We had winter graduations today. I really enjoy graduations. The ceremony itself is a bit tedious, but the joy and celebration of the event always makes it worth going to (plus I get to wear the puffy hat!).
Sitting on stage watching the graduates get their diplomas always makes me think of the how the event is quite different for students and for faculty.
For students, graduation is an event – a milestone. They can approach being a student in a relatively ad-hoc manner, since the vast majority of them will go on to work and never set foot in a classroom again.
It’s different for faculty. For me, graduation is part of a process. Every year I have a new stream of students coming through my classes. I do my best to help them to go out and do great stuff, and after each graduation we get a chance to see if it worked. I need a process for this, since I repeat it every semester.
This also reflects the challenge of innovation management. Many people try to manage their ideas on an ad-hoc basis. They are unused to going through the stages from idea generation through to execution. But getting good at each of these steps is what it takes to create an innovation management process, which we need to succeed over the long-term.
Here’s the takeaway message: don’t think of having a great idea as an event. Think of it as part of a process. This is the best way to ensure that your great idea will get executed and will spread. It is also the best way to ensure that somewhere down the road, you’ll have another great idea.