Considering the extent to which innovations of centuries past have shaped our modern world, it is difficult to image a future discovery or invention having the same impact on society as, say, the steam engine, penicillin, renewable energy, indoor plumbing or electricity. Some even argue that what passes for innovation in the 21st century is feeble and pales miserably in comparison to what our forefathers contributed to the advancement of civilization.
All the same, it suffices only to take a quick inventory of your smartphone to see that many of the most collectively impactful innovations of the past 13 years revolve around communication and collaboration. Not by chance, the business of connecting humans is booming.
Facebook, text messaging and the smartphone are routinely touted as Millennial marvels. The first is responsible for transforming social interaction and our collective conceptions of privacy and sharing while effectively birthing the all-knowing “social media,” while the other two have turned (mobile) communication on its head.
Whether or not the creation of a social networking site can be termed “innovative” is arguable. As Forbes pointed out in the article Innovation Isn’t Dead (It’s Just Different), the answer is irrelevant; our challenges have simply evolved. For many of us, the immediate task at hand has become assembling and leveraging our greatest intangible asset–collective human intelligence–and moving forward together. For this reason, cross-border collaboration is vital to future innovation.
As the world shrinks and the need for collective human intelligence grows, we expect innovations in collaboration to continue to make waves.
What forms of collaboration do you think will be key to innovation in the future?