Is all investment about the future?

Buy back questionI was reading an article by Doug Collins on the “three wishes for the innovation practitioner for 2015” where he points out “2014 was the year for share buybacks and dividends“.

An article from Bloomberg reports that companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index are “poised to spend $914 billion on share buybacks and dividends this year, or about 95 percent of earnings.”

95% of earnings – Doug rightly says “wow” and offers a thoughtful set of observations

“Every organization that enjoys free cash flow makes a decision on where to allocate that resource. If the opportunity available to the organization meets or exceeds the hurdle rate—the desired, expected rate of return—then, in theory, they invest in that opportunity. If not, then no: the organization returns the cash to the investors. Of course, earnings come after investments the organization makes in innovation—research & development expenses, for example. Many do invest a lot in R&D”

He then remarks “And yet…..and yet” ….

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The yin yang of innovation

Recognizing its dual force

Scholars tell us that there are two natural complementary, yet contradictory forces at work within our universe. The Chinese call these ‘Yin Yang’. Yin is regarded as more passive, receptive, more outside-in, whereas Yang is more active, creative and inside-out. These are seemingly opposing forces but interconnected and interdependent, one gives rise to the other, they actually reinforce each other. Yin & yang seemingly have the following characteristics: they are opposing, yet equally rooted together; they have the power to transform each other and eventually are balanced out.

Yin Yang in Idea Management

As a good example of these opposite forces we often are required to both generate a large number of different ideas, and apply the countervailing need of selecting from among those that best can meet the organizations objectives. It is critically important to have this ‘flow and balance’ and allow it to constantly evolve. Continue reading