Innovation to the school system

February 12, 2019

By Krista Ashmen

I believe the biggest challenge facing society in the next five years is the need to bring innovation and change to the school system. I am more interested in the mission and purpose of teaching truth than the financial gain/loss. I identify as an innovation missionary as described by Chesbrough. I would like to create innovative ideas in the school system using current technology, psychology and pedagogy. I believe that by using an open system to integrate ideas from these three fields, we can create a new system that encourages students learn how to live life well (or at least help them not to be stupid) in today’s world.


I work in Sweden for a small county as a teacher.


Last week I asked my boss about how ideas are generated, refined and assessed in our workplace. She was convinced that it is a very open and free place for change. She recently rose an issue where the rules were not adhered to and offered two ideas of how to solve the problem to her boss (I am thinking specifically of the second seminar where an idea was defined as a problem meeting a solution). Her boss made his decision. She exuded confidence that, in essence, it was her decision since she selected which two options were presented. However, she explained that her boss is too busy to even care about the particular problems that are in her area of work. Therefore she is left to create, initiate and evaluate in her area the organization, as long as she gets the stamp of approval from her boss (and doesn’t exceed obvious financial restrictions).


When I asked her about ideas that are generated from my colleagues, she responded very enthusiastically. She is equally interested in equipping teachers to be better suited for their jobs. But as I asked more specific questions about idea generation, it became clear that any new idea would necessitate a product champion. The refinement process is subjected to peer critic or enthusiasm (think kill or go) which is dependent on the group dynamics (hello psychology). Any assessment process would be an informal inventory done by her to look for visual proof (blog, articles written, positive feedback from parents/students) or the lack thereof. Koen claims that leadership and culture have been identified as critical to new-product development. In the school world, this seems to be an insurmountable challenge since the leadership is overwhelmed with bureaucracy. This certainly is a challenge I look forward to as an innovative missionary.

5 responses to “Innovation to the school system

  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting reflection Krista! Yes achieving an open innovation culture in public sector organizations is a challenge! However, at the same time, open innovation becomes more and more important to meet the demands of the public. What I see as a main problem that evolves from the top-down innovation process which is typical to public sector organizations is that resources are wasted for generating ideas that already exist often as market-ready solution on the front-line employee or citizen level. Through technology, we become increasingly independent and if an organization’s offering is not suitable for addressing our needs, we start innovating ourselves. Von Hippel calls this democratizing innovation or user innovation.

  2. Thanks Jakob for your feedback. I’d love to read more about Von Hippel’s democratizing innovation. Is it a book or an article? I’m curious how young students who become increasingly independent through technology experience the outdated school system. What is that teaching them about culture? How is that culture shift influence their psychological health during their formative years? Fascinating stuff!!

  3. Wow! Thanks!! I’m excited just reading the table of contents. Now how do I rearrange my week to read this book?!! 😅

  4. Krista – I got curious about the challenges you are defining. It is somewhat scary (!) that our educational system (now I am generalizing a bit, perhaps) does NOT have more thorough routines and processes. And the clash of teachers/pupils/parents must be really obvious in an everyday setting? Also I can’t stop to wonder how exhausting the role of a product champion might be in such a setting? Interesting.

    And Jacob/Johan – great litterature reference there!

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