I recently had the opportunity to travel to Memphis, Tennessee and do all the cool stuff that Memphis has to offer. One activity that was particularly fun was going to Sun Studio, the location where Elvis Presley (did I even need to include his last name there) recorded his very first songs.
Did you know that when Elvis came to Sun to record a song (anyone could walk at that time and pay to have a song recorded) the owner and legendary producer at Sun, Sam Phillips, was not there at the time? However, his secretary, Marion Keisker, was and, after listening to the recording, she suggested that Sam contact Elvis.
There are quite a few lessons here. However, in the interest of keeping with the theme of innovation, let's focus on just one.
Consider for a moment that person who you feel is 'just the secretary' or 'just an intern' or in some other more entry level position. How do you react to his or her ideas? Are you listening? Are you even asking? Do you value his or her input?
The key to building an innovative culture is being open to and respecting the ideas of EVERYONE. In this case, Ms. Keisker's idea turned out to be a pretty big deal.
Compare that to the reaction by the experts at the Grand Ole Opry who, in 1954, after Elvis' one and only performance at the Opry, suggested that he should "probably go back to driving a truck."
I guess all we can say to Ms. Keisker for suggesting and for Sam Phillips for listening is "thank you, thank you very much."