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Conversation and Innovation

Stephanie Evans Hanson

Stephanie Evans Hanson

Innovation, change, and new ideas start with a conversation. Your new idea may come from a conversation you overhear in a coffee shop, from a television interview you watch, or from a panel discussion or keynote you listen to at a conference.

Or, it may come from a discussion you are actively taking part in. Innovation can also come from a conversation you first have with yourself, which you reflect on over time, and possibly discuss with family, friends, or colleagues.

It can be easy to overlook the value of a conversation when brainstorming an innovative idea. It’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time to go to the next meeting, or listen to that podcast, or read blogs, or…the list goes on and on.

But in actuality, we can no longer afford to continue the status quo in our field. The organizations that are innovative with business models, marketing, fundraising, programming, and reaching new audiences are the ones that will survive in this economy. If innovation starts with a conversation, we must allow ourselves the time for discussing, listening, reading, and reflecting. 

The idea for this very blog salon started with a conversation. It happened at the Emerging Leader Council Winter Meetings that took place in Washington, DC, during two cold days in January 2011.

In fact, the council thought this idea and conversation was so important, they formed an entire group called the Emerging Ideas Committee to focus on generating a field-wide discussion around learning innovation from one another.

This blog salon truly is an idea generated by the field, meant for the entire field of arts administrators.

It’s not a conversation designed for the specific demographic of Emerging Leaders who are “under the age of 35 with less than 5 years experience in the field.”

It’s a conversation that we hope will have participation from the entire spectrum of experience and age in our field, from students to advanced leaders.

The bloggers participating in this salon were selected and invited because we think they were either a) doing innovative work in their communities, or b) are curators or funders who look for organizations doing innovative work, and c) we thought their projects and ideas could serve as models for the field.

I encourage you to not only read about and learn from the individuals and organizations we are highlighting here, but to also share your own innovative ideas and inspirations in the comments. And always carry a notebook. You never know when a conversation is going to spark an innovative idea for you!

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