The world is filled with opportunities, but too often these opportunities are perceived as problems. It is at the crossroad between problems and opportunities where the well of innovation lives. Those who dip their buckets into the well are the same people who see problems as an opportunity to innovate. This type of thinking is born from the desire to improve…to create something new and alter the reality of a problem-situation with a solution. Any time we find ourselves thinking, “what if” or “if only,” it’s clearly a time to innovate.
“We stand in awe of visionary entrepreneurs(1),” innovators, and new innovations because of their incredible and undeniable impact on our daily lives. Whether you are fascinated with modern-day innovations like the smartphone or historical innovations like the airplane, innovation stems from a need to create something to solve one of life’s innate problems. Today’s cellphones are a computer in your pocket, very different from a time when most people believed that we didn’t even need them in our homes. Air travel changed the world in a time when train companies were investing in laying tracks across the country. The ideas are so new to the time when they’re injected into the world that they alter existence forever. This is because innovation is action, no different than leadership, so let’s combine the two and ask a simple question: What opportunities are we providing for those who we lead to create, problem solve, and achieve something different than we expected in the first place?
Our involvement with our State administrator’s association allowed us to bring in Don Wettrick, author of Pure Genius. In meeting Don, we discussed the ideas of innovation and the need for organizations to support innovators.
Idea #1: An organization either has a culture that supports innovation or it doesn’t. There are no two ways about it. Organizations either value their employees as thinkers or they place value on their employees as doers. In the case of the former, the employee is a contributor and might contribute by innovating; in the case of the latter, the employee is taught to mind the status quo and produce only what they’ve been hired to create.
Idea #2: There are building blocks of innovation, which means it can be learned. It’s often considered that a person is “creative.” While this might be true as a characteristic of someone’s personality, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t learn to be creative.
Idea #3: Innovations always start with WHY we are doing something and not necessarily HOW or WHAT we are doing. A clear set of core values and a clearly articulated vision support innovative thinking because the direction prompts a path to new ideas.
Wettrick is an innovator. Not only does he support innovation in today’s classroom so that we have students of the future who can think in a future that we can’t even define today, he’s an innovator himself, pushing the rest of us to think differently in our own spaces, which is something that we hope you’ll get from this piece and from TheSchoolHouse302.com.
TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.
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