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Finding #5: Differentials in Thinking are the
           Principal Source of Innovations & Breakthroughs.

    This finding is very much a corollary of the previous finding. The work by Joel Barker on generating new paradigms also supports this conclusion. There is an old adage that says: “If two people in the same room think alike, then one is unnecessary!” If innovation is desired, it is, indeed, the differences in thinking that cause new ideas to be generated.

    However, differentials in thinking can just as likely produce conflict. Just look at the Middle East, the Balkans, or Northern Ireland.

    Synergy is one of humankind’s deepest and most soulful yearnings. But for most of our existence on this planet, synergy has been elusive, or ephemeral, until the advent of best practice application to the world of strategic alliances. Now, with the application of alliance best practices, companies are getting upwards of 75-80% success rates.

    • Implications:
      • Innovation will come from Co-Creative Teams, typically Cross-Cultural & Cross Functional Units aimed at Solutions to Complex Problems
      • To maximize creative innovation, seek aligned organizations, teams, and individuals who see the world from markedly different perspectives
      • Companies must maximize the use all its external connections – from supply chain to customer base as sources of innovation
      • Alliances are an ideal seedbed of Innovation because they can harness the co-creative synergies of compatible/collaborative Differentials in Thinking
      • Innovation occurs principally on the outside edges of an eco-sphere


    • Evidence:
      • While there is a plethora of evidence to support this finding, our team did a case study of Thomas Edison’s invention, and found some remarkable information. (Edison was the most prolific inventor of the late 19th & early 20th centuries, with over 1,000 attributable patents.)
      • Contrary to the image of Edison as a lone inventor, Edison was the first to use a team of very diverse people in his laboratories. He had chemists, electricians, magnetricians, glass blowers, mechanics, metalsmiths, and a multitude of others in his laboratory in Menlo Park. Edison would give them all experiments and then circulate among them taking notes and challenging their thinking, all the time synthesizing their diversity of ideas until he integrated the relevant points into a single invention. One could claim he was the first “systems integrator.”


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