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Creating spaces for ideas

4 October, 2010

Sometime ago Steven posted a blog on what brings motivation to people like us, puzzling with things that demand skills more than on a Fordian assembly line, having to fix one nut to a bolt. The video accompanying this blog post told a truth we all suspected, but have a bit of a problem grasping.

So given that this assumption is true; that having the skill set that demands a high degree of own management in your job, and the results from this job is not a product of the monetary reward you get from doing it, there must be some other features that make people give the best part of the lives to work.

The chilling truth is that motivation is coming from within as much as it is governed by factors in the physical environment. But we are not driven by motivation alone. To be able to grow, as people, co-workers, institutions and organisations, we are dependent on good ideas. The idea behind Hurtigruten is somewhat intriguing and an example on how ideas are made.

VDS (the shipping company that started Hurtigruten) was founded in 1881 by Richard With with capital from the Vesterålen and Lofoten area. As a traditional freight and passenger shipping they were limited by the non-existing navigating aids in the Norwegian waters at this point. In the winter time the sailing was a high risk entity. The introduction of the steam engine made the seafarers job easier and the instruments made the sailing more measurable.

Pilot Anders Holte was working with Richard With, and had made sailing notes through the 1880’s on distances and route from Hammerfest to Bergen. The decision to sail through the winter in snow, fog and bad weather based only on these notes, was the idea that made the government choose this little shipping company as the Hurtigruten between Trondheim and Hammerfest.

So what space did Holthe and With have to make this idea come through? Well, they had the notes, they had the log (measuring the speed through water), they had their wrist watch. And they had tested it in an environment that was safe (summer sailings). They knew the possibility and the gain if they succeeded, so they went for the bounty, and won.

There exist a painting of the two men standing on the open bridge of DS Vesteraalen, the first Hurtigruten ship. This situation, staring into the dark or in nice summer temperatures, there must have been talk and the possibilities must have been discussed. That environment, with an entrepreneur and a technician there must have been a fruitful discussions on how to solve problems, both technical and risk assessments.

Having this in mind, how shall we make a environment where we can foster new ideas and get them into life? From this video present where ideas emerge, and Steven Johnson use two good examples of how great ideas emerge.

The questions for us in Hurtigruten is where can we create the spaces, the rooms and the environment for good ideas to emerge here?
Please comment.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 October, 2010 17:35

    Excellent post! Who wrote it? It wasn’t me. I’ve done quite a bit of research on where ideas occur. The short answer: Ideas occur when people have time left over….

    The findings are summarized here: (use to read it in English)

  2. reader permalink
    4 October, 2010 22:57

    Harri ?

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