The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Reinventing Public Vocational Rehabilitation Through Transformational Innovation

Keynote Presentation
In this Section

Explore the vision of the Innovation Inspiration Expo and the urgent need for innovation, creativity, critical thinking, and transformational reinvention.

Introduce the concepts of Sustaining and Disruptive Innovation and explore the paradox of innovation.

Explore the illusions of innovation:

  • The illusion of safety, certainty, and comfort: Humans are more comfortable with the familiar status quo even when it is not serving us well or is ineffective because it is comfortable, stable, predictable, known, and we accept the risks we know over risks unknown. Humans prefer taking a risk of continuing to get what we are getting, even if it is counterproductive, over the unknown risks of trying something new.
  • The illusion of control, order, accountability: We spend a great deal of time, energy, and money trying to better “Manage” the sometimes ineffective status quo rather than investing time, energy, and money in challenging the status quo and reinventing ourselves. We imagine that new management systems, processes, policies, procedures, checklists, controls, or data analytics and performance indicators will be enough to improve the outcomes of the status quo.
  • The illusion of confidence and competence: Humans in organizations tend to avoid significant change, experimentation, learning, creativity, and our risk avoidance keeps us tweaking the status quo, nibbling around the edges of true transformational innovation because little changes to the status quo provides a perception of confidence and competence over the uncertainty of change.
  • The illusion of expertise: Transformative Innovation usually comes from novices who are not habituated in the status quo, enculturated, or have submitted to over management of the status quo. They maintain the Beginners Mind from Zen philosophy. They are usually closer to the consumer, recognize a need, and are not yet resigned to forcing a consumer to meet the organizational needs of the system and are just daring enough to attempt to make the organizational system adjust to meet the needs of the consumer.
  • The illusion of conservatism: Transformative Innovation usually comes from people who ask uncomfortable questions, challenge commonly shared assumptions, question shared conventions, and are not satisfied with appeals to authority. They are curious and want to know why, and more importantly why not? “This is how we have always done this.” is a thought starter not a thought stopper. They take risks, fail, learn, try again, learn, reshape, and try again.
  • The illusion of critical thinking and judgement:  There are optimal environments where human judgement and the exercise of critical thinking skills and creative experimentation flourish or are extinguished. Organizational culture, climate, and environment stimulate or extinguish critical thinking skills, creativity, innovation, experimentation, and risk taking. What can organizations do to shift towards more innovative entrepreneurial mindsets at every level of the organization in order to transform and thrive.
  • The duality illusion: Humans tend to perceive things in dualities rather than as balanced wholes. We see either-or scenarios, us-versus-them approaches, management versus leadership conflicts, stability versus change situations. Balance and holistic thinking is essential for healthy organizations. How can organizations balance the need for optimizing what we currently do, identifying sustaining innovations to meet our customer’s future needs, while also pursuing disruptive innovations that profoundly transform the entire playing field? How can we balance the need to better manage the status quo while also fearlessly leading into a new future?
  • The illusion that management and leadership are synonymous: The Over-Managed, Under-Lead, and what keeps us from transformational innovation.
  • The illusion of permanence: Nothing lasts forever. Everything is subject to the law of entropy. Change is constant and unrelenting. What got us here will not get us there. What we are today will not be enough tomorrow. The continuous transformational innovation change imperative in vocational rehabilitation.

Meet the Presenter:

Kyle Walker, MRC, CRC, CRL, CPM

Kyle's photoKyle is the Executive Director of the University of Wisconsin-Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute (SVRI). He is responsible to the Dean of the College of Arts and Human Sciences to provide leadership and coordination for this nationally recognized institute to promote service, research, and educational excellence for the benefit of students, consumers, and rehabilitation professionals. Kyle is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Certified Public Manager. He began his vocational rehabilitation career at the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, serving in various capacities for over 15 years. In 2015, Kyle was appointed to the role of Director of the Division of Consumer Services at the South Carolina Commission for the Blind. In 2019, Kyle was appointed to his current position at SVRI. He has served in leadership roles in several professional organizations, including as President of the Utah Rehabilitation Association for three terms and as President of the Utah RehabACTion Network, and is currently on the boards of the Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators Association and the Great Lakes Regional Chapter of the National Rehabilitation Association. Kyle has received numerous awards during his career, including the 2014 Utah Governor’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. He has also had the honor of receiving appointments by three governors: an appointment to the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Licensing Board by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, an appointment to the Governor’s Task Force to make Utah State Government Be the Model Employer of People with Disabilities by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and an appointment to the Advisory Council for Educating Students with Disabilities by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Kyle graduated from Utah State University with a Master of Rehabilitation Counseling degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. He has been married to Linda for 32 years and has three children and five grandchildren.
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