Charles Leadbetter is a former journalist. author and government adviser on innovation and creativity. He works with the influential think tank, Demos, and is involved with some of the UK’s top universities and business schools.

In this TED talk, he addressed the area of collaborative creativity, showing that it’s where the more interesting innovations come from. This was filmed in 2005 and it’s still a really insightful message for anyone involved in innovation.

The heart of innovation lies with the public

To illustrate this, he tells the story of the development of the mountain bike. It wasn’t created by a bicycle manufacturer. Or by a lone genius. It was, instead, developed by some passionate cyclists in California who started piecing together ‘clunkers’ from a collection of disparate parts. It took years for the big bike manufacturers to cotton on to the movement. Now mountain bikes account for 65% of the US market.

We tend to think that innovation comes from big companies with chunky R&D budgets or businesses with funky furniture and beanbags. But often the heart of innovation lies with the public. They’re the ones who worked out what telephones were for in the early days and how SMS would be used in more recent years.

No music executive in their right mind would have been able to create the genre of rap music. And the most interesting developments in lots of industries are coming from the passionate amateurs rather than the establishment.

The most interesting developments in lots of industries are coming from the passionate amateursClick To Tweet

But traditional, conservative old school approaches and new innovative communities don’t have to be opposites. There are interesting approaches in mixing the open and closed worlds. And we’ll be seeing more of that happening in the future.

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Charles Leadbetter is a former journalist. author and government adviser on innovation and creativity. He works with the influential think tank, Demos, and is involved with some of the UK’s top universities and business schools. In this TED talk, he addressed the area of collaborative creativity, showing that it’s where...
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