The Coming Innovation Wave

Most of humanity tries hard to predict their futures. The unknown is somewhat frightening. It is natural and reasonable to attempt to reduce risk.  After all, if things are going well, why rock the boat.

Creative Outliers do not necessarily feel that way. It is not that they pursue risk deliberately although some certainly do. It is more that they are curious and creative, and that this combination drives them to try things; often new things.                 

But what happens when situations are untenable? We have all heard the phrase necessity is the mother of invention. And who do you think is doing this invention? More often than not, those who do not fit nicely within the bell curve.

And where do you think innovation comes from? Fearful hand wringing frightened and not very secure people? Innovators come from the ranks of creative outliers. And if innovation can be defined as applied insight, they have more than an idea, they have a prototype or a product that can possibly be adopted. Being a creative outlier may provide for a very interesting life but not usually a fiscally stable one. Here is where innovators differ from creators, they do have some sort of business model in order for their insights to become adopted, they have to first be applied and manifested. 

When a significant number of individuals are extremely dissatisfied, there is a reasonable chance change will be occurring. This coming change is very hard to accurately predict in terms of what and when, but when more than the innovators and creative outliers feel compelled to act due to circumstances, there is a good chance something is going to happen.

This is why there seems to be the potential for an innovation wave. Rich and poor, educated and not, left and right, men and woman, majorities and minorities are ll questioning current circumstances. It seems like also everyone wants change, not all the same changes to be sure. But also not No change either.

This is why it is my opinion that an Innovation Wave is coming. And I offer a plausible explanation of why, how to think about it and what to do.

The combination of an economy crippling global pandemic, declining democracy, and climate change are all riding on a rising mountain caused by psychological and economic tectonic plates moving fairly rapidly toward each other and giving rise to a hybrid future. No society is not going to go back to only in-person interactions and gatherings due to the fact that we are social animals who need to encounter each other for multiple reasons, not the least of which is perpetuating the species. And no society is not going to voluntarily back away from virtual interactions for even more than the obvious iconic reasons. An even larger reason which will ultimately emerge is humanity has just had a taste of transcending geographic proximity. Previously regional concentrations of people produced agricultural society, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution and even the Manhattan Project for it had required people to be geographically proximal in order to collaborate. This is no longer true and it saves not only time and money but is also transcendental by moving us into the realm of ideational proximity at just the same time as there are many dissatisfied with the status quo.

What will happen, I can not predict but certainly something or many things will and we are accelerating toward change. This is not a bad thing as humans are better at adapting than most other things.

On the other hand, we are not very good at all managing innovation in part because it is largely involuntary and therefore there is a significant gap between two important outer populations – decision-makers and innovators. There are ways to better handle the naturally different priorities which can permit and improve collaboration which is more important than it usually is as the stakes are currently high.

We know change is called for but there is a large range of how smoothly to turbulently this can be manifest.

And by the way, I am not offering footnotes, references or citing “experts”. As in this situation “Experts Aren’t”  Yes there are many who claim to be such masters of innovation management, that they have converted it into a science. The last time I checked science required repeatability and measurability and there are no agreed-upon units of innovation without which quantification is not possible.  Innovation is far more qualitative than quantitative.   If you are an innovator you already know this for it resonates with your own personal experience. Innovation Practitioners are not cut from the same cloth as Innovation Scholars.

The real questions relate to, how can creative outliers manage themselves better to shrink the gap between themselves and decision-makers?   The tectonic plate which is about to cause an innovation wave is pushing us all to find out. Stay Tuned.