The Lonely Innovators

Photo by Mark Strozier via Flickr (Used with attribution under Creative Commons)

6 Years Ago…

When I started covering the software solution providing side of the Innovation Management coin 6 years ago – it was a lonely world as an Innovation Analyst and Consultant.

The software tools were so new, and with so little competition, that there was essentially no market there. And with no market = no attention = no spending = no awareness = no action.

Do not pass Go, do not even start, there is nothing to see here. But then something happened – which has been quite painful for most people, and the organizations they’re working in (or were).

Oh, What a Difference an Economic Collapse Makes…

What I’ve now come to realize, is that when times are good, only the people and companies who are already innovators (In Pursuit of Innovation Excellence, perhaps?) are the ones busy innovating.

For everyone else, the innovation gear is in neutral (might even be stuck in reverse) – and they are coasting down a hill, reaping the benefits of some innovation that may have long since past. And while they are coasting down that hill, running out of gas, wearing out the brakes… What happens when they need to accelerate up from the hill? What happens when they need to slam on the brakes and change direction – when they’ve burnt out the brakes coasting down the long, slow decline, or the steep and quick?

Be Prepared (and React)

I may not have been a Boy Scout for long (sorry Dad), but their motto of “Be Prepared” and the wonderful saying by the great scientist Louis Pasteur, “Chance Favors a Prepared Mind” hold significant strength for me.

Like most everyone I know, I can’t say that I saw the economic collapse coming – at least not to the extent it did.

The challenge, of course, is that nobody has an infallible crystal ball – and the way to deal with change that may fall out of the sky is… to REACT!

I’ve said a number of times in the last two years, that starting Information Architected was either the smartest or stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and there’s been a fair amount of down with the ups in the life of a startup in the worst economy in my lifetime.

But what I have been  absolutely stunned by, is the fact that both the cutting edge innovators *and* the extreme laggards have both woken up in the last two years, and decided to take steps to make sure that the next time something like an “econolypse” happens, or now just over 9 years after 9/11, or essentially 10 years after the “dot bomb” – that they are prepared to innovate, constantly, everywhere, all the time, so that no matter what happens, they are not stunned and frozen in place, as so many have been, nor do they panic and cut staff and budgets in half.

No, they instead, equip themselves to do both “small i innovation” (continuous improvement), and “BIG I INNOVATION” (disruptive, game-changing innovation). We need both, we need more of it, we need all of to be more distributed throughout our organizations, because innovation does not happen in a vacuum, it most often does not happen with just a single participant, and although many have grown up to believe “innovation is someone else’s job” – we just can’t afford to give ourselves or anyone else in our organizations an excuse NOT to participate in innovation.

I’ll wrap up this post with a great animated adaptation of Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk on educational failings on creativity and the implications. See video embedded below.

Innovation can be taught, rather than prevented…

This particular talk and video happens to touch on many of the topics that we cover in our 1-2 day innovation workshops as well. Innovation and creative problem solving *can* be taught, and in all honesty, our innovation practice is the fastest growing area of everything that we do here at Information Architected.

Divergent tools, convergent tools, collaborative innovation, team-based innovation, leveraging strengths – all entirely relevant, and incredibly powerful. Over 5,000 business professionals have taken this course, and over 20 million kids were the starting point over a 25 year+ period in creating the “grown-up edition” of the course.

Find out more about our Innovation Workshop and Innovation Training – and take advantage of one of the few educational experiences that I know of (even of our other offerings) that you can literally apply the next day, in whatever industry, location, or size organization you might be in.

Learn More About the Innovation Workshop

What’s your experience with innovation in your own organization? Do you feel you have a License to Innovate? Prohibited from innovating? Dependent on technology to innovate? Your war stories and success stories are both welcome – please weigh in!

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“I was in a couple of Dan's sessions at the Boston AIIM Expo. I was inspired with the social networking for business. Frankly, I have been ignoring it, but now plan on getting my LinkedIn updated and other social resources ready to transfer into the business! Dan is a wealth of information on the subject. His depth of knowledge shows in his presentations.”
by Mark Carlson, Director of IT Systems & Methods, Inc


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