The Innovation Blog

Can our winter of discontent be made a glorious summer by innovation?

Posted by Jay Terwilliger on October 25, 2016

Like it or not, we are in an era of discontent, and it’s only getting worse.


From the U.S. presidential campaign, to the continuing issues related to institutional racism, terrorism in general, or as part of religious extremism, our world is becoming more and more discontent with the status quo. In my opinion, another major wave of discontent is inevitable as the gap between the “haves” and the “have not’s” is amplified when the younger generation(s) discover that investing in experiences rather than things, and not saving for retirement will leave them in worse shape than their Boomer parents as they approach and enter retirement. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that in each of these areas of tension, the two sides seem to be getting further and further apart. Violence breeds more violence. Fiery rhetoric breeds more fiery rhetoric. Define it however you want, the fact is, we are in an era of significant discontent.

 What should concern us is that existing solutions are not working, and we are not seeing effective new solutions. In the U.S. our political system is more gridlocked than proactive. In my personal opinion, will not solve these problems by either building a wall around them, bombing them from the sky, or throwing more entitlement or aid money at them.

 We have to stop the insanity somehow. The expression may be trite now, but it’s still true. We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. We need more than “incremental” solutions. We need breakthrough and transformational new approaches.

 That will not come from negotiation and compromise. In both of these approaches, the two sides come to the table with existing positions… and philosophies. If negotiation by opposite parties” works”, it yields compromise. And compromise is always that lowest, common denominator that everyone can agree upon. We wind up with diluted, weak and often ineffective solutions that no one has real passion to support or implement.

 It’s time for an innovative approach to the problems facing us. Time to apply things we know create breakthrough and transformational ideas. Collaboration (working together to find a new approach) not compromise. Defining the problem together, and then solving it together. Engaging diverse, multi-“functional” teams – get the right stakeholders or their representatives together to create new thinking. Design thinking. Trying things in small ways, figuring out what’s working and what’s not and then refining or “pivoting” your way to a solution that works.

Are you content to let this "winter of discontent" continue to grow and drive our world?  There are thousands of us who call ourselves “innovators” or “innovationists.”   How can we bring our skills and our tools to bear on these issues and help create a glorious summer of peace and productivity for us all. Where would you begin?


Topics: Social Innovation, social unrest, peaceful solutions