Innovation and Design

Have been asked to speak about ‘policy and social innovation’ next week at the University of Waterloo, so have been trolling around on Ted Talks on innovation on this wonderfully sunny Sunday afternoon. A close friend of mine (Tim Penner) defines innovation as an outcome of facilitating collaboration, ideas that work and grow and prosper organically if given a communication-rich ecosystem that supports idea-sharing and open-minded testing. There are three TED Talks worth noting, one by Charles Leadbeater, Howard Rheingold, and the other that talks about how institutionalizing innovation–think tanks, centres of excellence–are anathema to fostering behaviours that lead to innovation, by Clay Shirky. If this is indeed the case, what new structures, what kinds of government policies are needed to foster a culture of innovation, and particularly, for me, social innovation. Rheingold talks about the relationship between communication, media and collective action, and that new forms of cooperation can create new forms of wealth. Should government policy in the 21st century be aimed at strengthening social infrastructure in new ways? What are the new models of governance? Finally, Paul Bennett, discusses how design and reframing the ordinary can inform new policy, by putting oneself into the other’s perspective. At the end of his video, there is a brilliant shorter video on climate change that ironically answers some of the questions that first motivated me to begin this blog, that we should move the communications from what we have to give up to what we have to create to reduce our impacts on the environment.

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