Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Change of Habit

Lately I have been in the habit of thinking about the word “habit.”

It seems to me that usually this word is used in a negative context – as in “bad habit” or “drug habit” or “habit forming.”

But of course some habits can be good. And I happen to feel that we at Imagine! have many good habits. For example, I think we have a very good habit of always looking for new and better ways to serve individuals with developmental disabilities, and a good habit of implementing new programs designed to meet the needs of populations that otherwise don’t have many resources or alternatives.

Unfortunately, even within in these good habits displayed at Imagine!, I also see some of the downsides implied by the word “habit.” We’re good at creating new programs, yes, but we’re not always good when it comes to making comprehensive plans for these programs, plans that identify entry and exit strategies, set priorities, or incorporate meaningful evaluation metrics. We have accepted for a long time that being innovative is a business habit at Imagine!, but we haven’t always defined how to keep past and current innovations sustainable in the long-term.

Now, I don’t want to imply for one second that I have a problem with Imagine!’s habit of always pushing the envelope when it comes to providing better services and supports to some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens. On the contrary, that is one of the aspects of Imagine! that makes me so proud to be called an Imagine! employee.

But I do realize that we still have work to do if we want to go from being an organization where innovation is a just a good habit to being an organization recognized as being experts on innovation. We still need to develop a framework to support and enhance our innovative culture so we can get the maximum benefit every time we take the road less traveled.

I don’t believe that we need to go all Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore and try to force a change of habit at Imagine!.

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Instead, we should to honor and respect our good habits, habits that have brought about so many positive changes in the lives of those we serve, by building upon them and creating a culture that does everything possible to take good habits to the next level of achievement. I think it is a worthy challenge for our organization, and I look forward to leading the charge.

Then again, what do I know?

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