The Innovation Community

Three or four years ago (who can keep track of time in this exciting world?), I had the pleasure of being accepted into the Innovation Excellence network. At that time, I was searching for authors and ideas for a book I was pulling together on the essential tools and techniques of innovation. I think the group had 12,000 members then, all interested in innovation. It was and remains a great site for most people I know and I am proud to be a part of the community.

About this time, and on a whim, I asked a colleague of mine how many universities were teaching innovation as a discipline, and the answer amazed me. His graduate student identified over 300 programs worldwide—so innovation as a topic and specialty at the university level it turned out, was a global hit! The only problem, which was immediately apparent, was that the curriculum, definitions, and requirements were “all over the board.” We actually identified one program that offered a combined degree in “accounting and innovation” that had a single class called, simply, “entrepreneurism.” This example, while extreme, wasn’t the only one. It turns out that about 70% of these programs were grossly deficient by “our” definition.

So, we did what any extroverted innovation-driven group would do—we called them! The answer we received was almost universally the same. “If you are so smart, tell us what to teach.” Obviously, this was not the answer we were looking for. We were trying to negotiate this question ourselves and had gone into the exercise hoping they would tell us.

Concurrently, requests were coming in from heads of corporate HR departments and CEOs, asking how they can determine if an applicant truly knew innovation, as there was no “CPA” style exam. They said that hiring poorly in innovation was becoming very expensive, in time, dollars, and lost opportunities.

So the gauntlet was thrown down and we did what we had to do—we created a global not for profit organization dedicated to answering the question of “what is innovation” and “how do you prove or measure it”.

This was the start of the International Association of Innovation Professionals. We formed the organization in January of 2013 and launched the member portal in April of that year. At December 31, 2013 we had 48 members. At December 31, 2014 we had 173, and as of June 30, 2015 we had over 300 members (in 26 countries). The members participate in working groups, creating the body of knowledge that they feel must be mastered to effectively practice innovation. It is completely democratic and transparent.

We are often asked what makes Association members experts at innovation and the only answer we can give is that “no one is.” This is because we can’t be good at something we can’t define or understand. As a community, it’s important that we come together to create a shared understanding of what we do and how to know if we are doing it well. We need to work together to create a common and accepted, Body of Knowledge, and more importantly, we need to stay together to constantly evolve that Body of Knowledge as we gain a better understanding of what it means to be an innovator.

This is why we support Innovation Excellence and why we will be at the Relevents conference in September, offering our first in a series of certification exams. We invite anyone who wants to become a part of the IAOIP, to join our amazing community, and join or lead a working group. It’s only through this active and engaged collaboration that we can create something that truly has the ability to inspire people to change the world through meaningful innovation.

How do you define innovation? Take the survey.

image credit: Paul Downey

originally posted on: RELEVENTS

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Dr. Brett Trusko, is the president and chief executive officer of the International Association of Innovation Professionals. He is also an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Dr. Trusko has been a thought leader in healthcare, technology, and innovation for the past 15 years. He is also a world-renowned futurist who speaks and writes about trends in most major industries. He has served in positions of leadership advising several governments and large corporations.

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