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The Calling of Innovation

Wonderland, by Andrea MillerCreation is not always innovative.  Often, what we create is simply a hobbling together of things we’ve found and dusted off for that moment.  Perhaps a new arrangement but not new components or new ideas.  Each day, embedded in our consulting work, we make decisions about how something will be created.  These decisions, the choices made to find a different way, a new path, or just recycle what’s come before, define the nature of our work.  Innovation or repackaging?

I went to the ICA-Boston last night to see the premier of Gallim Dance’s Wonderland.  The Choreographer, Andrea Miller, created this full length work to explore concepts of group-think, the dominance of a majority, and the impact, positive or negative, of the uncoordinated individual.

Ms. Miller has created a piece that blends moments of character exploration that border on pantomime with break-outs of ballet combined with a modern dance vocabulary that is raw, primitive, even disturbing.  At times, she asked the dancers to lip-sync to songs stitched into the patchwork of music that accompanied the piece.

Wonderland is a wondrous creation.  Impressive.  But, at the same time, not completely innovative.

Sprinkled throughout the piece were choreographic moments that seemed cliché.  Of course, cliché itself carries with it a certain meaning and is theatrically useful but in this case it gave me the sense that the piece was unfinished or, rather, that in her rush to create such a long and involved work, she had just taken the first set of movements that had sprung from her existing vocabulary, locked that section in place, and continued on.

We are constantly asked to create.  But, not all creation is necessarily innovation.  Innovation requires seeing beyond the first thought, idea, or concept.  It means not simply falling back on what’s been done before but looking for a new path forward, a different vision that springs from the fertile earth under one’s feet.  Innovation, true innovation, is evolution.  It’s hard and time consuming.  But through innovation greatness is created.  And, deep value.

As consultants, we are constantly creating constructs, paths, and mechanisms designed to help or improve on what is there; on the thing our client has asked us to target.  We will always rely on our toolbox of past work and experiences.  But, when we can do more than just rejigger what we’ve done and actually find something new that springs from the uniqueness of discovery then we have met our calling.  

The calling of innovation.

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