You’re Not That Innovative(and that’s okay) by Adam Bluestein and Converting Ideas to Education

This post is going to be based on the following article written by Adam Bluestein posted in Inc. Magazine in the 9.2013 issue. You might want to read the article first.

You’re Not That Innovative(and that’s okay) by Adam Bluestein – http://www.inc.com/magazine/201309/less-innovation-is-better.html

Below are excerpts from the article in bold with my thoughts applied to education. Always open for your thoughts.

What if innovation is not the panacea it’s said to be?
Innovation and Creativity is a huge push in education right now. I push it more than anyone and live my life on the Edge of Chaos continually trying to come up with new ways of doing things. However, not everyone is like me. And that is okay. Do we need every educator to be this way? I don’t think so. Schools need a wide flavor of teaching styles and mindsets. I did not always think this way, but am starting to realize the importance of variety of a staff to ensure quality education.

How much disruptive innovation do you really need to advance your business goals?” 
Schools need disruptive innovation. You need educators pushing the boundaries to make new things happen. BUT, you don’t need your entire staff. You need a few out exploring the new frontiers. Much like history. Countries did not send their entire population to new uncharted territories. They sent a few to figure things out and once established sent more. Education and schools need to be the same way with new crazy ideas.

On average, the most successful companies devoted about 70 percent of their innovation assets (time and money) to “safe” core initiatives; 20 percent to slightly more risky adjacent ones; and just 10 percent to transformational, or disruptive, ones.

I love this excerpt. Perhaps schools should be the same. A majority of the staff should be “safe” and tweak existing practices in small steps, but nothing too crazy. 1/4 or so of staff should be a bit more risky taking on new ideas to see what happens that eventually the “safe” group could adapt once things are worked out. You need just a small group to be the crazy disruptive ones. They are the ones that are way out there doing things that challenge the status quo and things that have never been done. They are two steps ahead. Then the next group adapts their ideas over time and the safe group implements. 

This seems like a safer approach to ensuring quality education while still pushing the frontiers of education. I think this keeps teachers grounded without feeling like a failure while still challenging everyone within the confines of where their comfort zones exist. Schools cannot be too overboard with disruptive innovation, but on the flip side schools cannot just sit back and be happy with how things are going.

Core innovation involves making incremental changes to improve existing products for existing customers

We don’t always have to be drastic in decisions. Look at any successful company or product and it is just a minor tweak on existing platforms. Education should be the same. Educators should never be satisfied, but we cannot lose our focus on what we need to accomplish.


Transformational (a.k.a. disruptive) innovations involve inventing things for markets that don’t exist yet–say, iTunes or Starbucks. Of course, when a disruptive innovation succeeds, the returns can be enormous.

Love this passage as well. When the educators who are way out there do get a hold of something special it is going to be awesome. Yet we cannot expect all teachers to be out there hoping for their ideas to be the next greatest thing. Students lose out in the end. Consistency is still a must for their day to day routines.

Coming up with ideas isn’t nearly as hard as determining which ones are any good and figuring out what to do with them. 

Educators are just like students and we don’t like to be criticized. Sometimes we have to put our big boy pants on and accept that our ideas are not the best. That is life. We adapt and learn. We adjust. We learn from the ideas and tweak them to make them better. Don’t get pouty and give up. Be open and honest and adapt to make the ideas good. Feedback is essential. Have a backbone. Be ready for criticism. If you never get any feedback, then you really know your idea is bad.

A cool idea that excites your engineers should never become a working project until someone can articulate how it actually solves a pressing problem that your customers have.

When we come up with ideas we must have time to have conversation about the idea. We need feedback and suggestions. Educators should project tune. They should also do the project or idea before implementing with students. We have to ensure the idea is a good one before entering the classroom and impacting student learning.


 “You never have enough resources and time to attack all your opportunities,” says Sher. “You want to focus on the best ones, so you can finish them first. Two nonessential ones get done, the important ones don’t, and there’s no value created.”

Time is always a complaint in education. It is a complaint in all aspects of life. The goal should be to figure what is the most important idea to tackle and tackle it. We cannot spread ourselves so thin that we never really get anything accomplished. This is a major flaw of mine that I am working on currently.

Doblin found, companies get the highest return on investment when they focus on things such as improving business models, internal processes, and customer experience.

Education for students will increase when schools focus on their education models and organization, communication among staff and taking care of their educators, and ensuring the students have opportunities to learn.
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