A survey of patents and innovation trends generally shows that collaboration is increasingly important in innovation. There are still lone experts with deep expertise that can be drilled repeatedly for valuable discoveries and innovations, but the future of innovation is increasingly in areas that transcend single disciplines and involve expertise across multiple domains. The future of innovation, in my opinion, will increasingly be found in multidisciplinary collaboration, often catalyzed by lead inventors or visionaries with “good enough” expertise in multiple areas who can bridge gaps, make connections, and recognize opportunities. This is part of the message of Conquering Innovation Fatigue, especially in the sections on multidisciplinary innovators and “Da Vinci in the Boardroom.”
I am intrigued by innovators who develop skills in multiple seemingly disconnected areas and then draw upon their multifaceted expertise to find new levels of innovation success. These “multivatorsâ„¢” may be a big part of the yeast the raises the dough of our future economy. They can be difficult to manage, however, and may seem like sufferers of ADHD to many observers. Understanding their potential, their employment needs, and their ability to drive innovation if properly motivated–or properly “multivatedâ„¢”–may be essential for successful corporate and university innovation in the future, and is a topic am I currently exploring in depth.
If you are such an individual or know someone’s story that we should consider in future writings, please let me know!