The Cross Innovation Manifesto


- By Luca de Biase and Patrick van der Duin



Policy is not about dictating what is best for us; it should help us find our way to better modes of being, encouraging discovery, freedom and happiness. Policy makers have to face the changing economic and cultural demands of society, with innovation critical to success. Here we present five principles that we hope will provide inspiration to those seeking to encourage new thinking.

1. Things shift, and when they do, it is not in the way planned.
2. Innovation is not simply grown in a greenhouse, it evolves in an ecosystem.
3. Being specialized is good, but learning to be special is even better.
4. New frontiers need pioneers. Innovation leaders are pioneers.
5. Innovation is a strategic, future-driven activity.

If you agree with this please sign the Cross Innovation Manifesto!

Download The Cross Innovation Manifesto (pdf)

1. Things shift, and when they do, it is not in the way planned.
Don’t be afraid of change. It is inevitable and will be, in the future, the only constant factor. Change happens: either you can see it coming and adapt or you can deny it and get in trouble. But forget planning it. Adapting an organisation to “happily” face unplanned change means to develop an open and proactive culture of innovation. But remember that we are in a non-linear environment, which means that we need to share a perspective, not a set of tasks. We can agree on a direction and on a methodology for research, but for us to be able to generate innovative results we have to systematically be, and stay, open to the unexpected.

Innovation often comes from combining knowledge and solutions in a new way; an innovative society is the novel combination of different approaches and cultures, in the context of a common perspective. To innovate is to put together different points of view; it is by nature an interdisciplinary and intercultural cooperation. So, always be open to different industries and sectors, because change often happens where you least expect it and frequently comes from outside the system of which you are a part.

2. Innovation is not simply grown in a greenhouse, it evolves in an ecosystem.
Gone are the days when scientists demanded peace and quiet to make their groundbreaking discoveries. Distraction is no longer to be considered as a nuisance but as a source of inspiration. Given that nowadays knowledge, and especially information, are globally dispersed, scientists need to be closely connected to the outside world. Being responsive to non-scientific incentives is vital for the societal acceptability of their work. At the same time, the stand-alone entrepreneur no longer exists. Being innovative means to position oneself in a wider social system. The innovation system looks like an ecosystem that is not static but evolves over time. This system consists of different societal actors (scientists, product developers, marketeers, government-officials, technological experts) that are closely linked to each other and require a well-developed competence in cooperation.

Modern innovation processes resemble, on the one hand, a ‘division of labor’ - a classical element of our free market society - but on the other, are rather responsive to societal demands and stress the need for cooperation between different societal actors. All this leads to responsible innovation that does not start with commercial interests but takes the ‘grand challenges’ of the Lund Declaration as the main focus, and which is the outcome of a joined innovation process benefitting from the input of contributors from different backgrounds.

Up

3. Being specialized is good, but learning to be special is even better.
Innovation is a knowledge-generating process that finds its application in new products, new services, and new systems. However, an innovation process can only be truly successful if the involved actors learn during this process. And learning only takes place if actors are prepared to step outside their comfort-zones and are willing to share their own paradigms and premises. This makes innovation processes so different from ordinary projects in which every actor just does their ‘own thing’ and then hands it over to the next in line. Innovation processes are not linear in nature but full of forward and backward linkages (i.e., they are cyclical). They are not usually continuous, progressive processes but learning processes, where actors very often need to take one step back to take two steps forward. Being part of an innovation process requires, at the same time, to be able to open up oneself to learning and contribute one’s unique competences.

Regarding innovation processes as learning processes does not only mean that innovation processes are not linear but also that between different innovation processes, learning processes should take place. Despite the high failure rate of innovation processes, due to their risky nature, by which they distinguish themselves from ordinary projects, the associated learning can lead to improvements in innovating, since lessons learned in one innovation processes can be applied to another innovation process, and vice versa.

Up

4. New frontiers need pioneers. Innovation leaders are pioneers.
They explore new territory and show us new frontiers. Innovation leaders don’t just defend what we already possess but cross boundaries into the unknown. If people think that their duty is to protect the boundaries, that will lead us to fight for the limited resources we already have. Relatedly, if innovation leaders conceive of their role as bringing their organisations and people to new levels of success, freedom, and happiness, they need to tell the stories of the new frontiers.

Innovation leaders, whether they work in commercial or governmental organisations, do not get imprisoned by existing sectoral, organisational or political lines. Given the importance and fun of innovating, they cross these lines to explore and create new resources. Not alone, but with new people they meet in crossing these sectoral and organisational boundaries. Innovation is not defending what you have but developing new territories.

Up

5. Innovation is a strategic, future-driven activity.
Despite the trial-and-error nature of innovation, an innovation process without a future image is like travelling down a road that leads to nowhere. Innovation is not a goal in itself but aims to develop opportunities or solve problems. These opportunities and problems always are future-oriented. Innovating is a strategic activity, not an operational task.

So, the future is the ‘raison d’etre’ for innovation. The future is the ultimate source of inspiration and explains why innovators are doing the things they are doing in the present. But this future should not be a blueprint. The future is not something you can determine beforehand. The essence of ‘the’ future is its unpredictability. Every innovation process should be guided by a vision of the future. A vision that is inspiring, a vision that is specific enough to function as an ambition yet permits different possible scenarios. Furthermore, a vision of the future is not something that should stay a dream. On the contrary, future visions are realised by actual innovation processes in the present. But the long passage-time of many innovation journeys means that a vision should be sensitive to all those changes (societal, economic and political) that might occur between the first idea for an innovation and its ultimate implementation. Innovating and determining a future vision are, therefore, two sides of the same coin.

Download
The Cross Innovation Manifesto (pdf)

Up