The Need to Organize and Legitimize Our Profession

by Brett Trusko

In my last post, I suggested, “we can’t be good at something we can’t define or understand.” To further elaborate on this point, let’s use soccer as an example (given the many soccer tournaments this summer). Organizing a team that has never played or seen a soccer game, then telling them that needing to understand the rules isn’t important – might seem flippant. You might still be able to have a game, but I would be willing to guarantee that the team that didn’t know anything about the game would lose, or get “red-carded” out of the game for breaking rules they didn’t know.

We are in a similar position with innovation today. Just for the fun of it, I have set up a one question poll I would like each reader to answer. In 25 words or less, complete the phrase, “I Define Innovation as . . .” Short and simple. We will share the results with you at the end of this series of submissions as well as at the “Relevents Innovate Festival at TBD” conference. Go here. Without seeing a single answer yet, I am guessing that we will have a dozen themes and several dozen answers that could stand-alone and be considered acceptable given different points of view. I guess, to use the old parable of the blind man and the elephant, we would all see the elephant as an animal that is unique from our own vantage point. How is this different from where we are today in innovation?

The IAOIP working group experience to date is that there are many individuals who have been persuaded to enter the discipline through many portals. Some approach innovation as a business model, others as a group of individuals who are trained in some methodology or another. Some see it as the design of the workplace, while others see it as a reorientation of the management contract. Many will subscribe to their own “one right way.”

At the IAOIP, we have addressed the problem by opening the doors to all. Our groups are democratic and allow for anyone to join and submit their tools and techniques as well as vote on theirs and others. If a working group adopts a methodology, tool, management theory, or technique, then it becomes a part of the body of knowledge until it is removed by vote. We believe that while this may not be a perfect approach (a little like making sausage), we believe in solicitation of the “wisdom of the crowd” in the creation of a body of knowledge that is collectively better than any one individual’s approach. So, with luck and perseverance, we move closer to the truth together.

This brings us to the topic of this week’s posting. The more people that contribute to the body of knowledge, the closer to the one “best model” of innovation we get, and with longer-term engagement by professionals in the group – the more the model can evolve. As we move toward a critical mass of certifications, we approach the ability to gauge some portion of the population based upon what “they” know as the consensus body of knowledge. With a consistent definition of innovation, and a body of knowledge, we achieve something special. Our peers begin to respect us for our unorthodox ways because we can prove that it works.

image credit: Elvert Barnes

originally posted on: RELEVENTS


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Dr. Brett Trusko, is the president and chief executive officer of the International Association of Innovation Professionals. He is also an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Dr. Trusko has been a thought leader in healthcare, technology, and innovation for the past 15 years. He is also a world-renowned futurist who speaks and writes about trends in most major industries. He has served in positions of leadership advising several governments and large corporations.

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