Radical Innovations embedded in Enabling Spaces, IFSR Conversations 2010

Proceedings of the IFSR Conversation 2010, Pernegg, Austria
Discussion Paper (Team 3): Radical Innovations embedded in Enabling Spaces
Thomas Fundneider
Since several years, my thinking and doing focuses around two main concepts:

  • Generating profound new knowledge
  • Designing Enabling Spaces

In my view, both themes may have some input for the general topic of our IFSR conversation. I am glad to share with and contribute to our group.
In more detail, and starting with the first mentioned topic above, I am interested in the question, how something radical or game-changing can be brought forward without being “too radical” and therefore not “anschlussfähig” (“connectable”); so the radical new must somehow respect what is already there, as it stems organically from the core of the innovation object (be it a learning/business model, service, idea, etc.) and its systemic environment. This resonates well with the idea of “creating” new learning systems: do we already understand what is there? what wants to emerge as potential learning systems for sustainability? can we yet see it? In this context, a central question I asked myself, is: do we have to design dedicated learning systems FOR sustainability, or is (resp. will be) sustainability becoming the core from which everything else emerges? With regard to this topic, I am quite influenced by C.O.Scharmer´s Theory U, dialogic and reflective approaches (Bohm, Isaacs), and Design Thinking (which is not about design, but about the approaches, methods and tools design-oriented professionals employ in order to bring forth new knowledge).
Referring to the second topic, enabling spaces, I am highly interested in the question, how can we orchestrate and configure a subtle set of constraints and facilitating structures that interact in such a way that knowledge creation can be supported and sustained in the best possible manner? This of course is based on the assumption that we cannot “produce” automatically (like an algorithm) profound knowledge. So we need concepts, styles of thinking and attitudes that are not classical analytical and linear thinking; systems thinking and the concept of enabling acknowledges that we have to accept that most of the underlying processes are beyond our control and unpredictable. However, this all doesn´t happen in a theoretical and/or empty space. So I would like to add the dimension of a concrete space for learning systems to our conversation (if appropriate) –with an understanding that this (architectural space) needs to be integrated with social, cognitive, emotional, cultural, technological, epistemological, etc. dimensions.