Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Innovative Disagreements

I've been roped onto a committee at work in charge of planning a staff development activity for our division.

The topic? INNOVATION!!

I suggested to the other committee members that instead of doing the same boring thing we always do, like hiring a monolithic speaker, we do something different like show fun, varied, and educational Youtube videos (1-3 minutes each) to illustrate the different ways people approach innovation.

The response from one of the committee members? "But we're supposed to hire a speaker!"

The irony was not lost on me: A committee in charge of presenting INNOVATION was resistant to a new idea.

I collected about 15 different videos on Youtube, and many of them emphasized how corporate culture crushes innovation because people are afraid to be wrong or make mistakes.


Have you ever been in a meeting with someone who seems to be your exact opposite? Like, every idea you have they shoot down, and vice-versa?

That's what this meeting felt like. She thought my ideas were boring. I thought hers were.

One video in particular I thought was really clever and insightful:

She said it was boring and stopped watching halfway through.

It's four minutes long. Four minutes! And it has cool drawings and interesting ideas about creativity and sharing and collaboration. And turtles!! Who doesn't like that?

It's not actually turtles doing it, but two "slow hunches" joining together for a new idea. Still... they look very happy.

Maybe I'm a nerd.

But I don't think it's too much to ask that people who work AT A COLLEGE get interested in diverse presentations and be open to a free exchange of ideas, which is what the video itself is talking about.


This story does have a happy-ish ending. My colleague/nemesis did come up with some good ideas that seemed in the spirit of innovation. We were able to compromise in a way that made most of us happy, I think.

For our upcoming staff development we'll still show some videos and do other activities that may or may not fall flat.

And we all learned a valuable lesson about teamwork, sharing, and corporate platitudes.

Most importantly, we learned this:

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