An Innovator has an Obligation to… Question

by Kim Chandler McDonald

Editor’s note: we invite you to Kim Chandler McDonald’s weekly interactive forum — to read and collect your comments on “An Innovator has an Obligation to…” We hope you’ll join the conversation!

Week 09 theme is “Question”

If, as George Carlin said, “An artist has an obligation to be en route.” Please complete this sentence: An innovator has an obligation to…

Keep on questioning. Anne Moloney, Insight, Research and Analysis, Managing Innovation

– Turn imperatives into questions? Graham Stewart, Founder and Producer @ The Game of Now

To ask simple questions and be the first to experience new things by himself. Rany Bar On, Customer Experience Executive

Be the answer to the questions. Tracy Quarm, National Service Personnel

– Question the way things are done. – David Haron, Functional Consultant at Intellect Solutions

– Question: ‘why this way?’ – Michael Sethna, Sr. Director of R&D at Mohawk Industries

When we started doing this so many people thought it wasn’t going to work. First of all the technology is just coming around to make it possible. There’s a lot of questions and unknowns, but we’re just continuing on, learning as we go; and it’s going pretty well. It’s not perfect, but we’re learning every day.Matt Flannery, CEO and Co-Founder of Kiva

It is valid to question whether innovation is political.  I do not think it is, in and of itself. However, I wonder whether the support for innovation, or the lack there of, is differentiated by partisan politics?  Does it matter where you’re located in the world for the importance of innovation to be made manifest and for its success to be acknowledged and openly applauded? Is innovation stymied in societies which are less democratic, or where capitalism is free to run roughshod over regulation? Can one have capitalistic-free rein in cultures that are politically communal, or socially-democratic, rather than fully committed to a free market?  Should governmental policy be imposed to support innovation in society?  Are countries, which have a population struggling to feed themselves, more likely to be innovative out of necessity? Is there a difference between innovation to survive and innovation to thrive?

“There is likely to be no definitively right or wrong answer to these questions.  However, what is certain is that citizens in all of those societies, through the advent of, and access to, innovative technology are becoming more empowered and engaged.  The coming era is that of the empowered citizen/enduser – those who were, until recently, often ignored.  They are becoming stronger, louder,  and more emboldened.  This is a good thing, as it is a sign of a healthy, innovative society – one that is not frightened of non-conformist, creative thinkers within its midst.Excerpt from the author’s essay, The State of the Nation Address: Taking Stock of How Things Stack Up, from Innovation: How Innovators Think, Act and Change Our World

(Authors note: I’m very proud that Innovation: How Innovators Think, Act and Change Our World has been nominated for a Small Business Book of the Year award.  If you’ve enjoyed the excerpts I hope you’ll do me the honour of voting for Innovation here!)

If you would like to ‘have your say’, feel free to join in by sharing your thoughts below, and on the Innovation Excellence LinkedIn group forum!

image credit: Kim Chandler McDonald

BETA - Global Innovation Management Institute certification

Wait! Before you go…

Choose how you want the latest innovation content delivered to you:


Kim Chandler McDonald is author of Innovation: How Innovators Think, Act and Change Our World (available in print as an industry-first, SmartMark enabled, Online Ecosystem), as well as the Co-Founder and Flat World Navigator at KimmiC, a company specializing in  leading edge innovations such as FlatWorld™ – digital technology that empowers endusers to easily capture, collaborate and capitalize on ideas, information and knowledge assets.