Brian Willis Offers Great Info on Defeating...The Enemy Of Innovation

Expertise is the Enemy of Innovation – Tip #5 in Stephen Shapiro’s book Best Practices Are Stupid. Shapiro goes on to say, “The more you know about a particular topic, the more difficult it is for you to think about it in a different way. Your solutions will most likely be “been there, done that” ideas that are limited to your area of expertise. If you want breakthroughs, you need to bring together people from a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, and experiences.” He goes on to site research by a professor at Harvard Business School as well as a number of real world examples to support this idea.

This enemy to innovation often rears its ugly head in law enforcement training. Trainers are often reluctant to go outside their unit, let alone outside their department of outside the profession to get ideas on how to improve training programs. It is easy to get caught up in the notion that people outside the training cadre and certainly those outside the profession have no frame of reference, don’t know about training and do not understand the job. As a result, we very often get stuck in recycling the same ideas and failing to innovate our training programs.

I would encourage you to heed Shapiro’s advice and “bring together people from a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, and experiences.” Encourage those people to ask as many questions as possible about the goals and objectives of your training. They can ask you why you do things the way you do, what you have tried in the past that worked and what you have tried that failed. You also need to ask questions of them. Find out how they do things in their area of expertise and what they do to innovate and keep creating ‘better practices and next practices’ in their industry.

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