01 Sep 2015
"Innovation amateurs talk good ideas; innovation experts talk testable hypotheses." That’s how Michael Schrage, an innovator who has worked for Google and Intel once described how he separates the wheat from the chaff.
Thinking about that quote as I worked together with members of UNDP’s Innovation Squad in Colombo this week, I couldn’t help but wonder if most of us have churned out the same ideas our entire (professional) lives without testing the assumptions on which these ideas are built. And untested assumptions are the mother of all chaos.
After more than ten years in development work, I know all too well the myths that beleaguer our ilk. Myth One: “You're always just one good idea away from solving development problems. Myth Two: “Bureaucratic red tape ensures accountability”. Myth Three: “Failure is not an option”.
Ideas for development programmes are never in short supply. The more interconnected the development sector is, the more exposed development experts are to possible solutions to complex and stubborn development challenges. Coming up with ideas is not the problem. Here’s the catch though: These ideas must be transformed into rapid solutions and lessons learned must be generated to further refine our approaches. This is called ‘iteration’ …