Thursday, October 15, 2009

Innovating in a Generation

So many times when we come to the idea of innovation we focus on the old stand by - the industry. We talk about innovations in media, health care, ministry, sports, and on and on it goes. This focus on industry innovation is of course one very good way to think about our creative efforts. But it isn't the only way.

One of the keys to breaking out of the moulds that bind us is to think about the world through different perspectives and different categories. Are you following? If you only think about innovation in regards to a particular industry, then you will be limited to industry categories as you try to be creative. Sure it can lead to creativity ... but what if you thought about the same problem through a completely different category.

Lets take generations. I have a friend named Cavin Harper - president of the Christian Grandparenting Network. He saw the great challenges that families are having and especially the children. He could immediately have gone to innovate in the school system or through the government services. But he took a different approach.

Instead, he decided to ask the question, "How could grandparents be part of the solution?" Very interesting approach considering the billions of dollars we have spent in programs and services. Instead Cavin side stepped all those things and latched onto the relationship between a grandparent and their grand kid as a key tool to teach a new generation about Jesus and equip them in their faith. You have to check out what they are doing. I get to work with Cavin through my new job at .W. What a privilege to watch him take a completely different approach to innovation in this key area of training up the next generation.

From his Grand Camps to the upcoming Legacy Conference in Minneapolis. If you live in the Minneapolis area or know grandparents or parents that do, I would encourage you to consider going to this event on October 23-24. It is a great opportunity to experience a new approach to an age old challenge. If you are too far away to go, please be praying for the event and take some time to explore Cavin's approach.

But the best thing to do is hear from Cavin himself. Check out this short video where he shares his heart.

Now it's your turn. I want you to think through the innovation you are working on right now and ask these questions:
1. What is the innovation I have been working?
2. What categories have I put my work in - maybe without even realizing it?
3. What other categories might apply to my work?
4. What would a solution to my challenge look like through those other lenses?

Enjoy your re-framing work!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tell me a story friend!

One of the keys to adoption of new innovations is the story we tell people about the need and the solution. The ability to share the story in a convincing way is absolutely critical and this is one area where we often make a pretty big mess.

Have you been to a seminar where the presenter is trying to convince you of a need for a new solution but completely looses you in the explanation. I was in one recently (I'm not saying who or where :) ). He hooked the group in the plenary by challenging those who saw the problem to meet in a smaller room after the main session. But then we went there and immediately got lost in details, numbers and definitions. By the end we forgot why we were there.

In the Heath brother's latest blog post on "making it stick" they talk about the importance of explaining statistics in clear and understandable ways. Take a minute to read their thoughts. The key is the story that you build. But you've probably heard that and it doesn't necessarily give you a next step when you go to explain your next cool idea to the world.

So here we go, let me give you an outline that will help you build the story around your innovation:

A. Start with the need
  • Don't start with facts
  • Share a story that depicts the need in a very human and tangible way.
  • One example is if you are sharing about an innovation in clean water technology, show a glass of dirty water and explain what might be in it and how many people drink water just like that in a given day.

B. Share how you fit in
  • People want a human element
  • Share about your journey (quickly)
  • Explain the spiritual element and your response

C. Explain the facts
  • Using the Heath brother's example, build a story with the facts that bring them to life
  • Take your top 10 facts and ruthlessly eliminate all but 3 to share

D. Present your solution
  • Take out all the jargon / industry speak
  • Give the reasons why your innovation is key to meeting the need
  • Provide clear outcomes of what will happen if you are to succeed
  • Share endorsements of trusted people who believe that this solution will work

Ok, now it's your turn. Take this outline and insert your need, journey, facts and solution. Post your specific outline in the comments of this blog and we can all encourage each other in our communication.