Walter Isaacson: Diversity Spurs Creativity, Urban Innovation

We know that large cities are hubs for innovation, and that as more of the world's population continues to move to and depend upon cities, it is important that we cultivate diverse ecosystems that stimulate the creativity that leads to innovation.

Renowned author and journalist, Walter Isaacson, will continue this conversation at the upcoming Forward Cities convening in Cleveland. Currently the CEO/President of the Aspen Institute, Isaacson will be the key presenter at the Forward Cities dinner reception at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Best known as the author of the Steve Jobs biography, his most recent book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, directly connects with his work at the Aspen Institute and the focus of Forward Cities.

Starting in the Victorian period with Ada Byron Lovelace - today widely regarded as the first computer programmer - and moving through Alan Turing, Tim Berners Lee, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs among others, Isaacson studies not only the innovators that helped create the digital revolution - but also the conditions needed for innovation to occur.

What is clear to Isaacson is that innovation today does not happen in a vacuum and that creative people - disrupters, entrepreneurs, leaders - need collaboration, teamwork and diversity to make innovation happen.

This makes urban innovation even more important as cities are cultural ecosystems that foster progress. As Isaacson said, "urban areas are ideally suited to be such ecosystems, because of the diversity of people with complementary skills, ideas and ambitions that they bring together in the same space." That is why, Isaacson believes, the cities and communities that will be successful in the 21st Century will be those that embrace the ethnic and racial ideological diversity that encourages urban innovation.

Isaacson is actively involved in studying and supporting urban innovation through the Aspen Institute's Center for Urban Innovation.

While Isaacson notes that business incubators, like Idea Village or Propeller in New Orleans, are important to promoting urban innovation, it's not just entrepreneurs or tech start-ups that play a role. Community, business and neighborhood leaders must work together to build an environment that is intentional about inclusivity in order to be both a creative and civil society.