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Cross culture inspiration and innovation


I took this photograph yesterday and today I’m using it in a blog. I’m taking something from one of my interests and using it in another. Inspiration can also be cross-cultural. You go on holiday and see something that you wouldn’t see in your own culture and you take it back to your culture. This happens a lot. The pavement cafes of France inspire the British and we try to do the same here; when the rain stops…

This cross culture inspiration can also come from immigration, we have a lot of Indian and Chinese takeaways in the UK for that reason. We don’t have to travel to be inspired by other cultures. We are exposed to the influence of other cultures all the time through the media. Through television, film and the internet. We just have to recognise the innovations that other cultures have that we can use in our culture.

In school and universities they have different subjects and they are like different cultures. There, new ideas, inspiration and innovation can come from cross cultural exchanges. For example, if a computer programmer spent time in the history department. What might his skills bring to that department? It could lead to a database of historical facts that all students can use. Similarly if a history student was assigned to the computer department, his or her knowledge might inspire a new application for researching local history.

Taking knowledge from one culture or one area and using it in an unusual way can be very rewarding. The use of psychology in economics or in business, for example, could cast new light on how a business could be made to be more successful or efficient.

If you take a business student who has a good knowledge of marketing and put them in the art department of a university. What would they suggest, given their expertise and way of thinking? They might suggest an art auction of student works at the end of the semester. They would be looking to monetise the department.

If a group of students with expertise in art, business, psychology and computing were asked to analyse what happens in a supermarket. Could they come up with suggestions to improve it’s operation? If those same students were asked for their opinions on the way a multinational company worked or a government department. Would their ideas be worth listening to?

The same can be said of other cultures or sub-cultures. If we take a group of people from a deprived housing estate and ask them how welfare reform should be planned and implemented; they might not be able to express themselves as well as the students, but they would have good ideas.

Children are also a sub-culture that can be useful to understand, if only someone is willing to listen and to observe. Do children have opinions about schools? The durability of toys? The length of school holidays? I think they might…

Can older people be inspired by spending time with teenagers? Can teenagers be inspired to innovate by spending time with older people? What if it was all mixed together? What if people from different cultures, different age groups, different ages and different backgrounds started exchanging ideas and beliefs? Would that inspire and lead to innovation? Do you have something to offer another ‘culture’?

There is a new blog on a zillion ideas today too. Why not check it out?


2 responses

  1. Interesting thoughts on sharing perspectives cross-culturally/sub-culturally. I certainly hope I’m capable of learning from anyone. Whether I pay attention enough to do so is the issue, but the potential is there. The photograph is really beautiful. Debra

    17, October 2012 at 4:20 am

    • Hi Debra,

      I had in mind students taking experience from different disciples in mine when I wrote this. Especially using psychology in business. Cross culture can be bad of course, religions spread from one culture to another and so does drug use. We have to look for the good stuff and be aware of that. We wouldn’t have chocolate, coffee or many other foods if we hadn’t adopted the foods of other cultures.

      17, October 2012 at 8:36 am

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