Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The Late Helicopter

The Davos sessions kicked off in earnest this morning and as the theme of Davos this year is "The Power of Collaborative Innovation" I opted to attend a session on innovation- partly because one of the panellists was the excellent Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, probably the world's best innovative design firm.

There was a slight delay in starting because as the moderator jokingly said "we're missing someone who's helicopter is late" How we laughed. Except that a few minutes later the someone in question joined in and apologised because his helicopter was late!

The innovation session was held in a workshop area with about 200 people sitting in a very tight circle and the panellists in the centre, making us dizzy as they spun round to address us. Meanwhile two artists drew continuously on the massive whiteboard walls around us, capturing in very impressive sketches the essence of what was said. Makes a change from "can someone take a few notes please?".

Some great points were made about the need to focus on the question ("what is the innovation actually trying to address") rather than the clever answer that the innovation process might throw up. And I learnt a new phrase when someone, describing a project, said "well it was a partial success. A failure in fact".

We then did a quick exercise of writting down our favourite innovation of 2007 and swapping it with the person next two us, then putting the two together to come up with a breakthrough idea. The person next to me turned out to be the Malaysian Minister of Science and I can tell you we came up with a pretty damn good idea - if only I was allowed to tell you what it was.

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