The Arrival of the Digital Monsoon for Innovation

tropical monsoon 2 If you ever have lived in the tropics you know of the arrival of the monsoons.

Skies darken, clouds gather, often thunder and lightning combine, the wind picks up and the rain ‘announces’ its arrival in sheer torrents of heavy, drenching, wave-upon-wave of unrelenting force.

It is hard to stand upright or know what to do. Everything around you transforms. Dry, often parched land quickly turns to rivers of water, seeking out everything to shift and move along and eventually going everywhere to transform the landscape.

We are presently being told we are at the beginnings of a digital revolution; it has been likened to a tsunami in its eventual (devastating) effect on our organizations and by inference, the impact it will have on each of our lives.

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Piecing innovation together

Completing the innovation design

Completing the innovation design

When you look at all the (broken) parts within innovation it takes some time to figure out how you can piece it all together to make it a better whole. Innovation and its management is just this place this needs to be pieced together. It often cries out for it.

Most people that work in our business organizations are spending their increasing time in piecing their part of the innovation equation together to make innovation work and trying to improve on the existing conditions to deliver new products and services. They have to work on fixing the system and its many faulty parts, let lone work on their new concept. Is it not about time we stepped back and really thought through the design of innovation and its managing? Why is this so hard to do?

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Millennials see innovation differently from today’s leaders.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) have provided a set of interesting results from a survey of the world’s future leaders and what they think about innovation released for the World Economic Forum, January 2003

The top line was only 26% of those surveyed believed their current organizations leaders encourage the practices that foster innovation. This indicates a major shift really is needed in the organizational mindset to give innovation the chance to thrive.

The implications are nicely summarized by this statement from Deliotte’s Global CEO. “Innovation at the institutional level is needed to sufficiently shift an organization’s mindset to allow new ideas to truly emerge and thrive,” said Deloitte Global CEO Barry Salzberg. “While our current business leaders can debate how and where to innovate, it’s clear how much importance our future leaders place on innovation—not just as a driver of business growth but also as a catalyst for solving society’s most pressing problems.”

DTTL surveyed close to 5,000 Millennials from 18 countries. When gauging the perception among future leaders about innovation and its impact on society, 84 percent say business innovations have a positive impact on society, and 65 percent feel their own company’s activities benefit society in some way.

For more information and to view the survey results, visit: www.deloitte.com/millennialsurvey

The critical message – can we wait or shift leaders aside who don’t get it?

“A generational shift is taking place in business as baby boomers, many of whom may have been wedded to the ‘old way’ of doing business, begin to step down from their leadership roles to retire,” said Salzberg. “Real opportunity exists for organizations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage and foster innovation in their work environments. And there’s a tremendous upside if we get this right: we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively impact society.”

The report provides a nice infographic here: http://tinyurl.com/autexyn

So what really catches my eye?

The one chart that stands out for me is the one that outlines the required provisions of innovation conditions and the present delivery “gap” in creating these to foster innovation.

Taking this as the make-up of many of the essential conditions it is worth listing them here

  1. Encourage & reward idea generation and creativity
  2. Provide employees with “free” time that can be dedicated to learning
  3. That leadership encourages idea sharing regardless of seniority
  4. To promote openness and the freedom to challenge
  5. Provide a commitment to successfully advance innovation ideas
  6. Provide strong and inspirational (innovation) leadership
  7. Have a clear vision of the future
  8. Have a (better) understanding of the Millennial generation
  9. Improve or expand use of internal social and informal learning (methods)
  10. Encourage both formal and informal learning
  11. Have a (real) commitment to a sustainable business
  12. Provide (the conditions) and commitment to continued development
  13. Provide (consistent) improvement to internal processes
  14. Commitment to (consistent) and continual product and service improvements
  15. The (vexing issue) of a lack of hierarchy

The ones highlighted in bold gained the highest responding as needed but this is a fairly valuable list to work from in fostering the ‘right’ innovation conditions.

The Millennials felt the purpose of business was to improve society, generate profit and to drive innovation. They overwhelmingly believe innovation is essential for business growth. They feel it is acceptable for business to profit from social innovation and those organisations that are (clearly) seen to be innovative will attract the talent

According to DTTL the findings endorse the importance of leadership and innovation and the impact business can have on society. This creates opportunities for business leaders – both individually and collectively – and for the long-term success of their businesses.

My initial thoughts triggered from this survey

Today’s leaders need to think very differently about their role and the expectations of business, if we are to capitalize on the opportunities that innovation can provide, simply by allowing these opportunities to be shaped more by the Millennial generation, sitting inside or collaborating outside their organizations.

For me, this survey simply  strengthens my view that today’s leaders just don’t get innovation in the multiple ways they should: to enhance their business and to regain growth. The generations coming up into leadership positions are not just aware of innovation’s importance but are being exposed and trained in all the different facets but frustrated those above “simply don’t get it”.

The issue is “can we really wait?” I don’t believe so.