by Ginny Santos
Why are lions and tigers seen as separate species given that they have the ability of mating with each other and producing healthy offspring? Because they will only mate in a zoo, not in nature. The scientific explanation for this is referred to as ecological and behavioral reproductive isolation.*
Knowing this has helped me understand why creative solutions to world-wide problems have yet to emerge: it’s because humans have evolved into different species that live, work and play in different sectors. New expressions of creativity are like healthy offspring and for this offspring to emerge diverse species of humans need to break out of their isolation.
I recently facilitated such an experiment. Not at a zoo, but at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. A group of feminist disability activists were joined by a group of corporate ideators. Their overall objective: To make a difference. The sparks in the air were visible long after the meeting had ended.
Outside of the zoo-like setting I have seen expressions of distrust and disrespect between activists and corporate-minded people. The first see the corporate world as selfish, individualistic and immoral; and the second see the activists as idealists, old-fashioned commies or whiners. But when given the chance to interact with each other in an open-minded environment, the opportunities for creative thinking are quadrupled. However, open-mindedness is not easy to come by, neither is the kind of creativity that can change the world.
Conclusion: if you are a lion, go play with some tigers and if you are a tiger, find some lions to challenge your thinking habits (mating optional). If you are ready to break the isolation in the human world then get in touch with Ginny Santos or check out her session at Mindcamp.
Ginny Santos presents Playing for High Stakes: What competition can teach us about collaboration at Mindcamp 2013.
*Reproductive Isolation is the inability to exchange genetic information. Two types of organisms are reproductively isolated if they lack the ability to mate and produce healthy fertile offspring under natural conditions. Ecological isolation occurs when two species live in the same area but do not encounter each other because they exploit different portions of the same habitat. Behavioral isolation occurs when two species live in the same area but do not recognize each other as mates because of behavioral differences. — Evolution III: The Origin of Species.