Two words have come up frequently in leadership dialog: Innovation and Ecosystems. Several posts have described ecosystems and the dominant role they are likely to play in future economic activity. The number of organizations pursuing ecosystem-related initiatives is growing rapidly. Innovation on the other hand has been a topic of conversation for most of our economic history. Yet, something is different. The conversation about innovation culture is intensifying and the need for an innovation mindset to permeate the organization is increasingly recognized. Why? What changed? We can attribute some of the change to uncertainty. One could argue that business has always operated in uncertain environments. I would argue that a number of factors make the uncertainty in our current environment unique, comparable only at some level to past transformative periods in history. We then must consider complexity, pace, volatility, unpredictability, and the unexpected.Continue reading
The center-piece of my work is the early signs of a Shift to Purpose and Well-being. I first developed this Innovation Wheel (click to view in a separate window) when analyzing the impact of second industrial revolution innovation on well-being in the Western world. The Possibilities are boundless – but society must Map the Path of Future Innovation. I walk around this innovation wheel when describing it to an audience, investing time in describing the possibilities across the various areas of well-being. This short video clip replicates that walk around the innovation wheel. The possibilities are indeed boundless.
In a recent post, I asked my readers to help me identify those catalysts that force the actions required to steer our future towards advancing our human development. Feel free to respond to the Poll. The number one response was the rapid pace of innovation. That response supports my own opinion that the pace will ultimately force stakeholders across multiple domains to take action. Much like the Domain Convergence that occurred during our most Transformative Period in History, convergence is required if we are to take the correct path towards human flourishing.
On November 30th, I had the pleasure of participating in another Game Changers show. I was joined by Futurist Gerd Leonhard and SAP Innovation executive Timo Elliott. The show was expertly moderated by Bonnie D. Graham, starting with her positioning of the topic: “Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion” (Muhammad Ali). A unique clustering of inventions in the century after the U.S. Civil War improved the American and European standard of living – human well-being – more than any period before or after, with advances in everything from food and energy to health and work. Can our current innovation explosion have a similar impact despite unintended consequences?
“The pace of innovation is about to surge – and more powerfully than ever before”
That sentiment comes straight from a new book titled: The New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups. As obvious as that statement seems, many leaders still act as if nothing is really changing – or any impact to their business is too far into the future to worry. This well written book focuses on the problem with this kind of thinking. Anyone that has worked in a corporate setting will resonate with the challenges identified in this book. Behavior at every level of an organization is the biggest obstacle to innovation and the identification of what the authors call “Doomsday Scenarios”. Most of us are familiar with traditional company politics and turf-driven behaviors. The authors conclude as I have, that most bias in an organization goes toward keeping the status quo.
Web 2.0 capabilities align very closely with mounting enterprise issues; and it’s changing the way that knowledge workers interact with information and one another. Web 2.0 and advanced forms of analytics support the most compelling challenge facing the 21st century Enterprise; the need to create sustainable competitive advantage. New forms of innovation and the speed of that innovation are the keys to creating that competitive advantage. The perfect storm of technology innovation referenced on this Blog will enable: 1) the inclusion of consumers, partners, employees, and other stakeholders in the innovation process. 2) The ability to collaborate, access, and act on growing amounts of information in a shorter timeframe. 3) Small groups to come together quickly to problem solve. 4) Customers to receive personalized products and attention. 5) The enterprise to meet customer demand for more customization and flexibility and create products and services faster, at far lower cost, with far less risk. 6) Employees to improve communication, productivity, and knowledge capture. 7) The increase of loyalty and revenues, while reducing sales and support costs. 8) The retention of tacit knowledge as key staff retires or moves on to other opportunities (baby boomer). 9) The attraction and retention of younger talent (the Internet generation).
These business imperatives are essential for the enterprise to compete: innovation is the only answer. Web 2.0 enables employees, partners, customers, consumers, government, and other stakeholders to participate in the innovation process, while advanced analytics provide actionable intelligence to accelerate it. When a phenomenon this large aligns so closely with the compelling needs of business, it is a clear sign that the time is now.
As 2010 winds down, it is time to look ahead to 2011. I have high expectations as the calendar turns, and I believe 2011 will be the year of adoption. I believe we’ve reached a point where cash will come off the sidelines and I expect to see technology investments focused on revenue generation and value creation. With that as a backdrop, I’ll Label 2011 as the year of collaboration and intelligence – the two areas that I believe align very well with pressing business priorities. So here are my thoughts on 2011.
CEOs believe that the time has come to reinvent customer relationships. That’s one of the key findings in IBM’s 2010 CEO Study titled “Capitalizing on Complexity”. This belief is based on the following observations:
- The world is massively interconnected, thereby making customer intimacy a priority
- Customers have more options due to globalization and dramatic increases in available information
- Differentiation will come from innovation and co-creation with customers
- The information explosion presents a great opportunity to develop deep customer insights
I have long believed that social technologies would usher in a new era of innovation. Terms like crowd sourcing, the wisdom of crowds and collective Intelligence, all speak to the notion that innovation is not an organizational function, but the ideas of an organization, community, or society. Social technologies and new emerging forms of analytics allow us to create an environment for idea creation, and an ability to quickly capture the resulting insight. User generated content has long existed in the world of social media – and new ways to capture relevant insight are evolving. What’s exciting is the growing use of social technologies inside the enterprise. Once the environment for collaboration and idea generation is established, the next step us harnessing all of the insight available both inside the enterprise and out. This article on Social Technologies and Innovation does a good job of describing the growing role of social technology inside the enterprise.