You Cannot Produce Innovation in Isolation


Photo by David Makar


 It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.— Roger von Oech

Story by definition is a two-way communication medium. It requires the teller and the listener. It requires being heard.

Innovation is the same way.

Like many of you I am tired of the term innovation. It has been bandied around  like the newest top 40 dance hit…after hearing about it for the 18th trillion time it makes you want to scream. After a while  the innovation drum beat  felt more like an ear worm (i.e. Justin Beiber). Constant innovation not grounded in values, mission, or vision bores me, and honestly I have never seen much come from it.

I am way more excited  and stimulated when we discuss collaboration and partnership. Cooperation and co-creation light my fire.

The world’s greatest organizations  use engagement and  their audiences in the product/program design process. They  collaborate and co-create so that all benefit.They  do it to save money and leverage relationships. They do it to increase exposure and media hit and shareholder satisfaction.

I like-y me some win-win outcomes because If I am being honest it is the only way we will survive.

The model of the nonprofit organization that  fund raises and or uses grants to  keep its doors open is going the way of the 8 track tapes or CD’s . One day very soon, we will look back  and think how did that ever work?



Innovation is fostered by information gathered from new connections; from insights gained by journeys into other disciplines or places; from active, collegial networks and fluid, open boundaries. Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren’t there before.— Margaret J. Wheatley


I had the pleasure of spending time last weekend at Finger Lakes Social Entrepreneurship Institute. This great event was organized by the Center for Transformative Action.  The participants of this event where there specifically to discuss ideas around shared economies. They grounded their work in the ideas of collaboration, cooperation and shared strength. They freely shared ideas, information,  and resources.

They explored new models and created new stories. They were neither alone nor isolated as they created and epic shit happened.


If you want to build core  nonprofit management skills crucial to your organization’s success you can schedule some 1:1 time with me here or learn about other ways we can work together here.

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