This edition is dedicated to addressing Innovation that is generally misrepresented and misunderstood in life and Industry. The first and foremost fact to establish about Innovation is that “it is not a discrete event but rather a continuous process”.
Every enterprise on this planet needs to transform to a new relevance of a digitally powered and ecosystem orchestrated enterprise where Innovation is the only way for a progressive future. It would be futile to accomplish scale and growth through Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) when nothing tangible of value on offer.
A Journey in Excellence
Innovation is a Journey in Excellence; traversing from Innocence to Excellence in a Continuum.
The Innovation Maturity of a nation or enterprise is realized when it manages to stay between competence and Excellence on a continuous basis on the Innocence to Excellence scale visualized by Illustration 1; through the peak and trough of economic swing. At a national level, such enterprises will deliberately lead economically keeping the rate of inflation lower. The main contributing reason is the lower Cost of Growth that is powered organically as opposed to Growth through Mergers & Acquisitions; where the eventual costs are essentially borne by Customers / Consumers with the Cost of Capital being low. At an enterprise level, they manage to bring a joyous work environment with the best talent mapped and matched with the best work.
The Value of Aspiration is very different from that of Ambition. An enterprise or an individual driven by Aspirational Value will think of a larger interest across an ecosystem whereas one driven by Ambitional Value will only think of their singular interest and mostly at the others’ cost.
As the above Illustration 2 shows, the cost of not being mindful of the Status Quo of one’s existence is the first sign of regression from the very idea of Progress and Growth. This is triggered by a lack of discipline through the process of Inquiry, Exploration and Discovery. The alternative then is relying on money and manipulation to Survive rather than Thrive. Like a bad driver on a road lacking anticipation, such enterprises are a greater danger and bad influence on an economy more than being on a self destructive path.
Most people in Leadership and Management know all this theory. Yet our societies are plagued with the problems they have created and perpetuated with broken systems and the lack of innovation driving us hurtling us down the path of regression.
Not Creating a Problem
The primary concern of Innovation should be on how not to create a Problem more than Solving a Problem.
The biggest challenge of Innovation is the discipline associated with sustaining it. Innovation happens only when a Product / Service is consumed to create a difference for a higher Quality of Living. To a large extent, the past two decades have seen more Conveniences being created that breed more problems than solving; as time has evolved. Be it Environment, Education, Health, Wealth, Mobility, Technology and Governance; we see conveniences in the name of innovation not sustain us to a higher threshold of capability but rather subsume us into debt at every level that we find difficult to escape. And now we are at an inflection point where they cannot be ignored either.
It is the absence of a stage-gated and regulated process that contributes most to the lack of discipline on Innovation. Like the rules and discipline of driving on a road. From obtaining a license to being conscious and not driving in an inebriated condition or stopping at the stop sign and assuring that one is not causing any problems to the flow of traffic flow. Enterprises will have to bring in a controlled environment for progressing Intellectual Property (IP) that enabled New Markets, New Products / Services and therefore Renewed Customers. Roles must be created where people transcend the Operational and Strategic environment interchangeably.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) must change from influencing Customers with Products to immersing Customers’ Lifetime Experiences.
The notion that Innovation is a Eureka Moment and only a few are capable of it is outdated thinking. In the modern world Dialog with Connections possible in Real-Time with Intelligent Networking. There should be no excuse for a larger slice of the population of Nations and Enterprises jumping onto the Innovation bandwagon. The mindset to constantly work at Simplification, Modernization and Disruption concurrently to an enterprise in operation is what will lead to Innovation Outcomes. This will demand co-creation at an ecosystem level; transporting Intellectual Property (IP) from Conceptualization to Commercialization in a Continuum. Plugging and Playing Engines, Components and Connectors in the modern digital economy is the secret for Innovation and Growth becoming synonymously complimentary. Because Technology lifespans are measured in dog years and not person years hereon.
Innovation will necessarily impact all the 4C’s in a Cascading Connect; Concepts, Culture, Capabilities and Configuration.
Sponsoring Spontaneous Innovation
While Innovation Contests, Hackathons and such Competitions are tools for encouragement, they should not be mistaken as the harbingers of Innovation.
We have hardly any statistical evidence of startups and others who won Contests, Hackathons or Competitions that went on to create a sustainable solutions on our planet. They sure have helped Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and in many instances being tossed into the landfills of our planet; simply because the acquiring organization was not capable of carrying forward the progression of Innovation.
Innovation needs Sponsorship for Spontaneity and Sustainability. Not for Superficial Surreality.
Corporations and humans have a shelf life. It is important that we take care of preserving the Vim, Vigor and Vitality of that corporation during its active years. Especially in the context of the new corporations like the 50 disruptors CNBC has announced every year since 2018, it is critical that the people in these corporations do not infuse this young corporation with the life juice of the older corporations where they came from. This viral transmission can be more dangerous and implosive than any external pandemic. Imagine replacing the innards of a 5 year old infant with that of a 50 year old. That is what one does when one carries forward the culture of a previous organization that has lost its relevance to the modern society. And most corporations that are older than five years have.
Innovation means a very conscious attempt at breaking from the past and the Point of Arrival (POA) into the future being from the present.
Be the trend you want to see around
The rate of Innovation demanded by the emerging economy is a much accelerated one than any other time in the history of our planet. Our planet and us are currently suffering the consequences of bad design thinking and design that should precede before transformation and innovation. We would be much better off doing nothing in the name of innovation rather than make things just appear to be better than the past. They have to actually be better than the past. Nature renews itself every season and so should life including enterprises and corporations. Biomimicry is a real thing.
I asked the recruiter of a company who was hiring a Senior Product Manager why they wouldn’t use the concept of 2 day recruitment when their entire enterprise success hinged on the idea of 2 day shipping?
Logistics Startups have raked a considerable Venture Capital Investment and most of them are competing on beating Amazon’s 2 — Day Prime shipping. Is this trend of 2 — Day Shipping worth beating for the amount of money raised? Can VC’s try and persuade the creation of a Circular Economy tethered to the concept of Responsible Consumption that focuses on the Lifecycle of Customers / Consumers be Sustainable and Profitable in the long run? And still deliver in 2 days or even 1 day as Amazon has managed to up the ante?
Amazon’s Value Model is delivering 72% of its own Logistics Capacity steadily decreasing its reliance on third parties including USPS, UPS and Fedex to a lesser extent. It delivers directly with its Global Transportation Network that it started building in 2014 to serve its 300 Million Customers in 200+ Countries having delivered more than 10 billion packages.
2 day Shipping is just an algorithm and very easy to build and optimize. Sustaining a culture that obsesses on the enterprise engaging at the same rate of Aspiration, Agility, Anticipation, Authenticity and Ability; the five dimensions of Leadership is the difficult one to master. This will allow the enterprise to view every little detail across the Value Chain; Supply, Operation and Demand and finetune continuously. But the base threshold of capability will allow any leap of faith into a possibility. Isn’t that what Venture Capitalists should be investing in?
A Perfect Pivot
The Covid Pandemic has been the perfect pivot for us to re-evaluate and energize our lives and enterprise to better preparedness and potential for a future of potential possibilities. However, this cannot be possible with irrelevant mindsets that are tethered to the past and are therefore indifferent to the emerging challenges. History and luck will not take care of the dynamics of a new economic reality. Customers and Consumers will never be starved for alternatives especially in this new world. Technology is not expected to be kind on those with a debt that they cannot payout and step into a renewed future with a better discipline. There couldn’t be a better time to pivot and transform to a new relevance. Our very nature and perspectives of life have been challenged and we all have been defeated. It is time to get up, dust the dirt off our backsides and resolve to shape a better future. One where Innovation which is a Process in Excellence is pursued with passion and dedication.
Please do share your perspectives on what you think. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org.