How connected creativity can address global threats

Connecting dots combines the 10 most read stories on  over the last week into a single analysis that highlights our readers innovation priorities.

Through a variety of creative examples to solve global issues, diverse personalities and experts combine ideas from different sectors to help their wider knowledge community catalyze change on a systemic basis. Although they appeal to emotional drives that could trigger the impact they seek, innovation experts still face cultural reluctance to change. The development pace of technologies and the current questions left unanswered by our technical progress highlight a growing need to prioritize sense and systemic approaches so improvements participate to solve global challenges. Fueling technological developments with personal stories while making sure the questions driving their analyses relate to identified end-user needs, innovation practitioners intend to connect knowledge and creativity as a way to address global threats.

Creativity and diversity as a response to global threats


Fun, fear, courage, frustration, the emotional spectrum available to generate and express ideas is as wide as the innovation challenges ahead of us. Identified as an asset for innovation and creativity, imagination and motivation allows a greater space for a variety of individuals to come up with so far unexplored concepts and solutions. A global inspiration to challenge status quo leads different generations to commonly share ideas and projects that have the potential to solve global issues.

Innovation is a lot of fun, it has to be. Who wants to do boring innovation? Who wants to buy boring innovation? It’s a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it. It does not really help when we need change. So go on, have some fun.

Read more:We Are Innovation because we have fun“, WAI October 2014

Unfortunately, this collaborative effort is restrained by cultural and social barriers which tend to be heightened by economic and political crises. Even though diversity is identified and promoted as a way to develop meaningful innovation, individuals and communities are slow and at times reluctant to give more openness and adapt to change.

Painful times where educated, open-minded and once brilliant individuals start to claim “my people, my country first” as if they had forgotten how open the world had been to them, how the rest of the world once even saved them. Same old issues and struggles we need to sort out as one, but diverse. And this is where we need innovation to stand out. This is where I believe innovation needs to erase limits and replace them with opportunities.

Read more: “We Are Innovation because we are diverse“, WAI September 2014

Perhaps the challenges ahead appear as too complex and out of reach to be handled by our known strengths and limits. Lack of trust and solidarity may well be triggered by a growing sense of urgency for change, given the shortening deadlines to achieve critical breakthrough towards sustainability.

Although clearly an extreme, there is a sense in trying to better define where the fantastic tools we are currently developing will land us. Especially as the coming decade, the “Breakthrough decade” as labelled by scientists, seems to be an “all or nothing” one. (…) Big data has a role to play, but what’s going to be ours?

Read more:The big picture: Society and Technology June 2014“, WAI July 2014

Because they have understood the urgency of recreating human links between pressured individuals, experts develop management and communication techniques to counter-balance personal and cultural differences. Focused on listening and open discussions, those links are the necessary basis of a constructive innovation culture. 

The point is not to relate to the exact findings which may actually vary from industry to industry, company to company, individual to individual. The point is to ask: what will specific audiences expect, how will they react, what would they need in a given situation, with other sets of people? How can we generate value from combining all theses audiences together ? The point is to anticipate and better drive change, for there are many social changes coming ahead.

Read more:One step further at a time: society and technology“, WAI May 2015

Data and analysis have drawn the known limits and consequences of our choices and policies for the years to come. Regardless of the innovation efforts it takes, it seems critical that efficiency and creativity based on diversity finally finds the right place in our ecosystem to address pressing and systemic threats.

James Dyke for the World Economic Forum sets the scene: “it is possible to have our cake and eat it: a decarbonising economy and recovery of biodiversity. Unfortunately all current indications are that humanity is closely following the trajectory of MESSAGE 8.5 (the worst case scenario for climate evolution): eat as much cake as you possibly can and to hell with the consequences.”

Read more:Legal and Environment: Beyond the emergency“, WAI June 2016

Searching a technological sense


In parallel, technological developments seem to be questioned with regards to potential economic, social and market impacts they may generate. By listing both highly positive and highly threatening trends linked to AI, experts develop a significantly polarized debate that proves how developments still require an efficient vision to make sense.

With an on-going debate on long term value add of such services with regards to the economic changes AI may generate, and questions on human place in technology, experts and analysts provide a dynamic market overview of automation, machine learning and neural network researches, with the Internet of Things and Big Data as key enabler for future AI services.

Read more:The human questions behind AI business models“, WAI September 2015

Moreover, this debate enables to identify the systemic constraints entrepreneurs, developers and users still face with regards to AI. The legal, security and organizational barriers experts need to challenge are therefore addressable and action plans can be defined on an open innovation basis to refine a smarter sense in AI developments.

Although businesses and leading companies both invest and align in data oriented strategic transition, technical, regulatory and organizational barriers still drastically lower AI infrastructure and support impact. That being said, experts and analysts still remind the existing added value intelligent use of information generates across sectors, and highlight the learning and business model innovation potential laying beyond structural shortcomings to overcome.

Read more:Innovation Index: AI requirements for an optimized infrastructure and support“, WAI March 2016

Defining systemic change through stories and questions


In order to help developers understand critical priorities to follow, innovation practitioners shape stories to use both creativity and sense in defining needs and issues. Beyond the marketing trend of highlighting emotions and personal drives in buying or developing a new solution, storytelling may contribute to place individuals and human needs at the heart of strategies. 

As business becomes slightly more personal, individuals are driven back at the heart of strategies and creativity, generating new innovation potential closely linked to emotions, although developed with technology. How does innovation use storytelling to shape new markets?

Read more:Storytelling shapes the way we speak innovation“, WAI July 2015

The needs identified through storytelling can therefore be analyzed as a wider knowledge sharing basis to define a clearer role for innovation. Because the amount of data and stories shared increases over time, the next sense innovation experts recommend to develop is the ability to ask the right questions to ensure answers relate to a properly identified end-user need. 

The space for sharing and providing knowledge management services is increasing together with the opportunities of challenging existing business models. Our human fundamentals, including our ability to ask ourselves the right questions, need to find the right place to generate outstanding ideas which could now be more easily funded by the crowd.

Read more:Daily Pick: 10 human and digital components of innovation“, WAI May

Overall, the missing link between technology developments, heightened global threats and overwhelming emotions reflected in user or developer stories may reside in an effective platform allowing to combine ideas and aspirations for change. In addition, for such a platform to arise with the appropriate systemic impact, it also seems critical to influence and drive its political and economic environments so the platform generates benefits on a long term basis. 

Yet, without global platforms to build and link the competencies needed for systemic change, the innovation discourses experts and practitioners develop remain stymied by a lack of political willingness and economical adaptation that would foster long term benefits for all.

Read more:Connecting dots: what platforms to organize global change“, WAI May writes the innovation story  that thousands of innovation experts around the world constantly develop and share on WAI social networks. Browse our knowledge library and read our management reports to learn more.

Photograph: Nirina Photography


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