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October 26, 2006

I have faith in innovation

I don't agree entirely with Jeff's post on innovation and faith. In my view, yes, there is plenty of evidence that a culture of innovation begets organizational success. So having faith that innovation will lead to success is a bit like having faith that if you knock a pen from your desk, it will hit the ground.

However, each innovative program that gets introduced must carry a measure of faith. Because humans are terrible about choosing which ideas will fly and which will fail. At a lecture I attended earlier this year, Frans Johanssen said: "The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas." Implied in this phrase is the fact that, as innovators, we must understand that some ideas will work and others won't; and we'll probably never know exactly why.

Even after reducing our pool of ideas to those things we think will be most likely to work, implementing those programs carries no assurance of success. This leads to an innovator's faith-like resolve that, regardless of previous negative results, I will continue to try new things, because I know that in the long run, trying a bunch of new things pays off.

In other words, innovation is a well-paved trail to success, but each individual innovation implementation requires a step of faith.


1 comment:

caekris said...

This is so true. Those associations who are afraid to innovate and try new things are most likely the ones who will keep doing things because they have always done it that way - and wonder why their membership is declining or stagnant. Innovation brings forth opportunities that would never have existed without the effort or will to try and think outside of the box. Inherent in all of this is risk. The willingness to risk and expand the boundaries are traits that successful associations will have in the future. Sometimes you will win and sometimes you will lose when you innovate. But without the willingness to take the chance (risk) to innovate you won't grow and thrive in the future.