Understanding Innovation

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  • Title: Understanding Innovation: How Does Innovation Feel?
  • Author(s): Paul T. Skaggs, Geoff Wright
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice
  • Keywords: Innovation, Creativity, Curiosity, Play, Design Thinking, Collaboration
  • Volume: 10
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2016
  • ISSN: 2325-162X (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1638 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2325-162X/CGP/v10i02/1-10
  • Citation: Skaggs, Paul T., and Geoff Wright. 2016. "Understanding Innovation: How Does Innovation Feel?." The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice 10 (2): 1-10. doi:10.18848/2325-162X/CGP/v10i02/1-10.
  • Extent: 10 pages


Can anyone learn to be more innovative? Innovation may not be a matter of learning but of unlearning. We have in us an instinctive drive designed to push us to learn and experience important principles of innovation, things like; curiosity, discovery, exploration, experimentation, communicating, and socializing (Elkind 2008). This instinctive drive is called play. Decades of research has shown play to be crucial to the development of these skills. This is especially true of the purest form of play: the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where people initiate their own games and even invent their own rules (Elkind 2008). Children are intrinsically motivated to play and they learn at tremendous rates in their formative years. (Bowler 1997) Then at an early age efforts are made to try and control their natural tendencies and inclinations for learning and communicate to them that it is time to stop playing and start working, it is time for school. It is time to control those physical urges and sit still, it is time for learning a set of rules, and it is time to stop talking to your neighbor. Not to say that the principles of work are unimportant but they can work hand-in-hand with play to create a fairly accurate model for innovation. It is time to push back and provide opportunities for unlearning those things that limit our creativity and relearn those important attributes gained through principles of play.