Cross-pollinating for innovation
"What's the last book you read?"
It makes the list of popular interview questions, but has anyone actually been asked that question recently? It's an interesting challenge, even if no one actually asks.
Somewhere along the way, I came across advice to read trade journals from another industry, where you might pick up new insights into your own. I like the idea, because I tend to be interested in a lot of areas, and making connections across industries or disciplines is a big part of what I do. So, naturally, I enjoyed reading Bruno Giussani's post about the surgeon who learned from mechanics (via TED Blog).
"The post-operation phase is probably the most sensitive, and until a couple of years ago it was chaotic: there was a lot of noise, everyone moved around with no coordination with the others: we've totally redesigned our way of working", [surgeon Martin Elliott] says. The Ferrari people filmed the doctors at work, then dissected the images with them. "For years we've been convinced that we were doing things pretty well, but seeing the tape it was shocking to notice our lack of coordination", says Nick Pigott of the intensive-care unit.
The world is full of specialists, and you have to specialize if you want to be accepted. But if you add some breadth to your knowledge and stay open to new ideas, you may spot opportunities that the specialists who stay in their niches miss.
If not, at least you'll be more interesting to talk to at lunch.