I was reading an article during my morning breakfast and stopped when I came to this paragraph:
“We spend so much time focusing on the new, the flashy and the innovative. It’s important not to neglect the simple things that matter. Eradicating the Guinea worm didn’t require research, new technology or billions of dollars of investment. It took determination, focus and dedication. It required people, and talking, and educating.”
Even here in the office innovation talk can become repetitive and monotonous. I think that it’s easy when thinking about change – business – innovation to forget that education is probably the most transformative concept there is. It’s not new, in fact, it’s an old idea. Education is the key to change. Education works, and the article I was reading this morning shows this by using the example of a medical problem, which has no viable solution, but can actually be prevented by educating people about how not to get it. But it also works because people care, they can connect with each other, talk and interact. This doesn’t require computers, technology or IT skills.
As he says later in the article:
“Clean your water. Practice hygiene. Quarantine the infected. These ideas sound simple. They sound like common sense. They also work.”
It’s not to say that these are instant solutions, in fact he also says that they take time, sometimes it is about changing the culture or traditions of a group. But looking towards long term solutions as opposed to just short term goals is a much better way of thinking about change and innovation, and often times that means not only educating your community but also giving time for the solutions to work.
Too much business is focused on short term profits, motivations and outcomes that change isn’t given time to be developed. Looking towards simple solutions that provide returns in the future, in a month, a year, 2 years is an alternative way to discover what hidden and overlooked types of knowledge are available to you. Old ideas might not be fashionable but most of them work just because they have had the time to be perfected. The best example is in a recipe that has been passed down through generations. Altered by each generation where ingredients change, measurements change, processes change, the resulting dish is definitely a part of your family culture which has been nourished by family members – changes to that dish take time, and don’t happen instantly. The cake/sauce/dish/food is better for it.
Give a chance to time, to education and to old ideas. They might just be the key to the problem that you are facing because great ideas take time.