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Who is killing Innovation in your community…?
We hear politicians talk a lot about the need for innovation – to make our country smarter and economically stronger – however, there is at least ONE major barrier in every community which holds back the greatest potential flood of positive innovation ever imagined – what is it? Some would say that an innovation is an “idea” – but is it? In the analogy of the Natural Science of Small Community Regeneration an “idea” is a “seed” – a natural genetic formula for “growing” something. SO what is “innovation”? It is definitely more than a “seed idea” - it goes well beyond that. An innovation is synonymous with change and improvement – a better way of doing something or solving some challenge. For example, the innovative evolution from horse and buggy to the first motor car! Therefore, again taking this forward into the Natural Science context, an innovation can be seen as a “hybrid” seed-idea – one that has changed and improved the original idea – making it better in one or many ways. While all forward-thinking Organisations aspire to achieve innovation, we must not underplay the significance of the original seed idea and the progressive ideas which lead to innovation.
Innovation itself is bred from an initial seed idea and in the process of achieving innovation, there may be one or more ideas involved from one individual or multiple ideas from multiple individuals working together to achieve a “hybrid seed” innovation.
A crucial point to make at that this point is that Organisations and Corporations have not and never will “create” innovation. Does this sound like a challenging statement? Indeed to many Companies that see themselves as true “innovators” this statement will be met with outright derision. But think about it? Innovation comes from the creative individual mind or the collective efforts of collaborative idea-driven individual minds. Organisations and Corporations, rather than innovators, are more accurately “facilitators” of innovation. The seed-ideas or the “hybrid seed-ideas” that lead to innovations are ALWAYS conceived by one individual or the collective ideas of individuals working together. The Companies that claim their innovative status merely provide the environment and resources that enable an innovative hybrid seed idea to grow. OK, I can hear many of those Companies saying: “Well that is beside the point – the innovations
could never happen without our support.” True – but only to a point. This might be seen by them as the old “which came first – the chicken or the egg” argument – but it’s not. Where innovation is involved, that argument would actually be like a farmer trying to grow wheat without seed. He might know what to do when it comes to preparing the ground and planting and growing, but if he has no seed, he cannot grow wheat. Likewise, a Corporation cannot be innovative without the ideas that lead to “innovation” and these are the unique creative “seeds” that come from the minds of “individuals” which those companies may employ or control. In fact, how many innovative ideas have been legally or illegally “hijacked” by companies who employ innovative thinkers? The point is innovation (that is the development or achievement or “growing” of innovation) is the process of progressing an innovative idea that came from some individual. While the Company itself, as the “driver” of the innovation might see itself as being “innovative” for supporting and driving it, the origin of the innovation is or was the innovative nature of one individual’s seed-idea.
So why indeed am I making this point? Does it really matter anyway?
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You bet it does … and understand why…! Traditionally, the most conspicuous innovation is primarily being driven and supported by Organisations, Corporations, Governments, Universities and Big Business as a means of economic development and growth - in particular, innovation which provides big benefits or financial returns or both, in Technology, Industry and Science. But there is a missing dimension to the understanding, support and development of innovation where in fact, failure to realise this is killing enormous potential innovation all over the world. This missing dimension is found in understanding the fact that the development or achievement of innovation can be compared to a process of “farming” a potentially innovative seed idea – either one which a completely new innovation or a “hybrid” seed-idea which improves on an already existing idea.
Let’s go back to the “Chicken and Egg” debate again briefly in a parallel context. Which comes first – an “idea” or an “innovation”? Clearly, the genetic foundation of every innovation is first found in an “idea.” Again, this might be a hybrid-seedidea that improves on an existing product or process (that is, someone’s previous seed-idea, which of itself may or may not have been innovative in its nature.) Alternatively, it might be an original (completely new) innovative seed-idea that has
originated in the mind of ONE individual.
OK now we are getting closer – “Who is killing innovation?” Through the Natural Science of Small Community Regeneration, I have always stated that every business or community development/improvement project that ever existed has and always will start with ONE idea from ONE individual.
That seed-idea’s potential to grow from there will then depend on the “genetic quality” of that idea and that individual’s ability/capacity to grow (farm) that seed idea or surround him/herself with the support needed to do so. Through this same Natural Science, I have identified that in every stable community, there is a natural regeneration of “seedideas” for new (mostly micro) business at a rate of around 20 new ideas per 1000 population per year, slightly more or considerably less, depending on the level of long-term social challenge affecting that community. Also, there are a similar number of new ideas for new community development/improvement each year.
As I have also pointed out, in today’s corporate-driven, regionally-focused environment, most of these ideas that are conceived in the minds of community members are neither valued nor taken seriously and many are lost or fall over due to lack of support or inability or incapacity of the individual to seek or find support. I have also said that it is these ideas which have potential to regenerate and sustain every community, wherein if all of these ideas are captured and “tested” initially, the residual “good seed” has potential to provide a diversity of natural community regeneration, even sufficient to naturally replace those businesses and services which fall away each year. This means that a community has scope to get “better” – not necessarily “bigger”. Further, I have stated that micro-diversity sustains all economy above it in a “planktonic” relationship. If a community’s micro-diversity is shrinking, so too is that community – it’s just that simple. The important fact about all of this is that thousands of small communities are shrinking and dying because their potential for natural regeneration though the natural source of seed ideas that are conceived every year is NOT being taken seriously and not supported, usually on the belief that it is not economical to do so. This is certainly not the case and this can be clearly seen if one understands how these ideas can be cost-effectively identified and tested. In Australia alone, based on this Natural Science I estimate there are more than 400,000 seed-ideas
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conceived every year and in New Zealand, at least 80,000 - most of which never get beyond initial thought, or go nowhere for the lack of effective “water” of encouragement and support at the point of conception to “test” those ideas. (I should point out that through the Natural Science of Small Community Regeneration, quick, efficient and cost-effective testing of the genetic quality of those seed-ideas is now very practical.) So if innovation has its founding genesis in seed-ideas and we are not taking those ideas seriously and walking over them as if they are worthless, how much potential “innovation” is being lost? Clearly it is enormous! Out of those 20 ideas per thousand each year, if (as the science indicates) between 15 and 20 percent of those ideas could be worthy of facilitation to on-theground reality, a smaller percentage of these ideas may/will be innovative, or eventually contribute to innovation at some time.
You will never convince me that among those nearly half million ideas lost in Australia and New Zealand every year that very significant innovation is not lost with them.
So who is killing Innovation? We all are – if we fail to value, capture and test the enormous natural resource of seed-ideas that are conceived by individuals from all walks of life in every community every year. Rather than take the time to effectively test those ideas, we look at and judge the individual, his social and financial status, his education, his apparent shortcomings, his assets (of lack of) or even his culture, without even considering the power and potential of the idea itself, then we walk away. So the most important lesson is that if we value and test every one of these ideas every year (no matter how seemingly “crazy” initially) and then support the residual seed-ideas that can grow, we not only activate a natural, community-driven process for Small Community Regeneration, we also provide a pathway for enormous potential innovation
which can have cumulative benefit.
And one final point here for every local community. Innovation does not have to be related to making money for Big Business, Corporations and Organisations to be extremely valuable. Micro-level innovation is everywhere and can be supported and driven across the whole spectrum of community life and in many different small ways further strengthen and sustain every community. I encourage Councils and thinking community leaders to apply some innovative thinking on behalf of your community. Those ideas can now easily be captured, tested and “seed graded” by supporting an extremely cost-effective process which I call Community Micro-Facilitation. Visit the Small Community Regeneration Industry Website and open your eyes to a different (innovative) way of thinking for natural regeneration of your community though the power and potential of the many seed ideas conceived there every year.
“Gold is found in the most unexpected places…Community GOLD’ is always there, just waiting to be picked up, moulded and shaped.”
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Organisations and Corporations have not and never will “create” innovation. Understand why.