strategy & innovation

Deadwoods and Foreheads of Innovation

Every morning part of my routine is to check my BlackBerry for the day’s RSS feeds. (Yes, before I get out of bed. I’m not a morning person so this helps me ease into the world hours before I’d prefer.) And if a post appears from Saul Kaplan it never stays unread for long. This week it was this excerpt that rattled around in my brain:

“Innovation is a better way to deliver value.  It isn’t an innovation until value is delivered to an end-user in the real world.  Innovators must figure out how to deal with deadwood.  This ability often marks the difference between an innovator and a non-innovator.  It isn’t the lack of ideas or technology that gets in the way it is stubborn humans and institutions that slow down or block experimenting with and scaling a better way.  Most give up when deadwood is either blocking the way forward or it seems insurmountable and not worth the personal effort or risk.  Innovators don’t give up and are never deterred.  They incessantly find ways to go around or through deadwood.”

It was this sentence that haunted me “Innovators never give up and are never deterred.” A small voice inside me spoke up…. umm, never? It’s tough being an innovator, a revolutionary, someone trying to change systems from the inside (or outside or whatever side you’re on). And sometimes you bonk your forehead against the entrenchments’ trenches one too many times that week. And sometimes – yes – instead of bouncing up again you sit with your hurting head in your hands.

What do you do when this is you? How do you regroup and press on, your zeal and passion still intact? Following great folks like Saul and other generous, brilliant minds is part of my medicine. My little sips from the kool-aid.

What’s yours?