Making Innovation Sustainable – Part 3 of 4

Making Innovation Sustainable - Part 3 of 4Click on Part 1 or Part 2 if you missed them

Purpose and Passion

Ultimately, successful and sustainable innovation is all about purpose and passion. The people in your organization have to be clear on what the purpose of the organization is. Ideally, that purpose has to be something bigger than the individuals and something that people can get passionate about, because first and foremost, as Jeffrey Phillips has said, “You can’t force a disinterested person to innovate.”

Passion is a prerequisite not just for getting started with innovation; people leading innovation projects must have enough passion to fight through, over, around, or under any obstacles they may encounter in their effort to make a new idea a reality.

“Passion-based organizations stop at nothing to accomplish their goals and are able to attract people and resources to their causes. That got me thinking. Over all of my years as an innovation junkie, the common denominator, among the innovators I have connected with and the most successful enterprises I have observed and worked with, is passion. They started with a passion or cause and then organized around it to make it happen. Not the other way around.” — Saul Kaplan

Blogging Innovation as a Case Study in Passion

I started innovating long ago, but I didn’t start Blogging Innovation until 2006. I realized I needed an outlet to express my passion for innovation, and blogging offered the perfect opportunity. I kept reading and writing about innovation despite getting only a couple of hundred people to read my articles each day. Then at the start of 2009 I completed a marketing strategy project for Wunderman and Microsoft Windows Live, and, using some great tools including Website Grader, I discovered that the blog had some technical challenges. After fixing those, traffic to Blogging Innovation finally started to take off. Now instead of averaging more than 200 daily visits, the blog averages nearly 10,000 and the numbers are still growing. Do I spend less time on the blog now than I used to? No!

Most people would consider an increase in traffic of 2,500 percent in one year as being a huge success and a chance to relax, but I don’t see it that way. Back in August 2009 I decided to commit the blog to a mission of making innovation and marketing insights accessible for the greater good. As a consequence of that mission, I decided to open up the blog to the very best contributing authors on the topic of innovation and other marketing – related subjects that I could find.

Instead of using the blog as an extension of my company, Blogging Innovation exists to help raise the baseline understanding of innovation and marketing so that organizations can become better at satisfying the needs of their customers, the first time they try. After all, the more efficient our organizations are at meeting their customers’ needs, the less waste of human capital and natural resources. That’s what drives me to get up at 5:00 a.m. seven days a week to start letting people know about all the great content our contributing authors have published that day.

We have recently decided to take on a monthly sponsor who wants to be associated with innovation in a tasteful way, but that is not for commercial reasons but because the blog needs additional people power to run it and a new site design to make the content even more accessible. As I go out to look for the assistance I need to take Blogging Innovation to the next level, I’ll be looking for one thing in the people I choose to help make the community stronger — passion.

Note: For the newer readers, Blogging Innovation formed the foundation of Innovation Excellence before I sold it and re-booted Blogging Innovation as Human-Centered Change & Innovation.

Passion versus Obsession

There is a great article “Passion versus Obsession” by John Hagel that explores the differences between passion and obsession. This is an important distinction to understand in order to make sure you are hiring people to power your innovation efforts who are passionate and not obsessive. Here are a few key quotes from the article:

“The first significant difference between passion and obsession is the role free will plays in each disposition: passionate people fight their way willingly to the edge to find places where they can pursue their passions more freely, while obsessive people (at best) passively drift there or (at worst) are exiled there.

It’s not an accident that we speak of an “object of obsession,” but the “subject of passion.” That’s because obsession tends towards highly specific focal points or goals, whereas passion is oriented toward networked, diversified spaces.

The subjects of passion invite and even demand connections with others who share the passion.

Because passionate people are driven to create as a way to grow and achieve their potential, they are constantly seeking out others who share their passion in a quest for collaboration, friction and inspiration . . . . The key difference between passion and obsession is fundamentally social: passion helps build relationships and obsession inhibits them.

It has been a long journey and it is far from over, but it has taught me that obsession confines while passion liberates.”

You can read ahead by getting the book or downloading the sample chapter, or by checking out the other parts here:

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