ASTD staff just completed a one-day course on innovation and solution generation, and during the class we were faced with different situations that we needed to solve. While taking inventory of the situation, we realized that it was important to identify "what you don't know you don't know." This month's article by Chris Grams solidifies that belief; it supports the idea that innovation flourishes when you allow as many people as possible inside and outside the organization to contribute their best ideas.

"A community of people who interact with your organization may be an untapped source of new innovations," Grams writes in the feature article.

While many think that innovation is problem solving, it is more than finding a solution to a challenge or issue. It is not stopping at the first solution, but rather listening to all solutions and ideas before choosing the best one. "You'll get better ideas when you get more ideas," Grams writes. "You'll solve more problems when you have more people working on them."

To be innovative, you must be open to the possibility that people outside your organization who are passionate about your product, industry, and organization may have new ideas for change. Tapping the knowledge of many people, both inside and outside your organization, can help you to uncover more ideas, determine the best ideas, and implement those ideas into new innovations.

Innovative thinking is not logical, but everyone agrees that it is collaborative. Looking outside the usual groups for new ways of thinking about an issue or challenge can open up a world of new ideas. Today's most successful companies find new and innovative ways to stay competitive in the volatile business environment. Learning professionals need to be at the forefront of innovation, helping to create a culture of collaboration and idea generation.

Paula Ketter
Editor, T+D
pketter@astd.org