Saturday, May 4, 2013

Innovating innovation

By Melanie Howard | Founder of The Future Foundation | Chair of the FEI Foresight Into Action Summit, 6 May

This is an exciting time for innovation – it is being invigorated and re-invented across the world. But where do the best ideas come from?  How does insight sit within this? How can we manage innovation systems so they don’t crush creativity? Melanie Howard of the Future Foundation explains why she’s so excited to be chairing the Foresight Into Action Summit and what innovation means for businesses today.

The Front End of Innovation programme offers such a sparkling array of perspectives on the constantly evolving reality of innovation in organisations today, that despite the fact I am chairing a track of the Trends and Foresight Into Action Summit, I would love to be able to attend literally every single session on the programme - it is going to be a hard choice. The endeavour to create new solutions and be genuinely innovative is clearly inspiring great inventiveness around the globe, and this is in itself one of the trends in innovation that is reflected in the programme. In fact, innovation is now innovating itself with such rapidity that an important benefit of the FEI event will be to keep tabs on the new innovation processes open to companies in this exciting new world.

The self-referential analysis of the innovation movement is one of the interpretations of the term 'trend' that is used by speakers in the track on Trends and Foresight Into Action that I am chairing. We use it at the Future Foundation to describe an empirically observable or predictable movement or tendency that will result in changed behaviour or expectations of a significant proportion of citizens. From our global consumer research and trendspotting, we are looking to provide early warning of future needs that can be innovated for – in other words, building ideas on a strong evidence base.

However our experience has taught us that it is vital to introduce random elements into our workshops and innovation projects with clients, since it is only through the resolution of paradoxes and contradictions can new ideas genuinely emerge. And this is another 'trend' within innovation itself that I will be interrogating at the conference – if we are all so good at encapsulating and systematising innovation processes, how do we avoid killing off the creative inspiration that we need to generate new ideas?

At the Future Foundation, we play games with our clients, bringing our trends together in 'blind dates' or 'manifestation clashes' -  always looking for new ways of introducing chance. Another method we use is called the 'ideas bazaar' and indeed, I feel that FEI is going to a marvellous ideas bazaar in itself for us all to exchange and swap  - hopefully creating something unique together in the spirit of collaboration that is yet another trend within the global innovation movement. Let's see!

Melanie Howard is co-founder of the Future Foundation, a leading global insight and consumer trends enterprise.  The Future Foundation specializes in identifying, quantifying, articulating and translating the client opportunity in every key consumer trend shaping the business landscape of the future. We believe science & creativity matter in equal measure. We bring a fusion of total insight - consumer, competitor, commercial, cultural- to 200 global brands.



1 comment:

Jenn Mesenbrink said...

Great article, Melanie. I do hope you'll make it to see Motorola Solutions CTO Paul Steinberg on Monday night at FEI 2013! Here's a preview of his point of view: Great article,

http://communities.motorola.com/community/north_america/fresh_ideas/blog/2013/05/03/at-fei-2013-technology-and-the-race-for-the-future

Keep leaning forward!

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