Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Emergent properties

Odd, as I was writing the last blog I recieved a copy of an article published this week in the Economist called The Accidental Innnovator. The argument behind the article is that leaving yourself open to 'stumble' upon emergent properites or in the articles language, 'accidents' is what produces innovation. It goes on to say:

Evan Williams (originator of Blogger and Twitter) accidentally stumbled upon three insights. First, that genuinely new ideas are, well, accidentally stumbled upon rather than sought out; second, that new ideas are by definition hard to explain to others, because words can express only what is already known; and third, that good ideas seem obvious in retrospect.

The article then talks paradoxically about planning to make happy accidents happen. They do things like asking what can we take away to create something new rather than the usual what can we add? A really nice example of the paradoxical thinking of this and that I was trying to describe in the last blog.

There is also a brief discussion about the positive role of frustration in innovation. Which is often the opposite to conventiaonal wisdom of minimising frustration.

The point is that here is a nice example of someone using paradox to be innovative and find the emergent properties inherent in a situation rather than managing the situation so tightly that accidents can't happen and no new properties or innovation can emerge.

Loosen up and innovate!

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