Innovation is at the Edges

Synchronicity or what. Dave Pollard on The Medici Effect:

…most innovations occur in intersections (the ‘spaces’ where different disciplines, cultures or specialized domains of knowledge meet.

Meanwhile, Evelyn Rodriguez says Breakthroughs Occur at the Crossroads

…the ENTIRE point of the conference is to stretch your thinking, explore the boundaries and interfaces of your world and expose you to other worlds! To look at the intersection of different fields – this year at the crossroads of virtual and physical – and purposefully put these people in a room together for a few days. Something akin to magic happens when you do that.

I also liked Dave’s list based on the Medici book:

Much of the book describes processes and techniques to break down the barriers that prevent us from seeing and entering intersections. These techniques include:

getting exposure to different cultures

broadening one’s knowledge and learning capacity

encouraging curiosity

reversing assumptions (e.g. imagining what would happen if a restaurant had no menus, didn’t charge for food, and didn’t serve food)

taking different perspectives and points of view (e.g. how would X view this situation)

randomly combining concepts (e.g. the craze for Magic The Gathering was generated by combining attributes of gaming with attributes of collectibles)

learning to be mentally prepared to see opportunities at the intersection when they present themselves (I am especially appreciative of this point because it is the hardest thing I ever learned to do) — I have written about this before when I described how the learning of how butterfly wings display colour even though they have no pigment has been applied to counterfeir-protecting banknotes

undertaking a variety of diverse occupations

interacting with diverse groups of people

looking for connections in unlikely places

producing a continuous, large quantity of ideas

striking a learning balance between sufficient depth and maximum breadth of knowledge subject-matter

reading prodigiously and listening attentively and openly

brainstorming (starting with individual idea generation to prevent groupthink and premature discarding of ‘crazy’ ideas)

allowing time for ideas to be properly considered (Johansson dispels the myth that deadlines and time pressure encourage innovation)

Pretty much the ideas that make Improv rock. And if you wanna experience THAT get yourself to San Francisco mid-October.

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