Reimagining my Innovation Plan and the Why?

As a student in the DLL program at Lamar, an innovation plan and its implementation in the setting of my professional organization are a big part of the learning and leading activities of my coursework. However, I have undergone a change in my professional role since I entered the DLL program: I had been a high school teacher for 8 years, but felt that I wanted a chance to explore other opportunities in the education field and realized that this was the right time and the right program to take the plunge into getting the graduate degree I had been planning on. I didn't feel like I would be able to do my best in the roles of classroom teacher and graduate student simultaneously, so I decided to take a break from K-12 education. I currently work as an instructional support specialist at Houston Community College, in the Distance Education department, which administers the LMS. It is definitely interesting to be enrolled in a 100% online degree and at the same time also get a behind the scenes view of  some of the technical and instructional aspects of online education.

Starting out in the DLL program and when writing my innovation plan (this is the original), I always referred back to my career in secondary education and my role as a science teacher; it is what I was most experienced with and an area in which I felt I could contribute some expertise. In my last course (5313), I experienced some difficulty with continuing to develop my innovation plan, because it involved a role I was no longer in and no longer felt authentic because I would not have an opportunity to apply my innovation strategies. So after consulting with professors, I started to retool my innovation plan for the professional role I am currently in; my "Why? What? How?" infographic reflects the beginnings of an updated innovation plan. As part of my duties, I am working to create a training course for incoming instructional support agents in our department. I want to enable them not only to be able to learn the features of the LMS in order to offer technical support, but to also to transform how it is used by instructors. Quite often the innovative features of LMS that enable collaboration and more authentic learning experiences are not used to their full potential, with instructors only using it as a way to shares files, accept assignment and administer tests.

Working on an assignment titled “What's Your Why?”, I eventually recognized from my earlier drafts that I was providing information about the innovation plan without really addressing the “Why?”. Viewing educator and thought leader John Kotter's advice on addressing the heart and creating a sense of urgency gave me some crucial insight into what was missing: I was giving the audience details that that they really did not need, and not addressing why they should really care about the plan to begin with. This resulted in a lack of urgency, making the plan seems like an exercise without a purpose. Why would a complacent person, content with things the way they are, show interest in the plan and want to implement it when they have been given no reason to do so? Examples of “Whys” from the business world were also a great resource to figuring out my own “Why?”; they were designed to appeal to emotion and not provide the technical aspects of the product or service. A sense of urgency communicated by a successful “Why?” is what causes people to buy products or services; I realized need a similar emotional appeal to sell our innovation plans. 

Many of the resources I have been provided when discussing innovation in my coursework emphasize one specific thing: the value of emotional appeals in persuading others to change their behaviors or to be open into accepting new ideas and strategies. I looked at the video from The Behavioral Science Guys, when I was creating my "Call to Action" videos in the Disruptive Innovation in Education course. This video really helped created a breakthrough in my thinking when I was working on that project: what my audience needed wasn't more information about the workings of my innovation plan, but insight into why we needed to implement it to improve our teaching and learning experiences. We have plenty of information available to inform us of the logical or ethical choices, but our affective sides need an emotional appeal, a “why should we want to do this?”; minds and hearts have to be to captured before people are willing to change. 

I think that as educators we have a tendency to default to thinking that knowledge = information, and that giving our audience information would enable them to make informed decisions. This may have worked in an era where authority figures were the only ones who provided information to us, but we are now need to to consider how we evaluate, interpret and react to the various sources of information we encounter. The question of “Why?” is important in change efforts and in learning in general, because this addresses our motivations and the emotions behind them. This “Why?” should be a “hook” that makes the audience more receptive to thinking about change and more accepting to modifying their behaviors. 


Hum, S. (2009, September 28). Start with why -- 10 mission statements Simon Sinek would approve. Referral Candy Blog. Retrieved from

Kotter, J. [Dr. John Kotter]. (2013, August 15). Leading change: Establish a sense of urgency. Youtube [Video file]. Retrieved from

Kotter, J. [Dr. John Kotter]. (2011, March 23). The heart of change. Youtube [Video file]. Retrieved from

Maxfield, D., & Grenny, J. [VitalSmarts Video]. (2015, January 5). How to change people who don't want to change: The behavioral science guys . Youtube [Video file]. Retrieved from

Sinek, S. [TEDx Talks]. (2009, September 28). Start with why -- how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound. Youtube [Video file]. Retrieved from


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