Creativity and Innovation As a Sense of Nationalism

There seems to be an attempt in the United States and other first world nations to create a resurgence of innovation and creativity. This is interesting because for so long we had worked on standardization in our education system, getting everyone on the same page, and marching in step. Now we see we are being beaten in the global marketplace, and we realize our greatest strength was our entrepreneurs, creativity, and innovation. Since we all agree on that, we are looking for more of it now.

Today, creativity and innovation has been rebranded almost as a sense of nationalism in the United States. We also see something similar had happened in Canada as they worked very hard to create a knowledge worker society, get everyone educated, and lead the world in scientific discovery. Much of Europe also attempted the same. As the Olympic Games of 2012 show a sense of pride and nationalism for sports, agility, and athletic ability we see how this can be such a strong bond.

When we compete as Americans for creativity and innovation in the marketplace of ideas, we see we have a stellar advantage due to our free-market system. You see, the free-market and capitalism rewards people with great ideas, who can solve problems and innovate, and sell their inventions and methods in our economy. All we have to do we show them the way, and let them compete in that same marketplace of ideas. That makes sense right?

It’s almost as if creativity and innovation is an extra lever to reignite a sense of nationalism and pride. The United States has always been on the leading-edge of invention, problem solving, and having a can-do attitude. It is practically the spirit of America, and it still shines. Some might say that too much nationalistic pride is not a good thing, but maybe it is when it comes to an underlining theme of problem solving, innovating, and creating new products and services. Not to mention the fact that it will provide more jobs as well, something that our economy needs right now.

Education is also a nice arena to uplift a nation for nationalistic pride, and it doesn’t hurt anyone else to compete for the most educated society. Luckily, America is quite good at all of these things, despite the detractors who might say that our society isn’t as educated is theirs, the reality is; “sure it is, look everywhere, America is winning.”

Promoting creativity and innovation as a sense of nationalism I believe is a smart play for a great team – Team USA. It doesn’t hurt anyone else anywhere else in the world for us to do that. In fact, it might help them by setting the bar very high, and challenging them to do the same.

Let’s Make This the Era of Innovation for America!

Innovation Definition – The Four Requirements For Innovation

Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization. It is therefore important that we have a good working innovation definition. Innovation can apply to many things. It is usually the term applied to a new product, but it can also be used to describe new processes, methods or inventions.

Here are four essential ingredients to a definition of innovation:

1. Something New

Everyone likes something new. How many advertisements have you seen that use the words “new and improved”? We all want the latest and greatest products and ways of doing things. Newness, however, is just the beginning.

2. Better Than What Exists

New for the sake of being new is of little value. It must also be improved. A new and improved toothpaste must have a new that increases its perceived value. A new office procedure must actually do something better than the old way.

3. Economically Viable

Does it make or save money? If it doesn’t then it shouldn’t be implemented. If the new and improved toothpaste makes more sales that in turn makes more profits, it is a profitable addition. If your new office procedure improves the efficiency of the work place and therefore saves labor costs, it makes the organization more profitable.

4. Widespread Appeal

All the first 3 elements are very important and even related to this one. However, there needs to be a basic appeal to the new innovation. If not it won’t sell. If your new and improved toothpaste is licorice flavored, then it might have very limited appeal. It is new and improved. Licorice may even be a cheaper flavor to implement that any others. If nobody wants it, then it is not a true innovation.

The same would apply to your office change. if it requires an action that no one in the office likes, then it is doomed from the start.

What You Must Know To Step Up As An Innovation Hero

The Reality

Creating deeply innovative organizations needs to replace the more simplistic view of creating organizations that are technically innovative, but perpetuate a business culture that is toxic and destructive. Too often this gets ignored until there are legal, financial, or public relations consequences at hand. As a result, brand risk management innovation has yet to, in most companies, expand beyond this limited framework for assessing and addressing toxic and destructive issues. Brand risk management is still seen primarily through the lens of risk aversion and exposure to legal liability, and innovation is mostly understood exclusively through the lens of technological innovations. This is how glaring blind spots remain present in the cultural mindset and become institutionalized. Alternatively, those who embrace the importance of diversity inclusion in fostering innovative organizational cultures reap its rewards.

  • 85% of CEOs whose organizations have a lived diversity and inclusion strategy say it has enhanced performance.

  • Highly inclusive organizations rate themselves 170% better at innovation

  • Improving organizational cultures means less employee absenteeism

  • These organizations also have greater employee retention

  • Intentionally fostering inclusion makes companies 45 percent more likely to increase market share.

Step Up: Obstacles and challenges

Innovation requires the capacity to see things in an unexpected way. Uniting unique perspectives from different backgrounds, frequently is the catalyst for forward thinking solutions, and this is the place diversity inclusion is required. Furthermore, research shows that innovation requires an environment in which all ideas can be considered regardless of their source. Oppositional issues typically manifest as lawsuits and public shaming on social media following individuals within an organization acting on their own personal bias. Despite having policies that denounce discrimination and bias, companies like Hilton, Starbucks, and Toyota have all paid big this year… both in actual dollar terms as well as lost social capital the brands had built in prior decades. At the same time even some of the movers and shakers of the technology industry have been dethroned by reports and allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination.

So why do we see this again and again from companies who boast policies promoting inclusion and respect?

Because people within their organization, the ones who literally define what the organization is in real terms, have been unable (in too many cases) to identify their personal bias and choose a better course of action in order to experience the transformation of personal growth.

What we have had are business cultures shaped by societies still grappling with legacies of oppression and exclusion.

Cost of the status quo over innovation

Because business decisions are driven, in many cases, primarily by profitability and risk aversion. This is part of the flaw in that approach to brand risk management and a reason why innovation is so needed sooner rather than later.

There was an experiment where a resume with a black sounding name received half as many callbacks as the same resume with a white sounding name, even when it was sent to corporations with strong diversity reputations. Technology has made the world smaller and it has also increased transparency in many instances. Since it has been clearly established that diverse perspectives are key to innovation, what is the value to be won when discrimination is essentially normalized?

“There’s a price to be paid for workplace discrimination-$64 billion.

That amount represents the annual estimated cost of losing and replacing more than 2 million American workers who leave their jobs each year due to unfairness and discrimination.”

Welp, Michael. “Workforce Discrimination Is Costing Business $64 Billion Every Year”

What is more difficult to ascertain are the impacts on the individuals discriminated against. The ripples set in motion continue as evident by the current state of things. Looking back at the tech sector that is typically where folks turn to get a sense of what is on the innovation front lines. There are disturbing consequences, beyond the obvious, to the toxic and discriminatory tech culture noted in places like Silicon Valley.

“If we don’t do this now, all of these biases and discrimination will be rewritten into the algorithms and AI and machine learning that is powering the tech of the future. Already, facial recognition technology is basically sexist and racist. It doesn’t recognize women and people of color the same way that it recognizes white men. That’s a big deal.”

McGrane, Claire. Emily Chang on the ‘Brotopia’ of Silicon Valley, and how companies can tackle a toxic culture

The past is connected to the present. Today is that the foundation for the long run. and since the response by several leaders is usually a band aid approach progress has been slow and painful. The truth is hearts and minds can’t be legislated by external forces, new policies and laws will have painful limits do most. The path forward is a deeply personal one as a result of the outcomes mentioned here all emerge from a deeply personal place inside the people concerned.

The Solution

The simple solution starts with leaders. Smart leaders need to embrace personal innovation in order to lead by example. Policy statements or diversity training that make things worse, or provide short term remedies no longer pass as solutions. Too many studies have shown those approaches don’t work. But a leader who shows the courage to step up with personal innovation can cultivate a meaningfully innovative organizational culture that seems to naturally increase market share, roll out products and services that lead your industry and play a vital part in creating a better world.