Why Innovation is Not So Innovative

Ever wonder why some leaders hit home runs—or even change the world—and why others don’t?

I wonder about that all the time.

Recently I spent a few days in Silicon Valley, the tech and startup capital of the world—a strip of cities that run between San Francisco and San Jose California.

It was exciting for me. A number of podcasts I listen to are based out of Silicon Valley. For years, I’ve read and listened to stories of entrepreneurs, startups, venture capitalists and bootstrappers who have one thing in common—they live and work in Silicon Valley.

My wife and I roamed through San Francisco, Cupertino and almost everything in between. Our hotel was right on the border of Menlo Park and Palo Alto, literally five minutes from Steve Job’s house. You can’t get further into the heart of Silicon Valley than that.

We ate in restaurants frequented by VCs and entrepreneurs (one turned out to be a place where Tim Ferriss eats) and walked the streets where the founders of Apple, Google, Facebook, Nest, LinkedIn, eBay, Lyft, Uber, Twitter, YouTube, Box, Airbnb and more hang out.

There are lots of theories about why Silicon Valley has been so successful in being a hotbed of innovation (like the ones this HBR article outlines), but what struck me about Silicon Valley was what I didn’t see.

Here are 5 quick and surprising leadership lessons I took away from my weekend in Silicon Valley.

1. Innovation Looks Surprisingly…Normal

I don’t know what I imagined Silicon Valley to look like, but the truth is it looked surprisingly…normal.

I’ve had the privilege of traveling to hundreds of cities and communities across North America and around the world. Silicon Valley didn’t look that different than many other places I’ve visited.

There were relatively normal office buildings that bore unusual names like Nest or Greylock. The buildings weren’t spectacular. What’s happening inside them was.

Ditto for Apple’s current campus. While their new campus looks like a spaceship, their current campus (which they’ll continue to use) is beautiful but not that remarkable.

Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Cupertino are decent places for dinner or hanging out at night, but they’re not that different than many other towns and cities I’ve been in.

Stanford is right next door to many of the startups, as is Berkley. But again, there are hundreds of universities that don’t produce nearly the entrepreneurs that these two schools do in Silicon Valley.

Sometimes as leaders we convince ourselves that we need a better building, a better location, or a better anything to be innovative.

Innovation almost always comes from otherwise normal looking environments.

2. Work Precedes Perk

In a similar way, stories about the perks of working at startups are legendary. Whether it’s gourmet onsite kitchens and chefs, gaming and foosball tables, free gym memberships, stock options or big maternity/paternity benefits, stories abound about how generous Silicon Valley companies are to their employees.

Yet the perks didn’t make any of these companies successful. The work did.

Perks follow work.

In an age of instant entitlement, many of us want the perks without putting in much work.

Apple started in Steve Job’s parents’ garage and Facebook was headquartered out of a dorm room long before anyone got preferred shares or free food. In fact, in the early days of any company or organization, nobody’s thinking about the perks. They’re singularly focused on the work.

Similarly, if you want to make progress, focus on the work, not the perk.

Take it a level further. If you’ve had some success and you’re enjoying a few perks, the best way to kill your future is to focus on the perks and ignore the work ahead.

As soon as you start to love perks more than work, the end is near.

3. Overnight Success Is A Long Night

So what makes startups so successful?

A lot of it is years of hard work before breakthrough. If you look at most leaders and organizations who break through, there’s a relentless pursuit of a goal.

Apple took off in the 70s and 80s, but almost died in the late 90s. Its real breakthrough happened in 2001 and again in 2007 with the introduction of the iPod and iPhone respectively. The iPhone came 31 years after Apple’s founding.

Airbnb went through many incarnations and almost died several times before it reached its tipping point several years after its launch.

It’s easy to dismiss someone as an overnight success. But you’re missing the point.

Most overnight successes are preceded by a very long night.

4. Mindset Matters More Than You Think

I talk to leaders almost every day of my life. One of the things you can spot almost immediately in talking to a leader is their mindset.

One of my favorite quotes of all time on mindset comes from non-Silicon Valley entrepreneur Henry Ford who said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

What’s prevalent in the Valley is a can-do mindset. It’s populated by people who believe they can make a dent in the universe, that they can disrupt industries, that they can innovate in a way that changes the world.

And as a result, many do.

The mindset goes far beyond initial success.

As we walked around the Apple Campus, I saw a Steve Jobs quote on the wall that demonstrated how he thought about success:

“If you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

Convicting.

So, do you think you can or think you can’t? You’re right. (For more on how mindset makes or breaks churches, read this.)

5. Synergy Is A Life-Line

One of the huge advantages to being in Silicon Valley is it surrounds you with innovative people.

Some of the most advanced thinkers on the planet have gathered there, along with creatives, engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors and so many others.

Obviously, this is an incredible incubator for innovation, new ideas and fresh approaches to the problems we face. But it’s deeper than just ideational synergy.

One of the greatest dangers of leadership is isolation.

Innovators tend to be outliers in their denominations, industry or field, and outlier often equals outcast.

It’s critical for innovative thinkers to surround themselves with people who inspire them and challenge them, because normally what happens is your friends and colleagues shoot you down. This is one of the reasons so many denominations and industries are in trouble today: they shoot their innovators.

In many ways, Silicon Valley is the Island of Misfit Toys. Apple’s famous ad makes even more sense when you consider the synergy in the Silicon Valley of people who didn’t fit in elsewhere.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square hole, the ones who see things differently.”

Get enough people around you like that, and not only can you can disrupt the status quo, you probably won’t quit when you’re trying to do it.

Too many leaders quit moments before their critical breakthrough. If you surround yourself with support, you’re far less likely to do that.

What Do You See?

Have you been to Silicon Valley or read up on it?

What do you see?

> Read more from Carey.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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Clarity Process

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Does Your Church Possess the Right Skills to Take on Tomorrow?

Over a decade and a half into the 21st century, one thing has become clear: change is the new normal.

In business, it’s called innovation, and it’s a strategic pillar in nearly every organization. Thanks to a growing body of research and thought leadership in recent years, we’re learning a great deal about the individual skill sets behind innovation, and the organizational strategies that create disruptive growth. Yet in organizations around the world, well-intentioned innovation initiatives crash and burn, despite a wealth of great ideas, copious research, and well-designed strategies.

Why? Innovation is not just about data analysis, plans and processes, and thinking outside the box. More than anything else, innovation is about change. And the truth is that as much as we’d like to think otherwise, we are all hardwired to resist it.

Your “innovation initiatives” are no exception to this rule. People are tired of being asked to change and innovate. It’s become a dirty word inside organizations, because it usually heralds one more complicated system to learn, or more things to add to the daily to-do list. Call a big meeting to kick off another “change initiative” and just about the whole team will roll their eyes.

They know that next year more changes will be implemented, because the last change initiative didn’t change a thing for the better, or the execs that start the initiative won’t be there in a year, and the next leadership team will roll out yet another initiative.

That cycle stops here. Despite the grumbling, eye rolling, and resistance, change is an absolute imperative for organizations today. Innovation is not only about finding new growth opportunities and improving the bottom line. It’s about developing services, solutions, and ideas that improve people’s lives, and the world in which we live. This is what the greatest organizations – and individuals -strive to achieve.

So, what can we do to make change stick?

Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of futurethink, an internationally recognized innovation research and training firm, believes that anyone can be innovative, and everyone can become an agent for change. Futurethink helps organizations—from Fortune 500 companies to boutique firms—create environments where innovation and change thrive naturally. Working with these companies has given futurethink a chance to experiment with ideas about what it takes to build innovation capabilities in organizations, and then test-drive specific tools and exercises to make it happen.

According to Bodell, one of the things that she’s learned along the way is that when it comes to change, an organization’s biggest enemy is itself.

Before you jump in and start trying to shake things up, it’s helpful to gauge how open to change you—your organization, your team, or you as an individual—are today.

  • Is your culture as a whole stifling innovation, or will just a small tweak here and there get your cylinders firing wildly again?
  • Does your organization possess the right skills to take on tomorrow?
  • Does it embrace the behaviors necessary to create a culture that incubates innovation and generates growth over the long term?
  • What skills and behaviors do you already possess and where can you improve?

You can take stock of your innovation situation by taking the futurethink Innovation Capabilities Diagnostic, available in the download below.

This Innovation Diagnostic will help you get a feel for how fertile the ground is for innovation in your organization. With a general idea of where your organization could improve, you’re well on your way to examining the many ways you can begin to inspire innovation at your organization, and ensure that – this time – the changes will stick.

>> Download How to Make Change Stick by Lisa Bodell here.

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Would you like to learn more about developing an intentional strategy to help your organization deal with change? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Bodell

Lisa Bodell is the author of Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution (Bibliomotion). As founder and CEO of futurethink, an internationally recognized innovation research and training firm, Bodell believes that everyone has the power to innovate; they just need to know how. As a leading innovator and trainer, she has devised training programs for companies such as 3M, GE, and Johnson & Johnson. Learn more and keep up with her online at www.KillTheCompany.com.

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Clarity Process

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Recharge: 7 Ways to Improve Innovative Thinking

In this volatile world the old model of process innovation needs a new framework. It isn’t in sync with the way our minds work, which brain research tells us is more serendipitous than linear.

Innovation just doesn’t lend itself to being predictable and risk free. Innovation demands looking at the world differently, and finding connections between seemingly disconnected things.

Corporate protocol, management hierarchies, and rigid assumptions about people’s needs often create anxiety and stifle freedom of thought and exploration.

It’s surprising that we repeat things in business even when we don’t get the results we want, but we’re creatures of habit and old habits are hard to break. Changing a routine takes time and thought out of our busy work lives and there is a risk in trying something new. Even something that is simple and accessible and that has an obvious benefit doesn’t always go over right away.

It’s time for a change.

Endorse unexpected questions. Challenge existing assumptions. It’s better in the long run to have a hunch that something might work and try it out than it is to declare “I know this will work” and invest in proving it. Make sure people are out in the field with customers seeing how they use things, seeing what fails, getting their hands dirty. The process is non-linear and, yes, chaotic.

Here is your opportunity to completely recharge innovative thinking within your organization, while at the same time halting the vicious cycle of failure. There are 7 surprisingly simple things you can do right now to ignite your thinking, invigorate existing ideas, and boost productivity.

If organizations want to innovate the way successful bold newcomers have, they have to unplug from the constraints of “That’s the way we’ve always done it” and recharge, starting with the mantra, “Let’s just not do that anymore.  – Debra Kaye

 

>> Download 7 Ways to Improve Innovative Thinking here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debra Kaye

Debra Kaye is an international innovation consultant specializing in brand and culture strategy for consumer businesses. Her clients have included Apple, Mars, Colgate, McDonald’s, American Express, Kimberly-Clark and many more. A frequent commentator on American Public Radio’s “Marketplace” and contributor to Fast Company, Kaye is a partner at the innovation consultancy Lucule and former CEO of TBWA\Italy.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Four Rules of Thumb to Get You Started Toward Ministry Innovation

Solving a difficult ministry challenge requires imagination, focus, endurance, and a tolerance for failure, to name but a few key ingredients. However, the real secret behind delivering world-class ministry innovation actually depends on what we lack rather than what we have.

Here are four memorable little rules of thumb aimed to help guide your decision making as you address ministry and organizational challenges alike.

>> If the schedule gets longer, you’re doing it wrong-er.

It turns out delaying a project’s delivery date in response to difficulty is a demonstrably ineffective problem-solving technique, to say nothing of being inefficient.

>> The more you delay, the more you will pay.

Long timelines expose projects to more changes than short timelines. Technologies change, markets change and economic situations change. Responding to these changes can be expensive, not only in terms of dollars but also in the amount of intellectual investment required.

>> The smaller the crew, the more you can do.

One of the best ways to unleash talent is to not have too much of it. That is, a small team of talented people will generally outperform a larger group of similarly skilled people, because the members of the smaller group have a greater personal investment in the outcome and thus apply their talents more effectively.

>> A simpler design will work just fine.

Generally speaking, complexity is not a sign of sophistication. Simplicity is. Increases to complexity therefore should be approached with caution.

The good news is that you have an alternative. It genuinely is possible to be fast, inexpensive, restrained, and elegant. When you put those pieces together, you just might discover you are capable of producing something amazing.

Author Dan Ward calls this approach the F.I.R.E. method, and it’s the subject of his recent book F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation.

F.I.R.E. presents and analyzes a wide range of rapid, thrifty innovation stories, including both successes and failures, and shows how focusing on speed, thrift, simplicity and restraint helps foster creativity.

The foundational lesson is that people who produce breakthrough results often pursue and embrace limited resources and have a low tolerance for complexity.

>> Download a brief manifesto about all of the F.I.R.E. concepts here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Ministry Success is a Moving Target You Have to Hit Again and Again

We live in a time of brutal competition.

Fickle consumer trends, friction-free markets, and political unrest threaten the existence of many organizations.

Nearly every industry is in the midst of massive upheaval, with the old stalwarts falling quickly to the new breed of innovators. Dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and mind-numbing technology advances exacerbate the challenges we face as leaders.

With threats like these racing toward you, how do you react? Do you stand frozen in place with fear and anxiety? Or do you leap into action, finding a new and better way forward? Renegade leaders choose to upset the status quo long before there’s a need to do so. Instead of losing ground, these innovators are accomplishing dramatic growth and spurring tremendous economic gain.

Organizations, communities, and individuals fall for many reasons, but one of the most common – and easily avoidable – is the failure to reinvent.

Those who feel the most secure in the status quo are in fact the most vulnerable. Many organizations, once great, wither and die as a direct result of their deep entrenchment in the past. They discover too late that success isn’t about cracking the code once and then enjoying the spoils forever.

The road to ministry success is a moving target that we have to hit again and again. The disruption of ongoing innovation eventually topples any organization that fails to keep moving—to reinvent.

The good news about reinvention is that you don’t need magic, genius, good looks, or vaults of cash to transform your organization. The required elements are open-mindedness, courage, and imagination. Unleashing your imagination is no longer optional. It will, in fact, become the lifeblood of your success.

While the times may be challenging, we’re living in a world of endless possibility. You get to write the script of your own screenplay, paint your own masterpiece.

Take personal responsibility for the outcomes you desire and then proceed with passion and conviction. Now is the time to choose:

  • New ideas over old ones
  • Abundance over scarcity
  • Fresh thinking over conventional wisdom
  • Innovation over stagnation
  • Growth over protection
  • Exploration over fear
  • Your dream over someone else’s

Your full potential awaits. Retool. Reimagine. Rework. Rebuild. Recreate. Reestablish. Relaunch. Rekindle. Renew. Rejoice.

 Reinvent. 

>> Download a summary of Josh Linker’s The Road to Reinvention here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Skills for Discovering Creative Ideas

Consider the talents of the following two groups who were asked these three questions:

  • How many of you are good singers?
  • How many of you are good dancers?
  • How many of you are good artists?

About 2 percent of the first group responded positively to each of these three questions. That’s a typical response of most leadership teams.

But it’s possible to find a second group in almost any community who would give nearly 100 percent positive responses. Surprised?

Ask any group of first graders these three questions, and the children will respond with an enthusiastic “Yes!” to each one.

All children are creative – they’re born that way!

What happened to the creative gene that was so alive in our childhoods?

It would seem that as we leave childhood, we stop believing in the power of dreams. We stop taking risks and pursuing ideas.

It’s time to recover the creativity of a child – but in an adult way.

Vijay Govindarajan and Jatin Desai, writing for HBR.org, suggest five power skills to help you rediscover creativity:

  1. Develop Creative Discontent. The best intrapreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo; they ask big questions and challenge themselves and others to find big ideas.
  2. Use Convergence Thinking. Convergence is not simply about combining ideas and technology; it is a primary leadership competency that allows organizations to design the right future.
  3. Find Pivots. Change creates opportunities for innovation, and if the amount of change is disproportionate in size, there is opportunity for movement in a completely new direction — a pivot.
  4. Overturn Orthodoxies. Challenging orthodoxies can provide clarity on existing paradigms worth changing to improve your business model, products, services, processes, customer experience, or brand.
  5. Think Frugally. The primary driver of frugal thinking is scarcity of time and resources. Frugal thinking forces individuals to be highly creative just to accomplish routine jobs.

Teach these five power skills to the leaders and top talent in your organization. They can help keep your innovation pipeline full. By practicing these skills, your team will improve critical and creative thinking skills, leading to many game‐changing opportunities for your organization.

>> For additional help in creating innovative ideas, download our free Sums book summary on “The Ten Faces of Innovation” here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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pastorjameswheeler — 07/16/14 9:43 am

Pushing to pursue big questions and big ideas consistently - self imposing scarcity is a hugely underestimated asset in leadership today. Thanks for getting the word out on these!

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
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What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Kill Status Quo: How to Ask Better Questions

Hulu, iPhone, and Prius didn’t come to market because their creators asked status quo questions. They didn’t happen because somebody began a meeting with “Who has an idea for improving the industry?” or “How are we going to increase sales?” Those innovations exist because disruptive, transformative, even uncomfortable questions without easy answers were asked.

Through years of working with the world’s leading companies, I’ve witnessed a direct relationship between provocative inquiry and innovation. Teams that ask the hard questions prevent early conclusions: the simple act of inquiry provokes new thinking and has the power to challenge long-held assumptions that create real change.

So what do disruptive questions look and sound like? They usually begin with “how,” “which,” “why” or “if” and are specific without limiting imagination. They focus on generating solutions rather than begging long-winded explanations and place blame, as often-asked ‘close-ended’ questions always do. They awaken the mind rather than put it to sleep. To illustrate, a provocative version of “Who has an idea for improving our product/service?” would be “If we hosted a forum called ‘How Our Products & Services Suck,’ what topics would be on the main stage?” An equally effective version is “Which two things could our competitors do to render our product/services irrelevant?”

I witnessed this approach in action during an annual strategic planning meeting for a global pharmaceutical corporation. A few of the company’s major drugs were going off-patent, and every part of the organization was under pressure to innovate. When the corporate strategy team was invited to join the product team’s brainstorm session, they brought some unexpected questions to the table:

• What are the unshakable industry beliefs about what customers want? What if the opposite was true?
• If you were CEO for one day, which three things would you change to enable growth of our brands?
• How can we make our product- and service-chain more responsive to demand fluctuations?

No one from the product division answered immediately. People were visibly uncomfortable, but slightly excited. Yet by day’s end, this planning session became one of their most productive. Where previous annual planning meetings yielded 20 to 30 good ideas, this one resulted in over 100. When teams are encouraged—or forced—to question assumptions, their ideas often exceed expectation in number and creativity.

While it’s not unusual for the product and strategy teams to collaborate, consider querying less conventional audiences. Prospective hires, vendors, former customers, and ex-employees can provide unique and valuable perspectives on your organization. Without the constraints of groupthink and politesse, provocative inquiry can pave a short path toward innovation.

When posing disruptive questions to employees, some leaders prefer to start a meeting immediately with one to set the tone, while others hold back until a brainstorm sputters and stalls. Milder approaches include emailing questions to participants in advance of a meeting or creating an online questionnaire where anonymity is assured. And among the hundreds of provocative questions I’ve heard, the following queries have been known to suck the status quo out of any room:

1. If you could only work on one project for a year to transform the business, what would it be and why?

2. What is the shortest path to the customer? How could we get there in 6 months?

3. What suffers more breakdowns: our products, our processes, or our people? How could we fix this?

4. It’s 2025 and we’re the best company to work for in the world: What two things did we do to earn this award?

5. Which parts of your job would you like to kill or eliminate?

6. What would our dream testimonial from a customer say?

7. What can we offer for free that no one else does?

8. You’ve just written a tell-all book about this company: Which secrets does it reveal?

9. How can our services be turned into physical products? How can our products be turned into a service?

10. If we could hire five more people, what unconventional skills would they have and why?
This type of questioning possesses the power to transform brands and entire industries. When you apply provocative inquiry to every corner of your business, there will be a collective ripple of unease.

Embrace it: this is how status-quo busting happens, and what an innovation opportunity looks and sounds like.

Read more from Lisa here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Bodell

Lisa Bodell is the author of Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution (Bibliomotion). As founder and CEO of futurethink, an internationally recognized innovation research and training firm, Bodell believes that everyone has the power to innovate; they just need to know how. As a leading innovator and trainer, she has devised training programs for companies such as 3M, GE, and Johnson & Johnson. Learn more and keep up with her online at www.KillTheCompany.com.

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— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Tradition Prefers Failure to Innovation

I remember the first time I heard of IDEO – a famous firm that seemingly few have heard about – a company that helps others innovate. It was at a company meeting with Fellowship Technologies where CEO Jeff Hook was inspiring us to help innovate in the church market. I was surprised at the number of products that we use today were actually birthed at IDEO on behalf of the company that gets all the credit. Notable examples are Apple’s first mouse, Microsoft’s second mouse, and the Palm V PDA. Major clients have included Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Eli Lilly, Ford, and Steelcase.

What struck me most about them was that they’re not an invention firm, but an innovation firm.

I think innovation is the art and science of taking something that exists and improving on it in a significant way. This, of course, has huge implications for local churches, who have the timeless message that never changes but innumerable methods for applying that message to culture. Where I think churches trip up along this journey is when traditions become more important than the teachings from the text.

Traditions begin as personal preferences. I made this simple statement in a blog a couple of weeks ago:

I have preferences. We all do. Some of these preferences have meaning to us, so we create a consistent pattern around them. Before you know it, we’ve told others how to operate within our preferences. One step removed from us, what was once a preference is now a tradition. I think traditions are a lot like money: they’re neither good nor bad – it’s all about how you approach it. If a tradition gets in the way of loving people, it’s a clear sign that the tradition has to change or go.”

It is my personal experience and opinion that the main reason mainline churches are failing and dying is because they’re holding onto denominational or local traditions at the expense of connecting culturally with their communities. Further, they hardly ever bother to acknowledge the other Christian denominations (or non-denominational churches) in any of their community efforts. Even in (perhaps especially in?) small town, rural settings, the row of various churches along main street fight to keep their own and avoid being associated with – much less collaborating with – these other faithful flocks. Even Jesus himself said “if they’re not against us, they’re for us”.

Traditions are powerful and can be helpful – as long as they follow the heart of the Father and not merely the letter of the law. I do not believe traditions are inherently bad, but the very nature of perpetuating traditions eschews innovation. We live in a time when change is constant and communication is real-time. At what point can a tradition offer itself on the altar and die to facilitate needed innovation?

Our culture is moving on. Perhaps for the sake of the Gospel we can move on and innovate, too.

QUESTION: Is tradition really in the way of innovation? What say you?

Read more from Anthony here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anthony Coppedge

Anthony Coppedge

On the team at Auxano. Lover of Jesus, my wife and my kids. Unapologetic Apple fanboy. Slightly addicted to MindMaps, but in a good way.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Ministry Innovation Travels on Two Legs: The People-Centric Process of New Ideas

When we talk about things like disruption and radical innovation, and innovation tools and processes, it’s easy to forget that people drive innovation.  But if innovation is a process (and it is), it is surely a people-centric process.

This means that innovative ideas spread from person to person – and even though we have tools now that make this easier, it still mostly happens one person at a time.

I’ve run across a few examples of this recently.  The first is in the book Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.   They talk about “the seminar” – the six-month series of meetings that David Ben-Gurion undertook to try to understand how to prepare for the conflict he viewed as inevitable once Israel was declared in independent state:

He spent days and nights meeting with, probing, and listening to military men up and down the ranks. … Ben-Gurion was keenly aware that the midst of ongoing fighting, and plan for the existential threats that were nearing.

At the end of the seminar, Ben-Gurion wrote of the men’s confidence in their readiness: “We have to undertake difficult work – to uproot from the hearts of men who are close to the matter the belief that they have something.  In fact, they have nothing.  They have good will, they have hidden capacities, but they have to know: to make a shoe one has to study cobbling.”

Senor & Singer go on to describe how Israeli companies use similar approaches to prepare for disruptive innovations in modern times.  In both cases, it is the face-to-face contact that both generates the new ideas and then helps them to spread.

Warwick Absolon told a similar story in an Executive Education innovation course a couple of weeks ago.  He talked about the innovation program that he has been running  for the past three years.  One of the critical components of building that capability is the series of meetings that he held all around their Australia-New Zealand region.  Warwick travelled to all of the main offices, where he held workshops all day long.  In each spot, he told people that meetings would start every hour on the hour, and he would talk about innovation with whoever showed up.

This approach worked.  The face-to-face meetings accomplished several things:

  • They demonstrated a much higher level of commitment than you get from a memo, or an intranet announcement.
  • Because attendance was purely voluntary, Warwick was able to identify most of the people in the firm with an interest in innovation.  He calls this “assembling my tribe.”
  • In face-to-face meetings, people were willing to tell him what was working and what wasn’t.

The main thing that Warwick built through this process was buy-in.

Atul Gawande wrote a great piece in the New Yorker last week on how ideas spread.  Here is what he says about it:

In the era of the iPhone, Facebook, and Twitter, we’ve become enamored of ideas that spread as effortlessly as ether. We want frictionless, “turnkey” solutions to the major difficulties of the world—hunger, disease, poverty. We prefer instructional videos to teachers, drones to troops, incentives to institutions. People and institutions can feel messy and anachronistic. They introduce, as the engineers put it, uncontrolled variability.

But technology and incentive programs are not enough. “Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation,” wrote Everett Rogers, the great scholar of how new ideas are communicated and spread. Mass media can introduce a new idea to people. But, Rogers showed, people follow the lead of other people they know and trust when they decide whether to take it up. Every change requires effort, and the decision to make that effort is a social process.

Innovation is social.  It is people-centric.  Innovation requires a change in behavior, and that is why we need to activate our networks to get new ideas to spread.

In a workshop yesterday I was asked “How can I find out what people want?  It seems like the only way to do that is to talk to them, and that’s so slow.”

It is slow.  But that’s still the best way to do it.  Talk to people, all the time.  That’s how you’ll get new ideas, and it’s how you’ll get them to spread.

Even in our wired world, innovation travels on two legs.

Read more from Tim here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
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What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Build New Habits to Insure You Meet Your Goals

The problem with goals is that most of them are too big, and they take a long time, and that requires work.  That’s also what makes them worthwhile!  But on a day-to-day basis, you need to figure out how to build the habits that will eventually get you to your goals.

Charles Duhigg wrote a great book on how to break bad habits and build better ones – The Power of Habit.  Here is his flow chart for building habits (click on the image to see it full-size):

 HowtoChangeaHabit

> If your goal is to lose weight, you need to change your eating (input) and exercise (output) habits.

> If your goal is to write a book, you need to change your writing habits.

Austin Kleon wrote a great post on breaking goals down into habits. He says to do something small, every day:

Figure out what your little daily chunk of work is, and every day, no matter what, make sure it gets done.

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. We’re all busy, but we all get 24 hours a day. People often ask me, “How do you find the time for the work?” And I answer, “I look for it.” You find time the same place you find spare change: in the nooks and crannies. You find it in the cracks between the big stuff—your commute, your lunch break, the few hours after your kids go to bed. You might have to miss an episode of your favorite TV show, you might have to miss an hour of sleep, but you can find the time to work if you look for it.

What I usually recommend: get up early. Get up early and work for a couple hours on the thing you really care about. When you’re done, go about your day…

Do the work every day. Fill the boxes on your calendar. Don’t break the chain.

This approach works pretty well for most of our personal goals.  But what if our goal is to make our organizations more innovative?

That’s a bit trickier.  The main reason is that innovation is a lot more complex.  Complex systems are trickier because they require us to approach our goals indirectly.  This excerpt from John Kay’s terrific book Obliquity outlines the issue:

If you want to go in one direction, the best route may involve going in the other. Paradoxical as it sounds, goals are more likely to be achieved when pursued indirectly. So the most profitable companies are not the most profit-oriented, and the happiest people are not those who make happiness their main aim. The name of this idea? Obliquity.

Obliquity is relevant whenever complex systems evolve in an uncertain environment, and whenever the effect of our actions depends on the ways in which others respond to them.

Innovation is another thing that we need to approach obliquely.  So what habits should we build to help?  Here are some ideas that I’ve run across in the past couple of days:

  • Take care of yourself.  Jason Cohen points out that we are happier and more productive when we get enough sleep, exercise, and take time to think.
  • Practice divergent thinking. It’s a mistake to jump straight to solutions when we’re trying to innovate.  First, we have to explore a broad range of ideas.  Olaf Kowalik writes about how to use divergent thinking to do this – and this is a key innovation skill.
  • Read widely. Jorge Barba makes an important point at the end of his post recommending some innovation books to read:
    One more thing: everything is connected in some way, so read about anything and everything. Not just books that have “innovation” in the title.

To innovate, you need the process, but you also need to muddle your way through a bit.  So some of the habits you need to build are oblique – like getting enough sleep.  Others are more direct, like blocking out time for thinking and allocating resources for building your ideas.

The main point is that things that are worth doing take effort over an extended period of time.

You need to build habits that will ensure that you make that effort.

Read more from Tim here.

 

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.