How do great design thinkers define innovation?

‘Nobody should claim to be doing innovation’ already sounds like a pretty shocking proposition, but it soon becomes clear that conventional ideas are the last thing to expect from the conversation captured in this extraordinary video.

If you’re looking for definitions of innovation that you’ve never heard before, this is an excellent place to start. These highly renowned design academics are seriously uncomfortable with ‘innovation as we know it’.

The host was Peter Barna, the Provost at the Pratt Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious art, architecture and design colleges, based in New York City.

The other three participants from the institute were:

William McDonald, Chair, Graduate Architecture and Urban design program

Mary McBride, Chair, Design Management Program

Steve Diskin, Chair, Industrial Design Program

Here are some of the terms and phrases which came up as the explored what could be said about innovation:

  • cultivating emergence
  • creating consequences
  • regenerative culture
  • continual renewal
  • innocence
  • irrelevance
  • impudence
  • the opposite of expectation
  • strategic surprise
  • not imposing models
  • desire scripts
  • deduced by others

Here’s an extract from a relevant recent (June 2011) press release from the institute:

Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation

Supports Nine New Companies as Part of Ongoing Effort to Launch and Grow Social and Environmental Enterprise

The Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation has added nine new companies to its existing roster in the areas of fashion design, home furnishings design, and clean energy technology. The Incubator supports the entrepreneurial talents of designers, artists, and architects – including several Pratt alumni – by providing them with resources to launch businesses. The Incubator is part of Pratt Institute’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies and Research, which is led by Incubator Founder and Director Deb Johnson.

“Pratt has a longstanding interest in the economic development of small businesses in Brooklyn. The Incubator is a direct way for the Institute to help local entrepreneurs develop products and services that create jobs, support local industry, and bring innovative products to market, we’re looking to create a diverse mix of creative thinkers that can bring design, engineering, and technology together into an innovative eco-system based on sustainability”

Deb Johnson, Founder and Director, Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation

The Incubator supports its companies with custom-tailored services for sustainable business endeavors. Incubator companies have access to a flexible curriculum in sustainable entrepreneurship mentor-based coaching and work amongst a thriving community of socially responsible entrepreneurs. Since its 2002 inception, the Incubator has supported the launch of 26 companies, has created over 50 new jobs, and has consulted for 15 organizations.

In addition to providing entrepreneurs with access to markets, networks, office infrastructure, training, talent, and capital, the Incubator taps its extensive network to provide sustainable design innovation to businesses and organizations that are seeking ways to improve their products and services in the areas of resource use, ecological impact, health, and social equity.

As a leading educational institution in art, design, and architecture, Pratt is committed to becoming a role model for art and design schools across the nation by educating students, faculty, and staff on sustainable practices and their role as socially and environmentally responsible citizens, artists, and designers, and by integrating sustainability into the curriculum and campus facilities management.