Motivated to Innovate

I’ve been reading a lot of Seth Godin’s stuff these days. LOTS — books, e-books, blog posts and anything else I can find. He’s not only a breath of fresh air but he’s helped me look at the work I’ve been doing in a new way.

How’s that? Well, in Free Prize Inside he talks about how white collar workers have been living a lie for a while now. Our ability to innovate (i.e. our ideas and creativity) are the only reason we’re worth our salaries, especially considering all the people who would be willing to do our jobs for the same or less money. So do we innovate like crazy? Generally, no. Instead we want processes, rules, and detailed instructions about how to do our jobs — those things which make us closer to an assembly line worker (skilled, yes, but also easily replaceable.)

I never used to be one to use “the rules” as a crutch to protect the status quo, but lately I’ve slipped into the easy trap of “going with the flow.” It rings hollow inside.

Normally I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but this year I have one. I’m going to re-focus on creativity and innovation — in gaining new customers and building better business partnerships. I’m going champion my own ideas and those of my colleagues. I’m not going to stop the first time I get told ‘no’ or get told it’s ‘outside the policy.’

And I’m going to do it only because it’s fun and personally fulfilling. I know up front that, outside of leaving the company, I won’t get paid more, get a promotion or even get a better chair. What I will get is another fun, fulfilling project. Or fired. At this point, either result is better than status quo.