The Innovation Manifesto

January 31, 2016 Stephen Murgatroyd

In 2009 as we were working on our book on innovation (Rethinking Innovation), Don Simpson and I developed an innovation manifesto. If you are serious about leading innovation and building a diverse economy, you may want to look through this since this is what it will take:

  1. We will allow events to change us — Rather than fighting change, we will embrace change. We will be open to events and development and permit events to lead to change.

  2. We recognize that process is as important as outcome — When the outcome drives the process, we will end up using the same processes in the attempt to achieve different results. If we permit ourselves to first work the process to ensure alignment around what our priorities are rather than leap to a quick solution, we believe we are more likely to actually identify quality solutions.

  3. We will love experiments — We will embrace attempts, trials, experiments, explorations, errors. We are committed to building a culture of innovation in which disciplined experimentation is both practised and respected.

  4. We will capture accidents — We recognize that the "wrong" answer is the right answer to a different question.

  5. We recognize the critical need for leadership and accept that everyone has the potential for leadership

  In the global knowledge-based economy, leadership development is one of the highest forms of leverage for an individual, an organization, or a nation

   Leadership is first and foremost a way of thinking—a mindset

   Leadership attitudes and behaviours are increasingly expected of people even if they are not in a formal leadership position. Thus, we commit to being ready to be strong supporters of our leaders and to take a leadership role when it is appropriate.

  1. We give ourselves permission to ask stupid questions — We recognize that asking what look to be "stupid" questions often results in true creative and breakthrough innovations. We intend to be "stupid" more often.

  2. We must collaborate — The future is about networks of people collaborating to solve problems. While we cherish individual creativity, we will nourish collaboration as a fundamental feature of our innovative practices.

  3. We will work the metaphor — We recognize that every object has the power to be used in a different way, for a different purpose than that for which it is intended. We will use the metaphor properties of objects, ideas and things to explore other uses.

  4. We will make our own tools and make extensive use of the tools of others — If we need a new tool, we will create it. If we can use an existing tool in a different way, we will do so.

  5. We will make new words and expand the lexicon — If the current language is not strong enough to describe what it is we can see or do, we will create the words we need, so as to promote understanding.

  6. We will think with our minds and not rely on technology — While we recognize that technology can help, it is not a substitute for creative and imaginative use of the mind. We will expand our minds, and use our minds to create, imagine, solve, explore and decide.

  7. We will listen very very carefully — When we meet with others and explore with them, we will listen to the words, what is said, and what is not said. When we ask questions it will be to gain clarity and not just to criticize the ideas of others. We will seek to understand before we act.

  8. We will take field trips — We will engage in global expeditions (sometimes physical journeys and sometimes journeys of the mind. We will explore the world, and examine how others solve problems, make a difference, find out, and understand. By looking at other cultures, and other ways of working, we will know that we can improve our own.

  9. We will make mistakes faster — The more mistakes we make, the more we are on the edge, and closer to true innovation.

  10. We will break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, fold it and cherish it — We will look at all the angles and all the possible uses for an idea, object or skill.

  11. We will imitate — If we can find a good idea in one area, we will seek to imitate that idea in another.

  12. We will remember and learn — We will learn from the past, we will look to remember our successes and failures, and we will learn from them. We will learn from the successes and failures of others. We will remember those who helped us get there, wherever "there" is.

  13. We will jump fences and explore all edges — We will ignore boundaries between "disciplines" and "areas of work." We will beg, borrow, explore, and leave no stone unturned.

  14. We will enable — We will recognize that others can help, and we will enable others to be in a position to help, engage, and explore with us.

  15. We will laugh and find joy — We intend to have fun in our exploration of what is possible.


So if you are out there and want to lead innovation - biy into this way of thinking. Its not optional. 

Written by Stephen Murgatroyd - contact stephen.murgatroyd@shaw.ca for permissions.

Previous Article
Privatizing the University and the GERM

The Government of the UK is consulting widely on the future of higher education. They have issued a green p...

Next Article
Paris, Climate Change and The Real Challenges

The Paris Climate Change Talks are  already beginning to sound problematic. Here’s why:1.     We cannot sto...