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The Key to Success: Blending Traditions with Innovation

Tradition vs. Innovation

tra·di·tion /trəˈdiSHən/ -

  • a system of beliefs or behaviors passed down within a group of people or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past

  • the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another

in·no·va·tion /ˌinəˈvāSH(ə)n/ -

  • the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services or improvement in offering goods or services

  • the process of bringing about new ideas, methods, products, services, or solutions that have a significant positive impact and value

When you look at these definitions, tradition and innovation don't seem to mix. So, how do we mix the two for success? Let's take a look...

When Traditions Matter | Looking Back & Honoring the Past

Where would we be without traditions? No Santa Clause, familiar/comforting meals, connection to generations who have come before us. Traditions give a nod and an appreciation to our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so go... In business, tradition can give us a foundation to build on. It can be what sets us apart - a different way of doing something that we learned from generations past. Think of Phoebe's grandmothers cookies from Nestle Tollhouse (Friends fans, anyone). There's a difference between holding traditions and getting stuck in our ways. Holding traditions acknowledge how improvements can be made while keeping the culture of a tradition.

When Innovation is Necessary | Looking Ahead for Change

Innovation, on the other hand, challenges us to see problems and solutions in a new way. Get creative and try something new. Opportunities for innovation are all around us - from changing the way we approach our work day, adjusting a tried and true recipe to make it your own, or create unheard of tech gizmo (can you tell we are techies over here?). Big or small, you can be an innovator - making your world and/or the world around you more accessible, more efficient, more fun... just all around better!

Balancing Tradition and Innovation

Thinking about them separately, traditions and innovations may seem like diametrically opposed foes (insert Hamilton). But, dig a little deeper and you'll see how they are intimately connected and vital for business, relationships, and life (kinda like Madison/Jefferson & Hamilton).

Innovation of the past can become traditions of the future.

This can be best explained in an example or two. Have you ever thought about why your family might eat a certain dish on Thanksgiving that might not be a "normal" Thanksgiving food? (For me, the writer, this was ice cream cones filled with Runts candy). One year, this was new, creative, and fun. It was innovative. Over the years, it became tradition. It was expected year after year and as the little kids started growing up and hosting their own Thanksgivings - there were the cones and Runts. (That is, until Runts went practically extinct).

Shaft's Original Mine Shaft
Shaft's Original Mine Shaft

You probably get the idea, but since this is a Shaft's blog, we should probably share an example from our own business experience. When Shaft's started in 1999, John "Jack" Gibson was looking for a way to age blue cheese. He happened to find that an old mine shaft on his property had the perfect conditions he needed. Cool, dark... etc. That's where we started - in that old mine shaft in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As our business grew, that old mine shaft wasn't quite the facility we needed to continue to grow and thrive. So - keeping the tradition within our name and our aging techniques, Shaft's moved into a facility that was more conducive to future growth! In that way - Jack's innovation a quarter century ago has lead to a tradition that we hold today.

Where do we go now?

In business and in life, innovation and tradition are vital to success. It might be helpful to think of the traditions you hold close - are there ways to interject innovation within these traditions? Is there an area where a tradition might be started and helpful for future growth? How do you innovate in your day-to-day life? These questions - along with simply recognizing traditions and innovation in your life - can help create a culture for your business and life that is reliable and exciting! Tradition and innovation can go hand in hand, if you let them!

EXTRA: In or Out? Traditions that need to... not continue... (IOO aka In Our Opinion)

Do you have any other traditions that should be left in the past? Let us know below!



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