From The Guest Editor – May 2024


The 21st century is the information economy driven by knowledge workers. Ideas determine our destiny. Having and implementing the winning idea at a key moment can produce extraordinary results for a company, a non-profit organization or a government agency.

In the 20th century, there were only 66 years between the Wright brothers getting an airplane a few feet off the ground at Kitty Hawk and American astronauts landing on the moon. As its first two decades prove, the pace of change in the 21st century will be exponentially faster. The ability to adapt and introduce and lead change is the difference between success and failure. As Drucker (1999) notes, “The best change is the change we lead.”

Innovation is a product of having the right leadership, mission, culture and team. Leadership creates and sustains a culture where employees are enlisted and empowered to voice new ideas and make valuable recommendations. The team is continuously challenged to find ways to do things that are more efficient, higher quality and provide greater satisfaction for the customer. The results are better services and higher value products, new markets, growth in customers, improved outcomes and enhanced citizen confidence in their government. A culture of innovation also aids in employee recruitment and retention as members of the team feel their ideas are valued and can see the positive impact of their contributions (Abrashoff, 2002; Collins, 2001; Drucker, 1999; Maxwell, 1998; Welch, 2005).

In this issue, you will read about several real-world examples in our region of how leadership can inspire innovation, generating unprecedented success. These lessons in leading change can be effectively applied to any organization.

You will learn about how Angele TenBroeck and Worldwide Aquaponics have continued to excel in the ever-changing worldwide agricultural markets. You will read about how Flagler County Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston and her team changed her entire operation overnight to ensure continuous service to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as producing new initiatives to better serve citizens, which have become statewide models. You will see how the Beck Automotive Group in Palatka rose to become one of America’s top auto parts suppliers. You will understand how Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly and his team reduced crime by a historic 54%. The common theme to all these real-world success stories is uncommon leadership. It is leadership that unleashes the full potential of the organization by encouraging, rewarding and celebrating innovation by members of their team.

Northeast Florida continues to be a national and statewide innovation leader. We hope you take away best practices and lessons learned for your business or organization to help you to achieve your vision and goals.

Joe Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S.
Guest Editor