Updated: December 29, 2019

Connections: Lessons Learned When Crafting the Art of Innovation

Here's a common scenario: You're at a team meeting and someone presents a unique and novel idea. But in order to achieve this one thing, it requires that team members make adjustments to established 'routine'. While some may find the idea quite interesting, others may be more hesitant and respond with, "We can't do that!".

Either spoken out of a sense of fear, as in fear of change, or simply misunderstanding, having and presenting an 'idea' simply isn't enough to bring about a suggested change. Unless you are in a managerial position and colleagues feel pressured into obligatory compliance, one significant hurdle when advocating for any sort of change, such as change to a decades-old practice, is to make oneself understood.

Being able to truly dialogue with people and understanding what both motivates and frustrates them, is as important as knowing the technical aspects of your 'wonderfully brilliant idea' that you believe will revolutionize your industry.

Current practices are in place for a myriad of reasons, and people like to rationalize current practices ("That's the way we've always done it"). But in reality a current practice was probably enacted to replace a still older practice now lost to history. A prior change had occurred, and people adapted to the change. So why are people, and associated processes, sometimes resistant to yet another change?

Truth be told, everyone is always changing something on a personal level and usually for self-serving purposes. For example, is traffic backing up on your usual drive home? Frustrated, you suddenly innovate and change course, possibly along an unknown route around the traffic jam in order to get yourself home with minimal interruption. The problem was the traffic jam, and you attempted to find a solution to your frustration. You changed your daily routine- but only momentariy- and then it's back to routine.

Likewise, the consideration of technology-based strategies, designed to correct a critical business issue or to introduce a level of efficiency, may itself result in initial emotional resistance from your audience. When advocating for a more permanent, and possibly dramatic shift in established process, and to alleviate resistance to suggested change, one must first address a number of questions:

    7 Critical Questions That Must Be Asked To Address Change Proposals

  1. What are the current process practices that support a particular function?
  2. Why are those particular practices currently in place?
  3. What issues (i.e., frustrations) are present with existing practices?
  4. What is the proposed change?
  5. What positive outcomes may result if this proposed change is enacted?
  6. What negative outcomes may result if this proposed change is enacted?
  7. What negative outcomes may result if this proposed change is not enacted?

The answers to these questions will require honest and open dialogue between all parties involved. Particularly, what frustrates one person may not be viewed equally by all.

Colleagues may not answer honestly and rationalize current process in an attempt to maintain a 'comfort zone' (i.e., status quo), rather than risk the emotional friction of yet 'another change'. The thought of suddenly having to learn something new can induce a degree of emotional resistance, particularly if they have not been staying abreast of changes in technology. At worst, they may possess an outdated set of skills due to failure to maintain a personal level of continuous improvement.

Your customer, or end-user, not having full knowledge of the technical overhead involved in producing an end product, may not find a particular need to change process if the current process provides a suitable end product.

However, if the main focus is an improved outcome for all, then the resulting dialogue should generate a framework with which to make an honest and objective analysis as to the feasibilty of the proposed change.

Innovation at the Nanoscale and Beyond

The application of imaging array innovation to microscopy is presented in Wide Field Virtual Imaging Array

The same application of imaging array innovation to digital watercolor art can be found in my Zoomable Watercolor Art Gallery