energising people, teams, organisations and communities
We already had an exploding world population, a speeding-up of the shift of manufacturing to the BRIC countries and the disproportionate reduction in primary resources with the consequent rise in costs of raw materials. We now have the Eurozone crisis and the developed-world slump. Welcome to 2012 (nearly!).
A few days ago I got together with a group of experts from the fields of IT, HR, project management and coaching; people with experience in large corporates, SME’s and the social enterprise sector. Our focus was on the topic of innovation. This massive subject is increasingly being seen as the driver for the sort of change that is required if organisations are to repel the effects of a long, deep economic trough.
The discussion very quickly concluded that innovation in business is no longer the preserve of the R&D dept or the sort of stuff that the CEO and the directors exclusively engage in. Innovation concerns all employees / members of the organisation and plays a big part in enabling customers, clients and stakeholders to feel that they too can be involved and engaged and benefit from the results.
But rather than seeing innovation simply as something affecting the organisation’s output – through improved products and services – it is now becoming the fulcrum for organisational change on a broader scale. This is happening because organisations are increasingly being required by changing commercial conditions to think, do and act differently right across its landscape of activities. And because the need to do things in new ways has such a broad impact, there is a greater-than-ever imperative to involve organisational members from all functions and all hierarchical layers.
The real challenge, then, is to be able to marshal the resource-inputs in a process-driven way that gets the organisation to a new and exciting place whilst embracing all the diverse contributions garnered from participants.
A key question that arose was: where does one start the process of developing innovation? – with the market-environment and business context? With the business vision and strategy? With a set of desired goals and business objectives? Here’s a few thoughts:
The point is that where ever one commences the process of innovative thinking – organisational strategy, internal resources, commercial context, historical successes, lookalike industries - it is important to capture the whole spectrum of opinion from one’s stakeholders and colleagues, in such a way that new and exciting options emerge around which goals and plans can be developed in detail.
What tools might be employed to produce the rich pictures that are required to ‘see’ a new organisational future developed through an innovation approach? Here are a few:
Sleep-walking into commercial oblivion should not be an option in the challenging, changing commercial environment in which we currently operate. No should hunkering down and hoping that things will improve organically.
Innovation-as-change is where the future lies and so the process of being innovative is something that we should all be thinking about; and it’s something that all colleagues can do, and should be encouraged to do. Maybe the future is more exciting and fulfilling than some of the current media stories would have us believe.