Friday, November 15, 2019

The “Universal Principles” of Innovation

Innovation is essentially a management discipline that, if fully understood, read more like a blueprint than science fiction. 

Digital is the age of innovation, innovation is what leads to differentiation. It seems that many companies going through a period of introspection believe that they already implicitly understand the nature of innovation. All too often they perhaps manage a few innovation initiatives successfully. But keep in mind, with today’s digital dynamic, there are many ways to differentiate and, therefore, there are many ways to pursue innovation. It’s important to understand the world class universal success principle for innovation, and manage innovation in a structured way across the organizational scope and digital ecosystem.

The Eastern concept of the empty cup: The “empty cup” is the Zen story to receive feedback, to imply that “if you do not first empty your cup, how can you taste my cup of tea?” Innovation is to discover better ways to do things. Thus, having a beginner’s mind is critical to shape a fresh view and cultivate a learning attitude, to see through things from different angles, keep a certain distance from the environment you observe or experience, discover and explore the new path to do things.

Being creative means you need to get used to stepping outside the old box into unfamiliar territory, keep the mind open, acquire new knowledge, and receive constructive feedback, respond or proactively interact according to circumstances, not according to how you assume.

Innovation becomes possible only if people can keep their curiosity to ask the open-ended “Why, Why Not, What If" questions, for emptying your own cup and being ready to consider other perspectives should they make sense. Innovators often treat each situation with freshness and novelty, no matter how many times they’d seen it or have done it before, they would enjoy exploring the new possibilities or pursue different ways of doing things.

The Western (Greek) idea of renewing your mind: Compared to the previous era with knowledge scarcity and silo setting, the digital era upon us is about information-rich and knowledge abundance. To nurture a creative working environment, foster integrity, trust, and transparency. The digital organization is more like the living thing with self-adaptable and self-renewal capability, encourages great autonomy, “self-generated” engagement, innovation, and self-renewal. You need to understand all these things on an intuitive level and from a holistic perspective.

Either individually or as a team, renew your mind to spark creativity by listening, asking questions, accumulating new knowledge, giving and receiving feedback, as well as dealing with conflict or even constructively advocating a point of view or capturing great insight.

The digital organization needs to focus on creating the right organizational culture so that people can thrive to keep renewing their minds, make meaningful social interactions, understand the interconnectivity of digital flow, and make it possible to turn the organization into “super-conscious and high-innovative mode” with informativeness, creativity, and harmony.

The Thomistic principle: "Quid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur" - an old mediaeval scholastic axiom says (in Latin) translated to “one receives according to one's own mode.” It means that whatever you perceive is likely to be shaped more by who you are than by the characteristics of what you are perceiving. 

Perception is situation or context based. For example, simply by observing self-organizing patterns of complex systems, one may get deep creative ideas about the most appropriate actions to be taken. An innovative organization needs to learn and grow through observation; by observation, you recognize the pattern and connect the things; by observation, you associate innovative services or solutions cross the industrial or geographic boundary. In fact, observation is one of the critical stages of innovation management. 

What you see depends very much on what you are familiar with and on the parading, your personal perception. The essence of innovation is about how to leverage diverse viewpoints, manage people, assets, and resources to meet the business goals for innovation. It must be a matter of perception, but it cannot only be that; it is a matter of influencing the mechanisms through which you actively engage what it is you are perceiving. It requires much more time, energy, passion, courage, experimentation, retreat, and reflection to get clear and focused on the innovative idea, business model, process or solution, and then enact, embody and execute in a disciplined way.

Innovation is essentially a management discipline that, if fully understood, read more like a blueprint than science fiction. Discovering patterns, understanding universal innovation principles and applying disciplines to innovation is to better align innovation management with strategy, to justify the initial investment in the program and the initial results for innovation management and measurement, help the resulting creativity and innovation by forcing yet more ingenuity, rigor, and precision into the approach.


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