Innovation – what does it mean to us?

May 28, 2021

This month, our friends at Exeter Live Better have been talking about ‘Innovation’. It’s a big word, innovation, and can mean so many things.

What does innovation mean?

For some people, particularly those in the business world, innovation might mean finding new ways to increase profits. Engineers and designers might think of innovation as creative solutions to improve the way something works or looks, or to make a task easier. Sliced bread, for example: a famously brilliant innovation. Another innovation was the first real-life prototype of a hoverboard, but the jury’s out as to whether that’s such a brilliant idea…

At Live and Move, we are all about ‘innovative approaches’. That’s corporate speak for testing new ideas to learn what works best. Best for people and communities who want to be more active, but maybe haven’t yet found an easy way to fit more movement into their daily life.

How to innovate

Where do we start with this innovation, then? Well, it’s not an easy question to answer, but the absolute truth is that we aren’t going to come up with the right answers just in a meeting room – zoom style or otherwise. The only way to find out how we can support people in Exeter and Cranbrook to be more active, whatever that means for each of us individually, is to talk. Talk, and listen.

The fancy term often used for this is ‘community engagement’ or ‘community consultation’. But what exactly does it mean? Does it mean we send out a questionnaire and hope people respond? Sometimes, yes, that is a good way to give as many people as possible a chance to give their view. Does it mean trying something ‘innovative’ and then asking if people like it or not? Sure, that happens, with greater or lesser success.

Do these ways of communicating with people tell us what we really need to learn, though? I’m thinking of the saying ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. How will we even ask the right questions, or make sure we are asking the view of people with many different lifestyles or priorities?

It’s not the same for everyone

One person’s answer to moving more day-to-day might be cycling to work or walking the children to school instead of driving. But what if you need to get the children to school and then get yourself pretty sharpish to work, miles away? What if your work involves equipment that is just way too difficult to carry or put on a bike? (If you are moving around the city, by the way, you can hire ‘cargo bikes’ to help with this – but they aren’t available from your front door!)

What we, Live and Move, are trying to do is find innovative ways of solving these problems we have in our modern world, which prevent us from moving as much as our bodies and minds need to be healthy; and we are trying to find innovative ways to find these innovative ways. We might be creeping back into hoverboard territory, here.

I can make it easier to think about, though, by reminding myself that our innovative solutions to the problems of how to move more are there to be found in the ideas of the people who know. You. Us. And the way to learn from our collection of experiences, to hear what real lifestyles entail and tease out the threads that are either knotted or holding the whole thing together, is just to talk and to listen.

No matter what all the different ways might be, for us to communicate with people in Exeter and Cranbrook communities (and we’ll keep trying everything we can) it all comes down to talking and listening. And that’s an age-old part of being a human. Though it might take a bit of remembering in this digital world (that’s got even more ‘remote’ since the start of the pandemic); talking, listening and sharing ideas is a skill we have all, always, had within us. So, not very innovative after all.

#ShareYourMoves is a campaign to get Exeter and Cranbrook talking about what can make it easier to move more in our day to day lives.

We know it’s really good for our health and wellbeing to be moving frequently, but life doesn’t always make it easy. A small change that lasts is a big change to our quality of life, so it’s important we move in ways that fit the way we live.

Find out more here, and join in with the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ShareYourMoves!

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