What does innovation mean to you? We asked this question of attendees at our Annual Conference & Expo in June. Answers ranged from solutions (technology and products) to concepts (change and “something new”). Of all responses one stood out - and it contained a single word. Everything.
Innovation is everything.
I keep a post-it note that includes a tally of responses and a notation of that single word answer. To me, everything means that innovation provides the tools and means necessary to remain current, relevant and efficient. If I need to solve a problem, there should be no limits to finding the right solution. That said, without the direction of people, limitless potential isn’t very useful.
This week I have observed the NFPA 4 draft development meeting for the upcoming Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing. A new standard, this collaborative process of authoring content and determining phrasing is directed and communal problem-solving. As Technical Committee members discussed and debated, it occurred to me that this is everything when it comes to creating a new code or standard. But is it also innovation?
My viewpoint is yes - the process involved for the seed of an idea to develop into a solution that addresses an unmet need is innovation. When NFPA 4 publishes, the Association can continue to advance our mission as it relates to the integrated testing of fire protection and life safety systems. And the debate to reach consensus is just one step on the path.
The committee will develop the document, NFPA will publish the standard, people will use it to improve our world, and the cycle will continue. New technology and environmental and policy changes will one day drive the need for further change and innovation. And the Technical Committee will return to address those needs.
What are your thoughts? What does innovation mean to you? Is it, in fact, everything?