Innovative Innovation


Carola Verschoor and her enthusiastic, infectious, and electrifying brand of innovation thinking sailed into Space Doctors HQ to discuss her latest book Change Ahead.

Change Ahead Carola Verschoor

Carola Verschoor has an impressive CV that, like her innovation philosophy, is varied and seemingly endlessly adaptable, with outputs ranging from her consultancy GROH! to an Argentinian cookbook, Argentinisima. She is a wonderful speaker, whose refreshing and optimistic outlook on the notion of collaboration strikes a powerful chord, fostering a sense of excitement in the possibility of achievement– truly inspiring.

Her philosophy is outlined in her latest book, Change Ahead (a review by Space Doctors’ Clem McCulloch can be explored here) marshalled under the metaphor of sailing. Her witty illustrations and writing contain a powerful idea, born out of the frustration that designers and researchers find in their roles; 90% of researchers are frustrated due to research findings not being properly implemented. She challenges us to think about what the differences are and more importantly what the similarities are between design and research. Through interviews with 42 experts from art school professors to engineers to Space Doctors’ Malex Salamanques, she found that there simply was no clear answer.

The way I think about design changed the moment that I realised I wasn’t the one who lived with it – there’s a world out there where these things we create live.
– Marcel Wanders

Carola posits that in order to be truly innovative, we need to break out of the silos in which we are imprisoned and smash the strategy, research, design triad. Instead we need to be sailors in a high wind. We need to rely on each other’s skills and intuition, jump into each other’s roles when there is need in order to keep the ship sailing forward in a display of adaptable human talents. We need an attitude for growth that’s not anchored in discipline but in human talents – talents like courage, citizenship, and connection; talents that can be nurtured and grown.

With Carola’s words ringing in our ears we were buoyed by feelings not only of enthusiasm, but of the fact that we can recognise these forms and ways of working in our own company. In the wake of the Space Doctors’ Commercial Break, where we discussed our working structure, the analogy of pillars was brought to bare. Columns of equal strength that mutually support a goal, none taking more or less weight than its siblings under one roof. But perhaps this metaphor does not reach far enough? Perhaps Space Doctors is better thought of as plates spinning on sticks surrounded by people from all departments, each equipped with the knowledge, confidence, and intuition to keep all the plates spinning. And now imagine this on a boat.

We need to be permeable and engaged.
– Carola Verschoor

An output of Lunch & Learn, an internal, monthly lunch in which we invite experts to teach us new and exciting things.