“Stormy waters” by Susanne Nilsson licensed under CC

Breaking the Cycle / Making Change!

I hopped onto LinkedIn earlier and spotted a great article “Fostering Innovation” by Greg Eaton. It reminded me a little of my earlier career years working in corporate, (well before the buzz of ‘disruptive innovation’).

At that time, there was a limited outlet for the disruptive / creative mind of an innovator — which left you frustrated and disengaged. I think, in some ways, the risk vs. reward leap was too much for some companies — there was no understanding / appreciation for disrupting a well trodden path (“if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”). For others, there was an overarching fear of change and how to handle it culturally / politically within the business — almost allowing red tape to block progress for very little gain.

I struggled — a lot. I could never settle on accepting a process / pathway if I could see a better way (‘improvement’) or understand evading a new idea that could drastically advance the business (‘innovation’). It quite often left me feeling isolated and devalued.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve taken a number of different paths I’d never had predicted. They have led me to a point where I have the freedom to explore innovation and improvement, and I love it. It’s meant that I’ve had to break my own view of how I’m meant to live / work which has delivered both positive (better work life balance, more freedom!) and negative (lower income, need I say more!) side effects. I had to disrupt my own career path: try new ventures, step out of my comfort zone, fail, learn, grow and try again. There’s pain, but a whole lot of gain.

Thinking about the current climate, it’s hard to imagine any company not having an appreciation for innovation. We’re surrounded by it in so many forms (new apps / services / technologies / startups / ideas) that denying it’s potential and value seems a risk in itself. But there will be far too many that can still attest to the experiences I’ve described in my early career. Stuck in a rut, inside an organisation that won’t / doesn’t want to change.

All I can say is break out - risk it! Try something new, don’t be afraid to fail / learn and find your own path for exploring improvement / innovation. It won’t be all smooth sailing, but I can guarantee you’ll love it!

Matt Woodward is the Co-Founder of Reflect Growth — an EdTech start up focused on Teacher Professional Development & the Growth Mindset based in Adelaide. You can reach me at matt@reflectgrowth.com or on Twitter as@woodwardmatt.