Dare to be naive – a path to true innovation

Naive – ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from French naïve, feminine of naïf, from Latin nativus ‘native, natural’.

Dare to be naive – So wrote Buckminster Fuller in the very opening of his work, Synergetics.

We live in the illusion or delusion of innovation. We think our emerging technology is stunning in its ability to shift humanity. That the next app will be world changing. It might enable us to not get out of our chair to turn things off or on. Such a wonderful invitation to further fuel the exponential obesity epidemic.

We are severely constrained by a reduction in our optionality in many, if not most, domains. In the tech space we have chosen pathways that contract vs expand. For example, in the choice of fossil fuels for energy, we chose a pathway that has massive investments in infrastructure, technology, scale.. with the field effect of superannuation funds, pension funds, insurance and lifestyle all bundled into its difficulty in untangling. Not only does this pathway have these field effects, additionally our world view over time becomes reduced to such a degree that thinking differently about energy systems is much harder. We cannot see what we cannot see because our view is culturally and technologically constrained.

If we explore almost any system that underpins humanity currently we will find more constraints and limited optionality. Our monetary system, our health system, our government,  education, our food supply and distribution…to name a few.

Most of the work occurring in the ‘innovation’ space is a re-arrangement of the deck chairs. The ground breaking, never been done before innovation is rare.

Elon Musk is a living example of someone who is working to break down these constraints of optionality.

Hugo Spowers of RiverSimple is another example. As is David Martin.

Dare to be naive asks us to start with a blank canvas. To liberate ourselves from the constraints of the world we have orchestrated, that in its design has got us exactly here, warts and all.

Naivete is the impulse behind choosing to go to the moon. Behind the thinking of Nicola Tesla. It was the ground from which Buckminster Fuller first started…when as a young boy in the class room he refused to accept that there was any such thing as a straight line, or infinity, or that nature would deploy an infinite number, π , as the building block of a sphere.

It is the willingness to examine every assumption, including those that we hold most dear, that opens the gate to the type of innovation we need.

The act of daring to be naive is a rigorous discipline. Only with practice will we realise how constrained our thinking really is.

If this is attractive to you, then perhaps get started by studying those who have lived lives of naivete, who question the questions. Look to our greatest teacher, with 14 billion years of success behind it…nature, Universe. Be prepared to fall in love with Universe like never before…while being challenged at every turn by the incumbent system. Find others to champion you. Never give up. This is the dance of novelty and love. It is the deeper call of humanity, to start to think for ourselves.


Photo credit: Creative Commons License Fauxen via Compfight







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