Innovation is a social process – and collaboration is key

When you think of “innovation,” what comes to mind? A turtleneck-clad “creative” sketching impossibly elegant, otherworldly product designs? Maybe a Minority Report-like scene of a scientist solving complex equations and diagrams on some futuristic computer interface, or a group of elite hackers sequestered in a think tank coding up the next generation of algorithms? If something along those lines popped into your head, you’re half right. Hard skills like design and engineering will always be crucial parts of the innovation process, but the world is increasingly becoming aware that they’re not a complete solution on their own. The next frontier of innovation Let me assert one thing:  innovation isn’t “technology.”  Innovation is people coming together to solve tough problems in new ways.  That is — counter to some understandings — innovation is fundamentally a SOCIAL process, and the next evolution of innovation-driven organizations (whether they’re small businesses, enterprises, or departments within larger companies) will be defined by emphasizing soft skills like emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication as much as traditional, hard skills. The reason why is simple: the low-hanging fruits are gone. The easy wins have been claimed. The kind of groundbreaking innovations that will create the next Uber, the […]