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A growing body of current innovation research focuses on transdisciplinarity as one of the main drivers of innovation. But how do we learn from practitioners in other fields, and how can we integrate their multidisciplinary viewpoints and insights into our own practices? Inspired by the theme of Borders, we have asked professionals across academia, coaching, management and publishing what borders they crossed in order to innovate


Who we asked:


Emerald Publishing

The R&D team at Academic Publishing house, Emerald Publishing, responded with an illustration.

Illustration of a printing press

“Expanding Borders” (illustration by Freya Stockard)

“As scholarly publishing continues to change and evolve, we now cross disciplinary borders, traditional customer or consumer borders, career stage borders, diversity borders, etc, in order to innovate with our communities – transitioning, adapting and reinventing ourselves in the process. The illustration represents the publishing foundations of the printing press, but we now have multiple actors within and outside of the business that turn the cogs of the press to disseminate the work and achieve real impact.”

The R&D team | Emerald Publishing


Joe Lockwood, Audenica Business School

For Joe Lockwood, Co-developer of Audencia Business School’s MSC Management and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy, the act of border-crossing is about tracking down the unusual suspects

It is in everyday life we have the opportunity to stay within our borders or to cross them … For me, border crossing has always been about unusual suspects. How do I get to know people and practices that are beyond my knowing? It’s a sensibility in innovation practice, as in life for people, and the perspectives they bring. Listening and wandering openly through the messiness of life around us. It’s full of hopeful surprises, challenging options that ask us to ask ourselves what we believe in.”

– Joe Lockwood | Audencia Business School


Hannah Alexandra-Wright, Coaching and Cava

As a coach and co-founder of Coaching and Cava, Hannah Alexandra-Wright reminds us that to cross a border necessitates trust.


“As a coach, I need my clients to trust me, but this is not an easy border to cross. I can’t convince someone to trust me by telling them to. I have to use questions and empathy, which creates psychological safety and ultimately trust. A breach of that trust will push me back over that border, and into an area of mistrust… and there’s no going back from there.”

– Hannah Alexandra-Wright | Coaching and Cava


Nick Wright, Hyper Island

When we asked Nick Wright, Managing Director at Hyper Island, he advised us to go right to the edge, before reeling back in.


“At Hyper Island, we work on pushing our students and our clients to the borders of their optimal anxiety. For us, change happens at the edges. When we are out of our comfort zone our learning experiences are more memorable, we are better able to form new and improved behaviours and establish higher levels of performance. Don’t cross that border though, otherwise the impact is inevitably counter-productive.”

– Nick Wright | Hyper Island


Yoko Akama, RMIT University

Yoko Akama, Design Researcher and Associate Professor in Communication Design at RMIT University, Australia, provided an extract from Practices of Readiness: Punctuation, Poise and the Contingencies of Participatory Design.


“The thresholds I mean here,” she tells us, referring to the extract “are relationships, spaces, places, cultures and onto-epistemologies that I cross-over carefully and respectfully and what preparation (as poise) I make when doing so. I don’t know what ‘innovation’ means in this context – perhaps if innovation means change and transformation, then the enactment of traditional rituals I call upon is a form of transforming my states of being and becoming in readiness for contingent encounters.”

Extract: Practices of Readiness

“My (Yoko) Japanese background informs relations, encounters and what preparation and readiness mean to me: a form of poise in ‘entering’ the everyday. This notion of ‘entering’ is to have a heightened sense of crossing over thresholds. There are highly ritualized practices like preparations for entering a house, an occasion, a relationship, a season or a sacred place. For example, preparation for visiting a host is to embody respectful greeting by bringing a thoughtful gift, anticipating their inconvenience, and finally taking off one’s shoes to step over the threshold of their home. Similarly, when entering a Shinto shrine, visitors pass through a torii gate that demarcates sacred grounds. Rituals for preparation involve washing hands and mouth and wafting incense smoke to ‘cleanse’ one’s kokoro (body-spirit-mind) in readiness to open up to being enveloped and permeated by awe, mystery and wonderment of the gods. This preparation requires kokoro to be clear and open (mushin), like a mirror free from ‘stains’. The torii gate signals a preparation for this mutual entry of awe and wonderment. This means if one enters the grounds in haste and mindlessness, one would only encounter the same state at the shrine. On returning to Japan, usually fresh off a long-haul flight, I try and do a short detour to visit my local shrine. It is a ritual to anchor me to my roots and renew a cultural practice.

These are various forms of ritual for entering into and creating relationships and such ingress into different contexts is not regarded casually. A great deal is at stake, like embarrassment, disrespect or poor fortune, if such preparations are not undertaken, paving the way in which relations, actions and outcomes play out. Extending this, entry into seasons and life-stages is marked in Japanese culture by festivals, ceremonies and public holidays, to help orient people’s passage through time and space, and to create a sense of belonging in the world. Hanami is to celebrate as well as contemplate impermanence by seeing cherry blossoms scatter in the spring wind. Illustrated in the quotidian examples are multiple dimensions of preparedness, from habitual acts that anticipate an encounter, to being present in the moment and being receptive to what might emerge. These practices are said to derive from the Zen teaching of ichigo ichie (‘one opportunity, one encounter’) to treasure every moment as a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to highlight one’s full participation in a transient experience. These teachings are fundamental in my life and how I ‘enter’ and nurture relationships, even though I now live and work in Australia. It is a way of knowing the world(s) from intimacy and inter-relatedness (i.e. from within), rather than a knowing that starts with references outside of oneself.”

– Akama, Y. and Light, A. (2018). Practices of Readiness: Punctuation, Poise and the Contingencies of Participatory Design.

The Torii gate at the Ise Grand Shrine, Japan. Photo credit: Dion Tuckwell