Written by Professor Doug Linman, NewEarth University – School of Science & Design Innovation / Discipline of Science & Technology “NEST” Faculty, and Chairman/Chief Science Officer for MQ Corporation, for global sustainability solutions.
Innovation, innovation, ugh… INNOVATION! We hear this word all the time and it’s an easy statistic to collect. Just ask the people immediately around you on what they think it represents. You will now hear how little we all truly understand what INNOVATION means.
Most think it’s “a magical thing” that happens when you just think about a subject, or an object, a process, maybe a design, or an architecture. Setting aside all the arguments for a moment on what innovation might appear to be to most, the reality is that unless you are a fully engaged “observer” in all or most things you will not “innovate” much. Then the argument arrives, “Yes, but that is why we create Teams to assure we will achieve an innovation!” The response you should hold is, that without fully engaged “observers” from different areas, you will simply have a room with people who already have limited ability.
Over 40 years ago I was lucky enough to arrive from a “Skunkworks” and Fringe Sciences world of “innovation under pressure”! What we learned, very early in our 20-30s as young engineers, scientists, mechanics, architects, chemists, etc. was, that in order to arrive at a reasonably well conceived anything you had to be able to argue and debate in detail “all” the aspects of the idea. The discussions were incredible and very quick to arrive consensus, because the details allowed everyone to contribute to the fullness of their knowledge and observation base. It was like watching one very large brain analyze, process, correct, assemble, design and arrive at solutions. The more this interaction became the norm for us in a room of various subject matter experts across many divergent fields (biochemistry, physics, material science, architecture, design, mechanical and electrical engineering, assembly, manufacturing, calibration and stress analysis, testing and certification, life science, organic and inorganic chemistry, etc.) the smarter we became from our personal observation bases, our interactions with other observers and their structures and knowledge. The more we grew as “master observers” integrating others’ observations from their subject matter base, the more our assembled team arrived at amazing “Innovation”!
How do you know if you are already a good or great observer?
Well, let us test that now:
Get up, put on your casual clothes or running fashion and leave your house or apartment. Go as far as you like and return home. Once returned home, immediately sit down and write down and draw as much as you can remember of everything you saw or witnessed. The day, the colors, the people, the movement, the sounds, the environment, the structures, the heights of everything, the big, the small, the silence, the crunching beneath your feet, funny license plate numbers, clothes, faces, eyeglasses, crying, whistling, birds, planes, cars, type of street substrate, and how some interesting things that caught your eye were architected and how the streets were connected. If you do this naturally or can quickly remember many things that you easily stored and recalled, then you are a wonderful—possibly a master—observer!
When I was growing up, my father played a terrible trick on me (as a young 8-year-old child through to my early teens) that would alter my brain thinking patterns for the rest of my life. He would buy me models of boats, planes, tanks, the human body, brains, action heroes, everything…and also with an ever growing number of assembly parts to put together. Sounds normal so far, right? Then he would have me read the assembly instructions and then hand them back to him! I would never see them again until the model was completed and inspected for accuracy. I was allowed to keep only the box top for any picture reference, but nothing else! Needless to say my first few models were disasters, but then hope sprang eternal and all of a sudden I was up for each new challenge, determined to become a master at these efforts. That was the fun part, which I never conceived would create such a profound effect on my life and thus the direction I would take towards science and technology, innovation, invention and of course, the most demanding element of all…truly mastering observation!
When you can see and manipulate in your mind the inner-workings before you ever build something…that is pure excitement!
When not working on molecular sciences, I have built many significant models and then larger Lego models during my life without instructions because of my youth training by my father. I can deconstruct everything first in my mind, no matter what it is, and then read up on more things; and remember how they work internally when I see them again. My father found a way of expanding ones’ abilities by something as simple as forcing you to deconstruct a picture and its inner workings and structure, then rebuild it in your mind, from the inside, out. Fascinating! I became most aware in my late 20s that my brain could illustrate quickly how something had to work, or had to be mixed, or had to be integrated, or structurally connect, to properly function. It also got me the best high tech jobs and into early leadership as well.
Observation and reference constructing is the attainable gift, which I think keeps on giving! My father and I were seemingly only playing a game (a growing challenging and observation game) that so structured my mind in active natural observation, and deconstruction, then reconstruction mode, on a ready mind canvas, perpetually! That might be the good part! The bad part however, is that I clearly notice who does not hold a natural ability (yet) in this type of thinking.
One of many examples:
I was invited to a THINK TANK to see how one of their interactive sessions unfolds. To express my interpretation of that meeting would be too callous. The think tank session was more like tossing text on a screen and hoping a product design would mystically emerge to full clarity. Strangely, I have received more invitations to these organizations but do not go very often because little observation exists, resulting in so very little—if any—innovation, blossoming. The education was lifeless and thus poor results remain. There are certainly exceptions to this, but we all really wish to hear that most of these “innovation” efforts are wildly more fruitful, than so terribly failing. They are not!
Think without a plan or instructions…
Maybe first, they should simply build models without instructions just to see how they think and interpret the loss of any exact plan. This will get them in the right frame of mind. Our education systems do not promote “Innovation Thinking” or “Observation” as expressed earlier. This, I believe is the difference that can make or break any type of company, innovation or product. We need to grow and educate inclined people in true observation skills first, which directly feeds into graduating wonderful innovation thinkers or simply, thinking visionaries.
Innovation under pressure without observation skill is not an achievable job
Here is a simple example: If you place 20 chemists in a room and tell them to come up with a new “innovation” within 3 months, what do you think will happen? Behaviorally and Academically they are all trained as the same type people, so they will think and research within a comfort zone and actually not much (or very little) will easily arrive. Living in a classed, boxed and numbered world within our daily experiences while holding cross-discipline brainstorm sessions would be shallow at best. These students would be educated by the same subject matter, which lacks the capability to open their minds to the possibilities of great enhancements. They would only be inspired to take great leaps out of the box into advanced thought or imagination through integrating great diversity.
Observation IS the key to innovation
Observation first, is the absolute key to Innovation! You must be manic about this desire to know, understand or simply imagine how most things work, interact, are designed, or could be integrated. To be a master at this, you must naturally live life in a constant role of observation-mode to world events, disaster and recovery, how things grow, how things flow, how things act in space, how your heart beats without a battery, how we are electromagnetic resonance objects, how colors are formed, or things move and turn—certainly all and as much as you can absorb. This is the life of a true “observer”.
Now, place a couple of these people in a room and watch the sparks fly in rapid prototyping and “innovation” ideas, or sciences, technologies and products. In this way, all education should excite and prepare us for our successes!
To all of you great thinkers and observers, Doug Linman
About the Author:
When he is not helping our NewEarth University, or all sort of efforts around the world, Doug is the leading force behind Molecular Quartermasters in California USA with his CEO David Sears in London England. MQ is an innovation company arriving its “innovations” at the “molecular” subatomic level to support humanity, it’s prosperity and longevity. The company name may sound strange before you disassemble it. A “Quartermaster” or “Q” as many may know from James Bond 007 movies, was always providing a field solution, but in actual fact-organizationally speaking-, “Q” arrived from the early world of Armed Forces weather on the ground, in the air or on or under the sea, representing the person/organization who supplied all needs to survive and thrive. “Q” provide Food, Means, Clothing, Medical Supplies, Tools, Ammo, Shelter, etc.. MQ arrives solutions for humanity needs through their mastery and knowledge of molecular science. Their knowledge and solutions will directly contribute a new renewable energy source and science (and SciTech) to also arrive food and water systems modernity in clear innovation readiness, overcoming the lack of significant achievement arrival thus far to support much needed life providing solutions for a sustainable world.