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On My Mind - Innovation (New Year 2014)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hello, Esteemed Colleagues and CEdMA Members:

Happy New Year and welcome to more challenges and opportunities in our businesses! I hope you all had restful and happy times with your families and friends over the past holiday season, whether for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or however you celebrated.

I spent a good deal of time over the past weeks thinking about innovation – not what or how I would innovate, but what "innovation” as a concept means and implies. What does innovation require of us?

The dictionary very simply defines innovation as: "1) the process of making changes; 2) a new method, custom, device, etc.” Working for technology companies, we certainly expect definition "2)” to be prevalent, and we know that it comes from the actions in definition "1).” The innovations may be new to the industry, or might be new only within our own company or sphere of influence. However, what do we really need to expect will happen during innovation?

I believe there are four key components to ensuring innovation:

  1. An environment fostering thought – the freedom to analyze and criticize the present state, to think aloud about the possibilities, and to put forward solutions that may be argued openly;
  2. A stimulating idea – perhaps mediocre, good, great, or superb, it’s something that rallies the troops, gets execution under way, and fosters teamed collaboration;
  3. Repetition – multiple attempts, trials, measurements, opinions, adjustments, etc. to move continuous improvement toward a definitive resolution of the idea (go with it or abandon it);
  4. The freedom to fail – perfection comes from finding the flaws, many times over via the attempts, and then correcting or re-designing again and again, without disgrace or consternation.

These four things must occur for innovation to be possible and are the necessary by-products of innovation. Do we as leaders provide these four components to our teams? Do we have them around us from our management as professionals? Do you, my colleagues, think I have missed the mark or left something out? When we think about the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Grace Hopper, Steve Jobs, and many others influencing our times, did they have all of these in their world?

I am highly focused going into 2014 on what I need in order to innovate and to ensure innovation in our business. I view it as critical to moving success across my customers and my team. Would welcome your comments and thoughts!


Jesse Finn, CEdMA President

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Katherine Navone, Intel FPGA says...
Posted Friday, January 3, 2014
Hi Jesse,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this very important concept.
I agree that those 4 things must occur for innovation to take place. I woud add one more: time. I attended the "Education Innovation Summit" at De Anza College a few months ago. This summit included leaders in education from various elementary, high schools and districts around the Bay Area (including public, charter, alternative, and private schools). A senator was there as well. One speaker made a very clear point that stuck with me: we need TIME to innovate. Maybe this is included in your number 1) but with the increasing pressure we all have from so many sources and time being so scarce for us I think it's important to highlight that we need to make the time and give our teams the time to innovate.

Kathy Navone, Altera
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Jesse Finn, Independent says...
Posted Friday, January 3, 2014
This is a great call out, Kathy! I had it in my consideration of the Repetition requirement, but to your point, it definitely deserves its own category. I would add one caution, based on our times -- speed of innovation is essential, so too much time can harm the effort. That's where I think the engagement of the "community" in helping innovation happen can help. Thanks for weighing in.
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