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4 ways SmartBrief is thinking about disruption

Innovation and disruption. What are they and is there a silver lining?

3 min read


To remind the importance of innovation in the business world. Businessman holds in his hand a light bulb. New idea in human palm. To be ordinary or different. Innovation brings success. Innovation concepts on blackboard background. Creative Idea Concepts with Light Bulb on Blackboard Background.

We recently attended ASAE’s annual meeting & exposition in the legendary music city of Nashville, Tenn. Unsurprisingly, the overarching theme had to do with innovation and disruption; after all, the past few years have felt like nothing but constant disruption. The silver lining? Disruption breeds innovation.

Here’s what we learned: 

Honing in on innovation

What exactly is innovation? And how do we foster it? 

We sat in on a session by Marcus Whitney, one of Nashville’s movers and shakers and founding partner of Jumpstart Health Investors. Whitney spoke about how organizations can inspire change by simply embracing innovation. A session by Safi Bahcall challenged associations to attempt to cultivate the willingness to structure successful experiments. Bahcall is best known for being the co-founder and CEO of Synta Pharmaceuticals and author of the book Loonshots. 

The word “innovation” can often be pretty vague, but it can also mean that innovation can be whatever your organization or employees need it to be. It might be a little frustrating to think of it this way, but remember that some of the most innovative ideas came from simple ideas. 

Facing disruption with strategy 

Recognizing that disruption took place in many shapes and forms over the last few years. But this was also a breeding ground for innovative strategies to help organizations stand out.  Creating an environment that welcomes and fosters innovation requires strategic planning. It’s a lot like a game of chess. Chess pieces don’t all look the same or move the same way. So planning your next move means understanding how your employees move and playing to their abilities. Reworking your organization’s mindset is a great start when looking to foster innovation. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t the same 

One of the overarching topics consistently skirts around DEI. Diversity, equity and inclusion all mean very different things. And to be frank, you can’t have diversity without inclusion. 

At a recent session, this idea of recognizing diversity and driving inclusion was highlighted. So how can you help drive inclusion to incorporate diversity in your organization? 

Recognizing your organization’s resources, strengths, and weaknesses will only encourage those brilliant ideas to be brought to fruition.

Failure is a form of innovation

Recognizing that you seek to be more innovative also means opening yourself up for potential failure. The idea of failure has always induced negativity, but what if you started to think of failure as a way to become more innovative? Sounds more positive through that lens, right? The experimental, innovative nature territory is often outside of one’s comfort zone and doesn’t always work out perfectly on the first try, so having humility can often provide clarity. Attempting new operating methods takes courage and a mindset that can forge success, but the trial-by-error route can often lead to the most innovative successes. 

Marus Whitney said it best: “Make friends with failure.” 


Martha Karmali is SmartBrief’s senior product content manager. Kathryn Morgan is a senior manager on SmartBrief’s partnership team.