The latest thinking on innovation says it is most likely to be the result of diversity. Consequently, all who want to create the next big thing should assemble diverse teams. Of course, we commonly think of diversity in terms of race, gender and culture, but in reality, it’s much more. The brand of diversity that drives innovation is more of a blending of disciplines. Assembling a team of scientists, artists and fans of craisins would probably be a better mix for innovating than the group in R & D, unless this group also loves craisins. In any case, a few years ago Frans Johansson wrote in, “The Medici Effect,” that innovation comes from the intersection of people moving across the world, science converging, and computational ability growing by leaps and bounds. The key to innovation, he said, is to keep breaking down barriers, many of which occur almost naturally due to our already established “chain of associations.” Only then will innovation flourish.
And where is innovation happening? Of course, innovation happens everywhere, but earlier this year a survey using the “Global Innovation Index” concluded that Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore were the top innovative countries in the world. Perhaps this algorithm favored countries with “S” names. In the world of innovativeness, Singapore has been a rising star for the past few years. Last year Singapore took five of the top 12 of WSJ’s Asian Innovation Awards. They’re making artificial kidneys and baby breath monitors, among other innovative stuff. While government with its tendency toward bureaucracy is thought to be an innovation killer, this is not the case for Singapore. Much of the push toward innovation in Singapore comes from government initiatives. Who would have guessed? At Singapore’s Tech Fest earlier this summer they showed off the iComposer technology which reads your brain waves to determine whether the next song you hear is happy or depressing. Still, our very own Silicon Valley is still widely recognized as the most innovative place in the world.