The bricoleurship


 “In praise of bricoleurship 

Joan Vinyets, February 2012

Innovation, I believe, entails adopting and developing new knowledge and tools to change or question the pre-established frameworks, be they cultural, social, political or economic. For this reason I consider that addressing innovation – if we really wish to change the world- lies in our ability to change our mindset. It is necessary to realise that the key to innovation does not lie in the correct or incorrect use of the tools employed, nor the imposition of specific tools or knowledge (design thinking, transformative thinking, entrepreneurship, etc.) but in the ability to adopt the “right mindset”, where the inspiration for ideas and alternative tools, together with the capacity to see situations or contexts from a fresh viewpoint, are the basis on which to create value.

Indeed, I believe that the idea of innovation can hardly be put forward and produced directly, as it entails understanding and transforming real “ecosystems”. It often leads to questioning the pre-established framework by proposing new methods, stimulating environments and mindsets for facilitation and transformation such as that of the bricoleur.

Bricoleurship?

Today, more than ever, it is necessary to adopt a new role, that of bricoleurship. A role based on the need to be critical with the current mindset in value generation processes, approached via specialisation and fragmented knowledge. As true innovation is only possible if we change our approach to the process of creating new ideas and transforming then into value for society.

By using the concept of bricoleurship I seek to present a framework for reference and reflection to explore certain key factors in breakthrough innovation, based on my “personal journey” in anthropology and design.

With this praise of bricoleurship, I propose adopting the attitude of someone with the capacity of adapting to multiple, diverse challenges, using a different approach each time, without any predetermined ideas or tools. Unlike the specialist, the tools of the bricoleur are conceived, developed and acquired together with the purpose of the challenge. He works with “what he has at hand” and also knows how to “think with his hands”. His stock of tools is limited but the combinations are infinite, as his varied approach to each situation enables him to renew it or enrich it with the results and experience garnered.

His resources are infinite; they have no sole determined use, but each new situation is an opportunity to rethink the resources which allow value creation: he creates by combining what exists. Something which goes beyond the entrepreneurial spirit so commonly discussed nowadays.

In order to explore this change, from my professional experience I would summarise it as that which is characteristic of a transformative mindset and attitude of bricoleurship in three fundamental principles:

  • All knowledge is equally worthy
  • All tools add value
  • Every situation entails a multifaceted approach

This is “scientific knowledge” which is capable of being transformative and can be formulated outside the terms of a typical project with its set of specific, predetermined tools.

Why bricoleurship?

When I look back and see the path I have followed to date, I realise it has been characterised by the ongoing search of knowledge, tools and approaches to create value and change a situation: using the knowledge and tools of the anthropologist, who attempts to understand any reality, to the knowledge and tools of the designer, who seeks to transform and create a new one, be it a product, a space or a service. This search continues and will continue, but the most important factor for innovation and true value creation was my realisation that the fundamental aspect does not line in the search for these specific tools and knowledge, but in the capacity to acquire a mindset which enables us to adopt a many-sided approach to any situation; that is what I define as the mindset and attitude of bricoleurship.

Joan Vinyets, March 2012

Innovation, I believe, entails adopting and developing new knowledge and tools to change or question the pre-established frameworks, be they cultural, social, political or economic. For this reason I consider that addressing innovation – if we really wish to change the world- lies in our ability to change our mindset. It is necessary to realise that the key to innovation does not lie in the correct or incorrect use of the tools employed, nor the imposition of specific tools or knowledge (design thinking, transformative thinking, entrepreneurship, etc.) but in the ability to adopt the “right mindset”, where the inspiration for ideas and alternative tools, together with the capacity to see situations or contexts from a fresh viewpoint, are the basis on which to create value.

Indeed, I believe that the idea of innovation can hardly be put forward and produced directly, as it entails understanding and transforming real “ecosystems”. It often leads to questioning the pre-established framework by proposing new methods, stimulating environments and mindsets for facilitation and transformation such as that of the bricoleur.

Bricoleurship?

Today, more than ever, it is necessary to adopt a new role, that of bricoleurship. A role based on the need to be critical with the current mindset in value generation processes, approached via specialisation and fragmented knowledge. As true innovation is only possible if we change our approach to the process of creating new ideas and transforming then into value for society.

By using the concept of bricoleurship I seek to present a framework for reference and reflection to explore certain key factors in breakthrough innovation, based on my “personal journey” in anthropology and design.

With this praise of bricoleurship, I propose adopting the attitude of someone with the capacity of adapting to multiple, diverse challenges, using a different approach each time, without any predetermined ideas or tools. Unlike the specialist, the tools of the bricoleur are conceived, developed and acquired together with the purpose of the challenge. He works with “what he has at hand” and also knows how to “think with his hands”. His stock of tools is limited but the combinations are infinite, as his varied approach to each situation enables him to renew it or enrich it with the results and experience garnered.

His resources are infinite; they have no sole determined use, but each new situation is an opportunity to rethink the resources which allow value creation: he creates by combining what exists. Something which goes beyond the entrepreneurial spirit so commonly discussed nowadays.

In order to explore this change, from my professional experience I would summarise it as that which is characteristic of a transformative mindset and attitude of bricoleurship in three fundamental principles:

  • All knowledge is equally worthy
  • All tools add value
  • Every situation entails a multifaceted approach

This is “scientific knowledge” which is capable of being transformative and can be formulated outside the terms of a typical project with its set of specific, predetermined tools.

Why bricoleurship?

When I look back and see the path I have followed to date, I realise it has been characterised by the ongoing search of knowledge, tools and approaches to create value and change a situation: using the knowledge and tools of the anthropologist, who attempts to understand any reality, to the knowledge and tools of the designer, who seeks to transform and create a new one, be it a product, a space or a service. This search continues and will continue, but the most important factor for innovation and true value creation was my realisation that the fundamental aspect does not line in the search for these specific tools and knowledge, but in the capacity to acquire a mindset which enables us to adopt a many-sided approach to any situation; that is what I define as the mindset and attitude of bricoleurship.

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