“Flowering of Innovation”-My New Favourite Idea

ImageInnovation is a term I would have best described as being a problem solved. A need, known or unknown, and its solution i.e. the innovation.

But after listening to Steven Johnson speak on “Where Do Ideas Come From?” I am starting the process of restructuring my understanding of innovation.

Is innovation a multi dimensional term? Is it just cognitive? Perhaps not.

Originally, innovation was a solitary awakening, a moment that stood out from the moments that surrounded it. But when Johnson refers to terms such as “Intellectual Flowering” I start to think that solitary moments and solitary participants are no longer a necessary part of the definition. Flowering suggests “over a period of time”. Often flowers have no “spectacular necessity” as a bulb but once they gradually “grow” and “unfold” we find visual feasts, remarkable beauty, places for pollen, distractents for prey. They are multi faceted.

The original definition of Innovation is becoming clearer too in an alternate way. Innovation needs order in the disorder..strange as that may sound. When an environment is hectic with people communicating, there is a “chaos where ideas can come together (Johnson, 2010). When a “liquid network” of people from different backgrounds, different ideas and different interests share a common space, intellectual and physical,  we start to build a network of invigorating and inspiring conversations, and when we can have this sort of  “architecture of space” (Johnson, 2010) we can take away from the predictable outcomes that often arise from  singular, solitary cognitive processes.

Johnson also discusses the term “hunch moments” as if they have magically appeared in an instant in time. Johnson suggests that hunch moments actually “incubate” over a longer period of time and refers to them as “Slow Hunch”.  I believe we can take this one step further and suggest that the incubation period doesn’t necessarily have to be a constant with just one person either. When someone has a “eureka moment” that it may be after someone else has had an investigative period of time, or an enquiring period of time, or a problem solving period of time, or even a “hunch moment”? And therefore , the  compounding of multiple hunch moments strangely becomes a singular hunch moment!

What is  cognitively arousing is the encouragement to share and associate thinking by many individuals as opposed to secretly “festering of an individual thought”. Johnson refers to this as “Connecting vs Protecting”. This is most definitely an attribute to encourage in any learning environment. The innovative energy is allowed to charge over a period of time and when it is released, the discharge can be more of a lightning strike than a “light bulb” moment!


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