Extreme learning: the building blocks for innovation

Author and Innovation expert Jean Gomes, recently wrote about an encounter with the former NASA astronaut Dr Ed Lu. Jean’s blog, which you can read here, contrasts a near-death experience in space with the challenges facing business leaders.

The point being made was that despite pressures for organisations to react in real-time to the world around them, leaders often have more time than they appreciate to reflect when making ‘urgent’ decisions. As Dr Lu says, “if it isn’t about to kill you, you’ve got time to think.”

Business leaders often feel as though they lack time and space for thinking. The cycle of stakeholder updates and meetings can be counterproductive, killing innovation by sucking precious time for reflection from busy leaders’ diaries and actively discouraging maverick points of view.

The new realities and complexities of the world in which we operate demands a radical rethink in how we approach innovation.

Businesses tend not to create the time, space or even the willingness required to ponder, ask questions and experience what I call “aha moments” of inspiration and realisation that lead to genuinely game-changing innovations.

To find these “aha moments” leaders must first find time and space to think away from their day-to-day responsibilities. The realist in me says that it is difficult and even unrealistic for leaders to consistently take time to create the required headspace.

Innovation can be built on momentary states of mind, so the limited time that can be found must be spent selfishly cultivating creative ones in an environment that, if not extreme, is certainly extremely different from the norm.

Secondly, leaders must seek the unexpected. Too often companies look for people that fit within their culture, rather than seeking the next level by challenging that culture with alternative points of view. In my own career I’ve seen the wisdom of storytellers contribute to significant developments in some of the world’s most technical environments.

These steps, however, amount to nothing if leaders are not equipped personally with an open mind. Leaders must be prepared to change themselves in order to deal with business challenges. True innovation starts from deep within, requiring an enquiring mind, openness to the unexpected and a willingness to consider points of view that could radically disrupt their own beliefs.

I firmly believe that many things frustrating organisations and limiting them from achieving their goals are best resolved by bringing radically diverse thinkers together to challenge how they think and therefore what they do. The reason I started PurpleBeach is to provide leaders with the opportunity to reflect and connect with a range of diverse thinkers in one space in order to have “aha moments”.

PurpleBeach is a catalyst for personal and business change, founded on the principle that, in a fast moving time poor world, genuine innovation can be accelerated in a crucible of connection, experimentation and diverse thinking. Our first innovation crucible will take place in London on 25 & 26 April. Be selfish, request an invitation and watch innovation go kapow!

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PurpleBeach Experience 2020

As many of you will know we usually hold an annual in-person PurpleBeach Experience, but as that’s not possible this year, we have decided to create our very own Boxset around the theme of “new”.

You can watch all our episodes at your leisure. Binge, fast forward, rewind, watch in any order: you are in control of the remote. And let’s face it, the remote is one of the few things we have had control of in recent months!

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We have a strict door policy at our boxset premier. To gain access to this limited edition boxset, simply fill in the form below. 

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