If you have somehow missed the global phenomenon that is Baby Yoda, I highly recommend doing a quick Google search to see what all the fuss is about. In a time where we are seeing fragmentation on a global scale, this little guy is bridging gaps and unifying a populace in a way like no other.  

Sure, he is adorable … but he isn’t actually all that unique. He is just a new take on a previous adorable puppet — the gremlin. I bring this up as I have been fielding a lot of questions about how to bring more innovation to fundraising. “Disruption” is the new buzzword and everyone is looking for the next big idea. And while I am a firm believer in innovation, it comes in many shapes and sizes.

Incremental Innovation

  • We’ve advanced from dependence on the sun, to candles, to the invention of the electric lightbulb, to smart bulbs. We now have greater control over our light sources, too — color, brightness, automating when they turn on and off.

 Practical Innovation

  • The electronics company LG introduced a new type of screen that is flexible enough to roll up like a newspaper.  
  • The Ludlow Traveler suit from J Crew is made with rumple-proof technology, which means no wrinkles and ensures the suit always looks freshly ironed — a major time and effort saver.

Disruptive Innovation

  • Right now, only a few highly trained and select astronauts are able to go to space. But based on materials available today, the human population in space could exceed one trillion in the 22nd century.
  • High-speed travel technology has already taken the first step toward reality with the first test involving the Hyperloop One prototype propulsion system.

A Culture of Innovation

  • While Uber’s introduction was considered disruptive innovation, the company continues to innovate to improve the rider experience. This includes adding safety features (the Uber Light and PIN code), ridesharing, airport prebooking, concierge service and even food delivery. Despite all of this, Uber has not forgotten its roots in disruptive innovation. The company is currently investing heavily in R&D to develop flying shuttle services that will be pilot tested in the United States later this year.

Now, Back to Fundraising…

As we move into the next decade, more and more organizations are investigating opportunities not just to bring innovation into their operations, but also to create a culture of innovation in the workplace. This can be accomplished in five steps:  

  1. Identify the problem you are looking to solve.
    • Innovation comes from understanding what you are looking to fix or achieve.
  2. Think inside the box.
    • Challenging the status quo and breaking through constraints might work from time to time, but embracing limitations is a perfect incubator for innovative thinking.
  3. Aim for the sweet spot.
    • The level of challenge should match the skills and resources to solve the problem.
    • Setting goals and expectations is a key component in ensuring the right level of challenge.
    • But that doesn’t mean we are limiting ourselves …
  4. Open your mind and expand your experience.
    • Great innovation requires a combination of empathy, creativity and openness to experience.
  5. Embrace failure.
    • Innovation is built on a foundation of trial and error as well as learning and iteration.
Baby Yoda isn’t new or even unique, but he is a game-changer in the realm of character development (and steals every scene he is in). You too can create your own Baby Yoda, but if at first you don’t succeed, keep at it. Innovation takes time and perseverance, so to help you stay the course, remember that the end result will impact your incredible mission and be world-changing.

Loved hearing from Sue and wondering how she could help your organization create a culture of innovation ?