Everybody Innovates Here

Artboard 1-100 (1)We’ve seldom needed innovation as much as we do now, and we’ve never needed it to happen faster. We’re on the edge of a new era, and we have massive local and global challenges that will not wait for us to incrementally figure it out.

But the programs and systems that we use to try to jump-start innovation seldom live up to their billing. And in the meantime, entrepreneurship declines, inovation flounders, and the needs pile up.

Why isn’t this working?

And how do we get to the transformative innovation that we need?

Part of the problem is that we have an assortment of programs, places, events, hackathons, pitch nights… and most of them are well-intentioned. But we act like they can do it alone, just by throwing the right people and trappings together. We expect magic or alchemy, and that doesn’t happen. It’s like dumping a bunch of pumps and pipes in your front yard, and expecting to have running water in your bathtub.

The elements of the infrastructure have to be designed and constructed to work together. And that takes a level of intentional effort, conscious system design, that looks at the whole environment, the big goals, and intentionally accelerates the innovation process.

But the bigger problem stems from the deeper disconnects between the ways we have been doing this, and the profoundly different requirements of the emerging era.

We divide up the work according to old definitions, and we block ourselves from potential solutions on the other side of that wall. We tie our own hands behind our back by delineating who is who, who does what and how it gets paid for according to rules that haven’t changed much since the 1960s. And most damaging, we limit our definition of who can innovate to a narrow band of our community’s potential participants — typically, the band that looks and sounds more or less like us.

The result? We invent variations on a theme. We fail to understand what people who are not like us actually need. We miss the innovation opportunties that could make the most impact, because we keep looking at the new world through the pinholes of our own Industrial-Era assumptions.

Everybody Innovates Here unpacks the challenges facing the innovation and entrepreneurship landscape today, measuring its results and its shortcomings against the demands that are coming from the future of work, businesses and communities. Against the backdrop of epochal change and fundamental human priorities, Everybody Innovates Here outlines new strategies for innovation through intentional inclusion, acceleration and transformation.