CREATING INTERSECTIONS FOR INNOVATION
When we look throughout history and explore the times of great innovation, it would appear that intersections are created meshing together people from different backgrounds, disciplines and cultures that work together to produce extraordinary outcomes. As I recently observed the workings of the Silicon Valley, it became obvious that engineers from various backgrounds joined with business executives, sales and marketing gurus, venture capitalists and a large array of other talent to create the innovation hub of the world. What I noticed was that it is at this intersection that genius and innovation are found. Tom Kelley from IDEO says: “Teams are at the heart of the IDEO method. It’s no accident. We believe it’s how innovation and much of business takes place in the world. Quite simply, great projects are achieved by great project teams.” In fact, IDEO refer to its teams as ‘Hot Teams’, these teams are made up of diverse individuals from varying disciplines with the intent of creating intersections of genius and disruptive technology. Paul Bennett in commenting further on innovation at IDEO stated, “IDEO has genuine collaboration and knowledge sharing”.
Whether it be the Silicon Valley or 15th century Florence we see this same intersect that creates and releases an era of innovation. Frans Johansson in his book The Medici Effect comments: “The Medicis were a banking family in Florence, who funded creators from a wide range of disciplines.” In many ways, the Medicis, and others like them,were similar to the venture capitalists of today in the Valley. The end result in Florence, of course, was the Renaissance, which transformed the world of that time in terms of culture, creativity and innovation. As artists, scientists, architects, poets, philosophers, financiers and others converged on Florence, they shared ideas and it became an intersection for a cultural revolution. The Silicon Valley has similarly affected the world we live in and changed the course of history.
In contemplating the role of teams in innovation, I am reminded of great inventors like Thomas Edison. Edison didn’t work alone but rather had a team of 14 very different minds working with him on his projects. As Eric Abrahams the Stanford Professor concisely articulated: “Diverse teams that are high functioning, problem solve more efficiently than homogenous teams.”
But as I move my attention to what this means for Metamorphic I am acutely aware of the opportunity we have to reinvent ourselves, the way we innovate, the way we choose ‘Hot Teams’ and the way we collaborate both internally and externally. Creating disruptive technology, systems and ideology are crucial to us creating scale and long term sustainability and we can do this by deliberately creating intersections. Upon returning from the Silicon Valley we have extended our innovation walls to cover our whole office with blackboard and whiteboard walls everywhere you turn. We have blocked out large slabs of time to focus on innovation both as a topic and also an outcome and have included a vast array of people in those brainstorming sessions both at a team level and Board level. I believe that by deliberately positioning ourselves in various intersections for innovation we create our own future and the future of many others on the journey.
And its this type of intersection that creates innovation and our commitment at Metamorphic is not just to innovate internally but to help others own that space. For more information on Metamorphic’s innovation consults, innovation office tours or innovation packages contact our office on +61754379002.
Our next instalment on innovation will cover the topic of Leading Innovation.