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Innovating With Meaning: Are You "Asking" For Innovation?

There is a well known saying, "You get what you ask for!"  Many organizations identify or list innovation as a core value in their mission statements and then fail to follow up with the necessary action steps to ensure that innovation does, indeed, become a rallying cry throughout the organization.

We believe, among other things, that innovation should be clearly described and prescribed as an explicit objective in everyone’s performance appraisal. In this connection, it is important to ask for new ideas and then expect that these new ideas be developed and implemented to support the overall organization’s strategic objectives. It is also important, of course, to provide the necessary supports for these ideas so that they can "make it through the system." And it is vitally important to acknowledge and reward innovation.

Research has shown that innovators respond most readily and effectively to challenges when they can make a meaningful difference, when there are opportunities for personal recognition and respect, and when there is the freedom to complete specific tasks in a way(s) that they deem appropriate. Each of these factors, moreover, ranks ahead of the most common reward mechanism, "show me the money!"

The very acts of asking for innovation, reviewing innovative outcomes, and recognizing/rewarding attempts as well as successes, can serve not only as powerful motivators and inspirations for your current employees but also as key strategies for attracting high quality recruits.

So, are you walking the talk or just talking the walk of Innovation? Are you Innovating with Meaning by authentically asking yourself and the other members of your organization for Innovation and then showing that you really mean it?

Blog Co-Authors:

Dr. Alex Pattakos is the author of Prisoners of Our Thoughts ( and Elaine Dundon is author of The Seeds of Innovation ( They are co-authors of an article, "Innovating with Meaning," in Leadership Excellence Magazine (November 2008) and the book, Innovating with Meaning (forthcoming).

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  • Dr. Alex Pattakos

    Thanks, Kelly. Excellent examples! We agree that "innovating with meaning" has a long way to go but, as you said, the process has begun. Ironically, and perhaps paradoxically, the current financial/economic "crisis" may signal a period of "creative destruction" along with a new "consciousness" that will accelerate the process of "innovating with meaning!" Thanks again for your comments!

  • Kelly Jad'on


    I agree. Truly great innovation is often derived from meaning. Example: the smallpox vaccine--an innovative though risky idea which sprang from the need for physical protection. Perhaps it's also a form of common sense.

    This is not always the most lucrative path, nor the most notable, but sometimes those rewards follow--albeit at times posthumously.

    Another more recent example is the rise of the green movement-- the need for cost-effective, sustainable, and reliable innovations is finally receiving its due. Once again, common sense to some. Though I don't believe it's anywhere near the point it needs to be, the process has begun because of those who wish to make a meaningful difference in the world for future generations.