“If you are in a bureaucracy, it is difficult to innovate – the harder you push, the more friction you face” (Kowch, 2013)
This point of conversation in Wednesday’s class on Leadership in Technology with Dr. Eugene Kowch at the University of Calgary has resonated with me. Why is it difficult to innovate? What makes innovation risky business?
Let’s look at the first question – why is it difficult to innovate? Innovating requires a “want” or willingness to change. It also requires time and thought. This alone creates difficulties because not everyone wants to change, especially in education. There are some who are okay with the status quo. As a leader, you must strategize this hurdle, but how to you convince those who do not want to innovate they should? In our class discussion, the concept of positive pressure arose (S. Pols, Management versus leader/espistemology discussion, July 4, 2013). However, is this approach a quality of a leader or a manager?
As Dr. Kowch (2013) pointed out, there is no stability in technology. While a person may understand the benefits of attempting new and innovating ideas, when one knows that technology can, and does, fail, this deters people from taking chances. Last summer, I wrote about how when dealing with technology, you only get two chances – after two tries, you have lost your audience (Mazur, 2012). This added pressure alone can deter teachers who are already uncomfortable with technology to try new things
What makes technology risky business? Well, technology is about causing risk and making a ripple (Kowch, 2013). From a leadership perspective, it is you who ultimately must manage that risk, and when a venture in new, this increases management’s difficulty (Euchner, 2011). In addition, innovating ideas often do not have adequate research or information to assist leaders in making sound decisions. Compounding this, often, these innovations are outside of a leader or manager’s knowledge base (Euchner, 2011).
When we look at today’s leadership model, many of them are top-down in structure and quite rigid. In this type of system, it is difficult to find the information and supports required to help connect with resistant teachers, minimize the risk, and find the necessary information. However, if the leader and organization have developed a sound network, support for all three of these areas will be present in those connections. Perhaps in this model, it will not be difficult to innovate, but rather simpler because the necessary supports will be accessible.
Euchner, J. A. (2011). Innovation and risk. Research Technology Management, 54(2), 9. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/857425124?accountid=9838
Kowch, E. (2013, July 4). Management versus leader/epistemology. Leadership and technology. Lecture conducted from the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.
Mazur, A. (2012, July 7). You only get two chances [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://amberhartwell.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/you-only-get-two-chances/