Innovative Thinking – Organic Innovation – Blog 004

What Is Organic Innovation


In this blog, I wanted to discuss a new idea, a new way of looking at innovation.  In the next chapter on Failure, I discuss when I lost my first company it was like losing a child.

This concept is critical for you to understand as it describes the life cycle of an idea and the emotion attachment we all have for our own creations.  As you go through the rest of this book, keep this concept in mind and how it applies to all innovation.

Over the past several decades I have analyzed these feelings trying to make some sense of it all.  The nurturing of an innovative idea was felt very organic.  It felt personal.  It was then that I realized, it was.  Whether you give birth to a new life form or give birth to a new idea, they both required attention, nurturing, care, feeding, love, work, and growth.

In this chapter, we will look at innovation as if it were a living organism. From the very moment of its conception, inspiration, innovation, thought, idea, and invention each takes on a life of their own. This concept is out there, radical, and unusual, but if you want to think with a higher level of innovation, you need to change the way you think.

To that end, I wanted to share this idea, concept, or new life form with you in the hopes that you will become infected by it and help it spread, reproduce, and flourish.

The moment of innovation can be viewed as the conception or the beneficial mutation of an existing cell of an idea. There is a moment when an innovative idea exists when just a moment before it didn’t.

Often an innovative idea is incomplete, only a zygote of a mature thought. This innovative thought must be nurtured, fed, and cared for until it is mature and has the ability to survive on its own.

While in this gestative stage the idea is difficult for others to comprehend. Its incompleteness prevents others from understanding its application and ultimate potential or what it could be when it grows up.

From the moment of inspiration or conception, the organic innovation’s parent must grow this thought by feeding it with the nutrients of fresh perspectives, new information, and combine it with other mature and immature organic innovations until it develops into a mature thought or concept.

Once mature the organic innovation can venture out into the world on its own. It will be received by other people’s perceptions and experiences. It will be held and cared for by others, some with the maternal instincts of its parent, others with only in passing curiosity, and some who wish to own or harm it.

An authentic innovative thought at this stage will become viral in nature. It will spread on its own accord without the help or encouragement of its parent. Once someone is exposed or comes in contact with this thought through their eyes and ears, their brain becomes infected with that thought. This idea will inhabit them and they will pass it on at will to others who are receptive to these ideas.

The more minor or underdeveloped the innovation, the less likely its survivability or replicability the organism will have. The more viable and mature the innovation is, the more likely this organism will be passed on from one human host to another.

This idea will incubate, be realized, and once again be passed on to another host where the process is repeated again and again.

With modern telecommunications, email, blogs, websites, social media, text, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and so many more digital media platforms, allows an organic innovation to be more infectious and spread faster than ever before. Word of mouth at the speed of light. A healthy viable thought will take on a life of its own and spread almost immediately, worldwide.

Sometimes lesser innovations will simply run their course and meet with their own genetic dead end. The innovation might fall out of favor, never be fully realized, become obsolete, or be surpassed by its own prodigy.

Occasionally, an innovation comes in contact with another similar, but slightly different thought and it will procreate. This procreation produces a prodigy where many of its inferior or recessive genes of the original idea are lost or ignored. The dominant genes of both parent ideas are combined to produce a thought or idea with a much higher pedigree. This process continually improves its ability to replicate, reproduce, spread, and recombine to grow into an even greater genetically enhanced organic innovation.

Often this organic innovation is accepted, put into practice, and becomes a permanent part of our culture. Once an innovation is widely accepted and put into practice, the idea becomes a building block for future innovative offspring that is often recombined to carry on the genes of its predecessor through generation after generation. These replications and future generations all contribute new positive mutations, spawning still other more infectious organic innovations.

Just as in life, these organic innovations continue to spread, mutate into even better and more complex organisms. Often, the more powerful ideas will jump species and recombine to propagate in a completely different industry or application. The most successful organic innovations will plant its DNA across many spectrums of different applications and will influence and change our lives as we know it for us and our descendants.

So, if you think this article about “organic innovation” has any merit at all, help it thrive, multiply, infect, propagate, recombine, and evolve into something new and never before seen by sharing it!

That’s Organic Innovation!

It sometimes helps me to look at an innovative project in this light to get a better feel for my emotional attachment to the idea.

Here is a homework assignment:  Take a few uninterrupted minutes to think about a project you have or are working on in the framework of “organic innovation” to see if any of these thoughts or feelings ring true for you.  If it does, think about how you might look at that project and the way you interface with it, differently.

Lon Safko
Serial Innovator, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Innovative Thinking


Tags: innovative thinking, creative, creative thinking, Innovation, critical thinking definition, innovation definition, critical thinking skills, creative process

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