Innovation is Not an Event!
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Innovation is not an event.  It is not something that “just happens.”  As individuals and organizations known for being innovative will attest – it is very hard work.  Also, it is an intentional process.  It is planned for and executed upon.

Innovation is not a noun.  We cannot talk about it as a feature of a product or something our organization does.  It must be a verb.  It is something we do – all the time.  It is our organizational culture which means people spend time on making our organization, our products, and our services better.  It also means we are considering how to disrupt markets – ours as well as ones we want to be in.  Innovation is definitely not a noun.  It’s a verb.

Innovation is about change.  There is no way around it.  If people in your organization are not enthusiastic about changing processes, systems, the way they work, products, and services – nothing will happen.  Innovation is change – for the better.  Resistance to change will kill innovation.  Therefore, the people who work in our organizations must embrace and desire change or innovation is impossible.  Yes, without change innovation will not happen.

So, what does innovation look like? At MACNY, it means we need to renew our annual programming each year.  We need to review each learning opportunity to see if it is still relevant – or needs to be updated or replaced.  It means an honest review of each major event to ensure they are outstanding experiences.  It means adding new offerings – like our rapidly growing Individual Membership.  It means new programs like our nationally recognized Apprenticeship Program.  It means new systems, new initiatives, and new partnerships.  It’s a never-ending process to redesign and upgrade everything we do so that it adds more value to our members.  MACNY, created in 1913, is the second oldest manufacturing association in New York State and the largest.  We now have missions and offering that span the entire state.  Through our partnerships we serve over 2,500 organizations and thousands of individuals each year.  And, we are not done.  We have only just begun.  In our second century, we will be transforming our offerings and how we serve our members.  For us, innovation is a way of life.  Which makes sense – since we are just following the lead of our members who must also innovate to remain competitive and thrive.

MACNY is in its 104th year of service.  This year we will again be innovating. Our goal is to be here for the next century – serving the manufacturing and technology sectors New York State.  We look forward to doing this with you – our members.  At MACNY, we ask ourselves questions such as “how do we help members thrive?”  and “what needs improving or needs to be created?”  It has worked for us. But, it is a never-ending process.

Of course, you need your own approach as a leader – and as an organization. Innovation is not an event – it is a way of life.  So, what are your guiding innovation questions?  Do you need to develop your questions?  What process are you using to innovate?  How are you innovating?  How is your organization systematic about innovation?  These are good questions to ask ourselves and others.