needs to have strengths in two dimensions—the “T-shaped” person.

On the vertical axis, every member of the team needs to possess a depth of skill that allows him or her to make tangible contributions to the outcome. The top of the “T” is where the design thinker is made. It’s about empathy for people and for disciplines beyond one’s own.

It tends to be expressed as openness, curiosity, optimism, a tendency toward learning through doing, and experimentation.”

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2 Responses to Innovation requires practice, an open mind and critical thinking

  1. Chris Conder says:

    “It tends to be expressed as openness, curiosity, optimism, a tendency toward learning through doing, and experimentation.”
    Spot on.
    Add in perseverance and practice.

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