Rights: © Copyright 2014. University of Waikato. All Rights Reserved. Published 29 April 2014 Download

In this video, Dr Eric Scharpf gives his view of how innovation can come about. He believes that one of the key components that lies behind innovation is people from different areas talking and working together. To exemplify this, he gives examples of workplace design that encourages regular people interaction and discussion, thus facilitating the growth innovative ideas.


Innovation can happen alone. Innovation can happen in a group. Innovation can happen while you’re driving down the street, taking a shower. Innovation can happen at any time.

Innovation nowadays comes about more when you have people from different areas talking and working together. And a lot of companies that take pride in innovation set themselves up to have exactly those kind of interactions. 75, 80 years ago at Bell Labs, where the transistors were invented among a million other things at that time, they had this giant long hallway that was maybe 50, 100 metres long, and everybody’s office opened up onto that. The cafeteria was at one end, the car park was at the other, and people always ended up walking down that hall, and who you ran into varied – who you talked to over coffee, who you met on the way to the water cooler or the bathroom sparked new discussions.

And it’s those new discussions across different areas that are most likely nowadays to bring out innovation because they force you to say ‘oh gee, that’s funny, maybe it’s this’, and your interest and your ideas spark off of each other, and you can take it some place.

Dr Eric Scharpf

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Larry Luckham