Friday, September 24, 2010

TEDx Charlotte - Are we innovative yet?

10 a.m. - Waiting for TEDx to start, in basement auditorium at Knight Theater, looking at psychedelic floral video displays in darkened auditorium. Architect Tom Low of the Charlotte Duany Plater-Zyberk Audience and founder of Civic by Design is pacing up front along with Manoj Kesavan, another local architect who's one of the TEDx Charlotte organizers. We're supposed to be learning about and experiencing innovative ideas, I think.

I should probably have read the material better. But this has been a week of 11- and 12-hour workdays. This morning before heading here I had to set out sprinklers for our newly re-seeded lawn, clean up last night's dirty kitchen, make breakfast, fix a torn hem on my slacks, emails a friend who's about to be unreachable, to set up the time and place for a lunch date, etc. etc. It reminds me of something I read recently, attributed to Jane Jacobs: An efficient city can't be an innovative city. I conclude this applies to personal lives, too. Too many tasks, duties and to-do-list work eats away at the time your brain needs to float free.

So I wonder: Have the past decades of workplace pressure for increased "productivity" – which means fewer workers, more work, faster work, longer workweeks, constant availability to the office – has all that had an effect on U.S. innovation?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"This morning before heading here I had to set out sprinklers for our newly re-seeded lawn, clean up last night's dirty kitchen, make breakfast, fix a torn hem on my slacks, emails a friend who's about to be unreachable, to set up the time and place for a lunch date, etc. etc."

That's funny. I wouldn't call any of that part of my 'workday'. That's all personal stuff.

John Keels said...

Though I admire efficiency and productivity is important I would have to agree that all that focus on doing ALL the time takes away from innovation. It prevents people from having time to invent new products, form new ideas, and implement new technologies. Innovation is important because it is one of the few remaining advantages we have left as a nation.

wiley said...

Necessity is the mother of invention

Jumper said...

Laziness is the father!

Many things stifle innovation. Innovation takes two things: good ideas, and then implementing them. Management often gets filled with those who perform by dominance. They tend to not want to reward those who perform by cleverness: it's a bit alien to them. (If I recall, the "Kindle" was basically invented in the '80s by Knight-Ridder, then abandoned. That's an interesting story.)

I suspect lack of sleep does stifle innovation on the creative side. Can't prove it, just think it. And creativity is often useful during the implementation phase, too.