Acknowledgment, Innovation and You

Innovation and AcknowledgementThe Chilean biologist Humberto Maturana once said that acknowledgement was the biological form of love. If it gives you pause you’re in good company. Even the brilliant Seth Godin said “he had to think about that for awhile.”   But Seth has helped us understand more about attention than most anyone — having helped to popularize the idea of interrupting/not interrupting others’ in his first book, Permission Marketing, way back when he headed up marketing at Yahoo.

In many ways the internet, this crazy ceaseless dance of virtual attention getting and giving is one unending minuet of acknowledging others.

What after all is traffic if not a dance card? What are Alexa and Compete and Google measuring anyway?   Ones and zeros?  I don’t think so.  All those hits, clicks, page views, spikes, ripples, stumbleupons, tweets and everything else they spawn?   It might be said that it is simply…Acknowledgement.

My friend the designer and Nissan auteur Jerry Hirshberg once said that ideas are very precious, and need to be given enough time and attention to develop because it is too easy — especially in teams and organizations — to kill them.   Acknowledgement, that nudging synapse that says “yes, pay attention” might just be front of the fuzzy front end for innovators.  So why don’t we do more of it?   Why do we withhold it so much of time? There is a fine line between selective and selfish.  It’s not just innovation that pays the price.  It’s all of us.  And especially the so-called learning cultures that desperately seek to innovate.   The democratization of publishing, aka showing up, and being willing to be seen even if it’s “just” online might portend an Arab Spring-like rude awakening for the corridors of power that don’t want to see what employees and customers really care about.

So in the spirit of the Namaste, that elegant Tibetan greeting that means “I see the light within you” I would like to acknowledge the people behind the scenes who’ve delivered the InnovationExcellence experience and platform to you, helping us create a bigger, and hopefully better, petri dish for serious conversations about what it’s like to practice innovation.  To do innovation.  You know!  You who live and work in 175 countries around the globe, and are busy working on so much interesting stuff.  You care seriously about the possibilities that innovation holds for life.  You are the proof in the pudding.  We acknowledged you and you have came right back at us!   But we could not have done it without the following community of creative human beings who made it so:

Braden Kelley — Braden is a force of nature.   He created and innovated out of whole cloth and worked ceaselessly for years to make it an open and inviting community — literally from his garage and his local Starbucks — with a laptop, armed with his trusty allies at Microsoft, Apple, HP, Intel, Google and all the other enabling elves,  and not much else except boundless energy and passion.   That community has become InnovationExcellence. We started this site with 2,500 substantive articles from innovation practitioners — many of you who are still blogging here. Braden is our executive editor, blogger, author, speaker, master class leader, former Navy service member, and true thought leader.

Rowan Gibson — Having worked with Tom Peters for five years it took me a nano-second to recognize Rowan’s energy.   He’s made building enterprise innovation a lifelong pursuit and poured that energy into Innovation Excellence.   He named it (in what I believe was a tip of the hat to Tom’s In Search of Excellence.)  He saw Braden’s work and gave it an infusion that you’re holding in your hands now. Also a tireless author, speaker, masterclass trainer — he’s our roving eyes and ears around the globe.

The far-flung web design team includes tireless support from Arndt Schönewald at Quelltext AG in Germany, Ian Fay at St. Gorilla in DC, and the great design team at Maga Design, Juraj Mihalik, Grant Smith, Rebecca and Scott Williams, in the East Village of Washington, Adams Morgan. Zulma Acevedo keeps careful watch from Costa Rica. They all gave us their best mojo in 2011.

We sing praises to our two 24×7 editors, Mari Anixter, Dru Sturgess for their rigor and devotion, and our contributing editors Joan Holman, Alex Gemo and Leanna Carey, Holly Green, Paul Hobcraft, Luis Solis, Deb Scofield-Mills and Jason Anixter. Right along side of them is our home town business team, Dean DeBiase and Ed Orlowsky – the Chicagoans.

Our sponsors, especially Clearworks, Planview, Hype, and Imaginatik were invaluable and oh so timely in their generous support.

Our favorite photographer/cognitive-creative in the world, Pete Foley, whose flickr stream has graced our pages and will continue to do so. His summit from the great wall is to your left.   This team has had an incredible experience collaborating together. It’s been a peak with very few valleys because your energy and writing and contribution showing up every day has been a feast…and made Innovation Excellence the world’s largest crowd-sourced innovation website.

There is an indelible connection between the ability not just to see, but to acknowledge what you see, and innovation. Tom Peters has always talked about, and lived (!) being “a connoisseur of talent.” George Simon once said “it’s such a delight to be seen.”   To that we’ll add, it’s such a delight to collaborate with all of you.  We see you! Happy New Year.

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Julie Anixter is Chief Innovation Officer at Maga Design and the managing editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence.  She worked with Tom Peters for five years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military and other high test innovation cultures that make a difference.

Julie Anixter




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