open innovation dinner gig was interesting



It is not, remedy ‘cept in that it requires less balls and is infinitely easier to ignore.

The most innovative part of the evening was the clever little gizmo of a light and camera contraption that plugged into the projector thus offering the functionality of those grand relics of the old world – overhead projectors. Have’nt seen one of those before (okay I know I don’t get out enough) but makes a lot of sense and thought it very kewl.

The actual presentation left me a bit cold except for a clever exercise with parallel lines to illustrate our tendency for erroneous assumptions about the validity of our knowledge. Otherwise I don’t think I spotted a single novel idea or argument in the presentation, doctor the official presentation that is. Both Eddie Obeng and Jon Foster-Pedley are wonderfully charismatic speakers. Sandwiched between two relatively irreverent mini sessions of John Vlismas the whole affair was pretty entertaining. Vlismas is good, valeologist was a treat seeing him in action again.

For all the talk about new world, and getting the picture about the rate of change exceeding the capabilities of top-down hierarchical control-and-demand planning and organizational governance (they used more mainstream language and metaphors,) I thought a bit of a sour note remained lingering in the room after Eddie’s treatment of an audience member, Miguel, who questioned him on a point. At the time Eddie was singing lofty praises of the pull versus push model of innovation chains, but resorted to almost brutally ‘old-world’ style authoritarian bombastic suppression – to the point of not allowing Miguel to complete more than a sentence, constantly cutting in.

I thought it was a wonderful illustration of the adage that people preach what they most need to hear themselves.

But maybe that is an overly simplistic cop-out. Me thinks innovation is seldom present in individual brilliance or heroism. At least in terms of my perceptions and assumptions of what exactly innovation is. In its essence I think it is usually exactly the result of interactions between opposing parameters. Conflicted vectors and intentions, tension and challenge that form a kind of virtual catalyst that facilitates true creativity to kick in and do its good old magic.

The higher the tree, often, the more spectacular its descent. Pitching yourself as an innovation and creativity guru is a brave move methinks, and the inevitable idolization by some of the individuals who do get value from you somewhere along the way probably isn’t healthy for anyone involved. (Dave)

The best was someone else then chirping in that the question or the exchange was disruptive. Disruptive?… C’mon, really now.

The other thing that bugged me tremendously was that every image they showed except maybe the shadow sculptures, have been the stuff of emails circulating via email ad infinitum. The shadow sculpture I’ve only noticed around over the last couple of weeks and the mod-ed version of the which line is longer thingy probably qualify as relatively novel. At least the one shadow artist was acknowledged by name.

I had a look at the Pentacle website just before the event – and very nearly decided not to go as a result. It is absolutely horrid – especially in Firefox. I asked Jon about this just before the event and his response was to ask me to talk to ‘the man’. So I did. Eddie defended it relatively sleekly with an argument about offering a maze and the ‘focus’ link offering serious visitors the real corporate value. Later on he suggested that I was welcome to re-do the site if I would do it for free. Hmmm, I’d love to but frankly this, my personal site is in as dire a need of a make-over as theirs and I don’t have the time for that. But surely if what they have to offer is as valuable as they suggest, they can afford to invest in improving their online presentation. But me thinks it’s a question of Eddie seeing a particular picture and you are either with him or against him.

His main ‘story’ revolves around his realizations evoked when he saw a 3D image in one of those look into the page posters in a shop window. So he seems to see the world as a matter of either you see the dots, or you see the 3D image you are ‘supposed’ to see.

But. There are the dots, there is the implicit image you may or may not get to see. There are also all kinds of other pictures in that space between the apparent chaos and what you think you see and that rabbit hole ain’t got no bottom.

Me, I just want to stick my neck out a little bit and say I didn’t feel Eddie’s interaction in various contexts came across as including much in the line of humility, honesty or integrity. What I saw was all smoke, mirrors and a little light showmanship, which maybe is exactly what we were all really there for. A dash of the old snake-oil show. A harsh judgment to make of someone I hardly got to speak more than about three words to I realize. At least I met some very interesting people and got to connect with a few old and new friends which in itself made the mission, with a twisted ankle and all – via bike – more than worth while.

- Disclaimer – I realize that I’m probably just projecting my own ‘stuff’ – much of what sometimes most bugs me about myself, but this being my public scratching post – there you have it. You know how it goes, use it, lose it, engage in open meaningful constructive dialogue and/or discourse or whatever.


2 thoughts on “open innovation dinner gig was interesting

  1. Good to meet you last night Andre and I was interested and stimulated by your observations and reactions. You have a good and clear presence in an audience – one that stimulates a speaker to honesty and higher effort, I think. It’d be nice to chat over a coffee one day. I’m trying to find where to but one of those little mini-overheads myslef – let you know if I do. Jon F-P

  2. Howdy Hash

    I agree with you up to a point – but I do believe one can pursue innovation much like one can pursue profitability – but it is certainly not a subscription service or something one achieves over-night.

    Hi Jon

    Thank you, saying so is very kind of you. Yup, let’s do that coffee.

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