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Creating a Culture of Innovation

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A series of 4 lunchtime Zoom talks about my new book on innovation cultures followed by off the record Q&A with attendees.

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Lecture 1 (January 29th) is a historic deep dive in office spaces and how innovation work differs from a regular office environment. How are the mystical cross-disciplinary and serendipitous conversations designed to happen? And where is their potential squandered? Is in in corridors, at desks, at the cafeteria? I had the pleasure of finding out more than I could imagine about the founding principles for open plan, bull pens and city rooms as well as ‘office landscaping’, co-working and hot-desking. This lecture also deals with the tools that are imposed to demarcate innovation work.

Lecture 2 (February 5th) is a deep dive into the people who inhabit those spaces. How are they chosen and who chooses them? I wanted to capture some of the biases that occur when thinking of innovation work and some of the cult-like practices corporations will be told to adopt. The relationship between the outside world and an innovation team also features here. This is often the job of the evangelist or the futurist to come in and translate the world for a team. They take on what Thomas Allen describes as ‘technological gatekeepers’ in his seminal book.

Lecture 3 (February 12th) focuses on how innovation work flows and makes its way across a business, or more often doesn’t. The changes in office work over the past twenty years have pushed people to develop mitigation strategies against distraction and innovation work often counts as distraction. How we use email, Slack, newsletters or even Powerpoint to involve others outside of our team is important. It’s no longer a question of sending an everyone@ email. It’s about how to ask for feedback on new ideas and increase the chances of getting an answer. Everything from the format of a meeting to its location can hinder feedback.

Lecture 4 (February 19th) ends the book with an analysis of the concepts of ‘open innovation’ and its effect on how innovation work is financed, perceived and takes shape as dedicated showcase spaces of the last 20 years. They’ve become talismanic in nature, borrowing from the worlds of flagship stores, maker spaces, science museums and demo spaces. They’re something of a rare breed and I suspect we won’t see much of them in a post-COVID world. I’m glad I was able to capture this typology because I couldn’t really find any book that had look at this critically.

All the Lectures will be recorded and posted online. The Q&A session with attendees won't be recorded to ensure privacy and encourage an open conversation. Buy the book here.

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