SPD Innovation
Helping you pilot ministry initiatives

The Process of Innovation

The word innovation is loaded with flare – a sticky flamboyance shrouded in ambiguity. We imagine a cutting-edge, new invention – the novelty – poised to solve all of our problems and propel us forward, opening the door to endless possibilities. The question is, how do you get innovation? Is it the eureka moment? The apple falling from the tree? Or perhaps is there a way to create the right environment where innovative and creative ideas can be generated and nurtured? Well, you know the answer, it’s in the title. Yes! For over half a century, innovators, designers, architects, engineers, marketers, consultants from all over the world have experimented with and validated repeatable processes that facilitate innovation. You may have heard of some of these models: LEAN, AGILE, Design Thinking and many more. All innovation processes roughly follow a four-step sequence of research, ideation, execution and evaluation.

So is there a process of innovation out there which is suitable for ministry? Actually, there is. Design thinking is a human-centric model, focusing on the experience of the user. Keep in mind that there are many forms of innovation. Here’s a short list.

When it comes to creating something new, don’t think of simply a product you can hold in your hand. You may be designing a new experience or even a new approach to preaching scripture. Martin Luther King created remarkable social and cultural innovation by combining the non-violent protest principles of Ghandi with divine justice scripture of the old testament. This new meaning-making innovation provided a way for Americans of that time and beyond to navigate the civil rights challenges they were facing.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

So what does Design Thinking look like?

It’s a process that guides you through the four requirements of any innovation process: Listen, Explore, Try, Evaluate. Elements of design thinking include Empathy, Research, Defining the Challenge, Ideation, Selection, Convergence, Iterative Prototyping, Market Testing, and Feedback.

An innovation process is a new way of working. It is a lot more resource intensive, however the chance of achieving a successful result is much greater than trying to ideate without a process. Traditional team dynamics function like a conveyer belt production line where one person passes the project onto the next, then the next, until the project is complete. This model works well for simple, repeatable tasks. However if your work requires creativity or problem solving, you will find that this model is insufficient. An innovation process like design thinking requires a collaborative approach where a multi-disciplinary team work together on each stage of the project. Creative collaboration doesn’t always happen organically. You have to create an environment of trust and respect where people feel safe to express how they really feel about various ideas. Find our more about creating the conditions for innovation here.

If you would like to see innovation happen in your field of ministry, we would love to support you with training, coaching, workshop facilitation, and funding where appropriate. Please contact us at maddyvoinea@adventist.org.au. Don’t forget to sign up to our SPD Innovation Mailing List for monthly updates.

Maddy Voinea – Ministry Innovations & Marketing Leader, Ministry & Strategy Team | South Pacific Division

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