…that’s called insanity! I have been to a number of presentations, taken part in many company engagement activities and participated neck-deep in meetings that use the terms ‘innovation’ to describe their purpose. When in reality, to the people involved, they are not about innovation at all.

Why are you talking about innovation Benjamin? You’re no expert… what’s gotten into you?

You’re right, I don’t claim to be an expert but I do have a lot of experiences that tell me if you want to be innovative then you either (1) do something new and different or (2) you improve upon the same stuff you have done in the past and make it better!

ASTD Conference:

I recently saw an article from American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) talking about the upcoming International Conference & Expo and Thought Leaders, Innovators Featured at ASTD 2010 being recognized and speaking at the event.

Just sad. I say if you want innovation then why are you:

  1. Bringing back the  same people all the time,
  2. Talking about the same stuff,
  3. Using many of the same practices year after year?

Don’t get me completely wrong, I am a card carrying member of ASTD for the last 10 years. I would love to attend the international conference (anyone want to donate to the cause?) I enjoy my local chapter benefits and take part in a lot of great stuff with many great people. However, I don’t know how the chapter would last if we had the same people, talk about some of the same things, over and over again. We ourselves would go insane!

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”
- Woody Allen

You just need to face the possibility of failure to do something great

People have a fear of failure. They have a fear of breaking something that ain’t broke instead of breaking something to rebuild and make it stronger. Re-fabrication firms do this all the time. In order to restore historical buildings, they gut them, and rebuild. They often use the same outer walls that were preexisting. The structure and foundation is so strong that they can start over.

How is your foundation? Are you strong enough to start over?

So many companies, organizations, manufacturers and even associations (that speak to and for the people they represent) are truly scared to death of innovation. You say no! I question that, because if they were not so afraid of innovation then:

  1. Why would their be so much push back on improvements to processes?
  2. Why would they question your judgment, a progressive person such as yourself, on developing programs and outreach for your employees?
  3. Why would they block sites and information that promote and encourage the practice of relationships, sharing best practices and collaboration?
  4. Why would there be such an argument around performance based incentives, flexible schedules, and managers freeing themselves up from the minutia in order to actually manage people?

There are so many reasons that I will not address around this topic. The one idea I will address is this, it’s because so many are scared of the unintended and unpredictable consequences of a few people that will abuse the system than the hundreds of people that will benefit from the system that will be created.

Sadly HR and all of Business does this on a regular basis. We all create unneeded policies, practices and interactions that are the result of that one crappy person complaining about what bugs them. Most of the time that crappy person is out of their mind and just crying. Every once in awhile the crappy person is the only person that truly makes sense in a nonsensical environment. The thing you need to do is sift through and find which crappy person is not so crappy!

Bringing back to the point: Innovation

At the ASTD conference, International Conference & Expo, they will have David Allen, Ken Blanchard, Marcia Conner, Marshall Goldsmith, Beverly Kaye, Don Kirkpatrick, and Jack Phillips. I have heard and read these people. Listened to them speak. They were innovative. Very innovative when their initial ideas were first talked about and presented. All I am saying is that I would like to see some change in the guard. Get some people who have different ideas and approaches about the stuff we have talked about for years.

So let me be that crappy person right now and complain. Hopefully you can sift through and believe that my thoughts are worth changing everything to be innovative!

What are your thoughts? What does innovation look like for you?

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