I’ve just watched this fascinating talk from the lovely John Grant at this year’s PSFK conference. In it, he discusses a more interesting, and frankly plausible, explanation for how innovation really comes about.
It’s simple when you think about it: innovation comes about from looking at what might seem like an ugly, difficult or ‘unworthy’ issue from a different perspective.
He cites examples as varied as eBay, the Grameen Bank (the micro-credit institution founded in Bangladesh in the 1970s), The Discovery Channel, The Big Issue and IKEA as ways of illustrating the value of asking ‘what’s neglected?’ when looking for innovation. Taking McKinsey’s latest list of tech-enabled trends as an amusing starting point, John Grant explores a more interesting and more human approach to innovation which starts at the bottom of the pyramid with something ugly and neglected not, as might be expected, at the pinnacle with the question ‘what’s next?’
The points he makes particularly resonated with me because of a really interesting project that we’ve been working on with NESTA, (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), the independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative. Through a two-year pilot programme called Age Unlimited Scotland, NESTA wants to work with people in their 50s and 60s in Scotland who have the spark of a great idea to improve their community. This alternative approach to social entrepreneurship takes the value of the life experience people aged 50+ have gained and marries it with the need to address the implications of an ageing population.
So, if you know anyone over 50 who could put their skills to use in order to help their community then let them know about Age Unlimited Scotland.