A light-bulb moment in Innovation Learning

Over the past few weeks, or is it months or is it even years, I have been constantly thinking through how we are learning in our innovation understanding. I have been struggling over this for a long time, looking to create a more compelling narrative and have only realized part of my ongoing difficulties was that I was coming at this the wrong way.

Firstly a narrative should be open-ended, there is no finite resolution yet to innovation understanding and secondly, it is for the intended audience to determine and relate, not the person presenting the narrative. For me, one light bulb went on.

The second light bulb moment came earlier this week. I was reading an article by Josh Bersin, called “the disruption of digital learning: ten things we have learned”. Josh is the founder of Bersin by Deloitte and this article was on one of his LinkedIn Pulse views. It actually stopped me in my tracks, it made me really think and recognize some of my recent shifts in my innovation focus was making real sense. The article alarmed me but it also ‘re-armed’ me. Continue reading

Advertisements

Learning favours the brave

Knowledge and learning 4The challenges we are facing today seem to be coming faster at us, more complex to decipher and then re-evaluate how we should respond. To achieve faster response we certainly need to educate the organization more than ever.

We need to absorb more, we need to encourage learning more especially to pursue innovation. We need to actively set up learning ways within our organizations to establish their abilities to recognize the value of new, external information (knowledge), to assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends.

Innovation within the organization needs not just greater recognition of its vital parts, but also of its status as a value enhancing and organizational life-changing event that we need to move towards increasingly in more organized ways. Innovation needs to be recognized as a clear discipline, a new expertise that is as powerful as Marketing became some decades ago.

Seeking out knowledge that feeds our innovations

Knowledge and learning 3The more we embrace change and recognize innovation demands more of our time, the more we seek out knowledge that ‘feeds’ innovation. And the more we ‘push’ for learning, the greater chance we have of thriving in a challenging world.

The expectation ‘bar’ needs to be raised from those practicing innovation, I feel the constant need is for those working within innovation they have this real need to raise their game significantly. Innovation needs organizing but it also needs a better understanding of its contributing parts.

Learning and Education should always start at home.

The earlier we learn, have open interactions and form linkages, the more we will be ready to advance innovation into what it must become: a discipline highly valued for what it contributes with in terms of wealth and growth potential.

We need to find the determination to underpin the capacity for innovation, lying within us all, and that comes from knowledge and education through collaborative learning. So what is your capacity for innovation really like within your organization? Is the learning required for innovation set up in structured ways or left to individual learning and experimentation?

Do either structured or informal ways feed back into the organizational learning system to benefit others? Or is the knowledge gained just left ‘resident’ in the person, not being put to that greater use?

Knowledge exchange is the way forward but we need to avoid the easy paths.

Knowledge and learning 2Organizations need to move well beyond their lazy reliance on best practice comparison and they need to find better ways to explore emerging practices. But that takes many into the realm of increasing uncertainties, and most people and organizations are not trained for this exploration and experimentation.

It is easy to copy but we often fail to recognize all the contextual factors that went into making it that one specific organizations good practice, and I guarantee these are not yours!

Best practice has their comparable uses but it is your focusing on the good and emerging practices within your own organization is the area to focus, for learning and wanting to improve into those that make your practices really work. Then applying, experimenting and learning from novel practices that provide growing confidence in creative thinking.

Also give some thought for next practice, those practices that prompt reinvention. They start such totally fresh thinking, they challenge existing paradigms and move you towards considering new business models.

Organizations constantly anticipate risk by reducing all the variables within risk and play safe with just being incremental. Is that wrong? No, as long as we have our reward systems geared to short-term performance, while we measure leadership success the way we presently do, and the shareholder just expects consistent dividends as their part of the equation and is quickly mobilized to force change if it does not meet this immediate aim, we head down the wrong path.

We are not sustaining our organization and we are not advancing ourselves either, we are destroying much in our current approaches. We do need to focus more on the competence-enhancing not competence-destroying aspects.

We need to re-balance the “risk and opportunity” to push our use of new knowledge into fresh innovation that ‘advances’ on the existing. To recognize the difference we need to encourage knowledge to be ‘freely’ exchanged, and then provide the environment to encourage a re-educating on ‘seeing and exploring’ new possibilities that allow us to grow.

Shifting the knowledge needle takes real commitment

Knowledge and learning 1Can we recognize that choosing the tougher pathway of building our own distinct capabilities, learning block by learning block, is the right one to follow. This allows us to build capacities that are ours, seeking out the knowledge to build the absorptive capacity that acquire, assimilate, transform and exploit, so as to give us greater chances of finding new innovation that is valued and allows us all to grow and gain from this dedicated learning.

I can’t change our prevailing system but I can point to alternatives and suggest we have other options, ones pursued by the few, which are more visionary and brave and often disrupting the accepted. These are building on novel and unique practices, extracted not from others best practices but from emerging practices learn by deliberate design and our own personal experiences, formed within our organizations unique view of the ‘take of and place in’ the world.

Finding our own way relies mostly on us to find the answers. We grow by seeking out knowledge as it feeds our minds to find our unique ways to contribute and share.

Navigating the future landscape by developing adaptive innovation skills

So where are we focusing upon to make sure we are developing the right proficiencies and abilities we will need to manage our innovations of the future?  For me innovation capabilities and competencies needs to be far more adaptive and aligned to the different emerging skills we should be bringing to bear, so we are able to find better innovating solutions for our collective futures.

The issue is this: if we do want to reshape much of what we are struggling with today – poor growth, diminishing futures, disconnected communities, stagnating economies or ones struggling to emerge from devastated and austerity measures inflicted upon them – we do need to change our skill sets to reflect a more realistic and up to date need to navigate and transform knowledge to tackle these. Often our present skills are not equipped to manage in these more “disruptive” environments.

I wrote in a past post about “Learning to absorb new Knowledge for Innovation and the ability to understand Absorptive Capacity and how it works. Recently I followed that up with two recent posts about our pressing need that Jobs can be created but our skills do need very much adapting and refining, from where we are at present. One post was “Innovation Job Chasing- A Race Needed to Win” and the other was its precursor “The Present Innovation Jobless Era We Face.”

Our real need is to put in place those stronger adaptive skills  as our foundations so we can be better equipped to compete in the growing innovation race we all facing at personal, community and national levels. We need to equipped differently to meet the tougher global conditions that will be with us for our lifetimes, irrespective of our present age.

Competition won’t go away; it will only increase in its intensity.  To meet this we need to be far better equipped to be ‘innovation-ready’ in our skills. What forms a better ‘innovation ready’ skill set?

So what are those future skills we should be working towards to group around?

There was a report published in 2011 by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) and sponsored by the University Of Phoenix Research Institute to understand the skills workers will need over the next decade in our changing world, based far more on technology and its continued advance.

The report “Future Work Skills 2020” looks initially at what it feels are the six drivers that are shaping our landscape and then the ten skills they see as emerging that need to be where we place our future focus upon. These are:

Future Skills Set

  • Sense-making: the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • Novel & adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Cross -cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New-media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Transdisciplinarity : literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Design mindset:  the ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes.
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

A call to action

As the report authors of Anna Davies, Devin Fidler, and Marina Gorbis suggest, the results have clear implications for individuals needing to learn these skills. They will be asking from where will these come? From the educational institutions that need to grapple with changes that are occurring fast. Also it is the actions both  in business and at government level on how they will encourage and develop the strategies and policies fast enough, so as to offer the incentives to drive the changes needed. It is how quickly we move towards any organized ‘grouped’ learning of new skills can we begin to build within these new groupings.

All institutions certainly do need to provide the leadership to embrace the shifts needed in a constantly changing set of lifelong learning. It is recognized increasingly that skill renewal is constant to meet tomorrow’s ever changing global challenges.  A place where skills are far more heavily reliant on technology and we are able to manage these constant changes effectively. So as the knowledge that is emerging gets translated into new values offering new opportunity, learning and growth. We discover, absorb and translate.

Teaching both hard and soft skills that reflect tomorrows needs

The underlying need is to teach skills that promote quickly in response to changing conditions that will include a higher emphasis on critical thinking, depth of insight and the analysis capabilities to ‘translate’ the information or data emerging from multiple sources.

Equally the soft skills, so often ignored as crucial become increasingly relevant. The ability to collaborate and network, to read social cues, not ignore them as not important to me and respond with this much higher level of adaptability. I wrote about “Recognition of better soft skill taxonomy for Innovation some time back that has a useful way of grouping soft skills.

My summary

Predictions can always be difficult but the impression I gained from looking at the suggested ten future skills suggested by IFTF is that they do seem to make for a solid basis for us to gather around.

What of course we need to do is to develop what ‘lies underneath these ten skills ‘to allow us all to become more ‘innovation ready’ in our skills needed to survive. These might give us that better chance to thrive in the future and find fresh innovating opportunities because we are better equipped in relevant skills.

The burning issue is that our window of time to change and incorporate these into our organized learning is shrinking at ever faster rates. We need to move from recognition of these skills into the setting about of building them far more systematically.

We need to build our future innovation capacities on more relevant skills that are based more on what we need to have within our ‘natural’ skill base based on today at least, and not ones still based on 20th century practices.

Learning to absorb new knowledge for innovation

In a blog I wrote in November last year entitled “Moving-towards-a-more-distributed-innovation-model”( http://bit.ly/b38ixv)  I outlined some thoughts on the flow of knowledge in a distributed innovation model and discussed the Absorptive Capacities more from an internal organizational perspective.

Increasingly we are looking outside for new knowledge that needs internally managing.

As organizations seek increasingly outside their own walls, the appreciation of how they are managing knowledge, learning and interpreting this is becoming a critical aspect of open innovation to be successful. There is a growing need to absorb, integrate and apply this in new and novel ways for accelerating the innovation performance.  The more we seek, the more the knowledge increases in complexity as markets are rapidly changing. The more we are relying on knowledge flowing into the organization the more we have to strength our inter-dependence and collaboration efforts to extract the knowledge we are acquiring for it potential value. Are organizations recognizing the value of structuring their knowledge flows? Do they have the right learning mechanisms to accelerate and exploit new potentials from this knowledge?

Organizations tend to be set up for incremental learning.

Continue reading