by Dan Seagren
Posted: April 30, 2017
Innovation is more than incremental change…
An article in Forbes (Dec. 30, 2016) discussed the fate of a clothing company billionaire Chip Wilson had created now in other hands. He said Innovation is something that changes the way people are dressing. People get the word 'innovation' mixed up with incremental change. The two are entirely different things.
I think he said something worth repeating as it seems to affect many industries and businesses including both large and small, rich and poor, on the rise or heading downward. First, let's look at innovation: invention, creativity, initiation, founding. Incremental change is more like making changes slowly in bits and pieces. Putting them together may not be not a bad idea. Creating changes gradually but being too innovative could be unwise.
Back to my own profession, the church (faith, religion, a house of worship, and an organ-ization) and the recent statistic that 90% of the members dwell in 10% of churches which seems incredulous to someone not a statistician. Somehow, innovation here seems to brush aside incremental change. Bigger may not always be better and little is not always worse.
When innovation inches away from its origin, its beginnings may be slighted. It is too easy at times to forget the past in the haste to become bigger and better or different. Incremental changes can be safety factors as well as inhibitors. Today we are witnessing not only natural changes but sudden, often abrupt moves not always reflecting wisdom or potential consequences. Let me use the church as illustrative of other similar changes included in our secular culture.
Two things come to mind. One is the innovative, probably anticipating the future more than a return to the past like the mega church. With hundreds or thousands of members, it may be rare to maintain traditional forms of worship and service. This has led to either dual services of worship (contemporary and traditional) or to other forms or combinations thereof. Whether this is permanent or temporary remains to be seen. This however occurs in the lesser congregations but are perhaps more likely to remain traditional or become contemporary or both. If the traditional forms of worship, liturgy, ritual, reverence and sacraments lie buried, they may need to be resurrected.
The other illustrative factor is multiplicity. The magnitude is almost unfathomable. How the Roman Catholic Church and Greek Orthodox Church have retained their solidarity is amazing in comparison to the Protestant Church with its thousands of denominational churches. In fairness, this can be justified to an extent as scholars have pointed out but not entirely. Mergers can reduce numbers but with a Protestant proclivity (inclination), it is likely to remain. It is not always easy to turn the clock back.
Therefore, innovation and incremental change can become parts of the desire to improve, excite and enlarge more so than the need to remain anchored to its notable roots that too often remain disregarded.
Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.• E-mail the author (su.nergaesnad@brabnad*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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