On Culture: Change vs. Innovation

How do you know when something is changing versus innovating?

I am in the innovation business. My personality testing heavily labels me an innovator. So do my friends, family and others.

I am also in the change business. Again, my testing shows that I like change and so does my history.

So how do you know when something is innovating or if something is changing?

The reality is when innovation occurs, change happens in accordance to the scope of that innovation. Similarly, when change occurs, things adapt to the change in the form of innovation.

The secret is in the intent of the leader of the particular change or innovation. And since most people don’t like change I think it is important for you to go through a process of determining which is which. Here is a template that might help…

1. What is the leader or person trying to do? For instance, President Obama wants to reform health care in the United States. Is this innovation or change? He says he wants every applicable American to have health insurance. They currently do not. By asking what the leader is trying to do you can see if it is simply an innovation of an older system or wholesale change. In this example I believe he is seeking change over innovation.

2. What are the positives and negatives of either the change or innovation? I find that, as adults, if we will simply list the positive implications and or negative outcome (almost as a worst case scenario) it will reign in the emotions and exaggerations that typically come from media frenzy or co-worker gossip.

3. What will happen if we don’t innovate or we don’t change? While most people are afraid of change, I believe they would really be afraid of what would happen if no innovation happened. What happens to companies when they don’t innovate to meet the needs of customers or industries? The answer: they go out of business and people lose their jobs. Is innovation or change bad then?

Innovation can be extremely rewarding and it can be messy.

Change can be very fun and it most likely will be frustrating.

The secret to managing your emotions and understanding change is to diagnose the intent of the leader of change, review the pros and cons, and ask the hard questions of what would happen if we didn’t innovate.

You might just find yourself engaged like never before because you understand what people are trying to accomplish and you can choose to follow or protest. In turn, that may cause you to enjoy change and innovation more than you ever thought possible.

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