In “The Innovator’s Mindset,” I use the following for the definition of “innovation”:
For the purpose of this book, I’m defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better,” it is not innovative. That means that change for the sake of change is never good enough. Neither is using innovation as a buzzword, as many organizations do, to appear current or relevant.
I was thinking about this as I was talking with a few teachers earlier this week. They had had a concern that their district was more focused on “looking innovative,” than actually doing the work to become innovative. Simply put, they were more focused on the “new” than they were about getting to the “better.”
So many places want to focus on doing the “latest and greatest,” which leads to innovation fatigue. There is little time for depth and getting to understand and implement an initiative deeply before the “next big thing” is rolled out.
If you are willing to move onto the next thing so quickly, maybe what you were doing was not that good, or well thought out, in the first place.
Change for the sake of change is not helpful to your students or staff, and if you want to do something extraordinary depth is much more important than breadth.
A few questions before you implement a new idea or initiative for discussion:
- What do we see as the impact of this initiative in the long term?
- What consistent support will be provided for our staff to understand the “why, what, and how” of this work?
- Most importantly, how will this benefit our students in the long term?
The aesthetics of being an “innovative school” are meaningless if we are not willing to put in the time or the effort to see the fruits of our labor.
Focus less on the “new” and more on how to get to the “better.”