Tag Archives: innovation

If Innovation Stops Will You Be Out of Business?

Innovation Wired 4 Leadership

Does innovation really matter for organizations? Is the pursuit of newer, faster, better, disruptive, radical innovation a meaningful goal for leading our organizations? How real is FOBO?

“Your company is out of business. You just don’t know it yet.”

If there’s one thing that should keep you and every other leader up at night,  FOBO is at the top of the list. That’s right–the Fear Of Becoming Obsolete. If that’s you, a recent GE study will give you some important insights about the state of innovation. The impact of innovation on both business and society is extraordinary. The ways you can leverage it to your benefit are even more so. Based on a survey of 2,748 business executives and 1,346 informed citizens the survey explores perceptions and ideas about the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

The good news is that executives share a strong sense of curiosity and optimism about the future of the 4th Industrial Revolution. What exactly is the 4th Industrial Revolution? According to the World Economic Forum, the first industrial revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The second used electric power to create mass production. The third used electronics and information technology to automate production. The fourth is building on the third, the digital revolution that has occurred since the middle of the last century. Characterized by a fusion of technologies it is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Optimism about the digital revolution extends to leaders in more than 20 countries especially those in emerging economies who are feeling considerably more empowered than those in developed markets.

“Which leaves one to ponder the obvious question. Does having a clear innovation strategy matter?”

86% of executives surveyed believe advanced manufacturing  will radically transform the industrial sector. A majority of both executives and citizens believe these transformations will create a positive impact on employment. Interestingly every market shows a distinctive preference for incremental innovation, improving existing products and solutions versus breakthrough innovation (i.e.; launching products that are completely new and have the ability to disrupt their market.)

While 68% of executives report having a clear innovation strategy, 62% of them struggle to come up with radical and disruptive ideas. Oddly, those without a clear innovation strategy (32%) also struggle to come up with radical and disruptive ideas. Which leaves one to ponder the obvious question. Does having a clear innovation strategy matter?

Proctor & Gamble CEO David Taylor speaking at Chief Executive Magazine’s Talent Summit noted that “there are processes that a company gets enamored with.” Most all of us have had the experience of following a process that no longer delivers the results essential to customer needs and satisfaction. If you have processes that encumber people for an extended period they have a proclivity to take regardless of their efficacy.

“Only 24% of executives feel their company is performing very well at quickly adapting and implementing emerging technologies.”

There is general agreement (90%), among executives and citizens alike, that the most innovative companies not only launch new products and services but also create a new market that didn’t previously exist. Yet, there is a real risk of innovation being hampered as technology evolves faster than businesses can adapt. Bringing radical and disruptive ideas to life in 2015 turns out to be a  challenge among 76% of U.S. executives surveyed. That’s a 32% jump from in 2014.

Adding to this challenge only 24% of executives feel their company is performing very well at quickly adapting and implementing emerging technologies. Executives (61%) are learning the value of big data and beginning to understand that integrating analytics delivers better results and outcomes for their businesses.

“76% of executives believe talent acquisition remains the first innovation success factor. HR talent acquisition systems that are “turning off” applicants are creating a significant problem.”

Is the work and the worker of the future really changing? There is a growing notion among employers that the digital transformation is giving rise to the “nomad employee” — people that do not necessarily seek full-time employment, but favor freelancing or contracting modes. Jacob Morgan, a Forbes Magazine contributor writes about the seven principles of the future employee, noting they will have new requirements:

  1. Demand for a flexible work environment
  2. The ability to customize work
  3. Share information freely
  4. Use new ways to communicate and collaborate
  5. Options to be leader or follower as needed
  6. Free to  shift from knowledge worker to learning worker
  7. Learns and teaches at will

No matter whether it’s a nomad on a “gig” or a full-time employee, just less than half of employers and citizens believe the current education system is adapted to fulfill the private sector’s demand for new talent and skills. Given that 76% of executives believe talent acquisition remains the first innovation success factor, the disconnect between available talent and talent with the right education and skills remain significant problems. It’s difficult to grow a leadership commitment and conducive culture for innovation success when finding the “right” talent grows increasingly more difficult. Many question how much HR talent acquisition systems are “turning off” applicants and actually complicating and not easing identifying qualified talent thus fueling shortages.

“This is how work will get done over the next few years and it has already started in many organizations around the world.”

According to executives surveyed the six main attributes they are seeking in candidates include:

  • Problem solving abilities (56%)
  • Creativity (54%)
  • Analytical skills (44%)
  • Interpersonal skills (43%)
  • Long-term commitment (41%)
  • The ability to suggest improvements to the existing ways of working (40%).

Interestingly, only 27% of executives believe the candidate’s ability to navigate uncertainty with ease is a significant attribute. Ease or not, navigating uncertainty will surely be a part of everyone’s toolkit for years to come.

Does measuring outcomes instead of innovation make more sense? What are the greatest measurements of impact and success?

Best of the Best 2010

As 2010 comes to a close all means of the “Best of” lists are certain to arise in your favorite circles.  Whether it’s best ice cream flavors, green idea, news stories, remixes, political figures, hospitals, celebrities, musicians, Internet trends, automobiles or my personal favorite books, the lists will surely arrive.  To get you in the mood our friends at Booz & Company’s Strategy + Business magazine have delivered their 2010 Best Business Books list (slightly ahead of the holidays—just sayin’)  Here’s are the nominees:

Slapped By The Invisible Hand: The Panic of 2007 – Gary B. Gordon
Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance – Boris Groysberg
Reflections on Leadership and Career Development – Manfred F.R. Ket de Vries
Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face – Richard S. Tedlow
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation – Steven Johnson
The Power of Positive Deviance – Richard T. Pascale et. al.
Country Driving – Peter Hessler
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition – Daniel Okrent

A wide ranging group of other authors get a nod including Charlene Li’s Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform The Way You Lead; Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age; Hagel, Brown and Davison’s The Power of Pull; Jody Heymann’s Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder; Dan Pink’s wonderful Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; The Heath Brother’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard; and from one of my favorite management thinkers Warren Bennis, Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.

Undoubtedly, you have your own favorites or “best” choice for 2010 don’t you?  Share your favorites by adding a comment or two.  I’ll come back to update the listing a little bit later.  Stay tuned.  Here’s wishing you another rich bounty of great reading in 2011.

Bringing the Best to the Boardroom

Who sits at your Board table? The movers and shakers of your profession or industry? Successful, recognized, long-time members? These are the people you need, right? Perhaps, but not as much as you might be inclined to believe.  At the top, Boards increasingly need a diversity of interests, strategic insight, and closer contact with the member’s universe to deliver meaningful value. So where are the visionaries, wild-eyed optimists, and edgy entrepreneurs who have found a new pathway listening to the sounds of a different drummer for your profession? While many Boards have spent years seeking consensus in place of innovation—disruptive technologies, shifting global economies, emerging competitors, and dissident members are creating enormous pressure for change on those organizations. Where are the innovations, products, and new opportunities? How will you leverage them to benefit your membership?  In the classic Bringing the Best to the Boardroom, you ‘ll find some new ideas for identifying and selecting high-potential leaders for your Board which offers a unique opportunity to accelerate your progress.