Innovation needs Liberty – and Structure

Innovation is not just innovation, and there are no patent formulas that guarantee success. What might bring about extraordinary results in one case can be a miserable failure in another, even if it looks similar at first glance. Innovation processes are very sensitive to topics and objectives of the project as well as to its actors and institutional environments. The approaches and processes of the Innovation Groups are as diverse as the groups themselves, allowing customised solutions to be developed.

Open to New Things

Innovation processes must be designed to be open in a two-fold aspect. It is firstly important that one work without blinders and keep one’s gaze open to the outside world. The Innovation Groups receive important information about already existing but unknown solutions and possible points of linkage with their innovation concepts from their environment. This promotes solutions that can be linked together, which is important because innovations must also be accepted (they must be able to be accepted, at least). Secondly, openness also means the ability to let one’s own thoughts and ideas run free and not be focused on old patterns. Questioning one’s own approach to sustainable concepts that have a future is important.

Keep the Target in Sight

Innovation also needs structure, admittedly, and it does not always function openly, but also as a closed process. On the one hand, innovations must be designed with an eye on application and implementation. To that end there are vivid scenarios among with all the affected persons can imagine something. This focus on the target does, to be sure, restrict the innovation process in some measure, but it also provides security in the form of a framework in which the next steps can be planned and implemented. 

The second, methodological dimension concerns work within the Innovation Groups. The Innovation Groups may not be so open that they become one with their environment. They would then lose sight of their target and cash out their ability to innovate. They need the opportunity, to order themselves and to sort out their thoughts. From such phases of internal review, they can inform the actors in their surroundings about concepts and scenarios and gather feedback– opening up again.

Innovation Groups as Methodological Concept

These points are all necessities for successful innovations –even if they cannot guarantee it. The concept of the Innovation Groups offers a suitable framework for this. On the one hand the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation secures collaboration at eye-level in the Innovation Group, assuring a minimum degree of openness. Neither of the two sides is able to withdraw into its own field, because they are creating something together– with all mutual concessions and enrichments.

Another important point is that the focus of financial support is complemented by a scientific coordinating project. Its tasks include among other things, providing the Innovation Groups with need-based information about approaches to and methods in innovation as well as offering coaching and reflection on their work. Structural measures such as joint seminars and conferences contribute to establishing and maintaining an open exchange between groups. In this way, an innovation-friendly environment is created in which transdisciplinary teams can work creatively.