Thinking about innovation

The Heroism of Innovation by Tony Salvador, Intel, at Web4Dev. He is an anthropologist and ethnographer, who spoke about following the Hero’s Journey as a tool to think through innovation. He touched on complex adaptive systems and about preparation around innovation.

Complex adaptive systems resist external influences — which cause change — to maintain homeostasis. Social structures manifest in this system. So, when we want to bring a new ICT or service to a group of people we need to ask: who will think that this new thing is a threat to the system? This helps us to manage the resistance to change, the push back against any new external input into the system.

Innovation/development is 1% ideation and 99% preparation. We should:

  • Plan strategically 5 or 10 years out; for each prediction have one or more end-state and estimate the probability of each.
  • Network systemically: vertically and horizontally.
  • Understand explicitly how local institutions manifest local social structures and power and what social power you and your partners actually have and don’t have. For me: do the unions hold the real power in SA in education: should I try to influence them?
  • Think about your “new development” as a threat.
  • Use pilots or case studies to test and push the social system, not the technology.
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