Walkabouts are needed for learning and testing ourselves

Walkabout picture

photo credit: Walkabout (1971) film by Nicolas Roeg

How often do you pause for thought, even simply for ‘just those few minutes,’  to allow yourself to openly question where you are and what you are attempting to do? We keep relentlessly moving on, like a wandering herd of buffalo, always looking for fresh pasture, those new feeding grounds. It’s not good.

Of course I often get caught up in this restless pursuit of gathering more, when I spend a growing amount of my time researching across innovation. I keep coming across so many things that ‘trigger’ the thinking, pushing me on.

Do you let them go, ignore them, quickly pass over them, or attempt to capture the issue as something well worth investigating further at a later stage, or just get them simply behind you in the here and now.

I think I must be reverting back more into a hunter-gatherer, in my case upon innovation insights; collecting the raw material that I am looking to eventually translate and distribute as this growing knowledge stock. The outcome  I trust is moving me slowly towards becoming an innovation curator, hopefully valued by others. Well its a goal.

I also regularly need what I call my ‘walkabout’ moments to chill out and regroup.

Walkabout is best known when a Australian Aborigine undergoes a journey, wandering in the wilderness for periods as long as six or so months. This wandering mostly becomes a rite of passage, in my case my walkabout’s are aimed to move my innovation understanding from one state to another, hopefully improving by what I have learnt and gathered.

I have so often to force myself to stop being a collector of ‘all things new’ that is written about innovation. I keep attempting to put as many of the existing pieces together, searching for the patterns and insights, trying to make a different sense to them, with the aim to add further to the innovation stock and innovation capital.

Presently I am in the middle of a digital and paper clear-up ready for another walkabout

Either the mass of papers that I confess I’ve printed out so I can highlight, scribble over and allow these to ‘fester’ a little longer, so the ideas permeate through my thick skull or my digital collection all need shaping differently. I’m been busy working through my digital library, whipping this back into a decent shape after a heavy collecting period of interesting articles that all need to be referenced for future use.

There is so much to explore, it does get overwhelming and this is why these ‘walkabout’s help clear my brain (and my desk). I also use mind mapping software to capture much so the different patterns and connections can become a little more coherent, well for me at least.

Craving for the innovation open road

I do like the idea of an open road on where we can go and what we might explore but we actually do need to take some time to choose the routes, even when much of it can be serendipitous, as it has to contribute ‘just’ beyond knowledge into something valuable. In our investigations we need to watch out for all the signs (not necessarily signposts)  along the way, those signals, patterns and emerging trends as we both search the horizon but equally in fully appreciating what is all around us, as we travel building our understanding on that journey. I often feel I am a journey man and I’m certainly comfortable with that.

WalkaboutI have to admit, I am happy man playing in my innovation sandpit, linking these thoughts into emerging solutions to tackle some client problems, move innovation along or answer some questions posed.  I work on these for others on given value propositions around the following: “you need someone who can put clear coordinates into the innovation world“.

I keep moving towards this concept of being a curator of innovation, collecting and distributing it, interpreting it, re-ordering it to meet specific needs. To do this I need to keep up a given rhythm, filtering and funneling, dampening or magnifying this growing knowledge around innovation. I enjoy this but it does take up more time than I can sometimes really afford. I think I need an investor who see’s value in structuring this into an innovation knowledge platform, until then, if ever, I travel my path.

 “Time starved, knowledge poor,” so when do we gain the luxury to think

When do we find the time to really delve into the necessary understanding for innovation in deeper and valuable ways. We are often just ‘reacting to daily issues’ and constant crisis as we are so focused on the delivery of short-term results. We lack a space where we can explore thoughtful analysis, deepen our personal knowledge and make all the right connections we would ideally like. We lack time and insights that can give greater direction or answers.

We are needing those personal ‘curated’ spaces where our particular interest builds up in the required knowledge (collect, manage and apply) to then be able to build from this and move onto the next knowledge stream of value to you. We never find the ongoing opportunity to alter our innovation understanding and influence our future delivery.

What would help here? Is it innovation coaching, mentoring, providing an innovation knowledge platform, a place to go and find content-rich insights that yield impact and give a renewed intensity? What would be attractive? What would give to your understanding of innovation and its management? How does one offer such a personal space where you can draw in the knowledge and interpret it in your way, appropriate to meet your innovation goals?

Also I’m enjoying some sparring, exchanging, developing as ongoing…

I’m also caught up in a great discussion with my occasional sparring partner Jeffrey Phillips of Ovo, this time around in change, cuture and innovation and I think this will eventually emerge as a further piece of collaborative work between us. This will follow on from our collaborations around the Innovation Executive Work Mat , where we have been seeking out common cause and building strategic and innovation alignment, along with our earlier attempts to describe a “Collaborative innovation reference model, published under “reducing innovation mysteries” and on its homepage.

I’ve written before about “finding our true purpose” and working the innovation space is mine to explore and think through. As I stated in that post, mine is increasingly focused upon:

Establishing the ‘new’ often means moving beyond the already ‘known’, it is to experiment with sometimes the untried, to learn, to achieve faster and improved results, to evolve and push boundaries. This needs fresh perspectives and dedicated innovation knowledge. I attempt to offer those insights and guidance in the emerging areas of innovation

Off on another innovation walkabout, it is about time, hopefully the answers will keep coming from the time hopefully well spent..

*Amended on 16.04.2015

7 thoughts on “Walkabouts are needed for learning and testing ourselves

  1. Great post Paul. A few years back I used to be a lot better at, “walkabouts.” These days I am definitely experiencing the busyness you are describing. The one time I really try to protect in my day is my drive to and from work. It’s about a half hour and it provides me those opportunities to really think about the things I am trying to innovate at work.

    Thanks for the good read.


    • Mike thanks for your comment on the recent post

      Well on my walkabouts I’ve been on the dark side of the moon, in digital monsoons, travelling a lot in the cloud. tropical rainforests, hacking in the undergrowth, experiencing the Darwin effects more times that I can recall, virtual digital pipelines, falling into pitfalls, sinkholes, dealing with heat-seeking missiles, been on safari’s, voyages, even crossing red lights at intersections…………

      I mean………..a buffalo and a wildebeest -nothing on all these others. When you do walkabouts, you ‘do’ walkabouts


  2. I agree, what a great post! Unless we give ourselves time and space to stop and think we cannot even see new things (albeit innovate) as we are running around like blinkered brewery horses.


  3. Pingback: Building Differentiating Capabilities for Innovation | Paul4innovating's Innovation Views

  4. Pingback: Fitting understanding into the innovation puzzle – Advocating 4 Innovation

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