American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Are You Innovative?

By Steve Ritch

Associates Insights - 275Innovation is a concept encompassing creativity and imagination that is sweeping the business world. Budget cuts and adverse economic conditions have caused nonprofit, governmental, and private sector organizations to be much more inventive to continue providing the best products and services possible with fewer resources.

Okay, so organizations and institutions are trying to be more innovative. So what? What does that mean? How does that pertain to me?

First, consider what innovation means to you. Do you think of innovation as a colossal achievement that changes everyone's life? Or, could innovation also mean smaller, incremental changes that lead to a new way of looking at something? Could a new way of using something you already have be innovative?

I submit that innovation does not have to involve a big change or a matter of the highest priority. And, innovation can strike anyone at any time. The idea is not to be a slave to convention; don't concentrate only on the things that get the most attention or seem to be the most glamorous. Instead, look at the things that affect you the most in your day-to-day work. Is there something that you could do differently? Is there something that you could try that you have never tried before? Are you convinced that there must be a better way to do something?

When Spencer Silver, PhD, invented a "low-tack," reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive at IBM, his colleagues were not impressed. He gave seminars describing the merits of his invention, but had a hard time convincing anyone of its potential as an IBM product. Then one day he was approached by Art Fry, who shared his idea of using the adhesive to attach the bookmark he used during church services to the back of his hymnal. As a result of their collaboration and innovation, Post-it® Notes were born!*

If Dr. Silver or Mr. Fry had not been open to seeing things differently, we would have lost out on a great invention. Maybe Post-it® Notes aren't the most glamorous invention in the history of the world, but anyone who ever had to leave a quick note for someone knows how useful these sticky little sheets can be.

What do you see every day that you can think of in a different way? How do you tap into your creativity? What can you do to be more innovative?

*Read the full story of Post-it® Notes.

Share This Page

Print This Page