Out With the Old, in With the New
Sometimes we can overlook what is right in front of us. Focusing on innovation and casting about for a new topic to illuminate every couple of weeks often leads one to think about tomorrow or tomorrow’s, tomorrow rather than about today or even the past. Yet, sometimes what was old is new again.
Innovation has been defined in many ways such as “something original and more effective,” or as “a new idea, device or method: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods.” The MIT Sloan Management Review in “How to Identify and Build New Businesses” urged executives and managers need to break away from traditional ways of thinking and use change to their advantage, that it was “a time of risk but even greater opportunity.” Taken together, perhaps innovation is trying something new; taking the risk to achieve something greater than there was before.
The AT&T Developers Summit, an event held to “engage with expert speakers on trends in technology, and get hands-on in the Expo with devices and demos” took place immediately before the Consumer Electronics Show early this month. The Summit featured a variety of speakers and panelists all talking about the current state, and future promise of innovation.
One of the technology trends keynote presentations was by actor and director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He discussed the online collaborative production company he founded, HitRecord. As he explained, the company is an innovative, online, community-sourced production company with people working together in a collaborative community to create a product. HitRecord’s various media products aim to share and improve the world of art and media.
It sounds a great deal like another organization built around the same process 43 years ago.
The ALEC central idea is, and has been for 43 years, to bring together experts on various policy issues to seek solutions to problems occurring in states across the nation. Said slightly differently, ALEC facilitates a collaborative community to gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by Americans. It is a community that comes together to create or improve upon public policy no one person could do as successfully working on their own. These ideas are then shared with the world.
This risk taking is an attempt to provide better public policy options that have withstood the scrutiny of experts and gained from the diversity of insights and ideas from a large community has certainly attracted opposition. That is nearly universal, new ideas, new processes and new products gain critics, a criticism nearly always grounded in fear of the new, in the fear of innovation.
The ALEC idea, similar in process to the HitRecord idea, is as simple as it is profound, just as it is with much innovation. Sometimes in innovation the process that is old is new again, but with innovative outcomes.