Where does innovation really come from?

In his stimulating recent blog Social Innovation: how do we find the right problems? Lee Bryant, Headshift co-founder, reflects on the wealth of agency led initiatives dedicated to the supply of innovation and asks

where does innovation really come from [and whether there is] a direct link between these initiatives and actual innovation?

Lee asks

Are we in danger of focusing too much on the supply side and not enough on the real world problems that demand innovative solutions?

Lee summarises some of the most visible parts of the innovation initiative iceberg and justifiably leads us towards an affirmative response to this question. Rightly so given the size of that iceberg!

Lee says

I would put my money on somebody with a burning problem and a passion to solve it rather than a well-meaning group who want to help every single time.

Me too. I think it is the burning and the passion that matter most. Innovation comes from motivation. I call this motinnovation.

Given this hypothesis, the most interesting question that Lee poses is “How might we harness user-led innovation?”. In fact, Lee undersells just how much he and his colleagues at Headshift have done in developing easy to use environments that enable people to connect with each other to share and learn about what works and also what doesn’t.

Having said I think that innovation comes from motivation the question I want to explore is, “What are the optimum environmental conditions for maximum motinnovation amongst groups?”

There’s a whole host of cultural, legal, managerial and technical issues which can affect these environmental conditions. More than I have time or space for here! Of all the techniques which can be used to facilitate motinnovation amongst groups by far the most important is building trust.

Without trust people are unwilling to participate and cooperate with one another and innovation suffers. However, building trust is not a linear progression to a magic place. Building trust is cyclical and involves iterative development. Providing opportunities for people to take small steps together is a great start.

The barcamp-style gatherings that Lee mentions sound just about right. Fertile breeding grounds for mixing collective passions. In my opinion it is the collective experience of taking small steps together which forms the motivational basis for more ambitious collaboration and ultimately innovation.

Some have responded saying

You should get down to the bar more often!

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