Calling All Innovators

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
—Steve Jobs

Most organizations strive to be in the former category. I feel certain that all of our association customers want to be leaders and innovators in the professions and industries that they represent. However, the desire for innovation doesn’t make it so.

How do organizations foster and encourage innovation? According to “Building and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation,” a professional practice statement adopted by the Association Forum of Chicagoland in March 2013, “systematic and sustainable innovation involves making meaningful changes to improve products, processes, or organizational effectiveness.”

The statement goes on to suggest that to be innovators, association professionals should “look for opportunities to solve problems members are encountering which haven’t been fully or successfully addressed.”

Here’s one example of how this concept is being put into practice. One of our customers, the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE), recently issued an innovation challenge, “an incentive prize competition to foster and showcase novel approaches, technologies, and processes in echocardiography.”

If you have an innovative concept to improve workflow efficiency in the cardiovascular ultrasound field, ASE wants to hear from you. Echovation Challenge 2016 is designed to serve as an “accelerant for innovative ideas” and provide “a platform and forum for ASE members and others to offer ground-breaking Platform Solutions to the challenges that face cardiovascular ultrasound.”

Perhaps, a similar strategy would work for your association. The idea of making an official call for innovators in your field or profession seems like one worth exploring to me. In this instance, many heads are likely better than one, so you might consider what forum your association could provide for sharing and developing innovative ideas.