When it comes to innovation and creativity, we often assume that there are a small number of super smart people who always think of great new ideas. Through my daily involvement with entrepreneurs, researchers, incubators and accelerators, it has become clear to me that it are not the smartest and most driven people who bring their ideas successfully to market, but those who are most skilled in capturing ideas (from others), validating and improving these ideas and in working with people who are on the same wavelength.
The people who are most creative and have a feel for trends and new technologies are actually continuously scouting. They meet new people everywhere and catch new ideas at every moment in time. They are always open to listen to people with different views and new insights. They have the ability to filter out the best ideas and to validate those ideas in their next talks with other people, with again their own perspectives and experiences. The ideas that provoke interest from different people, are truly valuable. They translate these ideas in a new story that will change the world. The most productive people are continually working to create a new story. From their continuous exploration, they’re adding elements to their story, until they decide that time has come to take action and validate their idea in reality!
Social interactions are crucial in gathering information and in decision making. By combining input from various people we reach a judgment that is based on a group’s wisdom, collective intelligence. We collect the best ideas and make better decisions by learning from successes and mistakes of others!
The most productive people are therefore constantly in contact with others to gather and validate new ideas by engaging partners in exploratory conversations, resulting in even more and better ideas. A good mix of social learning and personal information guides them in their exploration.
There are a couple of important aspects to keep in mind when collecting and testing ideas within a network:
- Combining experiences of others with individual information leads to better decisions.
- The size and the diversity of the network determine the quality of the ideas that emerge.
- IF everyone runs in the same direction, be aware of group think (or herd behaviour), a major risk of social learning.
- Study the opinion of loners! When people behave independently, they are likely to have other information to which they attach great importance and they resist against social influences.
As Coordinator of CreatiFI and Entrepreneur in Residence at iMinds, I have the privilege to experience how many new ideas emerge, mature and are brought to market. I enjoy the close collaboration with creative and innovation hubs across Europe, bringing great people and ideas together and enabling them to become reality.