Using memories to develop innovation

On the Go is your weekly innovation story inspired from elsewhere


We still don’t know how it works, but we’ve made some good advance. With the development of technology and knowledge sharing, researchers have come to highlight the five types of memories all of us has. Science & Vie, a French magazine, has issued a special issue dedicated to memory. They explain that memories are a combination of five brain areas that print different information which we call back to picture memories. Interactions between neurons and chemical substances reappear in original areas where the initial memory was “printed” the memory. As time and experience changes our perception, we either lose or develop part of this map, to create a new version of the memory. Maybe it fits better with the way we feel or the way we see the world? We don’t know, but we can almost draw pictures of our past in our brain, and the interesting point is all parts are always combined in a very specific way for each memory. Could we do the same with innovation stories?


Working Memory

This is the frontal part of the brain collecting information like the numbers we dial on the phone or indication given by people to find the right path in streets. For innovation, this could be the databases, the numbers, the schemes, the reasoning we learn to get around specific data, the most physical forms of knowledge we know such as colour code (red/amber/green), the formulas we learnt (the 80/20 rule). Everything that can form the sometimes wide library of our content, whether shared on the web or stored in our minds.


Memory of process

That’s the memory of know-how and motricity. Is there know-how and motricity in innovation? Yes there is. The mental queries we use to action cause-effects tools and create a graph, a text, a pie chart, or even just reading content unconsciously understanding each and every word of it… We speak English or French or Spanish, we are scientists, or managers, or students, and the content we read goes through that “innovation grid” of ours, translating information as we learn it.


Perceptive memory

It’s the memory that codes all shapes, colours, objects into our knowledge. This is commonly used by brands to create effective logos and colour codes to communicate with customers, a visual identity. In the innovation analysis world, it’s the patterns we recognise, such as identifying “new” and “old”, identifying “growth” and “decline”, the gut feeling we have when different indicators follow a known logic and we anticipate what’s going to come next.


Semantic memory

It is the set of knowledge that doesn’t reflect lived experiences, such as our name, our address, the name of a movie. We need plenty of it for innovation. It builds our identity as an innovator, our known skills and habits, what we can do, what we can bring, what we can learn. Our biaise. Our individual values for innovation.


Episodic memory

This is the memory of experiences, closely linked to the semantic memory. It can be the birth of a child, our wedding, a birthday. As innovators, it’s our experience, the meetings, the successes, the failures, the presentations, the workshops…

Creating innovation methodologies that align with the way our brain works maybe a good way of democratizing them. Creating our own maps of innovation, the way the brain creates memories maps, can help defining better stories. Better stories have better impact, haven’t they?

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