Thursday, July 21, 2011


Class 601 - Information and Information Environments

What is innovation?  When I first heard I had to write an essay on innovation I laughed.  To me, at the time, innovation was nothing more than a fancy word that meant a bunch of people standing around talking about how they are going to change the world without actually doing it.  It spoke to me of BS CEO's and board meetings and trendy hipsters like my cousin at the New York Times who had a million fantastic ideas but rarely implemented them.  Innovation got nothing done.

Unfortunately due to technical circumstances I was not able to do the actual essay until the day before it was due.  I read all of the readings and began to realize that innovation was a lot of what I expected, but it was also something more to those who did it RIGHT.   My time to absorb all the information was limited but I could feel that I was on to something new, something that was beyond my expectations, and I regretted not having more time to work that essay.

It showed of course.  I barely passed, but I learned.  During the rest of the class I began to understand what innovation entailed and what it could become, what I could become, and what was expected of me in graduate school.  It felt a bit overwhelming, yet inspiring.  My mind was on the threshold of really understanding it, but I could feel it was still having trouble tipping over the edge of ignorance.  It took a group project presented by some of my peers to tip it over before I felt really got it.

They presented their innovation in an innovating way.  I personally didn't feel it was effective for me, but I really appreciated what they were trying to do.  Instead of showing us a power point presentation, they put on a play of a board meeting where they discussed the problems and what they wanted to do.  My only thoughts at the time were how they were doing it wrong and they were going to fail, but when it ended the professor loved it, as did the rest of my class.

I realized, it didn't matter whether it was effective or if people enjoyed it.  Thinking as if I were the one to grade it, I realized I would have given them a high score.  Their innovation within the presentation was not particularly innovative and new, it was just updating an out of date business to join current trends.  The real innovation they presented to me was the presentation itself.  They took a way of presenting information that had not changed in decades, and decided it was ineffective to them, then presented to us the solution directly.

THAT was the ingeniousness I took away with me that day.  THAT was innovation.  Sure it didn't work for me, but it was a risk they took, and that was OK.  They were already thinking critically about new ideas and implementing them.  I'll be honest, I felt a tinge of jealousy.  But I learned, and they taught me.  I'll never forget that.

I mean, I'm not saying the professors didn't have a hand in teaching me too.  Without them I would have been so far away from the cliff, I wouldn't have even known it existed.  But that presentation really got to me in a positive way.  It gave me the push I needed, which goes to show that knowledge really is everywhere.  You just have to have the right thing spark your brain into understanding. 


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