In the laudable attempt to simplify innovation, most innovation gurus have created a kind of linear process. It’s typically four or five sequential steps that follow a similar pattern of problem definition, ideation and finally implementation. These approaches are brilliant in that they make the complex understandable and set the foundation for further learning.
But the reality of innovation is a bit more complicated.
A good metaphor can be found the neuroscientist David Eagleman’s enlightening book, Incognito. It began with the discovery that brain wiring does not run from A to B to C. There are feedback loops from C to B, C to A, and A to B.
The core of the idea is that in the brain, there is a much feedback as there is feedforward. Eagleman writes it is “a feature of brain wiring that is technically called recurrence and colloquially called loopiness”
So the brain works more like a chaotic marketplace than an assembly line.
It is a constant mix of feedback loops each playing and either clarifying of wrecking havoc with previous ideas or directions. (Often the disruptions and “failures” are what truly clarifies the next steps.)
When Dana Montenegro of Seriously Creative and I developed our I.D.E.A. Approach to accelerated innovation, we wrestled with this insight. We know that simplifying the complex makes the concepts easier to grasp. But we also wanted to make it sync more with how the brain really works.
One of the great Einstein quotations is that “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”
So our I.D.E.A process to innovation combines simplicity with a layer of feedback loops that provide a more flexible and realistic approach to solving innovation challenges.
Neuroscientist’s believe that imagination is really about running perceptual loops in reverse. It’s about visualization and synaptic connections. I.D.E.A. is about priming those connections to create a stronger flow of ideas.
In the next few weeks, we will publish more details on the I.D.E.A. process and why it has been generating so many positive results for our clients.