The Exploration Engine
To accelerate innovation, you must find ideas to accelerate. Ideas are the seeds that can grow to create value. Finding new ideas requires exploration. When we explore the new and novel, we expose ourselves to new sources of ideas. In today’s rapidly changing environment, drawing upon a broader and more accelerated flow of information is needed to keep pace.
Exploration is the process of searching through the new and unknown to gather inputs and insights. It’s the process of learning and unlearning what we know. Then combining it with the new. Exploration is where ideas can begin to collide, merge, and interact.
For instance, Psychologist Kevin Dunbar and colleagues estimate that between 30 percent and 50 percent of all scientific discoveries are accidental in some sense. Random collisions of inputs create opportunities for new connections and combinations to emerge. If we are not exposing ourselves to the new and different, innovation does not occur.
Accelerating the Learning Process
Building out your Exploration Engine is all about accelerating this learning process. It’s impossible to know ahead of time which idea, insight, or knowledge is needed to create the next innovation. Therefore, it is important to immerse yourself in a continuous stream of new input. Your innovation efforts will falter without a regular intake of fresh ideas and new insights.
In other words, to learn to adapt, you must place yourself in uncomfortable environments that force you to grow. Innovation begins with seeing things differently. Asking questions. Being curious to learn (and unlearn). And adapting your thinking and actions to a changing unknown landscape. The time spent in learning and exploring mode is valuable and leverageable. The right kind of exploration can yield a 10X return on the time you invest in it.
Start with Curiosity
The easiest way to begin is to explore areas in which you’re curious. Why is curiosity so critical to innovation? Curiosity instills creativity. It promotes collaboration. And it is a crucial ingredient to exploration. It’s also unlimited and only a question away. When you’re curious, you don’t have to be perfect. You can be wrong. You can try things and experiment. Question old maps and determine if they’re relevant to the new landscape.
Above all, exploring your curiosities kicks off the innovation journey. Give it a try. What are you curious about right now? Time to start exploring.
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