14 December 2010

People-centred innovation

I am picking up on the concept of "people centred innovation" that SSHRC President Chad Gaffield spoke about in his panel at the recent ACCT Canada Innovation 2010 conference. Gaffield posits that the last century was about understanding technology, and that the next century - the 21st - will be about understanding people. Here is a link to a similar talk he gave earlier this year at the University of Alberta.

The principle here is that we need to recognize that innovation is a social construct or act, and that to pay attention to people is to understand the interactions and interlocutions of how innovation happens on the ground. This is good thinking for the innovation economy. The diffusion of innovation requires not a reliance on technological determinism but rather a nuanced approach to the integration of technology and a reliance on people. Here's an interesting take on people centred innovation from ACM Interactions magazine (a favourite of mine) and its relation to culture change - very much in line with Gaffield's thinking.

As I've noted many times before, our focus on integrating students into applied research fosters in them innovation literacy, a core competency for charting this culture change. Here's a statement that nicely sums these thoughts: "The world we live in isn't about the next new thing but about how well new things can integrate with established applications and processes." This integration requires innovative thinking, human intelligence and translation.

No comments: