Value 3: Innovation before Institution

Our final value, from Gary Bishop….

Value 3 – Innovation before Institution

Things are changing constantly. In the book ‘Children of Chaos’ Douglas Rushkoff argued that this generation has migrated further than any generation in history. His reflections are that the ongoing explosion of accessible technology make it almost impossible to imagine our world as it was just a couple of decades ago without the internet, the smartphone, social media and the constant access to information on any given subject. I find that difficult enough to imagine, I know my kids find it impossible. But it’s not just technology that changes, in the same period there have been huge shifts in attitudes, culture and beliefs which have affected policies and processes which affect each one of us. The change is so rapid that any successful business or organisation must remain on the front foot of change or risk becoming outdated, ineffective or irrelevant very quickly.

It is that fast moving environment that makes innovation a central value of Justlife, many charities set out their stall pretty early in their lives and struggle to adapt and change with the needs of the people and communities which they were established to serve. The result of that can be stagnation, loss of purpose, a shift of resources towards maintaining the status-quo and ultimately the creation of institutions which have traded their, once radical, purposeful mission for a maintenance program.

In practice, this value means at Justlife we encourage new ideas and make space for staff and service users to try new things, always knowing that somethings work and somethings don’t but we’ll never know until we try. It also means that we close things, yes – we close failing projects and we give up on ideas that are not working and we do it quickly before out staff get disillusioned and we start to waste resources. Agility and the ability to respond to constantly changing surroundings is not only important in business and the sale of commodities, it is crucial in our services as we learn from our staff and beneficiaries and shift our resources quickly to help in the most effective ways.