Innovation – what a concept

In this economy, and in this political climate, whether you are a contractor of a government agency, being able to change to meet conditions that are demanding it, is essential. To get through the tail end of the recession (however long it is) and be competitive or efficient when the economy begins to expand significantly again, requires it.

I learned some interesting ways to approach this, big picture-wise, from the  lead speakers at the first full day of the ARTBA TransOvation Conference in Landsdowne, MD, yesterday.

Somewhere in the way you do things there are opportunities to change the way you do things. And whether you do or not has more to do with thinking than structure; it is one thing to want to change, to tell your organization that change is good and even to set up machinery to bring it about., But be careful, it could all be for nought if the thinking beind it is business as usual, if the whole approach is solely a strategic business decision.

From my notes:

What we are facing now in this industry is the equivalent of an Apollo Mission. It’s huge and you can’t get it done with existing approaches. It is so big a problem that it requires the kind of approach that put man on the moon.  — Ted Zoli, vice president of HNTB and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient.

Sustainability is not a problem to be solved but rather a condition to be created. – Darcy Winslow, Nike’s sustainability innovator and the executive-in-residence at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Winslow also noted that a great many of her most productive ideas at Nike came to her miles from anywhere while doing nothing that had anything to do with business.

Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative, Jerry Karel, leader of R&D programs at 3M citing  former 3M CEO Willy McKnight.

Innovation can be less intuitive and we are more resistant to it as we get older. – John Hillman, HC Bridge Company and winner of the 2010 Engineering News Record magazine Award of Excellence for his development of the Hybrid Composite Beam.

When aims get ever higher, traditional formulas exhaust themselves. (Anon) – John Hillman