In his article ‘The secrets of changing the world‘, Stephen Sackur explores the characteristics that he believes unite genuine innovators. To identify the common qualities that ‘seem to separate us sheep from the innovative goats’, he draws on interviews he has conducted over the years with some of the world’s great innovators, in spheres as diverse as business, science and art:
– an indestructible will
– passion beyond reason
– outrageous optimism
– a super-sized ego
– the rebel spirit
This got me thinking about how I might expand the list – you could add creative thinking and self-discipline, for example – and about people I know who possess these traits, and how they use them. But what I found most thought-provoking, not to mention disturbing, about Sackur’s article is the suggestion that ‘most of us, in our youth, have the capacity to be innovators, free-thinkers, resolute refuseniks when it comes to accepting the status quo’, but that we ‘figure out from an early age that it’s easier to conform than rebel’. If this is true, what can we, as parents, do to keep that spirit alive without creating monsters?
But that’s a debate for another day. Here at OSS Watch, one of the ways in which we foster the innovative spirit is by promoting open innovation. Open innovation is a specific form of innovation, which recognises that in the modern world no single organisation has a monopoly on invention. Accordingly, it advocates the sharing of inventions and/or innovations across organisational boundaries, by such means as licensing, joint ventures and spin-offs.
Open innovation was one of the themes we explored at TransferSummit. If you missed it, catch up by reading Sam Jordison’s blog post on the innovation track, or his report on the whole event. You can also find out more about open innovation in our briefing document ‘Open source and open innovation‘.