Over 80% of sales are made on the fifth attempt, according to Steve Fairman (Managing Director for NHS Improving Quality), speaker at last year’s Change Community conference. So statistically speaking does that mean, regardless of how good your idea might be, until you’ve put yourself through four knockbacks probability was never going to weigh in your favour anyway? To me, this stresses the importance of resilience when trying to innovate, so remember you’re in it for the long haul and where there’s long haul the feeling of jetlag is never far away.

Solutions rarely, if ever, emerge full formed. We seek perfection however, innovation is an iterative process, so start small and be willing to adjust course in order to maximise your chances of success. After all, you might need to convince others to take a risk, so make it easier for them (but never mislead anyone).

Innovation requires sociability – the sharing of half formed ideas. Innovating is difficult, but innovating in a vacuum is near impossible. Create a compelling vision that has the ‘pull’ factor to take others with you and remember that leadership is situational, not hierarchical. Show them what could be different, better, more exciting and if you’re not on your own, it gives your idea authenticity and shows you that you’re on to something!

So I would urge anyone to

  1. Be resilient – don’t give up – and use the four knockbacks to perfect a truly compelling vision fifth time around. If you get there sooner, you’ve defied probability
  2. Start small, and iterate to create change one small step at a time
  3. Socialise your idea to get support and remember that anyone can be a leader

If you have an idea you think will enhance teaching, learning and student engagement, and you want to drive it forward, why don’t you share it with others on the Learning Innovation Knowledge Exchange?