Innovation thrives on diverse inputs

Apr 5, 2011

[The graphic illustrates the opportunity – and changing dynamics – of collaboration in the era of crowdsourcing.]

"Say you have a problem you need help with. Or the germ of an idea that’s incomplete. Sure, check with the people with whom you’re closest. They do sometimes have the answer. But more likely than not, they won’t. Or they give an answer that kinda, sorta helps. But not really. It’s not their fault. It’s yours. You’re stuck in the most comfortable form of knowledge-seeking: asking your strong ties. Getting outside that comfort zone exposes you to a more diverse source of information. This happens in two ways:
>> Access to non-redundant information
>> Access to alternative perspectives and problem-solving heuristics

I think we can all understand non-redundant information. Accessing broader information than what our close ties give us. How can that be anything but good? It is a fundamental premise of the KM movement. The second item there, perspectives and heuristics, might be new to you. In his book The Difference, Michigan professor Scott Page describes them as follows:

Perspective: a map from reality to an internal language such that each distinct object, situation, problem or event gets mapped to a unique world.
Heuristic: a rule applied to an existing solution represented in a perspective that generates a new (and hopefully better) solution or a new set of possible solutions.

Someone brings a diverse perspective to a problem if she sees the problem differently. By seeing it differently, she creates a different landscape. Someone brings a diverse heuristic if he knows a different rule or algorithm for finding solutions. So, perspectives are ways of seeing solutions, and heuristics are ways of constructing solutions, ways of moving around the space of possibilities.

Both new perspectives and new ways of exploring a problem are valuable. Indeed, studies show that people whose expertise is in a field outside that of a problem are actually better at solving it."Read more at