Product Innovation Trends

“Crowd accelerated innovation” — a TED talk from Chris Anderson.

Emily Down | September 17, 2010

Chris Anderson, longtime journalist and publisher, is now the curator of the TED Conference. He recently put a TED talk together (filmed July 2010 — posted this month) hypothesizing that we’re seeing cycles of improvement driven by web video.

He calls this process “crowd accelerated innovation.” Chris explains that you only need three things for crowd accelerated innovation: a crowd, light & desire. He says, “the bigger the crowd, the more innovators there are.” By light, he means “you need clear, open visibility of what the best people in that crowd are capable of because that is how you will be empowered to participate.” And finally, “innovation is hard work… absent desire, it’s not going to happen.”

According to Anderson, this “radical openness” is changing the world. At TED, they’re “giving away their TEDx brand and [they] suddenly have a thousand plus live experiments in the art of spreading ideas. These organizers, they’re seeing each other, they’re learning from each other.”

Like Chris, we believe collaboration is powerful. Chris says, “we’re a social species. We spark off each other… The lone genius with a eureka moment that changes the world is misleading. Even [Isaac Newton] said that, and he would know [on screen: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” -Isaac Newton].

Throughout this TED talk, Chris Anderson shares inspiring examples of innovation and visibility and how the two are connected. My favorite example is his last: Christopher Makau from the Kibera slums in Kenya. Chistopher Makau is an organizer of TEDx in Kibera, and he’s worked with a self help group to turn a trash pit into a garden that now feeds more than thirty families. Christopher explains, “Change happens when we see things in a different way. Today, I see Kibera in a different way. My message to TED and the entire world is, Kibera is a hotbed of innovation and ideas.”