Innovation Platform is social enterprise, created as a response to our societies’ challenge:
Now that we can do anything, what will we do?
This quote from the Canadian designer, Bruce Mau, is the introduction to Massive Change (2004) a primer on the new inventions, technologies, and events that are affecting the human race worldwide.
Innovation Platform aims to be a part of learning our way to understanding Flourishing Societies, and the different ways we make a purposeful contribution to the society we want to be a part of. Now that we can do anything, let us be purposeful in what future we are wanting to create with decisions and actions we make today.
What’s an Innovation Platform?
In computers, a platform is an underlying computer system on which application programs can run. Windows 2000 and the Mac OS X are examples of platforms on personal computers (these are also called an operating system).
In our case, the platform is a knowledge base that supports purposeful Innovation in and of complex adaptive systems such as communities, societies, or organizations that aim to create an impact on society. This includes multi-organizational systems such as public sector systems (e.g. an education system, healthcare system).
While it is terribly seductive to focus on the outcome it is one of life’s paradoxes that we then tend to use approaches that we’re experienced in — so we only go where we’ve already been. Using the desired outcome as a sort of general ‘directional beacon‘ frees us to focus on the process. Then we may not know precisely where we’ll go as it emerges, but we will be much more satisfied with where we end up. If we spend some time in reflecting on and in the experience, we learn and can use that deeper knowledge to make future decisions more effective.
Our current systems are perfectly designed to produce the outcomes we now have. If we want profoundly different outcomes – such as flourishing persons, flourishing natural environments and flourishing societies, we must think differently about their trajectories and what actions will stimulate a living system to move in that direction. The path is certainly not known – it is ‘over the horizon’. And we must achieve it in a way that, to the degree possible, is an evolutionary approach rather than a revolutionary one.
Because we cannot see our way ‘over the horizon’, we must learn our way there together, using systemic and participative design processes that engage a variety of perspectives. A Knowledge Platform provides a space to collect the emerging foundation of experience-based knowledge that support purposeful innovation in complex systems – and contribute to our understanding of how we all enable Flourishing Societies.
Tombstone Mountain as a metaphor
The photographs on the home page are of Tombstone Mountain – the small peak in the centre. The photograph is taken from Tombstone Lookout – on the Dempster Highway in Yukon, Canada.
Tombstone Mountain is an apt metaphor for Innovation Platform because this range of mountains was created in a different way than those around it. Unlike the usual shifting of earth plates, these mountains grew organically. A painting in the Tombstone Interpretive Centre, by C.Hunt illustrates (if you know this painter please let us know so we can provide contact information).
Eons ago, this land was a sea of sedimentary rock. Magma forced its way through cracks in the rock, but didn’t break the surface and erupt like a volcano. It gradually cooled, while on the surface, wind and water gradually eroded the sedimentary layers, revealing the mountains that we see today.
This is also how we want evolutionary innovation to occur – through small tests of different approaches, we learn – gain knowledge – of appropriate routines, policies and every-day practices that lead to the outcomes we really want. This will be a better way than a crisis response, leading to the major disruption associated with the shifting of earth plates that created the Rocky Mountains.
Sharon Matthias (resume) has a history of supporting public and nonprofit sector leaders who are focused on improving citizen outcomes through innovation. Her favourite quotes include:
It’s no good trying, Alice laughs. Only fools believe that impossible things can happen. The Queen responds: When I was your age I would practice at least half an hour a day, to imagine five or six unbelievable things before breakfast. (Lewis Carroll)
(Sharon’s addition – once practiced at imagining them, work on co-designing and implementing ways to achieve them!).
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” (Arundhati Roy)
Raymond Matthias (resume) focuses on self-directed language learning and intercultural competencies. HIs favourite quotes include:
… a language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules. A language is a flash of the human spirit. It’s a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed, a thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities. (Wade Davis)
Innovation Platform Collaborators
Over time, we expect to invite folks with shared passion from different fields, to contribute their ideas to the discourse.