A Culture of Innovation

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post from Jim Groom that really resonated and inspired me (as Jim’s posts often do). This particular post started off talking about 3D printing, but then morphed into a post about the numerous innovative projects that have popped out of the creative brains at DTLT over the years. And then the killer bit for me was the last paragraph:

Fact is, if you start chronicling the work we’ve been doing just through the 7 Things series, you start to see a pattern of serial innovation and exploration that not only has success in the research and development stages, but often takes root and becomes part and parcel of  the larger academic culture on campus—which for me is the real trick. But Innovation doesn’t just magically appear, it is born of a culture of freedom, a space that encourages open experimentation, failure (which we have a lot of too), and a shared sense of purpose—a common value system that we are all working towards to make the future of education as accessible and equitably distributed as possible, while at the same time maintaining the humane and interpersonal dimension of learning that makes the whole enterprise meaningful—serial innovation is a mission not a happy accident.

Serial innovation is a mission not a happy accident.

This video from the Division of Teaching and Learning Technology at U Mary Washington takes that paragraph to the next level.

A Culture of Innovation from umwnewmedia on Vimeo.

I WANT THIS so bad for my unit. I want us to dig out of the daily grind to be able to get to the point where we are doing serial innovation. Focusing on the things that are important. Convincing others to come along for the ride. Inspire the people I work with to become as passionate about learning and technology as Jim and his people are.

As someone who works in a similar unit with a similar mandate at a higher ed institution, I find the DTLT approach inspirational, and love how there is such buy-in at the institution for the common vision. As I said in my comment to Jim’s post, the tension between innovation and sustainability is one I constantly battle with. And while innovation is a word that looks good on a mission and values statements, if it isn’t backed up with the things Jim and his colleagues talk about – culture, failure, play, willingness to take risks – it remains locked away as words on statements.

A culture of innovation. This is my goal.


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.


10 thoughts on “A Culture of Innovation

  1. When I originally commented I clicked the
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  2. Great post Clint and awesome video UMW- quite inspiring. I know what you mean about wanting to bring this to OUR work – a culture of innovation. I feel like we have pockets of innovation in some places, but nothing that screams a "Culture" of innovation. I often feel like we are in a culture of production solely based on our need to constantly be involved in a process of development. When we are stuck to such a tight process we often lose the ability to innovate. Plus, in a culture of innovation there has to be the belief that it is okay to fail. You have to be okay with the idea of failure, as not all creative ideas are going to be successful and I believe that in many educational institutions there is the belief that it isn't okay to fail, that we all need to "pass" in order to be the best.

    I have been reading a great book called "Daring Greatly" by Dr. Brene Brown. In the book she says "No corporation or school can thrive in the absences of creativity, innovation, and learning, and the greatest threat to all three of these is disengagement". She continues by saying "To reignite creativity, innovation, and learning, leaders must rehumanize education and work." In our specific culture, in our department, I fear that we might be so tied to a process of course development that looks more like a production line that we have subsequently and inadvertently disengaged ourselves from the actual purpose of the creation of courses- to educate, and work WITH students and faculty to ensure the best possible educational experience- one that IGNITES creativity, innovation, and learning in both ourselves (as developers) and as teachers and students.

    Thanks for starting this conversation… keep it going. When I come back from maternity leave, you think you can have a culture of innovation sorted please 🙂

    1. No problem, AC. We'll have it all sorted by the time you get back :).

      That quote does have more than just a ring of truth to it, doesn't it? Disengagement can happen when you work on the same thing day after day, so I hear you. Seems like we have locked ourselves into what feels like rigid and inflexible process. Think you'll be happy when you do come back. We're making some ch-ch-changes to address that.

  3. Man, the Atari header image you have is awesome! What's more, thanks for this post. We can get lost in the trees of a lot of what we are doing, and we have been quite swamped as of late so this video really helped us come together as a larger community and start delineated who we are and what we are working for and towards. The Domain of One's Own is in many way the most ambitious thing we've tried to date, and I think we really need to dig in and work even more closely with students and faculty over the next year because if this catches on it could change many of the ways we think about defining who we are as a university—and that is exciting 🙂

    1. Yep. I'm also thinking that there should be some kind of mechanism for people to be able to share what they play with. Sharing, playing. Guess it's true that we really did learn what we need in Kindergarten.

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