Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Update: Innovation happens in the tail of social crossroads



Craig McEldowney posted an insightful comment to my previous post "Innovation happen at social crossroads" that I would like to share with you:

Hi there--
Good post. One point that I'd like to add is that I think these kinds of meetings have a longer tail than just the time spent in the actual collaboration. There's always that thought that sparks a day or two later and it's really those "ah ha" moments that happen offline that add value to initiatives, projects, what have you... So the point I'd add to your list of things we need is not just a mechanism for efficiently capturing the content of the meeting itself, but a platform that can support and facilitate capturing those additional insights/thoughts that happen afterwards and store them in a useful, searchable and repurposeable way.

Many online or virtual meeting places do a decent job of capturing the former, but ignore the latter. Meetings then degrade into emails, conversations, texts and IMs that don't get brought back into the general pool and there is a real missed opportunity. Who knows how many parallel and redundant conversations are happening after a given meeting? The clarification points that start to diverge? Once those can be integrated back into the fold, then we can start creating some real momentum on projects and initiatives, and not spin our wheels.

I very much agree with Craig. The new ideas and innovations that might come out of one or a number of meetings or interactions with other people do not necessarily happen at the actual meetings. But I am sure that these meetings bring a lot of the fuel that is needed to make innovation happen and that they might ignite ideas that later on will develop into something new.

I personally get most of my "a-ha" experiences at times when I am not working and when I am alone. On the exercise bike at the gym, while taking a shower, in the car while stuck in a traffic jam...But I am sure that I get most of the sparks from online and offline meetings with other people, such as this one with Craig on my blog.

Craig also writes about the importance of have a platform for capturing the additional insights/thoughts after the meetings. This is definately where blogs and wikis can be usable as they let people continue the conversations started in meetings. My own platform is actually this blog. It serves both as a notebook where I can capture and share my own thoughts and ideas and as scrapbook where I collect and share interesting things I've found on the web and elsewhere. I write the thoughts and ideas down on my smart-phone and either develop them later or publish them directly on the blog. I also read my feeds and mark the ones I find interesting so that I can read them later on and share those that I find valuable with the readers of this blog and the subscribers of the RSS feed.

By the way, I also have an internal blog that I share with my team for internal conversations and we use a wiki for capturing and referencing to value information. Unfortunately I cannot publish posts from my smart-phone on the internal blog, but this is a feature I hope will be added soon.

To sum up - a spontaneous meeting with a new person might suddenly ignite a spark and make me rethink things or expand the ideas and thoughts that I have shared. The conversion with Craig is a perfect example of this. I am sure that Craigs analogy with the Long Tail will spawn some new thoughts and ideas.