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What Back-to-School Time Teaches Me About Innovation

One of our core values at ECT Services is innovation. One of our greatest strengths is in creating solutions that solve problems for customers, just as we did with our VR Tenant product.

It’s back to school time for many students and observing as teachers and students embark on a new school year has sparked some insights for me about innovation. I’ll share a few:

Assemble the basic tools. Walk into any retailer that carries school supplies and you’re sure to see racks of supply lists for local schools displayed. Pencils, crayons or markers, glue, scissors, paper, folders, notebooks and the like are all basic tools for every student from Kindergarten through college. From these basic tools students will write essays, create art and solve problems every day. Students who lack these basic supplies will be at a disadvantage. Teachers are pressured to solve the problem and fill the gap, which may in turn distract them from their objective for the lesson.

What are the basic tools that equip and empower your organization to run efficiently and effectively? Are those tools supplied to every team member? Is every team member properly trained on how to get the most out of these tools?

Insufficiently supplied teams put team members at a disadvantage and place stress on leaders. Teams can innovate solutions to bridge fundamental gaps, but wouldn’t you rather spend that energy on solving bigger, more complex problems?

Standardization can lead to efficiency gains and greater leverage for the entire organization. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that some teachers specify which products to purchase – particular brands, colors and counts perhaps. The reason is often that supplies are stored and used collectively. Rather than have students keep their individual supplies stored in their own desk or cubby, markers or glue sticks or whatever are stored in bins and distributed to students as needed. Standardizing these supplies – making sure all binders are a uniform size and color, for example – streamlines storage, ensures interoperability and guarantees quality. Teachers know which products work best to meet goals, and how those products work together.

Interoperability and integration reduce friction and leverage efficiencies, both of which may lead to innovation. We see this every day in the systems we integrate. When access control, video, fire detection and suppression, gun shot detection and communication systems and others are all integrated, the entire system becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Data can be gathered and analyzed to discover opportunities to better position resources or make energy consumption more efficient, for example.

Networks invite collaborative innovation. This time of year, social networks like Facebook and Pinterest are rife with ideas shared by teachers. From bulletin boards ideas to classroom management tips to fundraising, teachers freely share their innovations with others within their own networks and beyond.

It’s important to network within your vertical, and without. While some industries must be cautious about giving away competitive secrets or losing advantage, many innovations fall well outside any area of risk or concern. Be generous and genuine in sharing your ideas, and let others inspire you.

We strive to be generous and genuine with all our partners, from our customers to our vendors. Do you have a security or access control problem to solve? Call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss.

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