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!


Paul Nethercott said...

I think there are implications and opportunities related to missions in the approach of micro-loan organization Kiva -- described in the following article:

We are setting up a short-term-missionary staff person focused on missional work in Japan but she will be based in Oklahoma (USA). The core idea is that geographical location is not the primary concern. Effectiveness is what really counts.

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...


thanks for your comment. So you are reframing the question around effectiveness rather than geography? What have you learned as you have done this? Any new insights?