I’ve been reading Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum’s recent book – That Used To Be Us.  One of the chapters is titled “They Just Didn’t Get the Word”.  In this chapter they try to answer the question about why — in spite of all the recent happenings with the economy, etc. — they are optimistic about America’s future…

“Indeed, what keeps us optimistic about America is the seemingly endless number of people who come here or live here who just didn’t get the word.”

“…you will understand why, if we were to draw a picture of America today, it would depict the space shuttle taking off.  It would show enormous thrust coming from below, pushing the shuttle upward through the clouds.”

“… the world needs crazy ideas to change things, because the conventional way of thinking is not working anymore.”

The people who “just didn’t get the word” have not been influenced into thinking that they can’t achieve what they’re after — they’re going for it and will continue to go for it.  They come from a foundation of optimism and possess a drive to discover and make things better, without a fear of failure or of change.

These are your innovators.  Try to have your organization establish a culture and structure that gives them space and time to be creative.  For example, Google offers their employees a “20 percent time” benefit.  During 20% of an employee’s work time, they can work on something that fits their own passion.  Pay attention to what your innovators are coming up with.  It could become your organization’s next success story!

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