June’s Feature: The Center for AIW’s New Website

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June’s Feature: The Center for AIW’s New Website
By: Dana Carmichael / Jun 13th, 2016 / Feature

To Improve or Innovate the Center for AIW Website?

For friends and family of school-age kids, summer is a time of transitions. It’s a chance to wish new graduates well as they embark on life’s next chapter, or for families to make that dreaded move before the new school year begins. For anyone who works in schools, summer is the season of change. Jobs are in flux as people retire, switch positions or move away. For some, uncertainty is unnerving; for others, change brings opportunity and the chance to consider innovations for the next school year.

What is an innovation?

Entrepreneur and innovation expert Guy Kawasaki describes an innovation as “Jumping the Curve.” When you jump the curve, your goals don’t change, but you discover new ways to reach them. An innovation is more than an improvement but less than an invention. Kawasaki offers several great examples in his 2014 TEDx Berkeley talk, The Art of Innovation. Most importantly, the best innovations revolutionize industry.

For us at the Center for AIW, innovation is key. We pride ourselves not only on being innovative, but also on supporting AIW innovation with our partners. It seems fitting that the first AIW feature would be a post about our decision to build a new website. After all, change is hard and the original site had a lot of traffic.

Here’s the Catch…

In 2008, we designed that website when 98% of viewers used desktops or laptops. Since then, smart devices have revolutionized how people surf the web. Their ubiquity forced Google to promote compatible websites and ignore incompatible sites, including our website.

It was time. Should we reimagine the Center for AIW in version 2.0 and risk alienating the original base—or, keep tweaking the website we built in 2008 and risk fading away?

Here’s the Catch 22…

Ironically, the web/marketing firm, Catch22, helped us resolve this dilemma. As hard as it was to change, we believe the risk paid off. Now, people new to AIW and veteran reformers can visit our site from their phone or tablet without issue and access content appropriate to their level of AIW mastery. The “1.0” website served its purpose well, and “2.0” will bring us into a new era!

Kawasaki reminds us good innovation often polarizes supporters and even experts. We’ve found it’s worth spending time working through the big WHY behind proposed changes. Here are some of the questions we ask to discern if the proposed changes require improvement to what we already have or an innovation. We hope you find them helpful as you rest and contemplate your own changes:

Has our goal changed?

  • Should we work on improving what we already have or consider an innovation?
  • How will the innovation add meaning and fundamentally help us reach our goal?

Why are we so excited about this particular innovation?

  • Does our decision to innovate come from compelling data—or is it because it’s a fad or hot trend?Are we looking for a way to re-energize because we are stuck in a rut?

Who is driving this decision?

  • Do the decision-makers represent multiple perspectives with experience finding “win/win” solutions with a “both/and” perspective rather than “either/or” thinking?

Who is driving this decision?

  • Do the decision-makers represent multiple perspectives with experience finding “win/win” solutions with a “both/and” perspective rather than “either/or” thinking?

What’s the trade off?

  • Since all innovations take time, energy and resources, what will we gain and what will we lose by jumping the curve?

What are we missing?

  • Who can we bring in to the conversation to ask the simple question, ”What do we not see?” A divergent thinker can help prevent costly course corrections down the road.

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