I love reading books to my kids. So many characters and so many fun voices I get to use. My goal is to make these stories come to life and have them feel the drama when Elephant and Piggie trick the reader into saying the word banana out loud. (Mo Willems, if you’re reading this, you are a rock star in our house!)

Even though my voices tend to only have a few variants, it’s vastly better than if I just said each word in my own voice. But why?

Today I heard someone read a passage out loud. While each word was delivered correctly, I could tell they didn’t grasp the meaning of the message. It was if each word lived in its own verbal apartment and had no clue who it’s neighbors were. Just saying the words gives them no life, no pulse, and feels like the reader doesn’t believe what they’re saying. They don’t understand the core message.

This is the problem with corporate innovation initiatives. Innovation becomes a buzzword and a check list item. They recite words without invoking meaning. There is no pulse, there isn’t a deep understanding. It’s like the first time you have to speak in a foreign language. The depth of understanding is around pronunciation, not flow or the heart behind the words.

So if that kind of company innovation is the plain reading of a passage, who is doing the funny voices reading of children’s books?

These are the companies that get innovation as a thing to be actively done, not just checked off a list. Companies that get it and understand it at the core that they can offer their own interpretation of it. It’s not enough to just include “be an innovative leader in the market” in your vision statements if you don’t put heart and muscle behind the objective.

How do we innovate with heart and muscle? We don’t just say “innovation”. We commit to innovation. It takes effort and intention.

  • It takes a growing a culture of innovation. You must nurture mindsets that are confident in creativity, not afraid to fail, and realize that disruptive innovation is a team sport (not a solo one).
  • It takes designing mechanics of innovation. There have to be process and structure in place that sparks innovation, reinforces imaginative spirit, and keeps improvement at the forefront.
  • It takes budgeting resources for innovation. Setting aside time, tasks, and talent that fuel your culture of innovation. Resources that are designated for designing the unmade future.
  • It takes understanding outcomes of innovation. Where the end result is not always what you hope, requires great mental agility, and the minimum ROI is learning (though not the least important).

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore each piece individually, and layout a minimally viable plan for authentic and actionable innovation.

But for now, go back and read this post out loud. But don’t just SAY it. Bring it to life. Read it in a character’s voice. Make it yours. Make it awesome.


2 thoughts on “I Learned What’s Wrong with Innovation from Reading Children’s Books

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