Sam Radford

July 13, 2022

Without innovation tradition dies

I can’t recall where I read it, but the words, ‘without innovation tradition dies,’ immediately made sense to me.

It sounds contradictory. Aren’t the ideas of innovation and tradition incompatible?

Not necessarily.

No tradition should ever carry on uncritically.

‘We always do this because it’s always what’s been done,’ is never a good enough reason to keep doing it.

And this is the same in business, church, life, wherever.

Everything should have an end date.

It doesn’t mean it won’t continue after that end date, it simply ensures that no tradition carries on without fresh thinking about its role and place.

The best traditions are those that are there because there’s still a good reason for them. And, often they’ll look very different from how they were first implemented. That’s a good thing. Traditions should evolve to meet the needs to new challenges, circumstances, times. 

It’s easy to think that continuing with out-of-date traditions is something for churches to worry about. But it plagues businesses too. 

We keep doing the same things uncritically. We don’t revise them. We don’t innovate. We don’t adapt. We just keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.

Why? Usually because it’s easier! (In the short term at least.)

The truth is though, for any organisation that wants to stay healthy and relevant, it has to keep rethinking and reimagining how it operates, and how it embodies the traditions and values that matter to it. 

The moment we start holding onto our traditions uncritically, they start to die—along with the organisation.

—Sam

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