Innovation Broker


“To broker innovation is to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas. To take concepts out of their silos, synthesize novel viewpoints, and paint new pictures where once lay empty space.”

TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about brokering innovation. This is a relatively new term but the practice is longstanding. The idea is to support growth via the unique mixing of ideas from different fields or backgrounds. The cross-pollination of thought – whether it be geographically-, culturally-, or specialty-based – is a fundamental strategy for creative thought.

For example, you may work in a typical corporate culture but this does not mean you can’t incorporate strategies from a performer and team-building from sports culture. Similarly, approach you pain points with different vantage points. If all I have is a hammer, sooner or later, everything starts to look like a nail. Alternatively, if I see someone else using a different tool – even if it is for a much different task – maybe I can create a hybrid to address my need.

Personally, I have long been interested in the process of brokering innovation and this is one of the reasons for my diverse background. I find that, when we can forcefully take ideas out of their nascent environments, and join them with other disparate ideas, then creativity flourishes. Sometimes, this creativity may be hypothetical and lack practical use. Sometimes, a sort of Frankenstein is born that is difficult to categorize. However, when it comes off right, there is potential for the genesis of truly transformational thought.

“When we can forcefully take ideas out of their nascent environments, and join them with other disparate ideas, creativity flourishes. At these crossroads, there is potential for the genesis of truly transformational thought.”

The desire to work in a physical or figurative cubicle enforces constraints. Instead, much how the modern workplace has morphed into non-traditional settings and processes, how you approach challenges and conflicts must evolve. Staying fixated on strategies that exist in a vacuum risks failure in global applications.

The call to action here is to facilitate the brokering of innovation! Break down silos! One of the simplest strategies is to work with as many individuals with different backgrounds as possible. Akin to a musician who jams with someone with a different style or from a different genre, join others in the pursuit of unique thought. Support the sharing of ideas between different groups. Look to build connections between heterogeneous cohorts. Look to guide cross-functional conversation, exchange and communication. Your horizons will expand, and the accompanying understanding will lead you to ask better questions and seek better answers.


MEDICINE & MACULA: Check out one of our recent publications, Myelinated retinal nerve fibre, myopia, and amblyopia syndrome (Kunyong Xu & David RP Almeida) published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology (April 2017).

You can find the study here.

We describe the complex relationship among myelinated nerve fibre, myopia, and amblyopia. We present the case of a 6-year-old boy who presented with blurry vision of the right eye over 2 months. The visual prognosis in these cases is variable.


GRATIS: “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” -Margaret Heffernan


My best to you,

David Almeida

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