Dr Teun Wolters: The Adjacent Possible

Partnership University of BrightonThe recent agreement which Wittenborg reached with the University of Brighton to start up two master programmes (International Tourism and International Event Management) made me think of Steven Johnson’s book on “Where good ideas come from”.

Deriving analogies from nature to explain innovation, Johnson introduces the concept of ‘the adjacent possible’. New ideas can be impressive but can also be ‘ahead of their time’. New ideas can only be put into practice (in other words, become innovation) if there is a wider context, culturally and technologically, that is receptive to them.

Even though innovation requires individual strength and determination, its success is dependent on many other factors. Seeking coalitions, therefore, can be a means to let such factors ‘work for you’.

The adjacent possible points to a certain ‘logical’ trajectory that an organisation has to follow. By taking the right next step, windows of opportunity will turn into real doors to further development. From there, other opportunities can be expected to emerge.

Dr Teun Wolters

22 January 2011