6: Live life at the intersection

Innovative outcomes result from living life at the intersection.  This is true not only within the confines of innovation initiatives, but also at the level of individuals, teams, and organizations.

Innovation needs to happen at the intersection of desirability, viability, and feasibility.  These three elements make up the legs of a proverbial stool called "it'll work in the world."  Too many innovation initiatives focus on only one or two, much to their detriment.  For example, creating something without regard for its feasibility out in the world is not unlike designing a bridge without regard to the existence of gravity: it might work, but the likelihood of it being a reliable, safe, means of transport will be greatly diminished.  And while it might be tempting to "really be creative" by ignoring constraints, a wiser approach is to view constraints as liberating.  Look at any bridge by Santiago Calatrava, and you'll see desirability, viability, and feasibility all coexisting in a glorious symphony enabled by constraints.

Calatrava is great example of what happens when an individual lives life at the intersection.  He is a prototypical "T-shaped" person, combining great depth in engineering, architecture, and sculpture with the breadth that comes from a design education and a life lived, well… getting stuff done.  

Teams and organizations engaged in the art and science of bringing cool stuff to life need to live at the intersection, too.  A team of experts ("I-shaped people") with no means of communicating will get no where, fast.  A team of generalists ("hyphen-shaped people") with no means of building and executing will suffer the same fate.  Diverse teams of T-shaped people are uniquely able to communicate in ways that support the generative application of their areas of expertise.  The end result is innovation.

This is the sixth of 21 principles.  Please give me your feedback, thoughts, and ideas.

1 thought on “6: Live life at the intersection

  1. At intersections boundaries become blurred, which is very uncomfortable for most of us. Communication can be difficult because you have to speak different languages or create a common one if you want to integrate perspectives (side question: what is the common language between business and design? is there a meaningful dialogue going on?)
    Intersections entail a lot of risk and therefore glory on the flip side. I definitely see a strong entrepreneurial component in those who thrive at intersections.

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