Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for December, 2012

The Goal: Making Innovation Disappear

Posted by Plish on December 29, 2012

Some years back I was involved in an inter-religious dialogue with a Muslim group.  During the course of many conversations, one thing became clear.  My Muslim friends didn’t think of themselves as belonging to a religion, per se.  They simply were living a way of life.

They weren’t, and aren’t, alone.

In fact, there are  cultures that don’t have a word for ‘religion’ in their vocabulary.  If a word is used it is a variation on the imported word, “religion.”

The reason for this is as mentioned earlier.  People view living in a “religious” manner as a holistic experience.  There is no place that an individual’s (and community’s!) world view is not influenced by the relationship between God and Humans.  It simply “is”, and if it simply is, it doesn’t need to be labelled.

This phenomenon is present in other places in our lives as well.  Ask someone to describe how she gets from point a to point b, how he cooks a souffle, and I would be extremely surprised to hear those descriptions contain the phrase, “and then I breathe in and out,” multiple times, if even once.

It just happens and is part of the process.

That’s how an innovation competency should be.  Eventually you shouldn’t need to talk about it. Everything you do, from working in an R&D lab to Finance, to Operations, to taking time to recharge your batteries should be geared towards optimizing your innovation output. (Remember the Innovation Audit)

Yes, some of this is about consistent procedures (‘ritual’ from a religious perspective), but moreso it’s about commitment; it’s about worldview which is tied into identity and brand.

Who are we? What’s our goal? What are we supposed to do and how do we do it?  Who am I?

These are the questions that, at first glance seem to have a ‘religious’ nature to them.  But, it’s not about religion as much as it’s about human authenticity.  It’s about letting people be who they are, contributing from their strengths to help make the whole be more than the sum of its parts. If people can’t be their deepest selves, and if the innovative organization does not contribute to the making of the whole person, then the person suffers and the innovative output of the organization will suffer.

So, next time you find yourself talking about how what you’re doing is innovative, do a little reflection and ask if innovation is a core competency or a way of life.  Ask yourself if you’re doing something because you have to do it, or because you’re committed to it and the company’s mission makes sense, and what you do makes sense, when you do it.

Does this mean that there’s no questioning?

No, in fact there should be, because, just as I learned in the inter-religious dialogue, growth and building relationships is more about sharing questions than sharing answers.

Not to mention, the organization that sells answers will eventually go out of business because humans don’t buy answers – fundamentally they buy a question:

“What will my life become with this product/service/etc.?”

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Religion, Social Innovation, Society, Spirituality, The Human Person, Wellness, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Virtuous Innovation – A Way to Sustainable Design and Development

Posted by Plish on December 19, 2012

Click to go to Virtuous Innovation Tool

Click to go the Virtuous Innovation Tool

For every good idea brought to fruition, for every implemented idea that sees the light of day, there exists the possibility that the product may be used for something other than what it’s intended for.  It’s difficult to control what people will do with something once it leaves the hands of a designer or manufacturer and enters the world.

On the other hand, the creation and deployment of a product can be controlled.  We can design power plants that use water and put it back into the environment cleaner than it was before.  We can design pay structures and work days that respect people’s needs for family, relaxation, and personal growth.

All that is needed, is…


We don’t hear that word too much anymore.  However, human history is replete with references to it and in some ways it can be considered an integral part of humanity.  From the Greeks, to the Egyptians, to the Orient, the concepts of balance and morally excellent acts were things that humans were exhorted to.  Virtuous people were good people who were solid and respected.  A virtuous way of life was considered a good thing, and in some cultures, even a godly thing.

Virtue, by definition, is relational and contextual.  It’s usually considered interpersonal (i.e. If I am patient with this person and I don’t over-react when he yells,  hopefully we will be able to work together.)  But virtue’s reach is deeper than that.  Whatever we interact with, there is the possibility for a virtuous approach.

All human interactions fall into one of three groups:

1) People

2) Products (Services and processes are included here)

3) Planet (Actually it extends to all the cosmos as humankind already has sent things beyond the solar system.)

Just as virtuous behaviour between two individuals leads to greater harmony between those people, placing virtue at the center of all extended human interaction (the Three P’s) has the potential to create a world in which collateral damage to people and environments is minimized, if not eliminated.

To aid in this process I’ve put together a web app that helps people examine the interactions their product creates, guided by virtues.

The basic structure of the app is shown at the top of this post.  Every time you go to the page it will show you a randomly selected virtue at the center of the People/Planet/Product Triad.  This suggested virtue can be used as a guide to making interactions of a higher quality.

Let’s look at an example in which the virtue of  ‘Honor’ guides the development and launch of a new computer:


Naturally we first Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Human Rights, innovation, problem solving, Social Responsibility, Sustainability, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Empowering the Co-Creation of a Better World – Check out the “Shaping the Future Global” Web-Based Conference

Posted by Plish on December 6, 2012

Today I pre-recorded my interview for the Shaping the Future Global Conference. The talk is entitled, “Empowering the Co-Creation of a Better World.”  It will go live at 9pm EST on Friday, Dec. 7.  You can listen below.

The rest of the schedule, with the archive of the previous two days’ worth of presentations is here. There are some amazing presentations there on health, education, wellness and human rights.

It’s free.

It’s exciting.

It’s a chance to join a global conversation.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Crowdsourcing, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Entrepreneurship 2.0, innovation, Interviews, Play, problem solving, Social Innovation, Society, The Future, The Human Person, Web 2.0, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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