Visionaries in innovation

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Jul 28, 2016

Visionaries are motivated by a vision of the future that almost no-one else has "seen" yet. In most cases, they have not even seen it themselves, at least not physically. They believe it first and see it later. This week, let's have a free-wheeling discussion (without prepared questions) about the role of visionaries in innovation.

Visionaries do not wait for other people to show that something is worth doing, they do not even wait until anyone else has seen their vision. However, visionaries are not simply motivated by the innovation itself. In most cases, their vision is of the outcome of applying an innovation.

A great example of visionaries pushing the bounds in a specific field is the Solar Impulse project which, earlier this week, completed its round the world journey in an aircraft powered entirely by solar power. 
Twitter: @solarimpulse

At #innochat, we first discussed the Solar Impulse project over a year ago in: "Flying Into a Clean Future" during their flight from Japan to Hawaii. Soon after that, we discussed the topic of electrical power for a range of applications in: "How Electric Is Our Future?"  We also referred to the project as an example, about three months ago, in: "Innovation - you can not be serious!" 

Of course, as with most early applications of innovations, in its present form their aircraft (Solar Impulse 2, #Si2) is impracticable for almost any current application.
There are two areas of practical application which are developing. One is electrically powered aircraft in more conventional configurations, such as Airbus's E-Fan aircraft,  The other is unmanned aircraft in configurations similar to #Si2 for long term, high altitude flights, such as facebook's Aquila project.

For most people, the flights of the Solar Impulse aircraft seem to be most surprising because of the use of solar power and the lack of fuel. However Bertrand Piccard, who initiated the Solar Impulse project, continually emphasises their main motivation with the mantra "the future is clean" (see the hashtag #futureisclean). For the visionary, the motivation is their vision of the future.

Let's discuss the role of visionaries in innovation by stimulating new avenues and stretching boundaries, in a free wheeling discussion during #innochat on July 28th 2016 between 12 and 1pm Eastern time.


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