Here at Engaging Cities, we love to tout the possibilities that public participation and collaboration can provide for planning. With the goal of innovation in mind, how can we better stimulate the great minds of people collaborating to make great things happen? As it turns out, some of the experts at the Harvard Business Review have a few suggestions. First on their list is meeting people’s needs. Innovative and creative solutions are born from questioning social norms. Those in uncomfortable or distracting surroundings are unable to devote their entire energy to solving the problems at hand. Every person is different and feels comfortable in entirely different situations. It’s impossible to meet everyone’s collective needs at once. The natural alternative is providing many different scenarios for engagement, from large scale town hall meetings, to charrettes and small group sessions, from online engagement to public outreach at social events. When a variety of options are presented, people can choose what feels right for them.
Nurturing passion and recognizing that creativity is a systematic process is important to cultivating innovation. It’s widely accepted that creative thinking typically occurs in five stages: first insight, saturation, incubation, illumination, and verification. Feeling as if we’re contributing to something meaningful is also inherently critical when seeking creative insight. A truly compelling mission tends to ignite passion in us all and fuel the fire towards greater innovation.
Lastly, time is essential to the creative process. Not only do we require an appropriate amount of time to be innovative but we require open-ended swathes of time in which answers are not demanded in unreasonable deadlines. Recall stage three in creative evolution: incubation. At certain junctures it’s important to step back from the problem and allow our gray matter to subconsciously ponder the issue at hand. Great innovation comes not in an instant flash, but in a breakthrough after analyzing and agonizing over the same issue again and again.
Read the full Harvard Business Review article here: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/08/six_invisible_secrets_to_a_cul.html