Evolution, Revolution and 2012

January 25, 2012

As we make our way deeper into 2012–the year some believe will be mark the end of the world or a worldwide spiritual transformation–I’m thinking about the markers of evolution and revolution we saw in 2011.

In the world of business innovation we distinguish between incremental and breakthrough innovation. The holy grail is the breakthrough, the game changer, some new invention or idea that fundamentally shifts or creates an industry or changes the way we think or interact.

But the truth is most innovations are incremental, a small adjustment, a change in design, a few new technological improvements.  We shouldn’t poo-poo the incremental.  Embracing any kind of change and being proactive are the hallmarks of innovation. But I think this year we may be ready for some real breakthroughs, globally, nationally, locally, personally and internally. Don’t you think?

In 2011 we saw the birth of the seven billionth person and the passing of great innovators like Apple founder Steve Jobs, breakthrough political candidate Geraldine Ferraro, Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver, and civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth.

We saw sclerotic gridlock in the U.S. Congress–where incremental evolution would be a godsend–contrasted with a revitalized form of revolution on the streets of Egypt and the Middle East spreading all over the world, including Occupy Chicago in my own city.

For ongoing readers of this blog, you might remember I took on a personal quest for reinvention in 2011. While I haven’t reported on it in a while, I’m still actively engaged in reinvention, challenging myself to think differently, let go of the way-I-thought-it-was-supposed-to-be, and follow my true callings and passions. I did make breakthroughs in 2011 in addition to my ongoing speaking/consulting practice, which included the groundbreaking nonprofit I now direct (Poetry Pals) and writing a full script and developing a musical/theatrical project (Malaise County Fair). More to come.

It’s not too late to hatch up some breakthroughs you’d like to make in 2012.  You got any?  Let’s all take this distinctive leap year as an opportunity for both evolution and revolution, both culturally and personally, so that we can engage in the world most fully ourselves and most fully alive.  I’m starting the year off by shedding my hair and heading off for some travel.

Want more from Adam?  Check out his Innovation On My Mind blog.

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