Collective Brain approach to Innovation​

Collective Brain approach to Innovation​

The Collective Brain approach to innovation discredits the common myth that innovation is due to the genius of a single inventor, instead, it argues that innovation is the product of the environment, the Collective Brain of one’s society (in this metaphor every person acts as a neuron in this brain and is connected directly or indirectly to all other neurons, persons).

Innovation is the product of one of three sources: i) serendipity, mere chance, ii) recombination, meaning using several ideas one is exposed to and bringing them together or iii) incremental improvement, improving a previous invention one has access to. This is innovation through the lens of cultural evolution.

Consistent with evolutionary theory, three variables can affect the rate and probability of innovation called levers: i) size and interconnectedness of the group (for example one’s company), ii) transmission fidelity (how well knowledge is passed on through the group) and iii) variance of cultural traits.

Innovation depending on the environment and not a few individuals enables Culturalytik to create the optimal innovative setting to harness the maximal human potential of one’s company by modifying those levers. 

While  the size of one’s company is often not a very flexible variable, physical and virtual social networks of a corporation can be improved. Besides, tweaking the optimal learning environment encompassing the technologies used, hierarchical structures and values of a company and resolving the “Paradox of Diversity” (post available here) are cost-effective interventions for a corporation to refresh  its “Collective Brain”.

Michael’s paper introducing the concept of innovation in the Collective Brain in more details is available here, as well as a simplified explanation of the paper available here.