We’ll figure it out: David Price talks people-powered innovation

DP2David Price, learning futurist and co-founder of We Do Things Differently

Under the hashtag ‘we are not waiting’, citizen hackers are challenging the status quo. Frustrated by the slow pace at which the health industry is delivering new technology, tech savvy patients are taking innovation into their own hands, creating solutions that are available today, instead of five years from now. This is what David Price, learning futurist and co-founder of We Do Things Differently, describes as “people-powered innovation”, a phenomenon that’s seeing individuals rival the institutions.


In his book, OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future, Price talks about how the democratisation of learning is driving disintermediation. Simply put, disintermediation is the process of cutting out the middleman, no longer needing “the doctor to tell us what is wrong with us, the salesperson to tell us which product to buy, or the educator to tell us the answer.” Driven by technology, by being “open”, we are helping each other come to those conclusions.


Now, he says, “we have gone beyond this idea of collaborating and sharing knowledge and we are now actually rivalling some of our institutions.”


The healthcare industry is one example, with Price speculating that, “some of the next big medical breakthroughs will probably come from individuals who are not medical practitioners, but people with high levels of pro-am [professional-amateur] knowledge.”


He says this demand for faster rates of innovation, combined with the openness and ease of collaboration, result in something with which our systems are not set up to cope and about which they are often in denial.


“I met some people over the summer who are actually treating their loved ones for cancer, and they are doing it in their own homes. On the one hand that’s quite scary, but on the other hand our institutions should acknowledge that there’s some real rivalry there in terms of innovation.”


In education, he says, you see “the institutionalisation coming up against the need for rapid innovation” when new modules and programmes are created to meet today’s demands, but are not validated because they do not come with a five-year plan.


Now that we as learners, consumers, employees, patients and citizens are taking independent and collaborative action to improve and give us better control over our lives, it’s unlikely this movement will slow down. Furthermore, whilst there are some companies, schools, and institutions that understand the need to change, Price argues that we need more collaboration. When it comes to people-powered innovation, Price says, “Some businesses and most regulatory authorities may be in denial, but talking to the hackers and user innovators is much better than being left behind them. Because, in their own words, #wearenotwaiting.”

David Price, OBE, will elaborate the notion of people-powered innovation at the OEB 2015 opening plenary ‘Accelerating the Shift’, taking place on Thursday, December 3. Find out more at: https://oeb.global/

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