The impact of Innovation on Power & Privilege

Innovation is truly an evolution of ideas. It is so much more than the great ideas that spring from our ‘aha’ moments. I think that we are in the midst of an evolution of old ways of doing things in the library, toward new models of meeting new demands, exploring new ways of allowing ideas and knowledge to be shared. But we don’t really know what that looks like yet. We try new things, celebrate successes, learn from mistakes, and understand that what succeeds in one environment won’t necessarily succeed in another.

But what I really think is important to focus on, is how Innovation evolves depending on the privilege and power status of those trying to innovate, and in the populations that we are serving.

If we are content where we are and what we are doing, why would we care about power & privilege issues? How do we listen to ALL voices when we innovate, and not just those that enhance our own power and privilege? We are socialized to measure our self-worth in the ways that our leaders and other roles of authority deem important and respond to the most. The most privileged become part of the agenda that leads all innovation. Why would we care about others if our own agenda benefits us so perfectly?

The following are just a few ideas that can be explored as we consider all voices in the evolution of innovation:

  • Ensuring fair strategies to tap into the perspectives, knowledge and practices of ALL educators, not just the ones most similar
  • Consult all voices in strategies that help innovation to evolve
  • Engaging community with activities that build solidarity and help all deal with learning processes more effectively
  • Build and promote empathy with all interactions
  • Building empathy for your own pain so that you can better see it in others.


Empathy and building of meaningful relationships will be at the helm of new ideas. But this also means that those who are ‘more well liked’, will be the ones whose ideas will be privileged enough to move forward.

By contrast, we can also consider the saying ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. How you may ‘want’ to innovate will simply not work if your school or community is against it, or if it is perceived as a threat, a barrier to the current status quo. With this in mind, the less power and privilege you have, the greater the risk involved with your innovation strategy.

Can we at the same time continue to provide the services that have always worked, in addition to taking more risks and making changes? Is it possible for all voices to be heard?

Do you have any strategies for balancing power and privilege as it pertains to innovation?


Deborah McCallum

c 2015





One response to “The impact of Innovation on Power & Privilege”

  1. […] Innovation is truly an evolution of ideas. It is so much more than the great ideas that spring from our 'aha' moments.  […]


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