Innovation and Imagination at Work 2004
Published year: 2005
The physical and cultural environment, organisational policies and structures need to be right if you are to realise your preferred vision for the future. You need to review or renew the areas discussed below if innovation is to flourish in the networked world.
Have you created a corporate structure that is agile and flexible, and that encourages diverse thought, individual initiative and the development of new ideas?
It is not likely that the hierarchical organisational structures of the past will be appropriate to create the attributes required for strategic innovation. Organisational structures of the future will be clusters of innovation supported by networks of implementation teams . These clusters and networks will be continuously changing as highly flexible organisations move quickly to grasp new opportunities and meet new challenges.
Do you have a constant stream of information from many sources that may be relevant for the future?
With information overload, and change being so rapid, you must have a strategic plan to ensure that the information on which you act is relevant and updated. Unless you have the latest relevant information, much of what you do will be wasted .
Continuous proactive research is needed to maintain strategic foresight and insight. You need to develop your own intelligence networks to develop your know-how and know-who, as well as to keep you in-the-know.
Have you developed a diversity of new contacts in order to be able to gain fast access to new knowledge, wisdom and resources?
You need this diversity to provide the new perspectives that lead to innovation. New networks let you get out of your mental silo, expand your horizons, and establish an expansive database of contacts that can be used for your unforeseen future.
Are you developing new perspectives based on operating across and understanding a diversity of generational, national, industrial, business and ethnic cultures?
Cultures are defined by the values, beliefs, forms of behaviour, and likes and dislikes of categories of people. Apart from the generally accepted differences in ethnic cultures, there are also differences between age groups, size of organisations, sectors of society, and many more.
In a globalised world, you may need to operate in niche markets, so your ability to understand and communicate with many cultures will greatly increase your potential for success.
Do you have a program to make innovation a core competency?
If new ideas are the foundation of future sustainable competitive advantage, you will need to ensure that they are actively developed within your organisations. Allowing innovation to occur randomly will not allow you to compete with those who have a strategic approach to innovation. Consider developing audits to identify the innovation potential within your organisations and programs to develop this potential.
Have you ensured that you remain updated and continuously increase your knowledge and wisdom?
With the continuous development of new ideas in all areas of your lives, unless you have an active program for continuous learning, you are sure to fall behind and become less effective. Apart from the usual operational skills programs, there is now a need for additional programs that will create cyber intelligence understanding the world of cyberspace .
Do you constantly review your strategies to adjust for constant change?
Every strategy is based on the best information available at the time of its creation. However, with the speed of change that is now the norm, every strategy also has the potential to become rapidly obsolete. Therefore, it is necessary to have a strategy on strategiesto build flexibility into your planning and to monitor constantly the assumptions on which original strategies were developed, so that they are rapidly realigned as circumstances change.
It must be remembered that the key ingredient for innovation is imagination our mental vision, or what we creatively see in our minds. We each use our imagination and mental vision in a unique way and this determines our individual style of innovation. A combination of all styles of innovation is necessary for strategic corporate innovation, so we must build an environment that recognises and encourages the strengths of each individual and harnesses their unique contribution.
There are four types of innovative thinkers. A combination of all four will create the best mix for corporate innovation.These are:
Innovation Scientist. Creates a mental microscope to focus on new ways to mine new data, and analyse new information in a specialist area.These people are inward looking and like to play with detail, and enjoy extracting cohesive new ideas from a myriad of data.
Innovation Engineer. Creates a mental kaleidoscope to view things from diverse perspectives to identify new possibilities in a functional area.These people like looking around, and like building new ideas from new information.
Innovation Explorer .Creates a mental periscope to combine ideas across functional boundaries and develop new synergies.These people like looking outside the organisation towards new horizons and new directions in order to identify new ideas.
Innovation Astronomer .Creates a mental telescope to look much farther into the future to identify new worlds .These people are the dreamers who look into the cosmos of the longer- term future to identify radical changes and ˜killer applications.
We all possess the capacity for each type of innovation but we each tend to prefer and perform better in only one or two of them. Tests have been developed that allow us to map individual innovation profiles, and these can form the basis for the creation of clusters of innovation within an organisation. Since innovation is generated through adopting a diversity of perspectives, the ability to identify and evaluate each persons predominant innovation style gives us the opportunity to structure well balanced clusters of innovation within our organisations.
These concentrated clusters of innovation become the catalysts for the creation of a culture of innovation within an organisation and are the key to the development of sustainable, effective and efficient corporate innovation. Furthermore, this strategic approach to innovation also creates an environment of ˜strategic serendipity within an organisationan elevated ability to notice opportunity, create luck and find yourself in fortuitous circumstances.
Innovation is created within our minds, and our ability to innovate will greatly diminish if we do not look after our egological environmenta combination of the physical, mental and psychological environment that affects our motivation, passion, feelings, spirit and vision.
Just as ecology refers to interaction between various facets of our external physical world, so egology refers to interaction within our internal mental worldthe interface between memory, thought and feeling that gives meaning to our lives, that defines our worth and self esteem, and determines our state of mind.
We must develop an internal egological environment that allows innovation to grow and flourish, since even the most knowledgeable and creative of us will be ineffective if we do not possess the right motivation, attitude and spirit. Unless we feel right within ourselves , we cannot excel and develop to our full potential.
Selecting the right people for our organisations and utilising everyone to their greatest potential must be the ultimate goal of every organisation. This can only be done if we concentrate on the ecology and egology in which they live and worklooking after their external and internal world.
In the past Industrial Age we developed organisations that concentrated on the effective and efficient production of manufactured products. To do this, we created machines that met pre-defined criteria to produce what we needed. To produce more of the same, we standardised and replicated these machines for mass production, and continuously maintained them to ensure efficient manufacture. Our success was measured by quantity of required output at lowest possible financial cost to produce the highest profit. We measured our worth by the value of our physical assets.
In the Information Age of the future, the criteria for survival, sustainability and success will be quite different to those of the past. In our new global environment, the manufacturing of most products is being taken over by robotics , or is moving to low- labour-cost countries . In developed nations, future success now depends on:
the outcomes of innovation , not on the outputs of production
the diversity of imagination , not on the standardisation of product
the quality of ideas , not on the quantity of manufacture
the breadth of networks , not on the efficiency of machines
the strength of intellect ,not on the power of engines
the depth of relationships , not on the size of factories.
It is clear that our future now depends a lot more on developing our mental abilities, not our physical abilities ; on our ˜brainpower and not on our ˜horsepower. The ˜machines of the future will be our brains , the ˜engines that drive our machines will be our minds, and the ˜fuel that powers our engines will be our spirit.
Rapid advances in neuroscience have given us a far greater understanding of the structure and chemistry of our brains, and the electro-chemical processes of the mind, but we know a lot less about the spirit. We have concentrated on understanding our ˜machines and their ˜engines, but we need to concentrate a lot more about the development of the ˜fuel that we need to maximise the diversity of our imaginations and the quantity and quality of our innovation.
Fortunately, there are now strategies that allow us to produce a high-octane spirit that can turbo-charge our minds and greatly enhance our egology. By using creative imagination to define and develop our personal values and vision, it is possible to develop the passion, emotion, aspirations, inspiration and motivation that we now recognise as the key to success.
The promise and potential of the network society in cyberspace gives us a new foundation upon which to build our future. With such great change and so much more information we can creatively use imagination and new scenarios to develop new perspectives, perceptions and possibilities. Through evaluation, discussion, debate and decision we can totally change our vision and aspirations for the future. This process of imagination, creative thought and foresight will expand our minds, change our perceptions and create an egology that allows us to thrive and be greatly stimulated by an environment of constant rapid, radical, complex and chaotic change.
Developing a corporate culture that welcomes change rather than opposes it and creating egologies that thrive in this environment is fundamental to those who want to use continuous corporate innovation as their sustainable competitive advantage.
Innovation and Imagination at Work 2004
Published year: 2005