Monthly Archives: February 2013

What does it take to change, grow, and/or create?

What does it take to change, grow, and/or create? Innovation is part of the answer. And then another question becomes: What are the qualities of innovation? Jeff DeGraff says that –


is not defined by what it is; but rather what it is not

happens in the future for which we have no real data now

has a shelf life and goes sour like milk

happens from the outside in where risk and reward are reversed

is produced by constructive conflict; not alignment

happens in cycles; not straight lines

is never fully realized; it’s a perpetual work in progress

Failure is an inevitable part of the innovation process so it’s better to accelerate it than try to avoid it.

Read more of Jeff DeGraff’s thinking by clicking on: Why Leaders Don’t Understand How to Play the Innovation Game – and How You Can Help Them Win

Innovation>status quo Change takes time, but that should NOT keep us from deliberately working for change!

In the 1840’s Dr. Ignatz Semmelweiss found that deaths in maternity wards dropped to near zero when all medical personal washed their hands.  Yet, it took 30 for the medical community to take note, by responding to Louis Pasteur’s endorsement of the hand washing procedure.  And even after his endorsement it took thirty more years for the practice to become widespread.

Change can be (and often is) very slow. Even with science on your side. Change threatens the status quo.  That means it threatens the “power, habits and values” of the current reality and all of the people that are benefiting form that reality.

Being willing to innovate and strive for new beginnings means there will be resistance.  There will be a status quo that is threatened.  Thus, the innovation must be seen to be of greater over all value and penitential impact than the status quo, or the status quo will be maintained.

New beginnings can be difficult.   A major reality for those challenging the status quo is the potential lack of receptivity toward new beginnings.

All of this is true; it doesn’t change the NEED for change.  Hands needed to be washed in the maternity wards.  It was a life and death issue.  Yet, it took a lot of time to happen.

Change isn’t easy.  But, it is worth working toward in education, governance, social justice and in many other ways!

And remember: Innovation>status quo

PS:  Once the medical community got its arms around the need for hand washing in the maternity ward, they the started to apply that knowledge in other medical settings.  So, thank goodness for Semmelweiss and Pasteur for hanging in there and for finally getting the practice accepted.

Note: The information regarding Semmelweiss and Pastuer can be found on page 120 of The Innovator’s Way by Peter J. Denning and Rovert Dunham (2010) the MIT Press.

Many More Students Learning At Higher Levels: Appreciating Both the Potential and the Complexity

We will benefit by appreciating both the complexity of dramtically improve education and the opportunity to untap much more potential of our youth as we tackle the challenges ahead to improving education.

There is no way to avoid appreciating the complexity of the many challenges related to improving education: poverty levels for children rising in many states, dismantling of the current system in favor of one that seems to value ‘choice’ above evidence based quality, all of the challenges associated with our dropouts, the strains on school boards to be able to both respect the past and chart a path into the future, and the list goes on.

The complexity of educating young people in our country cannot be ignored.  Yet, that complexity can crippled positive action.  Any avoidance of ‘working through’ this complex situation puts off the inevitable and important authentic conversations related to making dramatic improvements in student learning within the limits of the resources available.

Such a conversation is not being asked for.  Instead it seems that special interest are staking out their ground and digging in.

If you were to ‘dig in” – I suggest it be around embracing the complex and absolutely important work ahead for all of us if we are to be a country where many more students learn at even higher levels.