Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Innovation in a different light

Innovation is more often composed of the full spectrum of light.

Innovation is the light every business is pursuing, however, the majority of organizations today are structured as a functional silo for achieving business efficiency in the industrial era. When the speed of change is accelerated and the digital disruption becomes so rapid and frequent, does such department tunnel vision plague business innovation and limit its business potentials?

It may all be in the semantics and the philosophy of the business. What does 'department' mean and why does it exist? If the corporation has good answers, then departments will be more useful than plague-full. Does the department mean silo? A tunneled group capability? Or is it a group specialization with healthy and slim overlaps with others? Either for business strategy making or innovation pursuit, a clear business vision needs to be circular, not silo; colorful, not black and white; focus on long-term, not just quick win; look through the forest, not only watch the trees; see around the corners, not just look at the obvious; perceive underneath, not only touch the surface, if creativity is to connect the dots, then the radical innovation needs to embrace the full spectrum of light, and innovation leadership has to be both foresightful and profound.

Tunnel vision happens when people work as a GROUP, not as a TEAM. Teams respect and trust each other so much they can challenge, argue, totally disagree, even contradict each other as they work together to produce the best solutions and designs as engineers, designers, architects, IT, writers, etc. Tunnel vision happens that every side of the fence, commercial and technical, misbelieve the relevance and difficulties of each other’s jobs. The talent with cross-disciplinary skills can become the interface between both sides of the fence (technique and marketing) since they understand both jargons and are able to keep in line with both teams. This requires to have far more flexibility and considers many things not requested and understanding that even if any of both sides said the specifications were final, some latitude was required for future unconsidered changes...

Systems Dynamics are in control of feedback loops of the humankind. It is a useful skill for anyone trying to deploy or improve on an innovative culture via change management. The key is to "engineer" creative problem-solving conversations between Marketing, Product Management, Research, Engineering, Finance, Talent Management, etc. While the techies may be allergic to the marketeers, the marketeers may also be tech-shy, so the businesses may be dealing with multiple tunneled visions between the different groups You need to develop a common language to make these innovative brainstorming fruitful. Marketing is an underrated skill in engineering, and yet, the most successful engineers are adept at explaining their "complex" ideas and solutions in simple and compelling terms - to SELL them successfully, to sales/marketing and senior management.

Innovation is more often composed of the full spectrum of light, sometimes a "see through the mirror" in the middle of the tunnel is the best solution; ultimately, you may need to jump out of the tunnel to gain the full vision of the future. 


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