If you’ve never read Brain Pickings, it’s a great newsletter to sign up to. We are big fans here in the Wazoku office, and apart from its insightful weekly updates, it’s a good source of creative inspiration. The author of the page calls it a place…
full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful.
In addition to those topics, she often covers areas that also relate to technology and creativity. This past week on addressing innovation in our lives and in the world this quote stood out:
The most meaningful, impactful, and enduring innovations, Gardner argues, often come quietly, even surreptitiously:
The new thing rarely comes on with a flourish or trumpets. The historic innovation looks exciting in the history books, but if one could question those who lived at the time, the typical response would be neither “I opposed it” nor “I welcomed it,” but “I didn’t know it was happening.”
The unsung heroes of innovation, Gardner suggests, are those who shed light on the new and noteworthy, who extend an invitation to people to pay attention and care — a function all the more vital today, half a century later, when there is so much more vying for our attention and it is so much more straining to distinguish between the noteworthy and the merely noisy.
She is talking about a great social science writer called John W. Gardner and his book from the 1960’s called Self Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society. Gardner takes a unique view on innovation and technology, noting that
We tend to think of innovators as those who contribute to a new way of doing things. But many far-reaching changes have been touched off by those who contributed to a new way of thinking about things…It would be a mistake to distinguish too sharply between those who contribute a new way of doing and those who contribute a new way of thinking.
It’s a great idea that is also very useful when contemplating change and innovation in your own life or organisation.