Last night I looked up and saw a Blue Moon—full, and not at all blue. Technically, a blue moon is the third of four full moons in a season, although many think it is the second full moon in one month. What did I care about that at the time—it was a quiet and beautiful moment.
The Blue Moon is rare but predictable, because it has its cycles. The same is not true of some kinds of innovation. Sometimes things come together in an unplanned – unanticipated way to create qualitative change in the way we understand a thing. Such stuff cannot be predicted—the process to get there is not linear but it requires that you take in more than you expected in a particular situation, try to disprove assumptions and use odd disciplines of thought, watch unanticipated consequences, and just listen and wander in the wilderness a bit. These requirements may be challenging when all of your attention is focused on previously set success metrics. There is a part of our work in this sector that is, beautifully, about collective discovery of new ways of meeting common needs and achieving common dreams. The author of the HBR blog on the “Serendipity Economy” I quote in a newswire today, Daniel W. Rasmus, worries that many of us are still stuck in an industrial economy mind-set, and that this will slow us down in our explorations of the future.
So, here are two links to articles—a piece by Sharon Gary-Smith, “We Need More Philanthropists Who Listen,” and the above mentioned newswire. I like the blog it was drawn from because it states things about innovation that are pretty obvious but worth remembering.
Meanwhile, I submit these five versions of “Blue Moon” for your listening pleasure. Choose your favorite.