I generally don't talk about personal stuff on this blog but I'd like to briefly share an observation based on watching my two and half year old son piece together a jigsaw puzzle last night (not the one in the picture by the way).

I noticed that, regardless of which 2 pieces he picked up, he assumed they connected. He hasn't clicked yet that just because 2 pieces could fit together, doesn't necessarily mean they should, and so finds puzzles a little frustrating at the mo. I know he'll figure it out soon enough, but it made me think secretly pleased that he was simply trying to connect stuff which seems to be an innate part of learning at that age.

Alas we all tend to unlearn that connecting ability pretty quickly, and he will soon too by necessity I guess, but I'd like to suggest we go too far and ought to redress the balance. In fact, look at the following chart (from the book Creative Education with thanks to Tessy Britton for the top tip) of divergent tests on 1600 kids by age which essentially test the ability to think laterally, which I think is so crucially lacking.

Divergent thinking

I guess for me this highlights the whole premise behind what we do at Nesta Connect, namely that it is possible to make more connections between disparate fields or activities than currently exists in and across hierarchical and silo'd organisations. Not only that, but these can lead to the most productive and most innovative connections as they force you to look at things differently and can lead to bigger leaps forward.

Therefore I think there is considerable value in setting up cross-cutting networks or spaces where people from difference organisations, disciplines or sectors can come together, make connections, nurture unusual collaborations and develop them to create significant commercial or social value.We do this through a number of different ways and it often isn’t easy, but when it works, the payback can be huge, which justifies the effort. And I think we can really start to prove the case for that with some powerful examples, but more on that early in the new year.

As many organisations shrink their what they do in 2009 to the core given the economic climate, a big challenge will be to maintain the space for new, unexpected or extreme connection and collaboration to happen.

Anyway, having tried to make the case repeatedly for more opportunities for connecting on this blog, I'm actually really looking forward to disconnecting for a couple of weeks from next week. Happy holidays.

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