Innovation: it’s complicated

Fabio Sergio wrote a slightly rambling but very interesting post called The Myth of the Brand New Innovation Myth. He takes on some recent opposing views on innovation and creative thinking. Should you listen to customers or not? Should you work in an environment where you can do your thinking alone, or collaborate? Sergio’s point is that (surprise!) it’s not that simple:

I don’t think there is an archetypal, simplistic image of what type of personality or process best fosters innovative thinking, or even what type of physical working environment can best support a creative culture. That view of the world is too polarized. In my experience there is no single specific behavioral trait, methodological approach, or carefully-selected set of contextual factors that guarantees success in the ability to think differently and translate that thinking into success in the market.

He goes on to say that the truth doesn’t lie in any of these extremes, but somewhere in between:

That said, there is indeed a common trait in the typical way creative thinkers approach challenges: they can comfortably hold opposing thoughts in their heads and get to work. [“¦] Informed intuition. Controlled chaos. Abductive analysis. This is often the mindset of successful creative, innovative thinkers: seeing opposites and apparently contradicting goals not just as a potential for dissonance, but as an opportunity for dynamic harmony.

It’s a much more balanced and realistic view than some of the other black-and-white proclamations of truth we’ve been seeing lately.