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Innovation For Dummies
"What's missing isn't the ideas... it's the will to execute them."
Seth Godin
   
 1. In the animal world the innovators are usually those creatures who are in difficulty in their group
 A. True . This is logical after all. If you were the alpha male: eating first, having the right to procreate, etc then why innovate. Changes might put in risk your position.
Remember that old saw: "Necessity is the Mother of Invention".

2. People tend to innovate less at the intersections or frontiers between disciplines. (The Medici Effect) For example between the domains of biology and geology or folk music and rock and roll. 
B. False. This is new and unclaimed territory. Here in the cracks there are no preconceived ideas and traditions to overcome. By definition what you create here is innovation and original since it wasn't there before. In his book the The Medici Effect Frans Johansson analyzes and extols the "Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures". One example that I found particularly insightful was the case of Mike Oldfield . Here was someone who was neither classical composer nor rock and roll musician and his first album Tubular bells was a mixture of the two disciplines and effectively launched Virgin Records.

3. More often than not it is better to be average in intelligence and not very creative.
 A. True  It all has to do with Gaussian distribution or as social scientist call it the Bell Curve. Those with average intelligence are at the apex of the curve. (this applies to creativity as well) This means that they are more like to succeed in evolutionary terms. Everywhere you look Gaussian distribution is found in nature. It has become a fundamental law of natural science. But
Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (a pretty interdisciplinary guy himself) said that you find this distribution in stable times when things are in equilibrium. That's why it is also called  normal distribution.
However in times of change and chaos you see a quite different distribution the well curve.  This is what you saw in turbulent times like the Renaissance or during some wars. When everything is shifting it is a better strategy to be either very creative or not at all.
You may want to read Bruce Sterling's The Shape of Things to Come

4. Innovation and creativity are dangerous activities
 A. True  Don't be confused to create with to innovate. We often  think that all artists are creative but not all are innovative. The State are of the Soviet Union is kitsch, and you could argue creative in the sense that on the whole it created an ambiance. Let's say that you are an innovative animal and you are trying out new food sources instead of instinctively eating what everyone else does. The new mushroom you just tasted could be wholesome with a tangy new flavor, hallucinogenic, or poisonous. It is the same with humans. Take Nicolas Tesla for example. Arguably all of twentyth century life was based on his inventions: AC motors & lights, radio (yes not Marconi) etc. Tesla had scars from electric burns all over his body. He said he had to sometimes feel the resonance of the current (I mean actually touch the electricity!) Let's not forget Vincent van Gogh. Creativity and innovation have their drawbacks.

5. Tendencies towards innovation or creativity in animals can be a real drawback when exploring or invading new territory.
 B. False It is when we cannot rely on old tried and true methods that we must begin to explore other avenues of thought and behavior.

6. The origin and function of schools are to suppress creativity and foster tradition over innovation.
 A. True Think of the monk pouring over his hand written text. The function of schools is to teach what works not what is a la mode at a particular time. Normally, this makes a great deal of sense,
just not if we are in the middle of a Cyber Renaissance. Moreover, established schools are rarely in precarious situation which would encourage creativity. However, the moment you need to create a new school or decide to totally change the school's reason for being then you are going to need heaps of "Innovation" .

7. Marriage generally ruins or curtails a scientist's potential to innovate and create.
 A. True  Well, that's what Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science thinks. He stated that evolutionary psychology explains that innovation in science is sort of like rams butting heads together to prove they are good mating material and that afterwards well, their interest wanes. Of course if you are asexual like Isaac Newton then you can continue to innovate until your death bed. (Issac claimed to have been a virgin all his long life.) You may want to read the Boston Globe article do scientists age badly?
You know there are women scientists...

8. Women and men express their creativity in much the same way.
  B. False  At least according to Geoffrey Miller  who suggest that men use innovation and creativity to display and mark their territory and that women are more likely to be into crafts or solve a problem that is bothering them personally. He also believes that we have developed our minds or intelligence as courtship devices. Our oversized brains therefore are like plumage of the peacock's tail or the lion's mane.
Obviously, a lot of women out there must be thinking that this idea is probably true for men :-)

9. Being innovative can give one an edge in status quo situations.
 B. False  Status quo means to maintain the situation the way it is. Remember that innovation and intelligence is nature answer to changing times.

10. Brainstorming works best when you use a group of newly introduced people.
  B. False  Let's being with the idea that group brainstorming doesn't generate ideas that are that good . Often what you get is a sort of groupthink. The smaller the group the more like you are to try off beat solutions. Second when people meet for the first time they are either timid or cagey and don't want to show their hand. Creativity needs confidence to work. Brainstorming is a fun way for a group to get to know each other but don't expect to get top flight ideas from newly assembled teams.
 

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Christopher YUKNA
Advanced Learning Methods
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Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines
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