Studies in innovation – An initial curriculum

In order to frame the concept of innovation literacy, today I’ll try to sketch a curriculum for “Studies in Innovation”, focussing on “How to think about innovation?” My story line will build on three guiding questions: What is the world around us made up of? How does that world behave? And how do we act in this world? While I’ll keep my focus on the needs of innovators and policy makers, I believe the essence of this little programme should be of interest to a wider audience.

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.

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?

Exploring the adjacent possible – What we should expect from technology

As innovators, we build our future progress on our predecessors’ past achievements thanks to humankind’s unique capability of social learning, of sharing experiences and ideas. Today, we rely heavily on computers, databases, and the internet to facilitate and accelerate whatever we do. And that includes our social learning capabilities and our creative skills. Hence it’s high time to critically assess technology’s impact and to formulate our expectations: How do we employ technology to support our innovative endeavours? What do we demand? And what can we realistically hope for?