Innovation – Our force for change

Innovation has become a major buzzword of our time, often with almost mystical properties ascribed. This essay is my attempt to demystify that buzz – in 500 words.

Formatting our world

The language we speak, the organisation we live or work in, and the technology we use all have one thing in common: they format our world. They shape how we think about it, how we see it, how we behave in it, and how we interact with it. All that formatting has tremendous advantages in our day-to-day lives. Yet it also provides an explanation for the challenges innovators face when they develop something novel that does not fit any of the pre-established formats.

Changing values – Towards a new economy?

Our ideas of value, what it is and how it is generated in the economy, have changed over time. Today’s dominant school of thought, neoclassical economics, lost sight of these decisive questions, as Mariana Mazzucato argues in her 2018 ‘The Value of Everything’. But there are some very recent promising signs that we are starting to have a renewed debate about value and how we want the economy to work for all of us.

Policy innovation at work

Today I’ll present a timely example and, I hope, an inspiring glimpse of how European policy-making actually works. It goes like this: On 4 July, economics professor Mariana Mazzucato spoke in Helsinki about the mission-oriented approach to research and innovation that the Union should adopt. Questions will come readily to your mind: Why now? Why there? Why she? And of course: So what? Let’s go through.

How to have more insights

The cognitive psychologist Gary Klein proposed the triple path model to explain how we have insights. Furthermore, Klein systematically searched for hindrances and encouragements to having insight. It should be interesting to compare his findings with Steven Johnson’s analysis of the conditions that make good ideas flourish. Good ideas need insights, and conditions for the success of one should promote the other. Let’s find out.

Gaining insights

What happens when a sudden insight strikes you? The cognitive psychologist Gary Klein wanted to understand exactly that “light bulb moment”. What do we think, how do we think in such a moment? What leads us to having an insight?