Blank Post-It notes affixed to a wall. A hand is taking one of them off

At Sydney Business Insights we examine innovation through different conversations – when is an invention not innovative, how innovation ‘hubs’ kill the very spark they seek to flame and why women may have the best innovative mindset.

In this Innovation Week a collection of our best transformative interviews.

Can innovation centres tame the wild?

While today innovation is seen as a positive attribute, historically new ideas or processes were seen as transgressive because they threatened the prevailing order. The shift from undesirable to idolised has come via the introduction of technology into everyday life and the rise of consumer culture.

Now innovation is the holy grail of corporates, governments and communities – hence the rise of innovation hubs into core operational design. But will the establishment of ‘safe’ innovation spaces kill the wild beast of creativity?

Innovate or die?

The Australian Defence Force must operate with a fail-safe mindset. So how did Commodore Chris Smallhorn bring innovative behaviours into an organisation where risk is an occupational hazard but risky practices cannot be part of the culture?

Turning innovation into a competition sport (and branding it Shark Tank) has been a great cultural fit for sparking killer ideas in the Navy.

The myth of the lone genius

Brilliant isolation may occasionally produce genius ideas – but do we want them? Aren’t empathy and collaboration more appropriate qualities in the search for innovative solutions with real-life application in our diverse world?

If ‘soft’ social skills (and not just ‘hard’ computational capability) are the key to creative energy in our interconnected world, will we see more women at the forefront of our innovative future?

You say invention, I say innovation

We think of innovation as a single invention – the printing press, the light bulb, the iPhone. These ‘light bulb’ creations only became truly innovative events because of the cultural and economic environment into which they landed.

So Guenberg’s breakthrough technology was able to be applied to the production of small portable books (thank you Aldus Manutius) at the height of the flourishing of the Renaissance with its political, artistic and scientific discoveries.

Innovation is not just about things, it’s how the invention is interpreted into the society in which it lands. The community that is able to draw together disparate pieces of knowledge is the one that will flourish.

Hear more about innovation and the future of business on The Future, This Week.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Sydney Business Insights is a University of Sydney Business School initiative aiming to provide the business community and public, including our students, alumni and partners with a deeper understanding of major issues and trends around the future of business.


We believe in open and honest access to knowledge. We use a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives licence for our articles and podcasts, so you can republish them for free, online or in print.

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