Innovation and Collaboration: creativity is collaborative

The future of creative behavior is collaborative. This can be seen in many ways. For one, modern day problems are complex and hard for a single person to solve. Philo T. Farnsworth found this out the hard way.  After he invented the TV, his nemesis at RCA won the final battle. Farnsworth got his inspiration from a potato field and wanted to develop television by himself. What Farnsworth didn’t understand was that being able to scan the signal was only one part of the problem. Lobbying congress, creating a network and having deep pockets were even larger ones. Also, because of the chances of success, individual projects don’t get funded as easily, and therefore they don’t happen as often. Even if you are trying to go alone on something, it is greatly beneficial for you to tie into a group of specialists to get some help.

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Also, the nature of collaboration is changing. Many of today’s top projects are collaborative in a larger sense. By this I mean that institutions are using competitions and crowds for R & D. Take DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for instance. They are responsible for many of the things we take for granted today, including computer networks. They often use open competitions to speed up innovation. They did it with the Grand Challenge, in which they created the automated car. And they did it again with the 2013 Robotics Challenge. In the robotics challenge, the developed real robots that could help out in disasters. For each of these competitions they took calls from most any team who could qualify.  Then they set a tight deadline and moved technology way into the future.

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So the lesson is, if you plan on being creative, you might want to be collaborative.

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