”Think big, start small, scale fast” was Tobias’ Lau’s mantra on innovation that he shared with us, when we went to visit him at Social Action the day before starting our own process of innovation here at Krogerup Højskole.
Innovation is the process of thinking outside the box and creating something anew. Something that to some might seem like an insurmountable task, while to others is the rare permission to let thoughts wander and pursue the ideas that are usually pushed aside in everyday life.
Belonging to the first of these two groupings of people, the thought of a two days innovation camp seemed rather intangible, and I felt in much doubt whether it was possible make any positive contribution in a room with many seemingly so creative and innovative spirits. I was interested in the process of innovation, but felt safer starting out with the theoretical underpinnings, rather than with the practical learning-by-doing approach. As we got started, I soon realised that I intuitively shot down any budding idea by lacking faith in the potential of actual realisation.
Well, much was to change, and looking back at the process now, I realise that no book, however thick and thorough, would have given me the understanding and actual belief in the process of innovation that I got during the course of those two days.
“Never say no to an idea”, “never criticise” and to “encourage wild ideas” are some of the central pieces of advice, when wanting to innovate. As, are phrases such as “no boundaries” and “constructive chaos” and the choice to have no leader and no experts, and instead encouraging a multidisciplinary spirit of teamwork. I quickly became clear to me that for all my realism, there were others to make up for it with limitless faith in the potential of grand ideas. I tried to shot off my usual pragmatism and to begin grasping the ephemeral that float through one’s mind in pondering moments.
Although you by no means transform yourself into an innovative spirit during the course of two days, it was without doubt a journey that was begun, and which I will do my best to continue, having left Krogerup. It does not need to be big, it by no means need to be realised, but to think the thought, to nourish it and let it develop, is definitely something that can be practised back in the everyday routine. I will do my best to let the journey and the learning continue, and who knows, where it might one day take you.
The 50 minutes it takes for me to work home from work are some of the best minutes of my day; here I have time to take a break and just let my thoughts fly wherever they want to go. Despite the heave traffic accompanying me all the way along Al-Madeenah Al-Munawwarah Road, these 50 minutes are where I switch my brain off along with any internet or mobile phone connection. In spite of their liberty, my thoughts – perhaps inspired by the surrounding traffic – return and revolve around two questions; why is there no public transportation system in Amman, and why do human beings build cities that are designed for cars only? I mean, in a country where it seems every citizen (in West Amman) can afford his or her own car, how come there are no money for building a public transportation system? How come the King, concerned for his subjects, never thought of creating one, or rather, how come the citizens never demanded one from their leaders?
They say the in future cars will be running on electricity, water, bio fuels, you name it. Is this really the best we can get? Is the car really the best means of transportation the human brain can deliver – so brilliant that we keep on copying the form and only replace the content? Is the car the climax of human development? Walking along the roads in Amman I hope not. I sincerely hope that my or the future generation can invent a better solution; a solution where the human being is included. Where the city is a place of being, not escaping from. To get there, we have to rethink our entire way of living. We need to reconsider our society and the way we produce, use and reuse our environment, our natural resources, our fellow human beings. This is not only a task for engineers and chemists, but urban planners, doctors, journalists, business managers and teachers have to come along and contribute to the building of society.
It’s a long way. Until we get there I will encourage everyone to leave the car once in a while and walk home; take a break and let your thoughts fly!