In strategic circles, the one with the most “innovative” thinking trumps any one’s brilliant plan.
We’ve all heard the saying “perception becomes reality,” now if that statement was true, what will it take to make all “innovation” become reality too, and if it is that easy, why aren’t we seeing a lot of innovation or inventive people around?
I hear a lot of talk, everyone is abuzz with innovation, “we have to be more innovative people”, oh and the classic – “think outside the box”, who started all this madness, event at schools teachers are teaching “innovation” and how to be “inventive”.
We hear the word “innovation” everywhere, it is spreading like wild fire, especially in our media and business press, suggesting the word is becoming “a cliché,” (or used out of context) and just implying some form of change, and is used more as a buzz word, a fashion statement, than to actually advance very specific ideas.
“Innovation” – has also become big business; it has created a new economy; franchises, schools, institutions even, and lots of literature – over 250 books on Google books with innovation in the title; consultants are popping up all over, people even get appointed with the title as innovation consultants, officer, office, thus making millions of dollars, even in advising, it’s become businesses. Just like global warming it s creating jobs and a sub culture. Yet, I still have to see something that’s truly jaw dropping, one invention that will convince me it exist, that will convince me it has merit, or can be taught, or harnessed like energy and has place in business theory.
“Some say it’s not like that; it’s not invention, its nothing is new, it’s just reinvented, its innovation?”
It’s how we perceive innovation, that is how we will be giving it meaning or not, they try and make it sound mystical, as if we are missing the point? So let me get it right, it’s how it will add meaning, or subtract from it, that will define if it has value to you? I still don’t get it?
Do we even consider it as fact or “pulp fiction”, do we need to take it serious or do we just have to go with it, like a phase that will pass, how do we think or see innovation taking form, do we see any need for it, do we think of ourselves as being innovative – even on a very personal level?
What is your take on innovation?
If you desire innovation or invention, then you need to create the right mind-set for it first. Is this even possible?
Let’s test this; Science say that by creating different mind-sets to address different situations with, to change how you normally think and solve problems and then switch over to a creative thinking mind-set is by choice. This implies changing who you fundamentally are as a person – in an instant?
I am not so sure it can be done, so I did some research; here are the crunched results;
- No amount of positive or learned response can fundamentally or even radically change who we are at the core.
- Especially if you are not living in a world of abundance; with a lack of education, even basic, infrastructure, food, support services, communication, funding, then it’s kind of difficult to become innovative, or even entrepreneurial, but not impossible. If one is sealed off from most of what modern society offers, then what is open to possibility, somehow fades in the face of harsh reality.
- So you need an environment that fosters and embraces creativity first – check.
Even innovation has its limits then it seems, and requires specifics to exist; it’s meant for a select few only; if you don’t believe me read this; we need a basic launching platform as a first prerequisite; an education, creativity, funding, an income, and access to data and the outside world, to be able to achieve innovative results. The process of innovation demands this; so that we can discover things through keen observation endorsed by a process of careful experimentation…and deliberation, with thoughts, that then become objects or ideas, which could lead to innovation.
This then begs the question how true is this statement, and can we all be innovative then, if we have a basic education, and infrastructure, food, support services, communication, funding, living in a world of abundance then, then we are good to be innovative. Then our school teacher could teach us how to become inventors?
No, not even with all those extras; if we look at our brains design and composition, the place, or tool that we use to be innovative with, then the entire sales talk fly’s out the window. Then we are almost autonomous in design; we follow patterns, and habits. Of which most comes from our parents and their parents – its hotwired in our DNA. This then either lessens or enhances our ability to be keen observers and researchers, the two key required components to finding the perception that leads to innovation.
Does perception ever, rarely, sometimes, or always become reality that is also a real question then?
Do we even fully begin to understand the workings of our own perceptions forming machine for starters?
The expert’s recon, we are not all predisposed with this ability to innovate, it comes from internal drives that are genetically embedded, and at other times they are culturally instructed. We are who are because of our brains; our brains tell us to be, therefore we think in that same manner.
Do we see any correlation between our thoughts, perceptions and our approach to life, or are we just blissfully unaware, ignorant and intolerant to others thinking, their perceptions and therefore even our own?
So clearly it’s not innovation that these guys are selling or even close; they say innovation is actually not that to them, it’s this – from one of the books (no names no pack drills); that “look at the things that affect you the most in your day to day work. Is there something that you could do differently? “Is there something that you could try that you have never tried before? Are you convinced that there is no better way to do this?” that’s innovation thinking… Come on! this is not invention, this is just common sense management 101 – dished up as a cupcakes…and people fall for this, pay good money as well? It’s all perception changing agents; it’s still plain vanilla that they want to sell as chocolate brownie, the new era of chaos.
Plato had this same problem with perception thinking – and he more or less saw it like this;
Anyone reflecting on the nature of perception is likely to notice two things:
- that the end-product of perception is something seen as an object out there, as if our consciousness reaches out towards it…it’s just a thing, yet we could even give it a name, yes, no , maybe? We have the power to make it or break it…
- that perception arises from a causal chain of events, which starts in an object, and ends in the brain, or soul, or whatever part of the person you consider to be responsible for creating perception, so objects become conversation, we give it a name and if we unpack them to add value, then we give them attributes, and in turn elements starts to form, they then become something we call; a perception;
Perception is best described as; an awareness of our higher brain functions working and processing thoughts through a cycle of systems, until you becoming aware of something. That then creates that AHA moment for you…there you have created an perception of something, a way of thinking and explaining it to yourself first, so it makes rational sense…to you , and then too others if you choose…
So it gets even more complicated
When monitoring your environment, we tend to pay close attention to changes, uncertainties, and how it has changed our environment and then also our own adaptive behaviour… This is how real invention starts; with keen observation forming perceptions, ideas, objects, that can then become objectives, and as it flows goals, actionable.
Perceptions provide a basis for working with these events. Because much of what we have come to understand about true innovation, took place in a specific time and place when conditions were favourable to see it work. Things taking place today was because of changes in the past, now forcing incremental adaptation to fit in the future, and its impact on growth and change is no longer subtle but encompassing. (Take for instance the cell-phone, we could have had it 20 years back already, however, there was no battery strong enough at that time, so one component held back innovation till now.)
For example, what assumptions are you making about your thinking and thought right now, just by reading this, you are in fact trying to position yourself to like, or dislike this, to agree or to disagree. This is the power of perception…
This is perception management, you either want to agree, or disagree – based on environmental changes, and stimuli, and testing assumptions – then we come to the same situation, to test, to see if our own assumptions are still valid on this, or do we need to incrementally adapt towards this change in mindset with the rest of the heard?
So we have two components to struggle with now, the perception on innovation, and the facts about it, how true innovation works. It’s still all about survival and dealing with change…the primitive mind still rules our behaviour; we still have predators blood and sheep blood out there, those we hunt and those who follow.
Two tribes, that both woke up this morning, and as they existed their caves. Here is a Saber-tooths prints, oh boy, we need to gather more info, or create lots of distance, this is the same process. We have been engaged in for ages. Two opposing forces, influencing each other still.
Understanding the importance of perceptions especially of others, and what goes around, affords us a source of emotional intelligence, stability and security, and even a learning opportunity, and furthermore the ability to network, communicate, and to establish new lines of communication, and keep others open.
Just by our perception; communication then is a focal point that steers perception, it creates focus for us daily.
Some say strategy is more on having the right people and less on the right plan today, this is strategic innovation, they are just playing with words, innovation is in everything now it seems.
The rules of innovation are simple:
The rules of change are simple; it needs to be incremental to be effective; this is the precursor to innovation, if one thing changes then everything else need to catch up. The rules of innovation are just as simple; Innovation is impossible to achieve without taking a necessary amount of risk. People take the word strategy and substitute it with innovation, just to confuse us. Innovation is not a new ness culture, but a strategy for sure.
If you stand still long enough to just think about it, you’ll get run over by the herd migrating, but if you go so fast chasing every half-baked idea on innovation that’s sold as innovative, especially by consultants, that makes millions in the “gold rush”, then you’ll lose focus on your core business and strategy and risk the decrease of effectiveness and competitiveness, and plunge over a cliff. Strategy remains the leader of everything else to follow, including innovation if you want it. If you don’t follow this paradigm; you’ll generally trip and fall over all the assumptions out there.
The rules are clear; slow is fast. In most instances, this is where we find innovation, and breakthrough, not everything is innovation and comes boxed that way. Radical and revolutionary ideas produce strategy, that produces means, and initiative, that yields breakthroughs.
So what is innovation again?
The Difference between Strategic Innovation and Revolutionary Breakthrough
The lowest form of thinking is the bare recognition of the object. The highest, the comprehensive intuition of the man who sees all things as part of a system – Plato
“Innovation thinking does not recognise systems thinking” and this is where it fails…
The principle is universal and we find it right throughout creation; Systems in nature are there for good reason; it creates and maintains balance – that provides order.
Innovation the way it’s described in most “innovation pop literature”, prescribes random change as the best way to grow. This is a development out of sync with the system, it will create chaos, and has…
Way too much change is good, even great and we have to have it architect of anarchy have emerged. Change should be influenced by a system of perception; both individuals and entire social systems in turn should fuel and influence change for it to be progressive, as everything connects with everything it is connected with. So innovation cannot outgrow the systems they belong to, we don’t need maverick innovators in our midst, if it doesn’t fit with the mental model of individuals and society and their leaders, then it won’t get noticed, or implemented at work. Same in society.
Too much change is not good period, it’s destabilising and creates uncertainty and depression, as well as stress and the list goes on, even if it is called invention, it destabilises the balance in the systems, if it’s not done strategically, and systematic, we are all aware of such impacts. (Global warming is a direct result of innovation gone haywire, anything to extreme, where the environment did not change in step with man’s innovative inventions…we are catching up, and paying a big price for being so inventive, so invention is not the alpha and omega either, it could harm us much more in the long term. Rather seek breakthroughs.
This is where perception becomes usable; when we see its results unfolding, and we see things in context, a working definition of innovation must go beyond just having great ideas. Cause and effect should also come into play. One way or another it also has to involve actually executing these ideas, so that they can add value and become usable – and sustainable, as well as facilitate change, to adapt. And probably most importantly, it must involve creating value. If you don’t create value, then the idea should not and probably will not spread.
The essence of radical strategy is that its maintains focus, it is systems based, and focused on sustainability that should emerge from it. We are missing the whole ball park here. We should be looking at suitability and renewable elements of energy in our breakthrough strategies, and then back it up with innovation. Not start with innovation first and then try and crowbar it into a fit, as it is goal less, and unfocused. Strategy is radical but not lethal; it’s revolutionary but not detrimental. The entrepreneurial culture and perception is stimulated then, we need more of this…and less innovation
An entrepreneurial culture attracts talent
For any Revolution to have any value, it must have a purpose; a clear direction with leaders selling the perception… An entrepreneurial mind-set works like that, it thinks revolution, and can be described as a person or a group of persons applying their minds, also known as the entrepreneurial spirit, which lead to the inventive practice of identifying and/or creating opportunities, then acting to manifest those opportunities in a productive way. …
We don’t want ‘disruption,’ in our inner or outer lives ever; we prefer a life where things just tend to move along steadily on a projected course. In everything we do, we want this direction. We want a purpose in things in our systems, and environment. Most of our dilemmas in life and downfall came from the fact that we could not create a purpose, or direction for the things we bring into it, at all levels and spheres of existence this rule applies; spiritual, physical, financial and social. If we don’t defined the problem long before the time, or had no way (means at our disposal) to solve it, or were just not aware that it could have dire consequences. Then we have disruption in our environment, the distinctive feature is normally confusion, or inability to act that disables us, from the core.
The entrepreneur acts as a group scheme multiplier; from the people for the people, not for themselves…the one creates opportunity for the next.
Entrepreneurship opens the door to women: Unlike in corporate management, there is no glass ceiling in a company you start yourself, which is why female entrepreneurs are flourishing. Poor leadership, strategy and planning is causing much more entrepreneurial failure than success — even if society still reaps the benefits of success. The more we teach people to create, market, and sell themselves, the more we shall prosper. Hoping for improved leadership without training is just wishful thinking. No amount of innovative thinking will create leadership, strategy and planning. They will always need to precede the latter.
So what is innovation then really?
Innovation in its essence is seen as; the process by which an idea or invention is translated into a goods or services for which people will pay, or something that results from this process, that delivers value.
Radical innovation on the other hand has a component of strategy added; it is purposefully concerned with exploration of new ways of curbing old problems and solving them, and came about when insights from several different disciplines were used, to find one common solution. It is strategic and both systematic in character and design. This approach is fundamentally different from incremental innovation that is concerned with exploitation of existing resources, and works on a trial and error basis.
“Radical innovation is a product of a focused designed and strategic process, a strategy which has either unprecedented performance features or familiar features that offer potential for significant improvements in cost and waist reduction, in other words it becomes a useful product or service.
Our brains don’t want to work hard
Our brains don’t want to work hard, especially if our bodies are tired. Today with the madness of change, more change and then just for good measure still some more change, our brains fry. Risk versus reward analysis is an important part of decision making; this should also now include the human limitations and impact it has in the body and health of people. Because we now know, we take more risks when we become tired. Thus we become less innovative, and more maverick.
They the innovators – preach less of this and more chaos; “Innovative thinking involves the construction of new behaviours based on the assimilation of continuously changing or finding novel ways to improve – still more change. In a study of military personnel who had undergone two nights of sleep deprivation, results showed marked reductions in the ability to generate fresh ideas about a given topic. So we are running people flat, and then we slowly kill them with the way we think business should be run, for profit? Am I making my point now?
Overloading, makes the brain “dead” tired; The excessive focus on analysis, of changes in the environment, forces the brain to do target and number crunching, and the absence of introspection and imagination resulted in a crisis state, where we grow anxious in our own ability to cope ( I don’t know how much more of this I can take – syndrome.)
The educated brain tends towards over analyses; and this aspect kills fluidity;
- People get so caught up in the details of a problem; they lose sight of the problem itself.
- The most common scenario is a difficult problem becoming more difficult because of personal restrictions imposed by the problem solvers themselves
- Everyone has to consistently deal with problems that can’t be tackled without first outlining the limitations of the scheme to them, then they get stuck
- Pitfall often occurs as a result of an incorrect assessment of a task’s complexity
- The frustration in everyday problem solving, occurs when people feel that they are reinventing the wheel
- Society has become very impatient – so much so that a lot of people come to a fight bare-handed – and battle tired
- The brain learns faster through trial and error and mimicking behavior than what it does through theory…
We talk the talk but do we walk the walk, will we be able to live with all the effects of un-controlled change and innovation?
True Innovation as a business initiative is just in its infancy. It requires focus, a purpose. And structure; systems, policy, strategy and procedures, and most importantly funding. We are nowhere near harnessing its true potential yet. It’s a work in progress…now let’s look at some study;
(Rogers, 1995). Perceived attributes of an innovation include:
- Relative advantage—the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes (p. 250). The higher the perceived relative advantage, the more likely the innovation will be adopted.
- Compatibility—the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experiences and needs of potential adopters (p. 250). If the innovation is perceived as an extreme change, then it will not be compatible with past experiences and is less likely to be adopted.
- Complexity—the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use (p. 250). Innovations that are perceived as complex are less likely to be adopted.
- Observability—the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others (p. 251). If the observed effects are perceived to be small or non-existent, then the likelihood of adoption is reduced.
- Trialability—the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis (p. 251). This may include trying out parts of a program or having the opportunity to watch others using a new program. Trialability is positively related to the likelihood of adoption.
So it seems we are all talking innovation, and yet we don’t seem to know its head from its backside?
Conclusion; Many people today seem to equate inspiration, and subsequent inventions, with the buzz word “innovation”, nevertheless they are not necessarily the same thing as we have seen. The electric light bulb, for example, was one of Thomas Edison’s best known inventions. Nonetheless, even Edison realized that the light bulb would be of no value unless electricity was available in every home. So he made the fit, he saw the” comprehensive intuition of the man who sees all things as part of a system”. Thus, the innovation was not the light bulb itself, but the electrical grid later designed to make the light bulb a useful invention for people. We need more inventors like this, bigger picture, and cause and effect people. The general perception of innovation is that it is as a problem solving strategy – something like that that does not exist, (only with strategy applied along with a sociological approach will we succeed I believe), although it is a critical notion for businesses that want to succeed, at any cost, and they will use whatever they can to succeed, especially in this economy, but at what cost?