123: Innovation – From Pattern Following to Pattern Generating








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Carol’s topic for discussion: Examine innovation as explained by two Harvard Business Review articles in relation to innovation as a living system.

The Innovator’s DNA- Clayton M. Christensen

An article by Clayton M. Christensen and two colleagues: The Innovator’s DNA dissects what makes an innovator. They are reported to have four practices and a way of thinking in common.

  • The authors aren’t offering take off from problem-solving which I often see with design thinking and as a road to creativity.  As if, there is a better set of steps or model of behavior. Which lead directly into innovation.
  • The challenge of innovation is not finding the right set of practices for doing or even thinking but building the mind that can perform this pattern generating activity and overcomes is a mechanical addiction to pattern following.
      • Our brain is actually structured, for strong survival reasons, to follow the familiar so we don’t get in trouble with dangers that surprise us.
  • Otherwise when we observe  potential customers as indicated, it is done with a mind looking in a limited, already patterned, way. We can’t see that we are doing this, and they don’t speak about the capability needed to switch to how we observe.

Innovation As a Living Systems

  • First, we can learn to use a living system framework to overcome the mechanical mental models in our head.
  • Second, we can build a reflective practice into everyday work and insist reflection happen in a developmental way. More on that in a moment.
  • Third, work on discernment exercises like we do here.  Get the mind used to examining itself and the effects on our thinking of how we are working. Overcome our blindness to our monkey mind and cognitive biases in real time.


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