Innovation is a process, not a product.

I was recently asked the following question:

How do you respond to educators who say “the idea of being called upon to develop an innovator’s mindset and to innovative scares me . . . I have the opportunity to work with some wickedly smart, wildly creative, and truly innovative people and I can admit that I am not at all like them . . . I don’t have the creativity or personality to be innovative.”

All people are innovative and creative at some point in their lives in different areas, yet we tend to lose this belief somewhere along the way.  Why it was important for me to identify innovation as a way of doing “new and better” things in the book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, was to help people see that they have been “innovative” in many ways already. What I continue to observe, is that in many schools, they use the word innovation and connect it directly to how people use technology.  Although technology provides opportunities that did not exist before, it’s use does not equate to being “innovative”. In fact, I have actually seen that sometimes technology has led to some people being less innovative in the sense that they believe the technology will do the “work” for them, instead of thinking deeply about why they are doing what they are doing, and how they are doing it.  It is how we think and what we create, not what we use.

The scary thing about the word “innovation” is that people are using the term in a way that it can potentially just become a buzzword. Right now, we have an abundance of information at our fingertips, and thinking that the pendulum will swing back to a point where we will not have information abundance, is not a reality.  Thomas Friedman said, “The world doesn’t care what you know. The world only cares about what you can do with what you know, and it doesn’t care how you learned it.”  We are here at this point in time, and we are not going back to a point where simply knowing will ever be enough.  What we create is essential.  We should not limit the imagination of ourselves or our students.

There is a delicate balance here.  I believe that there are many great things that are happening in education right now, and there are some things that are non-negotiables.  Focusing on starting with relationships was something that was important in education when I went to school, and it will continue to be so, especially in a world where great content is easily accessible anywhere.  The shift that is needed in education is in our thinking, not necessarily the stuff we use.  

I heard this quote recently, “Have a mind that is open to anything, and that is attached to nothing.”  If all educators were open to embracing that notion that learning is about constant growth and development, not only in our students, but in ourselves, education would make tremendous shifts.  The “system” is run by people, and educators are the people. I believe that if educators can shift their thinking, the “system” will be so much better off.

Innovation is a process, not a product.  Once we embrace that notion, education as a whole, will be so much better off.

the biggame2020

IMAGE – Innovation is a process, not a product

Source: George Couros

3 Comments

  1. I agree that innovation is a process. And it is something that should be happening naturally in response to kids’ needs. The important thing, in my view, is to stay focused on supporting teachers and providing them with the tools they need to reach every kid.

    January 17, 2017

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