Richard Florida needs John Hagel. Florida and Hagel have been referencing each other recently (here and here) and that’s a good thing; at least I think it is for Richard’s ideas. Florida’s work has been very popular, but has also received a fair amount of criticism. The best founded of the critiques (in my opinion) refer to the generality of his data. It is correlational and very general, you might say it paints a picture with too broad of a brush.
The issue is that we know two things:
- We know a bit about how individuals can be creative and
- We know how creativity and innovations correlate with clusters of people, but
We don’t know other things like:
- We don’t really know much about the network ecologies and interactions that drive this increased creativity and
- We don’t have specific experiments to demonstrate and validate any kind of intervention and
- We don’t know if there is a critical mass for clusters to spur innovations.
Enter John Hagel who’s concept of “pull” begins to specify some of the ways and mechanism that may be behind the effects described by Florida. I think the next step is to describe in detail how individual environments work to spur innovation. Many of the interventions inspired by Florida have semed a little like shooting in the dark. What is needed is a little more specificity in how things work. Maybe not to a prescriptive level, but just so we understand what can be successful and in what ways. There have been a number of projects inspired by Richard, and I believe that his ideas are valid, we just need more causal analysis and measures of success to drive things forward; and in the proper direction.