Fostering Innovation

Ever had a great idea? Ever had that Eureka moment when an innovative idea just popped into your head? Most, if not all of you, will say “yes.” However, writer Steven Johnsonsays that is not really the way it occurs. In his new book Where Good Ideas Come From he explores innovation and the creation of ideas. He gives us an idea of how we can foster innovation.
To Johnson most ideas appear to be more of a “slow hunch” process with the kernel of an idea being worked on over time before “the idea” is arrived at and developed. And for this to occur Johnson says you have to have something he calls a liquid network, places where people can gain from the input and feedback of others. One such example is the coffee house. We all know that Starbucks is famous for being a meeting place. I have seen networking, dating, company meetings, church discussions, gift exchanging, birthday parties, conversations and much more in my visits to my local Starbucks. Johnson says more ideas and innovations get born from this type of social interaction than come from the Eureka moment.
So if that is true how do we create a “coffee house” effect at our place of business? I think on such suggestion is to set up an “IDEA ROOM” for people to go and take a coffee “break” in order to discuss what they are working on and where they might be stuck. Perhaps someone can “unstick” them. If you don’t have the opportunity for such a room then perhaps you can set up a virtual coffee/idea room. To keep the personal or “in person” contact Skype could be used. It appears that the face-to-face contact helps promote “hunch” development, but I am sure it can be done without it.
Here is Steven Johnson talking about his idea of Liquid Networks. It is a pretty informative 18 minutes and well worth the time.


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