Who is responsible for innovation?

Innovation's Social Architecture.png

If you’re curious about how innovation happens in organizations, I recommend “The Frontiers of Our Knowledge,” a brief blog post by Harold Jarche.

In it, he cites Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From:

“[I]nnovation prospers when ideas can serendipitously connect and recombine with other ideas.”

So if you want innovation to flourish at your school, it is worth asking:

  • Who are your innovators?

  • When and where do those innovators connect with broader “communities of practice”?

  • How do those “communities of practice” link with social networks where ideas can combine and recombine to create innovations?

As the graphic above illustrates, and as Steven Johnson implies, there is a “social architecure” to innovation: if an innovator can keep one foot in her team’s circle and another foot in a community of practice’s circle, new ideas can circulate through her.

If you were to fill in the map above with people on your team, what might you discover?


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Christian Talbot