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“It helps to know where you are and where you’d like to be”: Charles Leadbeater

Charles Leadbeater speaks on innovation amidst uncertainty.

The second session of day two at the Times of India Star FLOW fest dealt with ‘innovation in the midst of uncertainty’. It was presented by Charles Leadbeater, author, business advisor and management thinker. Leadbeater is an authority on innovation and creativity. He has advised companies, cities, and governments around the world on innovation strategy and drew on that experience in writing his latest book 'We-think: the power of mass creativity', which charts the rise of mass, participative approaches to innovation from science and open-source software, to computer games, and political campaigning.

He initiates the session with a story of his house in London. He reveals that the house was built in India by Indians. Leadbeater then reveals that the upcoming years are faced with connected accelerations without a user manual. He puts forth the examples of the impact of climate change on the Miami Beach and Miami, the bushfires in Australia, the impact of Coronavirus in China and on Australia’s economy which boomed from feeding China.

“We are just starting to witness the implication. It could be inequality and migration. Inequality is being written into the urban fabric and growth. The social quality of growth matters,” Leadbeater says. He further presents two curves, one downward and another upward. He explains that it is the decisions taken that bring about the difference between the two.

“It helps to know where you are and where you’d like to be. And between these two situations is where change is. The gap is pretty wide and recognising it is important,” he says.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Leadbeater’s session:

Be Curious:

  • Look around, for not just existing customers but in general.

  • Stop doing things that make you in-curious, say sitting in the office.

  • Stop or moderate behaviours that curb curiosity.

To drive curiosity:

  • To look in the margins and not the mainstream.

  • To be curious about the people who might be inventing solutions for the future.

  • Ask radically different questions without assuming that you know.

Be collaborative:

  • Complex problem solving means bringing people together.

  • The conversation between people lies in the intersection of growth.

Be committed:

  • There are questions considered naive and mad. But you have to be open to invite deep scepticism.

  • The real unit of innovation is the creative community with a cause. Find a community.