Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The innovation box

If you stick around innovation practice and theory long enough, you'll hear the "box" mentioned many times.  Clients want their teams to think "outside the box".  People are criticized for any ideas that are "inside the box".  Consultants and industry thinkers will talk about the value of the box and whether the team needs to be "in the box" or "out of the box" in order to succeed.

The challenge with this discussion of the box is that it confuses means and outcomes.  The "box", as we've come to define it, represents the context, framework, perspectives and timeframes within which people are comfortable.  When an executive wants his or her team to "think outside the box" he or she wants new ideas, which requires the team to put aside their existing culture, context, resource and time constraints, and adopt, at least for a moment, a new context that has less constraints.  In other words, get out of the box of their current culture, thinking, perspectives and attitudes, and take on new attitudes, risk tolerances and expectations, at least for a short time.

There are a least three problems with this demand:
  1. The effervescent, short term nature of the expectation
  2. No preparation or training is provided to help the team achieve that new state
  3. The executive and the rest of the organization remains in the "old" box
 Let's look at each of these issues quickly.

Short term-ism

For the last thirty years, our businesses have built efficient performance engines based on reducing variability, risk and uncertainty.  Training and skill development has focused on doing things according to defined methods.  Reward structures are based on achieving short term milestones, avoiding risk and achieving forecasts.  Suddenly, out of the blue, an executive asks his team to put all of that aside and think very differently.  Even more to the point, the team should put aside their old thinking, their old perspectives only momentarily, to get "out of the box" to create some new ideas.

How does an individual steeped in corporate expectations and cultures "get out of the box" for just a moment?  The short timeframes don't allow for significant change, and most teams know that as soon as they have finished what they've been asked to do they'll slip right back into the old perspectives.  It takes a lot of energy to shift from one perspective to another.  It's often easier just to pretend to put on a new perspective, rather than to fully embrace a new perspective, so many teams never leave the old "box".

Further, the teams attempting to "think outside the box" are constantly confronted by their "old box".  Most of these teams work in their same offices, meet in the same conference rooms and hold the same full time jobs.  When, exactly, are they supposed to get out of the box when they are constantly confronted with the "box" of short term demands.  How can a team be creative in its same space?  Einstein defined insanity as doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  Corporate innovation teams are often the definition of insanity.


To "get out of the box" teams need to reinvigorate skills that have gone dormant, or perhaps learn new skills that aren't valued in the regular day to day work.  It's not easy taking off the old ways of thinking that govern the ideas people generate.  These teams need time, motivation and especially preparation.  They need more tools, more techniques and more creativity.  One does not simply levitate from the box, one must work mightily to get out of the box, at the risk of discovering a completely new set of perspectives.  Will you be able to keep them in Peoria once they've seen the big city?  If teams come fully "out of the box" can they ever really return?  Isn't that a risk as well?

To get teams out of the box requires more than a simple request.  Teams are confronting years of training, tools, methodologies and experiences.  They need new tools and ways of thinking.  They need new creativity sparkers.  They need new facilitation and leadership. Thinking out of the box doesn't happen overnight.  It requires investments.

Two tracks

But perhaps the biggest issue with "thinking out of the box" is that now there are two parallel tracks in your business - the team that has managed to achieve the thinking you've requested, and the rest of the organization stuck in the old ways of thinking.  These are like two trains on parallel tracks, never destined to meet.  If a team actually achieves the thinking you hope for, the ideas they create will be so different, so disruptive and divisive that the rest of the organization, comfortable and safe in the old box, will reject them out of hand.  There's simply no way to connect and accept these new ideas into the old organization, the old "box".  Either the box changes or the ideas change.  It's that simple.

Teams that attempt to get out of the box recognize this.  They have three options:  create truly interesting ideas that the old teams in the old box must reject, or recognize the gap issue and create incremental ideas that fail the executive's request but which can be accepted into the old box, or find completely new ways to commercialize interesting new ideas.  Since everyone is rewarded on success, no matter how miniscule, we always settle for incremental ideas that can be implemented, rather than risky ideas the old organization can reject.

Thinking outside of the box

What does it take to get a team to think outside the box?  More transition time, to help the team make the transition from the old box to the new box. More training, new tools and new facilitation to help the team become proficient at the new work.  More time and commitment to taking on new perspectives.  A commitment to shift not only a small team, but the rest of the organization, to new perspectives and a new "box", or a new method to commercialize the ideas the old organization will simply reject.  Until and unless executives are willing to countenance these investments, asking for ideas "outside the box" is a cynical exercise at best. 
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:45 AM 2 comments

Monday, June 24, 2013

Is innovation a job creator?

For many years, I've heard economists and politicians expound the benefits of innovation as a source of new jobs.  It goes without saying anymore that innovation is lumped in with economic development, entrepreneurship and job creation.  One big happy family.  But does innovation create more jobs?  Is innovation a reliable economic development platform? 

I think there is a correlation/causation issue working here.  In places where there is a lot of innovation, say, Silicon Valley, there appears to be more job creation and those jobs often have higher salaries and wages.  Conversely, in places where innovation quotients are lower, it seems there's less job creation and less economic development.  Does innovation lead to job creation?

Here's where Schumpeter comes in

While I'm not an economist, there are some things I think I understand about how business works.  Schumpeter said it best when he coined the term creative destruction.  While the phrase originally was meant to indicate how capitalist systems would destroy themselves, the phrase is now used to reflect the fact that a healthy and innovative capitalist system will create new things and at the same time destroy existing things.  These things may be structures, profits, products and, interestingly, jobs.  Creative destruction suggests that when new things are created, it's to be expected that other, perhaps older or less useful or valuable things will be destroyed. 

Apple as a job creator

Let's look at Apple, that noted innovator.  Did Apple's era of innovation create new jobs?  Few would argue that Apple was anything other than a successful serial innovator, creating the iPod, iPhone, iPad and so on.  So we celebrate Apple as an innovator.  But did Apple's innovation create jobs?  To some degree, yes, for Apple and for Foxconn, Apple's manufacturing partner.  But there are a couple of issues with that job creation.  First, many of the jobs created were in China, where the cost of labor is lower than in the US.  Apple outsourced much of its manufacturing, so while it was innovative, the growth in jobs in the states were focused in marketing, sales, finance and product design.  Note that Apple's new advertising campaign focuses on DESIGN in California, not manufacturing.  Second, if we were to track what was happening in Apple's core markets, we would find that while Apple was adding jobs here and abroad,  jobs were eliminated in competitive firms.  Look at Nokia and Motorola for example in the cell phone industry.  While the iPhone was booming (and creating new jobs) Nokia and Motorola, which had been the largest players in the space, lost thousands of employees. At one point in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nokia seemed an unshakable dominant force in handsets.  Yet today Nokia is a shell of its former self and Motorola is exiting much of the handset business.  Both lost far more jobs than Apple added.  So if innovation is a job creator, it is a job creator for the dominant innovation winner, creating jobs locally but often destroying jobs in competitive firms.

But Apple's innovation allowed a whole new industry to emerge - the "app" industry, where people could build small mobile applications and sell them for use on their smart phones.  While Apple's innovation killed many smart phone jobs, it simultaneously created a new industry with thousands of good paying jobs.  Any innovation is likely to kill jobs in its core context, but may create jobs in adjacent solutions or markets, both creating and destroying.

New jobs new skills

To take the point further, innovation creates new jobs based on new insights, new technologies or new capabilities.  These new jobs often make old jobs and potentially existing workers obsolete since they require new skills.  In many instances new innovations create new jobs that existing workers, systems and processes can't sustain.  Further, many innovations create improvements to the way we work, simplifying or eliminating steps or jobs.  For example, innovation in farming techniques and equipment means that less than 2% of the US population creates enough food to feed everyone in the US and have plenty left over for export.  Less than 50 years ago the same food production required almost 25% of the population.  Innovation creates new jobs but those jobs aren't necessarily transferable to existing workers.  Innovation often eliminates processes, worksteps and jobs through automation or efficiency.  Note that in Apple's case new jobs were created not in hardware (handset) but in software, especially in the app market.  This requires new and potentially different skills.

Rate and Scope of Economic Change

So far this analysis has failed to acknowledge perhaps the most significant contributor to the issue of jobs.  Innovation is more destructive than it was previously for two key reasons.  First, many inventions and innovations made it possible to take advantage of human capital.  Railroads, steamboats, even the internet created platforms that people could build on, increasing output and jobs.  There may be a diminishing marginal return to that type of innovation.  Today many of our innovations are intangible innovations, and don't often have a "platform" or "Long Tail" offering that allows others to capitalize on the platform and build new solutions on the platform.  If we could sponsor more innovations around meaningful infrastructures that help people gain more from their knowledge or labor, those innovations will create more jobs.

Second, the rate and pace of economic and market change has accelerated, and markets that are tightly bound together through financial transactions allow ripples that affect the entire globe.  More competitors from more geographies offering more solutions is better for the consumer, but means the rate and pace of change (and innovation) must increase while at the same time creative destruction accelerates.

Is Innovation a job creator?

The next time you hear a politician expound innovation as a job creator, take notice.  Innovation creates opportunities for the first movers, but often destroys products, businesses and jobs in its wake.  This is, in fact, the natural order of things, handled down from Darwin and part of the capitalist model.  Jobs will be created and destroyed with many innovations, and a fair number of innovations simply make work less difficult, requiring fewer people, increasing efficiency.

Innovation is an economic necessity, but isn't necessarily a net job creator in the aggregate.  Countries, regions or states that bank on innovation as a job creator must also invest in skill development and education, and create a nimble workforce that can respond when new innovations threaten existing companies or operating models.  One glance at history will tell you all you need to know.


The textile industry in the US was originally headquartered in New England.  As labor costs increased and technologies improved, much of the textile industry moved into the South, to take advantage of lower labor rates.  Eventually, as labor costs increased and technology improved, the amount of labor to create a yard of cloth diminished.  Even that wasn't enough to keep the textile market from migrating to Mexico, India and other locations in search of lower labor costs. But at the same time innovations in textiles were doing two things:  constantly reducing the amount of labor required to generate a yard of cloth, while simultaneously creating completely new types of fabrics - non-wovens, for example or newer types of textiles that require highly specialized machines operated by highly trained technicians.  Textiles didn't go away entirely in the South, the jobs and machines changed as innovations in technology were implemented.

It's a moot point

The question of whether or not innovation is a job creator is almost a moot point.  Any firm or industry that fails to innovate will be overwhelmed by competitors, alternative products and substitutes.  The rate and pace of change and demand for innovation is only accelerating.  Firms have little choice but to innovate.  The more tenuous tie-in is whether or not communities and states have a vested interest in picking winners and losers, declaring innovation as a job creator.  The only firms capable of creating jobs based on innovation are those dedicated to consistent, sustained innovation over time, and every innovation creates jobs and destroys jobs, hopefully in other places.

What economic developers must understand is that innovation creates ecosystems - just as the hardware (handset) that Apple created built a market and demand for software (apps) that exploded.  Much of the real job growth wasn't at Apple, and wasn't in their core space, but was taken up by small entrepreneurs building on a platform Apple created.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 6:26 AM 1 comments

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Innovation Time

I'm writing today about what is becoming the most critical innovation barrier.  For years we've talked about risk, uncertainty, culture and other factors that block innovation.  Increasingly, the biggest barrier is time.  Time is an innovation barrier on several levels.  William Penn wrote that time is what we want most, but use worst.  Couldn't open with a better quote.

The first is management time, especially available time to get involved and engaged.  Every executive wants innovation in his or her company, yet they often seem to assume it will happen magically, with no involvement or investment from the executive team.  Nothing can be further from the reality.  Where an executive spends his or her time sends signals to the rest of the organization.  In a meeting with a client recently, an executive was expounding on the importance of innovation, yet balked at spending a day assessing his organization's existing strengths and weaknesses.  He felt he could not afford the time to focus on innovation, yet expected the organization to set aside time to shift capabilities and priorities.  What executives do, and where they spend their time, tells the rest of the organization what is important.  An executive's most valuable asset is his or her time.  Where and when they spend that time indicates what's important and valuable to them.  Does your executive team spend time on innovation?  And here I mean championing it, getting engaged with the activities, encouraging innovation in the company, not simply demanding results and reviewing metrics.

The second time factor is short term.  Businesses today are captivated by quarterly results, and activities or investments that don't help achieve the quarter are candidates for defunding or simply eliminated.  If a person or an activity doesn't contribute to making the quarter, either by cutting costs or bringing in new, immediate revenue, many executives can't fathom why they'd bother.  We've built highly efficient organizations structured by rewards which accrue based on quarterly results.  There's no time like the present now has an ominous ring, since there doesn't seem to be time to think about the future or lay the foundations for future products and services.

The third time factor is thinking versus doing.  Today we value action, doing, perpetual motion, yet good innovation is contemplative, based on discovery of what we don't know.  Innovation makes mistakes, creates new learning that may not be immediately applied.  Too often good innovation looks like research, thinking, contemplation, and fails the activity tests.  How much time should your organization spend thinking up new things, versus doing stuff more efficiently?  What does the culture reflect and reinforce?  Golda Meir said it best:  I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.

The fourth factor is development and commercialization time.  While everything else in a business is speeding up, many firms seem to be adding time to product development and commercialization.  It seems to take longer and longer to get products to market, so two things happen.  First, since it takes so long to get to market it has to deliver value quickly.  Therefore it must be easy to acquire, easy to understand and easy to adopt.  That means that products that move through the development funnel are more likely to be incremental, with lower risks, but lower upsides.  Second, the product development funnel is clogged with unnecessary and undifferentiated products, but few firms take the time to re-evaluate their portfolios and prune projects and products.  Once established, many products continue well past their expiry date and simply take up development and sustenance resources that could be applied elsewhere.

If time is money, then where are you placing your time bets?  Most organizations focus an inordinate amount of time and energy on short term activities, which severely limits innovation possibilities.  Further, since executives won't commit time or get engaged, the organization places a low priority on innovation, giving it less time and focus.  And when product cycle times increase, there's less time for developing interesting new products and services. 

Look at where your organization spends its value time.  Are all of the activities and commitments as important and as valuable as the time you could spend innovating, establishing new revenue opportunities and new differentiation for your company?  Culture, risk and uncertainty are still significant innovation barriers, but time is rapidly becoming the most important barrier.  As the saying goes, time waits for no man.  Innovation doesn't either.  If you don't have time for innovation, someone else will capitalize on the good idea, and it will represent another missed opportunity for you.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 8:51 AM 2 comments

Friday, June 14, 2013

Advancing Innovation and Quality

I'm happy to let you know I've been selected as an "influential" voice - by the American Society for Quality (ASQ).  The folks at the ASQ assure me they understand that I'm focused on innovation rather than an expert on quality, and are even ok with the fact that sometimes quality and innovation don't see eye to eye.  My goal is to write occasionally about quality from an innovation point of view.

I'm responding today to the recent post by Paul Borawski, the president of the ASQ.  In his June post he asks two questions about quality.  The first is:  what's the big challenge facing quality?  The second he asks is:  what questions do we need to answer in order to advance quality in the world?

 Innovation and Quality:  frenemies

As a person who works in the innovation space, I have both great regard for quality initiatives and sometimes great fear of an overbearing focus on quality.  Creating consistent, valuable products and services that have exceptional quality is very important to consumers and drives increased profit margins, but sometimes comes at the expense of creativity, innovation, variability and risk.  Quality is an outcome and becomes a cultural phenomenon, but shouldn't become a barrier to innovation. When a heightened focus on quality creates barriers for new ways of thinking or constrains innovation


Paul asked:  what are the big challenges facing quality, and on his blog he referenced research into some of the big challenges.  As I read the research I see four major categories of challenges:
  1. Governance and Management engagement
  2. Quality Measures
  3. Company support for quality, especially competencies and training
  4. Corporate culture and resistance to new initiatives
What's interesting about these barriers to quality is that they map very well to barriers for innovation.  When we think about deploying innovation initiatives in an organization, we worry about strategic alignment and governance, how to measure and value innovation activities, how to build skills and competencies and how to overcome issues within corporate culture that may resist change or new methods and practices.  Quality programs and innovation programs face very similar challenges.

One of the factors that makes innovation and quality frenemies is what I like to call the "better things" question.  How much time, effort and resource does the management team want to devote to making things better (quality) versus making better things (innovation)?  It is often very difficult to get a clear answer to this question, and of course the answer changes depending on market conditions, competitive actions and a host of other inputs.

The big challenge, for innovation or quality, is obtaining executive awareness, commitment and engagement over a period of time to ensure quality and innovation become capabilities or competencies rather than short term fixes or projects.


Paul's second question has to do with information gaps.  What big question needs to be answered to advance quality initiatives or programs more generally? 

Again, I think innovation and quality share a common attribute here as well.  Human nature being what it is, the question that gets asked constantly is "what's in it for me"?  While that may seem a bit cynical, it doesn't have to be.  People enjoy working for companies with a purpose.  When their individual purposes align to corporate purpose, they are much more engaged and aligned.  When new initiatives or programs are introduced, one of the first things many people ask themselves is: how will this affect me?  What about it is good for me, for my job or career? What about it is good for the company?  If we can solve the "what's in it for me" question we can remove a significant number of barriers for innovation, or for quality.

I've written previously about Maslow's needs hierarchy.  For most of the developed and even a good portion of the developing world, many basic needs are met.  When the basic needs are met, a consumer moves to more psychological or aspirational needs.  A focus on quality or innovation must understand that people don't necessarily "need" an ever better or higher quality product, or a ever new or disruptive product, but they may desire them to fill needs beyond their basic sustenance needs.  Again, what's in it for me becomes important, but in this case it's the consumer asking the question.  What does innovation, or quality, offer that I can't get from the existing product?  What aspirational or psychological needs are being fulfilled since many of the basic needs are met?

A second question that we should acknowledge is:  when is there "enough" quality in a product?  When does quality (or innovation) have a diminishing marginal return?  And when that happens, where do we point the quality artillery to begin a new assault?  Innovation advocates talk about "10 types" of innovation - product, service, process, customer experience, channels, business models and so forth.  Many who focus on quality (and innovation) narrow the potential scope of the exercise to focus only on products.  The next big step in either case is broadening the definition and introducing quality and innovation programs to a wider array of outcomes.

Whether you are focused on making things better or making better things, many of the challenges are the same.  While quality and innovation can work hand in hand, and sometimes in opposition, many of the factors that block their acceptance are the same.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.”

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:26 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Innovation Invitation

You can read a lot of lists about innovation, things to do, things not to do.   John Kotter posted one recently about building innovation into your company's DNA.  There's nothing new in the list, but that doesn't mean it's not an important list.  What caught my attention is that he placed the concept of "invitation" at the top of the list.

What do you invite?  What do you permit?

In any organization, the corporate culture reinforces attitudes, beliefs and perspectives.  When a person considers the risk and work involved to create a new product or service (to innovate that is), he or she must consider what the response will be.  Does the organization permit innovation and its corollary outcomes (risk, variability, uncertainty)?  Does the organization resist these concepts?  What about the executive team?  What does it "allow", tolerate or invite?

Note that while Kotter's list is about organizational culture,  the points on the list aren't necessarily cultural in nature - they are in fact suggestions about how executives should act to influence the culture.  One could, in fact, create action verbs to suggest how executives should be involved in innovation based on this list:
  • invite innovation
  • join innovation
  • encourage innovation
  • learn from activities, successes and mistakes
  • model the behavior you desire
Again, little new here but worth a closer examination.  Replace "innovation" with any risky activity and the actions would be the same.

What does it mean to invite?

But take a closer look at "invite".  As the author notes, constantly requesting permission is arduous and costly for the person asking.  When we ask to pursue something risky or uncertain, we put not only ourselves and our ideas at risk, but we borrow some power or authority from the person we ask it from, placing them and their budgets and stature at risk.  Constantly having to ask for permission means that both the asker and the askee get worn down.  Constantly returning to the same sponsor for incremental approvals demeans the work and ensures the scope and effort will be reduced.

What if executives and the corporate culture "invites" innovation?  Or, perhaps, institute my personal mantra in this case:  Ask forgiveness not permission.  If we can trust our teams to conduct themselves in a manner that seeks the best for the company in their "regular" work, why can't we trust them to seek what's best for the company in innovation? If as executives you have concerns that the innovation teams will exceed their remit or explore ideas beyond the scope or strategy of the business, then your strategic goals and communication strategies stink.  Just as marketing and advertising are a tax for products that don't meet market needs, permission is a tax people pay for poorly defined and communicated strategy, or a lack of trust.

What the author fails to mention

When the author writes about innovation, she notes that if individuals are required to constantly ask for permission, they will tire of the activity and stop asking for permission.  But what I think she meant to add, or meant to imply, is that they won't simply stop asking for permission.  They will simply stop trying to innovate.  What's almost criminal about this action is that when innovation is critical to the success of the organization and must be done quickly and effectively, people who have stopped asking and stopped innovating approach the next innovation activity with far more skepticism and inertia.

We create our cultures through what we say, what we do, and what we reward.  If you don't invite innovation, your organization will still find opportunities, but the people seeking permission will soon find it difficult to accomplish anything.  Then, the learned behavior sets in to wait to be directed to innovate, rather than to actively and constantly seek new ideas.  You create the learned behavior your organization models and reinforces.  Do you invite innovation, or do you require people to seek permission?
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 11:18 AM 3 comments

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Innovation is the future of your company

In every company there exist at least three simultaneous perspectives. The first is about the history of the company, its origins, growth, struggles, successes.  The history often defines perspectives and forms the basis of organizational culture.  The stories you tell, the way you remember things about the past all influence the culture, which influences the second perspective:  the present.  While the future is important, the present is paramount.  Most organizations spend the vast majority of their time worrying about today or tomorrow.  The present and the near present fill our days - will we complete a certain project on time?  Will we achieve our quarterly numbers?  And so on.

The overwhelming emphasis on the past and the present leave little time for contemplation of the timeframe or perspective that is increasing the most important:  the future.  Our current management teams have grown up in settings where the future is always coming but never seems to arrive.  Today however it seems that the future is always unfolding, always changing.  Patterns, business, economies even countries and currencies are no longer as stable and reliable as what they were.  Change is increasing and the future is approaching much more quickly.  William Gibson, the famous author has a quote I like:  The future is already here, just not evenly distributed.

So, you may say, this is good, but what does it have to do with innovation?

The nostalgic past

In many organizations, when a team encounters a new idea, their first exercise is to look to the past.  Did our organization ever examine or consider this idea, or one similar to it, before?  If so, what were the recommendations and more importantly, the objections?  Rosabeth Moss Kantor wrote a list of innovation barriers recently.    She suggested that one surefire way to block innovation is to invoke history.  If you look hard enough, there is always a reason or precedent you can find for not pursuing an idea.  This is what I call nostalgic history, and when I encounter this thinking in an innovation project I ask one question:  are the market conditions, competitors and consumer demands exactly the same as when this idea was rejected previously?  Because if any change has occurred in the intervening years, the idea may have merit now that it lacked then.  The nostalgic history assumes that the world hasn't changed, and that ideas once surfaced can be safely rejected forever.

But this nostalgic history is the least of your worries.  When a consumer demand or market shift creates a new need, your thoughts and considerations should be directed into the future, not the past.  You should be asking the question:  what if this trend continues?  What are the emerging needs, threats and opportunities, rather than, what did we do in the past?  The answers for your future growth don't lie in your past, but in your future.

The overstimulated present

But you don't have time for a careful review of the past, or a meaningful scan of the future, because your engagement with the present is all consuming, all encompassing.  The present is the enemy of careful thought, quiet contemplation and interesting innovation, because we are all firefighters now.  Our reward systems, recognition systems and compensation are tied to quarterly results and we've optimized systems and processes to demand our full attention to the present.

With this focus we hop from crisis to crisis, constantly sustaining our heads just above the waterline, constantly promising ourselves that when the time is right we'll focus on the future.  Einstein defined insanity as doing the same activities over and over again and expecting different results.  By this definition, current management styles and emphasis are insane.  Until you break the pernicious cycle of currentism, you'll never become more innovative, and that's where your best future lies.

The current future

And, after all, Gibson is right.  The future is already here, it's just not recognized or widely distributed.  New products will emerge before you can respond, and new needs and customer segments will unfold before you can react.  Until your organization places as much emphasis on the future, and its emerging needs, opportunities and threats, treading water is the BEST you can accomplish, and that will be a slow drowning anyway.  It's time for innovators to recognize that a shift in organizational focus is necessary.  Too often we turn to the past for guidance, when the conditions and experiences don't offer guidance in the current market and unfolding future.  Too often we allow an overstimulated, overscheduled present to distract us from thinking about the future.  What is innovation if not banking on the future of your job, your skills, your products and your company's future?

The future is now, and it's innovation

Make the cultural shift to spend more time and effort thinking about and experiencing the future through innovation.  Innovation offers the bridge between the imagination and the practical.  Sitting around thinking about the future is interesting but doesn't deliver results that can make your organization viable.  Innovating contemplates the future but takes action to ensure your place in that future.  You don't have a meaningful future without innovation.  Innovation is the future of your company.  If you believe that statement, then ask yourself:  how much time, effort, resource, funding are we investing in our future?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 8:29 AM 1 comments