*a small preface needs to be made, this post has been many weeks in the making and I have had a holiday in between.
Several weeks ago an email popped into my inbox inviting me to SW/TCHfest. A 3 day “disruptive ideas and inter-industry tournament”. The opportunity had sourced from The Supernova Tribe, and currently my sentiment with the supernova tribe is to take absolutely everything I can from this incredible network, so I graciously accepted the offer. The gathering ran from August 27-29, and come Wednesday the 26th I still had little to no idea what I had signed up for, and as I read the copiously detailed event preparation guide a little voice said “are you ready for the next three days? Because this looks intense” and my other little voice went “YOLO, what whaaaat this is gonna be sick”.
To give you the proper insight, SW/TCHfest is a joint venture between the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and 360Labs, a Silicon Valley’s only “corporate accelerator” – I’ll let you do your own research on them. The three days is designed to expand ones horizons, approach collaboration and innovation with a whole new lens, and encourage one to make a mark on the world. But unlike a typical conference, this was one day of “normal” keynote-ing, note taking and tweeting, and two days of problem solving. Delegates were put into teams of 4-5 people, each team with a broad variety of industries, skills and people, and then teams were given one of 5 (maybe 6, my memory is fading) challenges, set by the festival sponsors.
Now there’s a few things I could do here, I could go on to give you detailed re-runs of what each of the keynote speakers spoke on, I could go on to tell you all about each challenge, and some of the solutions that teams came up with, I could go on to tell you all about some of the incredible people that I met and connected with, but as you’ve probably guessed…I’m not.
You see there was something very profound about getting people in a room, using some industry buzzwords like innovation, disruption, agility and collaboration, and then making them think. Not just think in a reflective, passive sense. But think in a proactive sense, using the word think as a verb and not a sentence filler. Condensing our time, but increasing our access to a whole range of industries and people, produced ideas that were tangible and marketable. So how do we take that experience back into our 9-5?
Innovation isn’t just about those magical, divine lightbulb moments where new ideas drop from the heavens (granted, for some they do occur) but for me innovation is about taking something old, and using it, thinking about it, or applying it in a brand new way. It’s like a different kind of resourceful. Take everything you know, and everything you have available to you, and mush it together to create something new and it’s this thinking that sometimes needs to be given the space to happen, for it to have an actual impact on our atmospheres. But is it given space very often? I’m going to haphazard a guess and say, probably not as much as it should be. Even in the smallest of decisions, innovation asks “are we doing this in the absolute best possible way” and who doesn’t want that answer to be yes?
But these moments of clear thinking and problem solving can’t just be kept for the lucky participants of events like SW/TCH. They need to be a part of our every day worlds, and as I went back to work it became obvious that there are some changes that need to be made to business acumen as we know it to keep up with the world.
Am I in a position to make these changes? Probably not. Am I likely to be in a position anytime soon to make these changes? Probably not. But is there actually “a position” that is responsible for change like that? Probably not. So who’s job is it then? Cue the motivational music because friends, it’s up to me and you.
So my challenge for today? Take some time to think. But don’t just think – contribute. Even if your ideas fall on deaf ears, contribute. Regardless of your age, gender, race, job description or postcode, the world needs your ideas. Because one day someone will listen, and friend I can’t wait for that day.
P.S. for those of you still wondering about SW/TCHfest and how it all went down, follow SW/TCHfest on Facebook (and keep an eye out for yours truly’s video episode of SW/TCH TV.