“Is this innovation or can I toss it in the bin?”
10 years ago Steve Jobs introduced the IPhone – how did we manage without It?
There was a time when the routine job of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) was mainly incremental innovation. Incremental innovation focusses on improving the company’s existing products and services to secure the market position. Since the digital transformation, innovative processes are increasingly necessary to implement new market value.
Steve Jobs Poster of innovationInnovative developments are now ideally characterized by more radical innovative changes, often based on trends, in order to develop new types of business models and products and services. Dynamic companies need to compete quickly and grow in an ever-faster paced, global marketplace.
And increasingly there is the drive towards disruptive innovations. The establishment of completely new business models, often with total customer committment that totally change the way we do things and create new value. Like the way we live (smart phones + apps), work (Google), take a taxi (Uber) or go on vacation (AirBnB) to name a few examples. These disruptive enterprises break the rules, push the boundaries and become triggers for new forms of commerce. They might be viewed with respect; however these outliers, as a rule, are not particulary liked (example Jeff Bezos Amazon).
Any time a rule breaker shakes things up, he or she is met with skepticism or worse. Even creativity can be threatening (see Jennifer S. Mueller). People desire creativity ideas but are often unable to deal with or accept unusual ideas without prejudice. In all areas of our lives, business, science and in art, creativity is “ the engine of scientific discovery and the fundamental driving force of positive change” (Hennessey & Amabile, 2010).
Yet, our brain rebels. Pushing our assumptions, here our visual assumptions, into the discomfort zone. We often need to make sense of what we are seeing. Is this kind of “shock” art a phenomena of today?
No, not at all. We can dip back to the 1870s + 1880s to find one of the first modern art world shocks. The Impressionists, who appear so beautifully bland to us today, shook up the art world when they exhibited for the 1. time in 1874. In fact, the name “Impressionism” was invented by a French journalist Mr. Louis Leroy when writing about Claude Monet’s painting entitled “Sunrise”. He claimed it to be merely a sketch or “impression,” and not a finished painting. His implication was that this guy Monet is really not able to paint but can only make faint, sketchy “impressions”.
Innovative artists who worked outside the boundaries – like outliers. They use radical ways of seeing and perception that pushed the boarders of what was considered to be real “art”.
Like their business and scientific counterparts, these artists radically challenged the status quo. Challenging status quo, or being part of the avant-garde. Did you know this is originally a military term, for the front unit of a fighting force? The Impressionists shook up the stogy academies in France. Then their style spread like wildfire throughout Europe. This forced the art establishment in time, to re-think their opinions and re-evaluate common assumptions.
As is the case with the introduction of many radical innovations. The establishment often rejects it. For example, Kodak the inventor of digital imagery. They were convinced digital reproduction with pictures that the customer prints themselves was not what the customer wanted. They saw no future value in the digital reproduction methods and invention that they themselves created. They totally missed the boat.
Kodak missed the boat. The CEOs were convinced that digital cameras would not sell!
One big question was and is continually debated. Who needs it? Who will buy it? Whether in art or business same Does art have to serve tradition? Reproduce the canon of accepted visual imagery and/or show a pretty, tidied-up world – like those art critics wanted?
At the turn of the 20th century, artists pushed visual habits back. They experimented with radical non-representational or abstract styles. This is a kind of pushing our assumptions into the “discomfort” zone. Or in other words, nudging us into a space where “it” does not fit into our expectations of what it is supposed to be. This is the brain space where breakthoughs can occur. And they do.
“Is this art or can I toss it in the bin?”
This famous phrase was coined by the artist Joseph Beuys’ cleaning woman. She wasn’t sure what to do with one of his ( fatty) sculptural objects. The value of his work was not obvious. It did not fit into the usual category.
Innovators then and now, need to be original to develop an unique individual style. Artists and innovators create their own terms, artistic language and vision. They break accepted cultural norms, play with values and make their own rules. This makes things really exciting and also quite challenging. Both 150 years ago and still today.
Ready to learn more about the drivers of art and innovation?
Tweet this: Feb. 02. Wallraf-Richartz Museum Cologne (Twitter)
More on innovation in the business world? We have exciting news!
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We write about why and how to take steps towards becoming a dynamic people company. The steps forward are realised in company creative cultures, like at Adobe. Their success with the Red Box scheme for radical creativity and workflow innovation is exemplary. We highlight and investigate the holocracy model at Zappos. The radical culture of trust at the incredibly successful financiers Bridgewater and innovative software designers at ZURB. Telekom and Detecon are just two best case examples showcasing forms of co-creation using Design Thinking and Future Work. And much more. We’ve just completed the our final read with our lector. Whew! If things go according to the publisher’s plan, our book will be published by Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag in March/April of 2017.