Innovation Reaches the People

I had the pleasure of giving a keynote address for the Doctoral Student Association #FranklinConference. It was a wonderful event that was engaging and inspiring. The organizing committee, faculty, program and university leadership, and the students were more than AMAZING.

The conference was virtual and the energy was palpable. That is the kind of audience every presenter hopes for. Especially if you are presenting about how important human connection is.

The topic was “Connection is the Key to Innovation”. I of course prepared and practiced. I also have a habit of ad-lib and going with the flow when I present as well. This allows for some things to transpire that I didn’t plan for. One of which was my own personal definition of innovation.

As I spoke about how ideas come into being and evolve through human connection it came to me that innovation is when ideas reach the people. Otherwise, innovation simply turns into a dream deferred as Langston Hughes so eloquently wrote in his poem Harlem.

Ahhhh yes the people. Everything begins and ends with an intent to solve a problem. Innovation is indeed meant to cure, heal, fix, to overcome something that is broken or at least can be better than it is today. So, if it never reaches the people. If it never connects with the people, is it an innovation?

In my search to answer this question I came across a quote that Steve Jobs was credited with,

“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart — and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them,” he said. “Tools are just tools. They either work, or they don’t work.”

So, the short answer for me is, things are just things until they get into the hands of someone that can wield them for a purpose worthy of the creator.

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