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.