My first post in GOOD ~ a mashup of a few older posts and thoughts with some new!
We humans love to divide the world: yes, no; either, or; black, white; true, false; winners, losers; successes, failures. Yet little in life is really that nice and tidy, despite how much we want it to be. And our world is not going in that direction anymore.
Many of us know that new discoveries, the disruptions, the innovations are found in the grey – in between the extremes, by recombining what is out there through And and Both instead of Either and Or. As someone with a head of black, white and grey hairs, believe me, I live it!
Perhaps one of the most dangerous of these artificial constructs is that of successes or failures. This has insidiously permeated so many of our systems – especially the language of entrepreneurship and innovation. We don’t allow a middle or blended path. When we look at the successful entrepreneurs, how many of them were successful the very first time? How many had overnight successes that truly were overnight, instead of years? Very few.
What if we start talking about Tryers (which obviously means people will go to the opposite extreme of Non-Tryers) instead of just winners or successes?
What if we started encouraging and supporting those who try, over and over, be it the same or a different venture.
What if we helped the Non-Tryers to understand why they didn’t try? Perhaps it is fear, time, who knows… but perhaps we could develop a support structure to allow them to become Tryers, in their own time?
What if we started to infiltrate our education system with tools, lessons, examples, opportunities to Try so that our children could become Tryers at earlier and earlier ages. And What If we rewarded them for it? And What if we rewarded our teachers for teaching smart Trying?
While a full societal adoption of the Trying construct certainly will take time, you can start now! There are many ways you can start embedding Tryers into your organization’s lexicon. So What If you, tomorrow, asked one of your people to Try and What if you back her or him up when she/he raises objections for why something couldn’t be done? What if you just started with that?
Thank you to @mattmurrie for helping me more fully embed “What If” in my lexicon.
- Thank You for Your Service by Lt. Col. Matthew Fritz ~ read, reread, be grateful!
- The Slippery Slope of Not Asking Why (me)
- Let Them Fail by Robin Pendoley ~ we need to accept & learn from failure in all sectors, including non-profits -- Yes!
- For Whom Do We Innovate? by Anish Sarma ~ Technology & Innovation for true "Good"
- Integrating Design Theory & The Scientific Process by Hanna McPhee (Brown '14) ~ Hanna also hosted an Innochat, She's one of the leaders on Techstyle Haus, She's co-president of Brown's STEAM & on & on...
If you ever wondered about the power of innovation to radically change lives, wonder no more. Anish Sarma, a volunteer at SpeakYourMind Foundation (SYMF) and research engineer at Braingate, tells us. SYMF spun out of the BrainGate lab at Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital to develop communication technologies for people who can't communicate effectively because of neurological injury and disease. You see why I love working with Millennials?? Please consider donating here.
For Whom Do We Innovate?
I didn't really "get" tablets for a long time. There wasn't much I could do on a tablet that I wouldn't rather do on a laptop. The main advantage of the tablet seemed to be that it made streaming video and social media look nicer.
Then I saw someone use a tablet to type "Hello."
The typist was a woman who is paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak. Technology developed by the SpeakYourMind Foundation has enabled her and others with severe disabilities to communicate, when other, costlier technologies have been less successful. The growth of tablets as a platform has helped make SpeakYourMind's technology practical and affordable. (Disclosure: I'm a volunteer and unabashed shill for SpeakYourMind.)
As an engineer, I'm as enthusiastic about innovation as anyone. I'm waiting for my jetpack, too. Sometimes, however, I wonder what exactly we're reaching for. The sleek, frictionless future sold by our most successful tech-media companies says, "You deserve better than to lift a finger." But for people who can't use their fingers or their arms or their voices, the technology designed to help is paleolithic compared to common consumer gadgets. I'm learning to measure the success of an innovation not by its profit margins but by its benefit to people on the margins. Ubiquity is not the same thing as progress.
That's why I've been so excited to volunteer with SpeakYourMind. The core technology of SpeakYourMind is simple. But the group's real innovation is its commitment to using that technology to advance the basic rights of people with severe disabilities: to involve them in fundamental decisions about their own health care, to bring them into the workforce, and to give them the freedom to express themselves to their loved ones and the world.
Every new tech startup claims to be about people, not gadgets. SpeakYourMind has me convinced.