Written by Christy Williams, Director of 9-1-1.
I love reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching a movie, hearing a presentation or even participating in a conversation that engages my thought process. The best movies ever are the ones I can talk about for hours even days later with my friends and family. The best conferences I attend are the ones that inspire thought and creativity in me. Most of the time these moments are achieved through a hallway conversation or a training on something not relevant to my work at all. . . but they get me thinking. What if we could apply that technology to 9-1-1 to make it better? What if we could modify that idea to solve one of our problems. What if someone else’s idea or project could be expanded to do something great in our industry or in our ECCs? What if. . . .
I have been to numerous training sessions on innovation and change. I was often discouraged that I was not a true innovator by definition because I have seldom implemented something that was uniquely and totally MY idea. I thrive on learning and interacting with others because they give me ideas based on their own. Those innovators before me started with nothing and came up with solutions, inventions and techniques. I was simply the person who thought “what if”, modified their idea to fit our needs and problems and then planned and executed the project with brilliant people who improved on my vision and made a project a success. I decided I was not an innovator but simply an early adopter. This is the term you will hear me use when describing myself and my organization.
An innovator by definition is a person or group that introduces something new or does something for the first time. However, innovators are also described as pioneers who always push the boundaries and follow a vision. Jean-Luc Godard was a French filmmaker who was best known for the way he challenged Hollywood. He said, “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” NCT9-1-1 has a history of building upon prior work, changing or improving on it and using the results to take the work in a new direction that benefits 9-1-1 service.
My team has a love/hate feeling every time I leave the office for training, seminars, conferences or collaboration events because I come back with this long list of things I think we could/should do. Sometimes they catch the vision and run with it, but other times they think “what this time?”. I enjoy researching what the innovators have done, what worked and what didn’t. But I can’t stop there. I want us to improve upon it and refine the idea to fit our needs and improve 9-1-1 service in our region and around the world. I like to throw out the vision and listen to people poke holes in it; not stopping there but asking them how it could be done and listening to the creativity, intelligence and expertise in the room. Our team inspires me! They make it easy to play the role of an innovator by creating an environment where employees are given the tools and resources to challenge the status quo, push boundaries and achieve growth.
I acknowledge most of the ideas we work on come from something we have seen or heard of somewhere else. I want to thank those who have come before us and given us a starting point where lessons have already been learned and possibilities have been explored. I applaud the good work of these innovators who have created something that can be morphed into other things that will solve problem, save lives and make a difference. We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants!