I love innovation. I believe we generally do it poorly. I write, speak, and practice to do what I can to change that.
I come to the field of innovation first and foremost as a practitioner. Except for six miserable months at the beginning of my career, seeing an imperfect present, imagining a possible future, and wrestling one into the other is what I've done with my life. In 30 years of embracing wicked problems, I've played the role of startup entrepreneur, disruptive internal insurgent, and strategic consultant for global businesses, public sector leaders, and far flung humanitarian initiatives.
We live in a world of unprecedented creative possibility, but I'm not impressed with the current state of the innovator's craft. All to often the explanations of our profession seem to be composed by those who never did this work, cetologists peering over the side of the boat at the mysterious dolphins swimming below.
Fellow innovators frequently do little to move the conversation from these shallow waters. Innovation is a difficult profession, so it isn't surprising that simple rules like "fail fast" become the whole of many people's innovation tool kit.
We desperately need a more robust theory of practice. This begins with a deeper understanding of complex real world problems; scaling innovations in messy ecosystems, innovating big ideas in legacy environments, or dynamically building multi-party collaborations to pursue fleeting opportunities. For innovation to tackle these genuinely hard problems, we need a model of cause and effect that explains why creative strategies work (or don't work) in different situations.
This is an exciting moment. We are all part of a global community at the beginning of a new age driven by creative change. Don't mistake grumpiness about the status quo for disenchantment with the job at hand. We have the chance to re-invent the way we invent the future. That's amazing work! I can't imagine a better time to play in possibilities.
Daniel C. McClure
200 Randolph, 25th Floor
Chicago, IL 60601 USA