Saturday, December 31, 2016

Three Innovation Hints - Millennial Style

“If you want something new, 
you have to stop doing something old” 
Peter F. Drucker

Innovation has been the focus of our conversations recently on my job. How to innovate. What it means to have an innovative culture. How to define the value of innovation. Innovation is one part of my vision for the department. My deputy CIO recently gave an award for innovation within his area, and it went to one of our rockstar millennial employees, Christopher Long (@Chris_Long_VT). Chris innovates primarily in the GIS area, but that is just part of his reach. He also programs in Python and works with open data.

Two of his primary outlets are the county ArcGIS Online pages GeoSpace and OpenGeoSpace. Check them out, much cool stuff about our county. 

Chris accepted the award and made some remarks that I thought were insightful and instructive. The remainder of this blog post are his (somewhat) reformatted remarks below.

What does it mean to me to be innovative?

We always talk about being innovative and that it’s something we need to work towards but what does it really mean to be innovative?  

It’s the process for taking an idea you have and making it happen.

[Barry - Note that he identifies innovation as a PROCESS, not a result. An absolutely key point, and one that is lost on many people!] 

Is there something you don’t like about a system you work with and you think could be better? I think that’s where one of biggest opportunities where innovation exists.

How can you be innovative? Find and be around inspiration. How do I surround myself with inspiration?
  • Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – I follow tons of technology people on social media platforms
  • Podcasts – Python, Music for Programming
  • Meetups – you get to meet tons of people who are working on similar problems and they can help you solve them! At times it can also be a real confidence boost! 
  • Find out what the open source community is doing! A lot of what we get comes from them and you can get a jump on technology that’s coming our way.
  • Go poke around GIT Hub there are people who put really interesting projects out there including people from the industry.
Make a Friend!
  • There are tons of really cool and in our department! Go talk to them! I really enjoy talking to Nathan, I would argue that he’s really one of the most in-tune with IT and innovative people I’ve ever meet.  [Barry - Note one of the things I like about having millennials around me is that they are social, not all ISTJ like the boomers. They get out and say "hey whats up?"] 
  • Develop contacts with people in your industry. I really like to talk about GIS and some of the best people to talk to about that work at ESRI the software we use for GIS. I also find that if you talk to them enough you can start to influence how the software works.
Allow yourself to wonder around and think
  • After immersing yourself in inspiration and innovative people you need time to distill information into ideas. 
  • Everyone is probably tired of hearing about the fact that I like to bike but it provides some time to think, and some alone time in your head to problem solve.

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