• Stevie Hanna

Valley of the Innovation Kings (Part One)

Call it globalization. Call it disruption. Whatever approach you take, there’s no question that we are living in a world beyond neat boundaries. When seeking insight into the evolving context of innovation we both dug deep into our local roots and cast our nets wide to distant renowned hubs like Silicon Valley, only to find that they’re already intertwined. As distances seemingly shrink to nothing in an ever more connected world, so too have the lines between industries blurred and the divisions of academia, business, government, and non-profits been redefined. In truth, the tidy little boxes we sorted them into have always been an illusion. Silicon Valley’s magic lies in revealing those relationships and harnessing their synergistic potential to create an ecosystem that fosters great innovation.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m about the most analog Millennial imaginable, and the technological marvels of Silicon Valley typically do little to fire my imagination. But analyzing complex networked relationships, on the other hand, that puts a (probably somewhat disturbing) shine in my eye. I was determined to distill decades of buzz around the acclaimed bay region into principles clear and concise enough for any organization to revolutionize their approach to innovation. As it turns out, digital prowess has very little to do with Silicon Valley’s innovation successes. But even if the complexity of that ecosystem can be summarized simply, adaptation will be no easy matter for the multitude of companies and institutions mired in their current system and worldview.

Here are my 3 Key Takeaways on revolutionizing innovation:

  1. Be Open – Greatness is rarely if ever the product of a solitary individual or organization. Great disruptive forces not only empower people to connect, they also arise from collaboration.

  2. Dream Big – Have a vision on an impossibly large scale, then invest yourself in the smaller supporting (but still pretty spectacular) innovations that will progressively take you there. Why settle for being the best in this world if you can be part of creating a better world?

  3. Learn Through Risks and Failure – Perfection is an illusion. In a world changing this quickly, the right time is always now because by the time you’ve eradicated all errors and risks the parameters will have shifted.

It’s a deceptively simple list with no surprises. Yet as obvious as my conclusions may seem, it is equally obvious that the vast majority of organizations have not or cannot implement these insights.

And so we find ourselves still shaking our heads and wringing our hands as old methods yield increasingly inadequate results in the looming shadow of inevitable disruption. Melodramatic much? No, not really, not when so much of our shared future as a society is at stake because this stagnation is impacting so many sectors, public and private. A society is defined by its institutions and thus their ability to evolve efficiently is everyone’s concern – anyone from Michigan knows what happens when an industry flounders or government and infrastructure cannot effectively respond to the needs of the public. We are all in this together. GrowthWorks is dedicated to helping all companies and organizations make this transition. After all, taking a risk to achieve a great vision with the help of others is kind of the whole point.

(Be sure to read Part 2, where we explore these 3 Takeaways in more depth)