Let us introduce this week’s innovator, Andrew Haeg. Check out Andrew’s incredible work and thoughts on innovation below.
I’m an entrepreneur, building a new mobile engagement platform called Groundsource. I’ve been a journalist for more than 15 years, and co-founded a crowdsourcing platform in 2003 called the Public Insight Network — and have created many other smaller innovative journalism projects, from games to new approaches melding human-centered design and journalism.
For me, journalism is this kind of flexible, fluid framework for learning about the world as it is and communicating that in some interesting way. My approach to innovation was largely formed during my 20’s when I spent a good chunk of time traveling the world; living in New York, London and Tokyo; reading philosophy and literature; learning about art and architecture and urban planning; and trying to figure out what who I was and what I was all about. Looking back, that period of exploration and self-discovery has been instrumental in everything I do that’s innovative today.
Innovation is the art of bringing something new into the world that would not have otherwise existed. If I’m going to bring something new into the world, I need to be in touch with what I’m really passionate about (vs. what I need to do to make money). That takes time and space for reflection, both of which (as a father of 3 and the founder of a startup) are harder and harder to come by.
But I’ve found that I’m at my most innovative and creative when my mind is at rest, and my brain can make connections between otherwise disparate ideas. I love to take bike rides, and work in the garden. But by far the best time for thinking is during walks. When I’m walking, I have time to consider details and consider how they connect and correspond to one another.
When I was younger, I was good at coming up with ideas, but not great at selecting the most workable ones, and following through until they were well formed. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve become a lot better at selecting the best ideas from the many that bubble up, and following through on the few that are actually viable. And I’ve realized that ideas are not worth a great deal if not matched with the patience and discipline to see an innovative idea to its natural conclusion.
Wow. Innovation requires a deep sense of self and the time to cultivate your passions. This happens through time and space for reflection. It also requires giving your mind time to “rest” so you you can make connections between separate ideas in a more creative way. And innovation requires patience and discipline to see an idea through to its fruition.
How often are we giving our students time to cultivate their passions and discover themselves? How are we deliberately building in time for reflection and “rest” to spark creative ideas? How are we teaching patience and discipline?