Before there were TED talks, there were Chautauquas. In the late-nineteenth century, Americans looking for cultural stimulation and intellectual inspiration gathered for weeklong retreats of lectures, performances, and conversations.
Innovation isn't just a matter of ingenuity and resourcefulness—it's also a matter of capacity and courage. We're always going to have too many things to do in a day. We'll always be too busy to start that novel or open that business.
If radical change is what you seek, then what you need is a stable foundation on which to build that innovation. Think of it this way: the infrastructures that support our modern world have done the heavy lighting for you.
Benjamin Franklin saw that there were uses and applications for his inventions outside of his original intentions. He understood that the only way to fully realize that vision was to make it everyone's. What started out as Franklin's invention became the world's collective creation.
Novelists go through years of drafts and workshops before they end up with the best version of their work. Innovators are also perpetual revisers who incessantly rework and reimagine the stories behind their ideas. The person you might think is your villain just might turn out to be your hero.
Here's the thing that innovators tend to forget: bureaucracy is our friend. The rules and regulations of any organization are also the forces that unwittingly create whitespaces, the opportunities to break new boundaries.
The strategies you use to market a breakthrough new product will not help you re-conceptualize the way you build an old one. So how do you decide which tool to use when it comes to your innovation project? Here are three factors to consider.
The challenge is a seeming paradox: generate positivity and then control that same positivity. The art of smart optimism is a careful balancing act, a measure of enthusiasm and restraint--a flash of a dream with a dose of reality.
So what's the big so what? The very institutions that have defined how we lead in our modern world are being abandoned or morphed into new forms. We need to run a wider array of experiments to learn what really works and doesn't in the undiscovered country.
If you don't encounter any resistance, then you're likely doing it wrong: you need to take more risks and increase the speed and magnitude of your project. The wonder of it all is that your most relentless adversary just might turn out to be your greatest ally.
With time and a little luck, we will gain momentum and begin to re-establish our creative culture and become more inclusive. Who knows? Our best and brightest might just prove old Joe Schumpeter wrong and find a way to balance democracy and meritocracy here in America.
The required skills for our innovation economy will require us to purposefully apply our creativity. In your world that is strapped for time and resources, are you willing to deviate from the efficiency of your routine to create something extraordinary?
Innovation is not about alignment. It is about constructive conflict--positive tension. What happens when pragmatic thinkers work with big-picture thinkers? What happens when the quick thinkers meet the patient thinkers?
In our age where big data reigns, it's easier than ever to find out what's going wrong. And it's just as easy to quickly model the things that we can do to fix these mistakes. Innovation doesn't always have to be radical.
Think of the portfolio as a funnel: you launch many ideas at the beginning but, as you measure and compare their current and future values, you hold on to just a few. In the end, only the fittest will survive.
Next, test for the right abilities: as part of the evaluation process, ask each candidate to spend some time working or meeting with the team. Be sure to orient your new hires adequately. This means apprenticing them to advisers who exemplify your company's values and practices.
INNOVATION YOU reveals the world-renowned "Dean of Innovation" Jeff DeGraff's unique four-step program to bolster your ingenuity and remake your life. From forging ahead in a new career to losing weight to finally pursuing that long-held dream, DeGraff's strategies are effective and easy to follow.