When Worlds Collide – Innovation Lessons
From the over 8,000 unique links shared on the Twitter #innovation community in the past few weeks, here are some happy collisions with innovation.
TEDMED: Shaping Healthcare in the World, One Innovation at a Time
“If the future of health and medicine is important to you, and if shaping that future is something you want to do, then you belong at TEDMED.” An interview with Jay Walker, curator of TEDMED and acclaimed entrepreneur, sheds light on his dedication and involvement to the synthesizing of technology, entertainment, design and medicine, otherwise known as TEDMED. Here are some tasty tidbits from the interview series:
- Walker sees TEDMED as a resource; a place to connect, understand and inspire so that upon leaving the conference problems can be solved.
- TEDMED embraces diversity, believing that a dancer, a research scientist, doctor, playwright and architect all have equal contribution in the realm of multidisciplinary thinking.
- To keep the TEDMED community engaged after the conference, Walker suggest a Web tool will provide the necessary platform for “lean-forward-365” degree involvement.
- TEDMED success is determined by a very simple yet driving force; filling the connection void between people.
Asian Innovation: Frugal Ideas Are Spreading from East to West
After the production of The Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, Western companies began to worry about future of “frugal innovation”. Two new books, Reverse Innovation and Jugaad Innovation suggest this type of innovation is here to stay. For example:
- American infotainment system company Harman, developed a simple car stystem for emerging markets that is now used by giant Toyota
- GE’s portable ultrasound device developed in China is now used in poor and rich countries.
- Walmart “small mart” stores created to compete in Latin America have now reimported the idea into the USA.
It seems then that the new trend for in global innovation is to innovate frugally and create more value for the money. After all what consumer doesn’t like a barging?
“Good” Companies Launch More New Products
New research reveals that corporate social responsibility (CSR) benefits innovation by encouraging activity, competitiveness and growth. In the study of 128 major industry sectors from 2001- 2004, “CSR activities brought out, on average, 47 new products a year, while companies in the bottom third brought out only 12.” How does such a correlation happen? Well, CSR is known to strengthen relationships internally and externally, but did you also consider CSR activities provide a fantastic intersection of thought and diversity. The study also found other contributing factors for companies’ higher innovation/CSR ratio included:
- Greater investment in R&D
- Pioneering “first-of-a-kind” innovations
- A more competitive marketplace
Moral of the story, or study rather, invest in doing good and you’ll get even better results.
What Zen Taught Silicon Valley (and Steve Jobs) About Innovation
Jobs himself was hugely successful and greatly influence by the Eastern practice of Zen. For many Westerners this raises a very un-Zen question: Can the rest of us boost our innovation mojo by applying some of these centuries-old principles to modern-day challenges? Zen master Kaye suggests those who embrace Zen for career-advancement purposes are surely missing the point, however, some principles of Zen may be applicable to innovators. Three examples are as follows:
- The “question everything” mindset – This approach encourages people to step back and look at a situation from a fresh perspective. Ask the general questions, strip away biases, and prejudices; find the true nature. The goal is to foster tension “between massive expertise and the ability to see with fresh eyes.”
- Conceptualizing and Collaborating – Conceptualizing takes a lot of concentration but Zen can tame concentration. Zen also encourages working and thinking together in groups by teaching people to listen and ask better questions.
- Strivers not wanted - Zen does not concern itself with outputs; in Zen there is no “better”. Arguably though, after engaging in such practices one may become in tune with listening or asking unbiased questions.
Zen encompasses much more than these three examples however it seems as though Jobs may have failed to notice that. Kaye notes “Steve (Jobs) had an unusual relationship with Zen. He got the artistic side of it but not the Buddhist side--the art, but not the heart.” Be careful when you innovate.
The Neuroscience of Creativity: Why Daydreaming Matters
Finally someone has scientifically proved that “when our minds wander that our brains do their best work–it’s when we’re not trying to think creatively that we’re often most creative.” How do we catch hold of these fleeting dreams though? Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, says it’s the ability to let your mind wander freely while paying enough attention to recognize a sudden insight. Unfortunately this means not all daydreaming is “useful” daydreaming – it is dedicated daydreaming, that leads to un-analytical connection making. In pure moment of insight Lehrer says “It’s the problems that really seem impossible, where there’s no feeling of knowing, no sense of a solution, no sense of progress—…that are most likely going to be solved by long walks, showers, meditation, [and] games of ping pong…”
Until next week, keep innovating!