Steve Knight is a member of our facebook innovation group and an amazing kingdom journalist/innovator. He shared with me a map that McKinsey created to show hot spots of innovation (more on that further down). And as I thought about this issue, I began to ask myself about the characteristics that make a place innovative.
Fast Company Magazine (one of my favorites) has what they call the Fast 50. These are the 50 most innovative companies. They just released the 2009 results and you will be fascinated. The five most innovative were: 1) Team Obama 2) Google 3) Hulu 4) Apple 5) Cisco Systems. They have identified those companies that are changing the rules and leading the pack. As I have watched this list, it seems to be based upon which companies are taking new ideas and turning them into strategic advantages within specific arenas. Google in search, Apple in music, Obama in fundraising/mobilization, etc.
McKinsey has created a map of the most innovative cities around the globe. They used two key criteria on their graph:
- momentum: average growth of US patents
- diversity: number of separate companies
They go on to break up the cities into these categories:
- hot springs: small fast growing hubs (Brisbane)
- dynamic oceans: large vibrant ecosystems (Taipei)
- silent lakes: older slower-growing hubs (Tel Aviv)
- shrinking pools: unable, so far, to expand beyond their start-up core (Indianapolis)
It really helps to see the companies, cities and countries that are innovative. It gives us ideas on how we as ministries and how we personally can create cultures of innovation. I encourage you to read some of the articles in this posting and study these examples. Look for things that you can incorporate.
But I also want to share some of the characteristics that they have not mentioned which I believe create an environment of innovation in ministry:
1. Trust: When trust is high, then organizations can move quickly, adopt new ideas and think strategically. When trust is low, the atmosphere is full of confusion, in-fighting and second guessing. A great book on this is "Speed of Trust"
2. Risk Tolerance: Every person and every organization has a tolerance for risk. Those organizations that know their risk tolerance and then allow ideas to develop with that level of risk as a guide can be innovative. If level of risk is an unknown, then organizations always find themselves with various opinions about whether an idea is worth pursuing but have no language to describe it.
3. Defined Standards: When a person or organization has defined standards for quality, missiology, strategy and so on, then innovation has a place to grow. When no standards exist, then ideas tend to fly out uncontrolled and can't get a foothold. But when there are parameters that help define direction and success then innovation has a place to develop.
4. Interdependence: When people find themselves in a place that fosters learning and collaboration, innovation will not be far behind. When it is ok to take time and learn new things and share them with others, then those ideas have a chance of finding practical purposes.
We could go on and on, but I will leave it with this question: Based on some of the input above, is your ministry environment innovative? If so . . . what have you created? If not . . . what are you going to do to begin creating a place where new ideas can thrive?