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The Hard Currency in Uncertain Economic Times - Ideas!

It’s all very well to talk about innovation in times like this. Innovation is intangible and intangibility is not what we need right now.

Organizations need evidence, hard numbers that enable them to really understand how they are operating functionally on a daily basis. Yet it is the focus on the ideas that flow around that functionality that create the seeds of innovation.

Without that exchange of ideas, organizational stagnation and pessimism set in, morale collapses and passion dies.

Thus, the hard currency in these unstable economic times is ideas‼

Innovation is invariably viewed as developing big bold new ideas and projects. Now is not the time for that type of thinking either. Consumers and markets alike are scared and uncertain. The feedback from most industries suggests they would not be interested in listening anyway.

Rather the time is right to look elsewhere - at problems that need solving. 

If a problem can be identified that needs solving organizationally, there is an opportunity for innovation. Importantly problem solving is cause driven innovation and cause driven innovation can be highly motivating, perhaps even offer a major breakthrough that can contribute value to the organization for low risk at low cost.

As Dr Muhammad Yunus,the founder of the concept of social business says " Where there is a problem to solve, there is a business opportunity."

Finding the problem to solve requires intellectual vision and insight into what is missing, what is absent and to solve it, involves the application of creativity. All successful organizations have within their current resources, processes, knowledge and capabilities, the creativity to solve problems to produce innovative outcomes. That’s why they are currently successful.

Many organizations on their web site carry stories and value statements about innovation such as “the most innovative company in our industry/market” or “innovating our way to the future” or somewhere on their corporate profile the adjective “innovate” pops up regularly to describe a way of working or a particular goal. So those organizations are already well aware of the importance of innovation and how it works.

Or are they? 

Over the last decades, when I have drawn these statements about innovation to the attention of organizational leaders in an initial meeting and asked them what that means, I have been greeted almost without exception with the statement “do we really say that?” accompanied by a blank stare. There has been one and only one exception in those two decades when a CEO walked me through point by point his company's strategic and tactical innovation process. I must say I was really impressed‼

So if leaders generally don’t know how their managers engage innovatively in the organization, how can they expect them to know where to look to find problems to solve, to frame and shape ideas that are relevant to the problem and to develop their creative behaviours and confidence to solve those problems, a very real source of powerful innovation and new value for the organization?

This is obviously an area of keen interest for leaders in organizations going into 2012 as our last peer to peer webinar on this theme “Understanding the Discipline of Innovation in Organizations” booked out in 48 hours.

As a result of the strong demand, we are running another on January 11, 2012.  There is a limit of 25 places

So if you would like to to attend, REGISTER NOW to reserve your place.

Look forward to your participation

Reader Comments (1)

These are really interesting thoughts. We have an innovation method in our organsiation that breaks down ideas to its two core components, a problem and a solution - when the two overlap, you have an idea!

I feel it is key that leaders focus their people on speciific problems, rather than expecting random good ones. A good leader does not need to have all the answers, but needs to create the environment that enables the answer (or idea) to be identified and implemented. A good leader is an conductor, not a one-man band!
December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHarvey Wade

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