Want to be an innovative scientist?
PART 1: ACT WITH EXTRAVERSION (OR FAKE IT)
How innovation comes about, can seem hard to grasp. It seems to involve some coincidence, and not-so-tangible networks. It does not require more research: it is often shown that innovation is not so much a question of developing new knowledge, but a matter of letting existing knowledge find its way to non-scientists. So what can you do if you are a scientist waiting for a breakthrough? Or a researcher wanting to prove that you have an impact, that your knowledge can be used outside academia?
There is no fixed formula for achieving this – every innovation has its own context. But there is a way to lend chance a helping hand: take a break from your research. Go party.
Go meet people. Laugh. Have fun. Then mix business with pleasure – talk about your work. Do not start at the beginning. Start at the end, with your findings. Don’t worry if they have not yet been published, nor peer reviewed. For a party, they are good enough. Use the extravert in you. Help others find you and your findings.
Do you believe that you just aren’t that outgoing? Are you a scientist who likes labs, libraries and living online much better than parties? Did you choose your profession precisely because you are into information more than into partying? Or do you not feel comfortable talking about yourself in the presence of others? Then speak without sound. Just stay online. Send out tweets. Post blog entries about your work. Share that silent water, let it run less deep. You are now faking your way to extraversion.
And if you need some inspiration: here is one the most watched TED talks for you: Susan Cain’s plea for the value of introversion:
Janneke Visser is a senior communications advisor with a background in journalism and political philosophy. And with a passion for showing scientists how to make their work suitable for larger audiences.