Chris Trimble is one of the nation’s foremost experts helping large organizations to make innovation happen. A frequent speaker before corporate and educational leaders, he is on the faculty at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and co-author of the bestseller, 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators. In this interview, he brings his experience to bear on the challenges facing school leaders, identifying the three keys to success that he believes school administrators must follow as they attempt to innovate.
Q: What can or should educational leaders learn about innovation from business leaders, given the caveat that the educational world seems to be, on the surface, very different from the business world?
Chris Trimble: I am not so sure that leaders in the education world should take away anything or learn anything about innovation that’s any different from what business leaders need to learn about innovation. There are very few companies, if any, that have innovation all figured out and know how to make it work every single time. Companies struggle with innovation every single day. And I think that they struggle with innovation for some reasons that are every bit a part of the educational world as they are of the business world.
And I am talking about the constant pressures of day-to-day. Innovation often takes a long, long time to go from a great idea to fruition. And finding the resources, the time, and the energy to make it happen when there is so much to do today is very, very difficult. And, in fact, educational organizations and business organizations alike are geared not for long-term innovation; they are designed for ongoing operations. They are designed for activities that are routine and predictable and they are designed for managing those activities as efficiently as possible. That’s what makes innovation so darn hard.