All Articles Leadership Strategy Does your company invite innovation?

Does your company invite innovation?

3 min read


Exploring in-sites — Places that invite innovation

Innovative organizations are gerunds, not nouns.  When one says, “I’m going for a run,” it has a completely different significance than “I’m running!” Nouns, you learned in school, denote a place, person or thing. But gerunds are verb-nouns that denote action. Innovative organizations are in motion, the type than eagerly invite others to join in.

In-sites are places of calling. Calling as a noun implies a mission or passion; calling as a gerund suggest a beckoning or summoning. In-sites are organizations that are more than visionary or purposeful — they engage in mission-centered beckoning. When researchers at Medtronic are stumped designing a new medical invention they listen to patients talk about how they have benefited from their Medtronic device. It is a summoning from the core of their purpose of “a patient focus that inspires us to excel.”  The mission of Harley-Davidson states: “We ride with our customers and apply this deep connection in every market we serve.”

In-sites are places of exploring. They do not gloat or gab about employee empowerment and worker autonomy. They plunge into the space where ingenious accidents and fruitful serendipity are likely to happen. Google employees spend 20% of their work week focusing on projects that interest them. As you might predict, 50% of Google breakthroughs come from this 20% exploratory time. In-sites celebrate excellent failures, especially those that instruct the organization. They know that innovation is about transformation, not about incremental improvement. Thomas Edison did not set out simply to improve the candle.

In-sites are places of mastering. The learning journey is valued over the learning destination, since mastery implies a steady state. Innovation is as lively and impatient as a five-year old waiting for the arrival of her first birthday party guest. Mastery-seekers often desire credential and reward, but mastering is grounded in the sheer joy of becoming. “Learning and innovation go hand in hand,” wrote renowned physicist William Pollard.  “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” Michelangelo, after painting his masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, is reported to have said “I’m still learning.”

In-sites invite innovation; they do not direct or manage innovation. The door to ingenuity to opened from the inside. As a setting of collaboration and courage-giving, in-sites sparkle with energy, synergy and industry. They are the handmaiden of inventions that can be converted from discovery to benefit.

Chip Bell is a provocative, cutting-edge speaker — read about his keynotes at his website Visit to learn more about the Chip Bell Group and the consulting services they provide to organizations around the world. Chip is also an author whose newest book is “The 9-1/2 Principles of Innovative Service.”