What do you get when you cross a turkey and an octopus?  Remember those jokes that were so funny when you were young?   Little did I know that it would be so valuable as an innovation tool when I grew up.

At this year’s World Innovation Forum, I got to spend a little time with Clay Shirky, one of the many fabulous speakers at the conference.  Clay is a professor at NYU who studies the social and economic effects of internet technologies and how they are changing the way we live.

It’s all about the intersection

Clay is on the faculty of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts as well as the Journalism Institute there.  His position and expertise is at the intersection of two very different programs.  And if you throw in his background in technology, you could say that Clay lives at the intersection of three different but converging disciplines – social science, technology, and journalism.

An article I was reading recently on the stock market referred to bio-economics, how the reactions/thinking of people combine with economic theory to explain stock market variations.  This is another example of a new field emerging from the intersection of two very different disciplines.  Genetic medicine is another.

When you think about the history of innovations, the first cellphone was a product found at the intersection of cordless landlines and walkie-talkies.  The iPod phenomenon can be found at the intersection of mobile music devices and a legal Napster.  And isn’t Starbucks at the intersection of coffee roasters and European cafes?

Where does your business intersect?

Perhaps the future of your organization is not in the extrapolation of today’s business to some point in the future.  Perhaps it is where your business intersects a completely unrelated but important trend, discipline, or product category.

If you are the first one to create something new at this intersection, you are the leader.   You get to play a new game and define the new rules so that you have an advantage over competition.

This is the heart of innovation.  And it is found at the intersections.

By the way, your prize for reading to the end of this blog is a Thanksgiving dinner with enough drumsticks for everyone…enjoy.

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