The aggregation pond, the network and XQs
This is a time for reflection and changes in the world. I have been thinking about writing, blogging, content-making for so long and have always postponed it because it was never the right time. Indeed, there is never the right time until I decide that it is so. The right time is now.
My objective is to share. Share real stuff. Share experiences. Networks. Tools. Ideas. I will try to do this in forms that are easy to digest and nice to look at. I will put more energy on the content, though. Of course, I know the importance of the quality of the presentation. We have all been to a physics conference where the speaker decides that she (or he) wants to improvise, takes a transparent foil and a projector, and start jotting down incomprehensible equations… sounds familiar? No? Well, good for you.
I am not going to share equations and complicated stuff. First, because I don’t like complicated. I can enjoy a bit of complex but complicated it’s my life 1.0. Second, because if you are reading this, probably you are not interested in equations. Third (there is always a third, and sometimes a fourth in the HBR reviews) because innovation in its holistic sense is a few floors up from equations, at least from my point of view. It lives and flourishes at the level of mindset, ideas, cognitive and creative intelligence, idea-fragments-attraction.
Let me take a step behind. In every good business pitch, one of the key points that investors look at is the team. An investor wants to make sure that the team is viable before taking any action. Will they only buy Lamborghinis, travel first class, have offices with Vitra furniture? Or will they also put in some hours to make the actual project and start-up become a unicorn? Or at least a new family business?
For me it is essential to start reading, listening, giving money, to someone (or to an organization) to check that all the minimum requirements are met. Even more so, when you I am giving my time (and energy). This is the only currency that is finite, not renewable, and goes only in one direction. For me, it’s a key point at this stage in my life to ask myself the question: “will this whitepaper/meeting/content bring me closer to my aspirations and dreams? To what I want to achieve in life?”. I am not saying that I accept only the four-stars and above right now, but I am a bit more careful and concerned when this pre-analysis denotes a 1* rating with the only reviewer being a relative of the author.
So, back to this piece of paper: am I worth your time? There is no price attached. There is no consulting. No “in-app purchases.” It is all about your time, my time, and what we can do together.
Why should you read about me? Let me give you some context, and then you can decide if I am worth 5 more minutes of your time.
I am in the transition between the 3.0 and 4.0 versions of myself. I can summarize them in one sentence, let me try.
1.0 – I grew up being surrounded by love and trying to be the best at everything I did, with enormous curiosity and an open mind
2.0 – I tried my best to study and become a scientist in the nuclear fusion energy world, getting a Ph.D. at Imperial College (London) after two M.Sc.. being outrageously curious and open-minded
3.0 – I moved into the world of business, to keep on living where I was at the time, to make more money, to be involved in faster projects, to quench my thirst for curiosity and open-mindedness
4.0 – This is a page I am writing now. A page with foundations in the 3 previous chapters, strongly value-based and mission-oriented. That has some new essential flavors, like sustainability, love, kindness, coaching, mixed with P&L, leadership, profit, EBIDTA.
Sorry, I had to stop the 4.0 as it was already two sentenced, and I got carried away.
Anyway, there will be a lot to write on the 4.0 part, and I hope we can write it together.
Now back to the topic of total-innovation™.
Why should I talk about it? What makes me an “expert” in innovation? As far as I know, there is no engineering master course or Ph.D. in innovation. Everyone is, in its own way, an expert. All of us deal with tens of thousands of thoughts per day. We must filter them to take actions and decisions, to innovate our lives and our environment.
I desire to share because I have plenty of experiences thanks to the privileged life I have lived so far. The many countries that I have lived and worked into and the incredible people that I have met. The organizations that I have come across and the networks that I am part of.
The mix I described above makes me think that my story and my ideas, success, defeats, tools, network, are worth sharing. That’s my point of view. If you read me up to here, I guess that you are giving me a chance, and I really, REALLY, appreciate that.
Innovation, in my personal experience, begins with what I have within me (and you within you). It is a mix of curiosity, open mind, energy, love, ideas, courage, and desire that have become the foundation of my spirit and life. I believe that we are all born with a mix of these qualities, and they can be sustained and promoted, or they can be left to become dusty and cranky. My innovation started with my family and how I grew up and decided to test the limits. I had freedom and a vast canvas, with some rules, that sometimes I broke. Most of the time, the canvas was big enough, and I decided to play. I was given the freedom to do so, and to make mistakes. I always loved to meet people, be surrounded by exciting and open-minded friends, and play with their canvases, too, offering mine in exchange. This fueled my innovation DNA: the network of people around me, the capacity of aggregation of ideas or snippets of them, and the combination of critical and creative intelligence to make sense of what was already known (existing canvas) and the new pieces of information.
When I was born, there was probably an undefined unicum of these elements. A unicum that just needed to be fed and to exert minimum surviving functions. As the environment around me was a fertile ground for innovation, I then became more and more skilled in creating a positive cycle of these elements. I have summarized the components composing my innovation DNA in three parts: the aggregation pond, the network, the XQs.
Aggregation Pond: the foundation part can metaphorically be associated with a pond. It’s a living environment capable of storing, retrieving, mixing, shaping the various bits and pieces of information that I collected through my life experiences. It is a changing environment, always evolving and self-innovating.
Typically, innovation sparks by connecting different “objects” that exist (ideas, experiences, projects, thoughts, randomness) to one or multiple nodes of the network (their shared expertise, previous discussion, knowledge sharing). What happens in the aggregation pond is sometimes close to magic. This ensemble of bubbles of different shapes and content floats and decant, sometimes in a calm state and sometimes in turbulence. There are multiple specks of light dynamically interacting and moving around, representing a fraction of ideas and people. They sometimes dive deep into the water, and at other times they come close to the surface; they bounce against each other, forming larger clusters that, when the conditions are right, create a new form, an inflection, or a split in pathways. I can make this happen with higher or lower frequency, in a more conscious or subconscious state, depending on many factors. I can share my recipes to promote the dynamic of my pond, and I am eager to know yours.
Network: the network around me includes the set of people directly connected or reachable with a small number of degrees of separation, that could provide ideas, a form of shared intelligence, tools, or further connections. My network is composed of diverse people, with some common values (but not necessarily in complete alignment), alive, ready to share and needs to be kept healthy by passion and energy (mine and those of the other “nodes”). The more extensive the network, the easier the approach to existing nodes of the system or the creation of new ones. The more profound the values and the common interest in reaching beyond the current limits, the stronger the dynamic. I keep alive my network and expand it, and I create new connections. I used specific tools that I have learnt and that I have developed, and I will share them in the next blogs.
XQ: XQ it’s my personal take to the holistic view of humans. I think that I am a mix of 4 types of intelligence. In me and in every individual, they co-exist, sometimes in perfect balance, in other situations with an extreme polarization. IQ, or cognitive intelligence. EQ, the popular emotional intelligence. SQ, social intelligence, and MQ, metaphysical intelligence. For me, XQ represents the medium in the aggregation pond, and the flow of current (sometimes erratic and at times very organized) that makes things happen, gives the ah-ah moment and allows the innovation cycle to become a growing, expanding spiral. The combinations are fundamental to create the flow dynamic in the pond, and I can act to privilege one source or a combination depending on the current focus. I will share more about this in the near future.
The three aspects need one another to create a fertile and vibrant environment that feeds innovation. The network allows me to share ideas, get to know more “ponds of aggregation”, and expand my network’s reach. By only getting to know someone, the person becomes a new globe of ideas, habits, knowledge, connections, that automatically start floating in my aggregation pond. The more I share values, interest, and passion with this new “object”, the more it will “swim” around, naturally and subconsciously, creating more opportunities to become part of a more significant device. Sometimes it will direct me towards a more complex concept, and at times it will conversely simplify the path to innovation or a problem solution. XQs, when continuously pushed to grow, experience, expand the boundaries, roam in freedom, ends up easing the creation of connections, and increasing the moments of inspiration.
This dynamic will either bring innovation or the realization that another part of the formula is missing: this could already be within us, but far away and in need of some personal work; it may reside outside, in our existing network; or it may be difficult to define, and possibly existing beyond our current reach.
This unbalanced state motivates me to action, most of the time, subconsciously, to reach out and locate the missing piece (or pieces) to complete the pathway. That’s the spiral process that expands the components of this innovation cycle.
This is my view on how my innovation cycle works within me. It has worked in all aspects of my life: innovating myself, innovating my family and my circle of friends. Innovating the technologies, products, and organizations that I worked in. Creating results and the basis for continuous, exponential innovation, thanks to expanding the three composing elements. It helps a lot that I love people, that I am curious, courageous, and don’t strive for perfection. For me, the mindset is the crucial part of innovation (the ground, shape, and size of the pond) as it takes time and requires commitment, energy, and the willingness to go outside of one’s comfort zone. Once the pond is established in its fundamental components, I can add tools, tricks, novelties, and fun things that can make the innovation process more conscious and frequent. And I can also expand my pond.
I will share more in the coming weeks about my view and experience in innovation, networking, and networks, the balance of XQs, and how I have created my Total-Innovation™ philosophy and methodology. I hope you can find some value in what I share for your journey and those you share your life with. I am eager to know more about your path to innovation, and together create new ways to make our lives, and the lives of those around us, more fulfilled and more prosperous.