Richard Watson: Theodore Zeldin will readily admit that most of his ideas will fail. But let’s face it, so will most of ours. Surely it’s better to go out in a blaze of glory as a beautiful failure than as an invisible and mediocre success.

Zeldin’s ideas are mostly focused on work and ways of making work more satisfying. He is also a champion of conversation and says that if more people talked to each other properly they would discover new interests. Shared interests and conversation spark ideas — and ideas can change the world.



To thy own self be true

Some people believe that you can make anyone creative. The aim of all organizations in 2005 and beyond should therefore be to pursue radical creativity and innovation. Regardless of whether all people can be creative, there is a significant amount of evidence to suggest that not all companies can. Most radical innovations (some say as many as 70%) come from guys in garages, not industry incumbents. Inventors are creative precisely because they don’t sit inside inertia-ridden corporate structures. However, inventors are usually hopeless at implementation whilst this (along with incremental improvement) is exactly what big companies are good at. So maybe the best innovation process for big companies is simply to spot good ideas from elsewhere and either adapt or licence the idea or buy the company. In other words, know what you’re good at and don’t try to be something that you’re not.



The need for speed

There are at least a dozen megatrends out there at the moment, but if I had to pick one for 2005 it would be speed. Technology is speeding up and so are we. 15% of meals in the United States are now eaten in cars and apparently 50% of soup is eaten out of the home. Hence the rush by food companies to create portable products and the continued growth of 24-7 availability. But like most big trends, there’s a counter trend. In Europe the Campaign for Slow Cities want to slow things down while in Australia 25% of people say they have downshifted in the last year to readdress their work-life balance.



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