We rarely recognize innovation while it’s happening. Instead, innovation is often a label applied after the fact, when the results are clear and the new convention has become established.
The process begins when external pressure or internal decay disturbs the relation between a community and its context or environment, a relationship maintained by some convention.
The original convention no longer “fits.” Perhaps the context has changed, or the community, or even the convention. Someone notices the lack of fit. It causes stress and increases bio-cost. It creates enough friction, enough pain, to jump into people’s consciousness.
Perception of misfit almost simultaneously gives rise to proposals for change, for reframing. It creates the opportunity for insight.
Insights only move forward when shared, articulated, prototyped. Sharing is a test: Does the insight resonate with others? Proposals for change compete for attention. Most are ignored and fade away.
The changes that survive are by definition ones the community finds effective. They spread because they increase fit, because they create value.