Innovation is generative. It finds solutions where there are no conditions or preconceptions. It is selfless, often born from collaboration and cooperative effort. It is creative, seeking new ways to solve existing problems.
So when businesses start up based on an innovative idea, solution or product, it’s fresh, new and exciting. People have found their way “outside the box” to new ways of thinking and looking at the world.
But when businesses launch fueled by innovation, they eventually feel the forces of the marketplace pushing them to shift, to sustaining and maintaining business interests. This is a problem. Business self-interest undermines continued innovation.
We have seen this over time, again and again. Businesses founded around thinking differently eventually become part of the corporate landscape. The same people who were once shaking things up with new thinking are now towing the company line. Business culture is “the box.”
As consumers, we contribute to this phenomenon. Brand loyalty becomes an inhibitor of innovation. Not for the companies in question, but for us, as players in the marketplace. When our brand loyalty feeds the status quo, we’re part of the problem. How many companies to which we are loyal have the same kind of corporate bottom line as their competitors? And why would you want to support that company exclusively, when their priorities are no longer the ideals that founded their existence?
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for corporate leaders in the free marketplaces of ideas and commerce. They create stability. They set standards for product excellence. They finance numerous philanthropic initiatives. But they also create inertia. They resist change and they protect their self-interest. In short, they unintentionally but necessarily grow to join the establishment culture.
My point is this. If you are truly a human potential professional, dedicated to learning, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, be aware that the choices you make spending dollars should be consistent with your calling. Blind brand loyalty goes against everything we are about as educators, by definition. And the more of us who betray that calling in the marketplace, the more we thwart innovation.
It doesn’t take some cynical, deliberate plot. Blind brand loyalty is as easy as lazy thinking and old habits. On the other hand, walking the walk takes effort and a mindful self-awareness. Am I supporting innovation in deciding from whom I choose to buy? Am I conscious about how my economic choices either enhance or undermine my educator creed?
Each of us…enough of us…choosing not to just follow blind brand loyalty, create ripples, waves and currents that influence corporate giants and how they operate in the marketplace. Sending the clear message that we support innovation…that we are constantly reassessing where we invest our time, energy and money…that we don’t buy into yesterday’s ad campaign slogans…that we won’t mindessly line their pockets with our money…that we make deliberate choices to invest in the future.