Everything is changing faster- can we respond differently in our Innovation work?

Suddenly we are stopped from traveling; we are advised to work from home to keep us safe from this coronavirus and catching it.  We have the choice of “self-imposed” or “company-imposed” time at home.

Time takes on a different meaning; we are cutting out those (unproductive) meetings, the train, car, and flight times, and we have the luxury to do what?

Well, it is offering us that luxury of actually having time to think and reflect. Now that is dangerous as it takes us off our ‘chosen’ treadmill of pursuit.

I was pondering some thoughts around the quest for growth, the demands for change, and the need to become nimble, agile, and more dynamic in what we do. We crowd out our days and never stop to reflect.

So I started to think a little more. Now that can be dangerous, and I am not too sure it gave me answers, just more questions. My starting point was the endless journey of innovation.

We seem to be confronted with an endless journey when it comes to innovation.

We continuously want to change what we have, even when it patently does the jobs we need ‘it’ doing.

There is this nagging feeling of chasing for relentless destruction or maintaining disturbance with new products, features, updates, or adjustments. Often products and services never have time to settle, and the shift to ‘greater’ adoption can take place, we instead return to making change.

Change that simply meets a budget requirement, a belief it gives us a competitive advantage, in this constant update chase we are all caught up in. We seem in ‘pursuit of destruction,’ and arguably, this is wrong on a planet of limited resources. We are indeed a throwaway society.

Much of our quest for change is caught up in the search for new products. If we don’t have these, this will limit us in new growth. New growth is not just new products or services, it can also come from deepening the value of the existing, but that takes a shift in our current thinking.

Would shareholders reward us as highly, if we just extended the existing? That would be kind of boring, right?

Yet, are we getting so caught up in this chase for change?

We deliberately build into our systems the following mantras or ways we should work:

  • As we are all becoming far more digital, fluid, and agile, we are absorbing and responding at faster rates, and we are adapting to a constant, multifaceted world of connections, systems, and knowledge piecing, so as to combine up into different new solutions. The outcome must be new products or services as a result, right?
  • To get there, we are seeking out new ways to be far nimbler, so we need to learn different navigation skills and become far more assignment driven, less exploratory in many things, and relying on technology to take on this role. We sit back and interpret the results. We need to cut out the time-consuming parts as they make us look inefficient, but do we learn or just dependent on what our data provides us, do we have the time to deeply think, applying human intelligence to artifical intelligence?
  • As we feel we are becoming increasingly agile, iterative, experimenting, and continuously determined to execute to drive our results and value-add, we simply focus on delivery and collaboration outcomes far more resolutely but do we fail to deepen a lasting relationship, in our determination to achieve the final result needed?

Yet with all this push to become different, we stay trapped

We fail to change the fundamentals. If we don’t change these all the energy as individuals, we deploy to be seen and valued as nimble, fluid, and agile have such limiting impact. We still seem to be trapped

We still have an over-reliance on past models – when the near future closely resembles the recent past, relying on existing models to determine appropriate actions and investments is rational, but it traps us, never to wriggle free and break out.

Given the increase in the pace of change and the amount and impact of innovation and its impact on business models, it’s evident that the near future does not resemble the recent past, so we must challenge and change these past models but do we, are we brave enough?

Do companies make the necessary profound assessments on the conditions and amplitude of change, driven far more from external factors; they tend to stay locked into the existing, and no amount of individual flair can a new organization learning emerge?

Change proficiency/capability – in most companies, people receive training and develop skills based on their specific roles and responsibilities, but rarely develop skills that enable or accelerate change.

The training received is to enact a specific change; it is static as it addresses a point of time. Change proficiencies should be fluid, dynamic, and constant.

There should be NO change managers. There should be evolutionary managers, keeping the organization in a “creative tension” where it becomes the natural form of everyday work.

We cannot expect companies and cultures to change frequently and capably if people don’t have the skills, capabilities, or proficiency to (change) evolve effectively.

We have this preference for stability over change, but we expect what we sell as consistently in a state of change, yet our people, organizations, and cultures prefer stability to change. We can take a different approach and look to, perhaps a return to deepen relationships, not reply to CRM management tools, extend existing products, increase their adoption, and we still can grow.

To learn a language, we have to keep practicing. To gain more out of Microsoft Word, we should continue exploring the existing features of the program, instead, we get taken over by a new release we never deepen our learning, or we simply brush up our language skills just before we need them. We are proficient, but we are not fluent or assured, in total command.

Of course, stability reinforces itself; that desire for security leads to inertia and, over time, active resistance to change. If we took the evolutionary perspective, would it be different? So Companies today must create a preference for more change, reducing inertia, and building change capabilities.

Focus on short term profits rather than longer-term viability – Since change is uncertain and distracts from that productive day-to-day in operations, there is an ever-increasing focus on short term profitability. Change always takes a back seat to efficient operations and short term profits until the ‘system’ or organization finds itself in crisis.

Longer-term viability suffers because of an over-reliance on an increasingly out of date business model, infrequent innovation, and a lack of planning that the evolutionary pathway of building and extending existing capacity can provide.

Changing our ways

How do we move to a real sustaining value creation that is based on the existing, not just on the new? Is there more sustaining value in stopping product change for the sake of growth, when we seem not to have any in the Western world today and alter our thinking to extending what we have simply got?

We can’t continue to keep throwing away what we have, simply because there is something often just slightly better or giving us a certain “bragging” point as having the latest shiny tool. Can we change how we approach innovation for finding and extracting growth out of the existing, not out of the pursuit, always of something new?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.