We kept hearing about the importance of being innovative. Some pronouncements were blunt and rather dire: “if you can't be 2.0, get out of the way,” “innovate or die!” I did not take this to mean that all of my prior experience and knowledge are now trash (as I heard expressed by an attendee) but that I must be willing to try new things, learn new things, and generate new ideas. As Brad Mitchell, Director of STEM education, pointed out, the new generation even thinks fundamentally differently than my generation. I may not succeed in changing my way of thinking entirely, try as I might, but I understand that I must keep stepping forward just to stay even!
The organizations and companies I heard about made a deliberate effort to foster a culture of innovation. This involved a time commitment, tolerance for mistakes, and participation of staff at all levels. Priority Designs designed common work spaces conducive to conversation and a project-based organizational structure rather than a hierarchical one. Cuyahoga County Public Library encourages all ideas in alignment with their goals.