Orin Davis Report from World Innovation Forum

The following are thoughts from Orin Davis, Phd, who is covering the World Innovation Forum. As always, Orin makes some good points, notes from talks from the Mayor of Asheville, NC, the On Your Feet Improv group, and Michael Martin of Vibram. So, here’s what you missed at WIF.


Ideas from the World Innovation Forum  (by Orin Davis, Phd)

With some speakers, you just have to be there to really get the marrow of what they have to say, but here are some piquant ideas from speakers at the World Innovation Forum:

 Terry Bellamy — Mayor of Asheville, NC

Make an investment in a sustainability endeavor, and keep reusing the savings in other sustainability endeavors to have sustainable infrastructure fund more sustainable infrastructure.

 On Your Feet Improv

The researcher who first inspired me to look at creativity and improvisation, especially in the theater and jazz, is Keith Sawyer.  His research on this is extensive, and led to some of my own research on teamwork and group creativity.  But, it wasn’t until I saw Michelle James do training with business people at the Front End of Innovation conference that I got a profound, eye-opening look at the power of improv and how improv consultants like Michelle James can help a business develop its creative muscles.

Here at the World Innovation Forum, On Your Feet gave us a close-up of the concept of what to do with something when it gets handed to you.  Throughout our lives, we are given objects and ideas, and the question is, what will we do with it?

Begin by defining an “offer” — an offer is anything you can take and use.  Given an offer, we have three choices:

1) Acquiescing — recognize the offer in the affirmative, but do nothing new with it.  That leaves the responsibility to the giver to move things forward.

2) Blocking — neither recognize the offer nor act upon it

3) Accepting — recognize the offer in the affirmative, and then do something with it

 Often, our most productive and creative results come from accepting, which dovetails perfectly with the extant research on creativity (three good overviews: CsikszentmihalyiAmabile(more technical); Sawyer).  OYF gave us numerous examples of how accepting offers can allow us to construct incredible results out of what seem to be bits and pieces that may not seem related at first glance.  And yet, when we accept, we presume a place for what we have been given, and then invent it on the fly.  While not every invention is successful, the team endeavor can separate the wheat from the chaff and combine the good bits into something great.  It starts with the ability to say “yes,” which OYF transmitted to us with the following quote:

 There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes’, and there are people who prefer to say ‘No’. Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more ‘No’ sayers than ‘Yes’ sayers… – Keith Johnstone, Impro

Michael Martin of Vibram

Embrace change — it will happen with or without you.

Embrace serendipity — when opportunity knocks, open the door — don’t ignore chance.

Embrace your customer — Let them be an active participant in guiding the business — let consumers tell consumers how to use the product.

Posted in Improvisation, Innovation, Open Innovation