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Nurturing Innovation In A Challenging Environment

ThinkstockPhotos-rbrs_0240If you're looking for engaging and provocative inspiration about making meaningful change in obdurate professional problems like access to justice (and if you're not, why not?), look no further than physician Atul Gawande's writing in the New Yorker. In Sharing Slow Ideas, Gawande writes about his experience with newborns in rural India to explore why some breakthrough innovations take hold right away while others require persistence and luck and time. Bottom line: "We yearn for frictionless, technological solutions. But people talking to people is still the way that norms and standards change." That is why it is so encouraging that 166 members of the State Bar of Michigan have signed on to tackle the big questions about the practice of law in the 21st century. One of the tasks of the Task Force will be to sort out the already-in-motion opportunities from the slow ideas that need nurturing.

Data is important to ground our thinking but talking to one another about what the data mean can't be short-circuited. From Sharing Slow Ideas:

'Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation,' wrote Everett Rogers, the great scholar of how new ideas are communicated and spread. Mass media can introduce a new idea to people. But, Rogers showed, people follow the lead of other people they know and trust when they decide whether to take it up. Every change requires effort, and the decision to make that effort is a social process.

Use this blog. Challenge its content. Spread the word. Create trust based on skeptical reasoning.

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