Making any genuine change in life calls for innovation. Sure, you can throw yourself into the cut and thrust of changing circumstance, see what happens. But the play of events can only change you so much. There comes a point where you have to take an active role — re-imagining life and acting to redefine it. That’s a moment of personal innovation.
At the same time, innovation implies change. The great innovators are powerful agents of change — they aspire to change the world. Even if one only intends to transform the order of practice in a restricted domain, the same rule applies. Innovation is an aspirational pursuit. The will to innovation says: ‘Aspire to change the frame’.
I’m developing a perspective on innovation as an aspirational pursuit. By ‘aspirational’, I mean that innovation can be more than just a tool of entrepreneurship but a dynamic catalyst for personal empowerment and elevation. The following theses indicate the direction that the ideas are taking. These theses aren’t intended to describe every act of innovation. They are provocative ideals intended as spurs to thought.
Thesis #1: The logic of innovation is: change the part to change the whole. Innovate to change the frame.
Innovation bears upon a specific aspect of the whole. But it should aspire to transform the whole as such. The initial thing is to develop a conception of the whole that you intend to transform. Perhaps this is the set of styles, approaches and techniques employed in your creative discipline. Perhaps it is a restricted set of techniques comprising a creative method. Perhaps it is a commercial market, or the order of practice in a institution or a business unit. It could be a traffic system, a military strategy, or a political culture. Whatever the whole, an aspirational innovation should seek to transform the frame of reference on this context completely. Innovate to change the frame.
Thesis #2: Identify what’s empowering about transforming the whole.
Challenging the order of things is hard. Our thinking is couched within habits and rituals that stifle creative thought. Innovation requires you to break out of all that. It is usually necessary to prepare yourself first.
Think about how the innovation stands to empower you. How might it boost your spirit, kindle new energies, heighten your capacities to act and exist? How might it open up new time-lines and existential possibilities, freeing space on the horizon and reinvigorating life? You’ll need to be fired up and hungry for change to take that soaring leap of imagination beyond the limits of convention. Innovation shouldn’t only transform the whole — it should transform you in the process.
From this I get a third aspirational thesis:
Thesis #3: Innovate to transform your life as a whole.
Commit your person to the process of innovation. Step into the fires of creation — emerge renewed. Innovators shouldn’t lack for ambition.