Create to survive!

“Innovate or die.” I have heard this phrase so many times that it no longer has any impact. Yes, I believe it, but I see so many instances when innovation activities are crushed because it is not one of our “current priorities.” The first nail in the coffin…

He knows how to survive

He has the skills and creativity to survive…

“If we watch the pennies, then the pounds will take care of themselves.” Another often used phrase. Yes the pounds will take care of themselves, until someone changes the currency. To blindly stick to a determined path without looking at what else is happening maybe heroic, but is unlikely to be successful.

Today, technology is becoming more integrated into our everyday lifestyles and jobs. We are benefitting from these advances, as the quality of living increases. However, is this a good thing? Rather than knowing about something, we now just “Google it”. And if we don’t get the answer within five seconds we become incredibly impatient!

Computers or machines are performing more and more of the tasks that were once performed by employees. The complexity of tasks that machines complete is increasing at a faster rate, and as outlined by Clay Christensen in his key book, the “Innovator’s Dilemma”, this will start to squeeze  the current workforce.

With this in mind, a recent NESTA report, “Creativity vs Robots”, explores future automation and creativity in the UK and US workforce.  It finds that creative jobs, such as artists, architects, web designers, IT specialists and public relations professionals, will be much more resistant to automation than most other jobs.

The report also identifies that both economies have the potential to be far more creative. As parents, we often focus our children on traditionally jobs, but this is not the right advice. We have to create the environment for creativity to be encouraged and develop. Education is not about giving the right answer; education must be develop the confidence and capability to create. The jobs of the future will look nothing like the jobs of today; having the ability to adapt and create will be vital.

Humans are creative beings; it’s what makes us alive. Machines are fast copiers, but they are not creative. Create to survive, and innovation will result.

Impact of Employee Engagement on Innovation

There are many statistics on the level of disengagement in organisations, and it’s low; really low. According to Gallup, 70% of American workers are not engaged. Disengaged staff cost organisations, but also impact in more subtle ways:

“78% of engaged employees would recommend their company’s products or services, against 13% of the disengaged.”

“70% of engaged employees indicate they have a good understanding of how to meet customer needs; only 17% of non-engaged employees say the same.”

disengagedemployeeThe impact of employee engagement is no longer questioned. Most large corporates run a regular survey to check the engagement temperature of their employees, with the intention of identifying the problems, overcoming them and hoping that the scores improve next time.
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Innovation Activity Predicts The Future

How healthy is your organisation going to be this year? Will it be growing or will it struggle to survive? The future is uncertain; that’s good for bookmakers and fortune-tellers, but not good if you are trying to plan for the future.

Crystal BallIn my experience, all organisations regularly review their “key numbers”, normally revenue and cost, however, those numbers are in the past, there’s no ability to change what’s happened (legally). What will those numbers be for this month? At best it is intelligent guessing, i.e., forecasting.

Managing your business by your past performance is like driving a car by only looking in the rear-view mirror. You can see what’s happened, but you can only guess what is going to happen, and those guesses are based on what the road looked like previously as you can’t see what’s coming up. The only action left is to hope you guess right and fix the damage when you don’t.

But you can begin to predict the future health of your organisation; there is a way to see into the future. And you already have this capability in your organisation; let me explain…

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Fighting Organisational Policy

Change is hard as we humans don’t like change. However, in organisations, there is another reason why change is so hard, and it’s called Policy.

policyLet me give you an example of Policy in action. I was recently working with a client who was running an idea challenge in their company. The CEO and the board were sponsoring the challenge and expecting great things. To launch the challenge, the CEO emailed every employee to ask them to get involved by submitting their ideas as they ideas were needed urgently. Good so far.
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The Battle Between Innovation and Managers

Innovation initiatives have a habit of causing excitement and expectation; the organisation is trying something different and wanting to do new things. Senior management are anticipating the brand new shiny ideas, and front-line employees can’t wait to be rid of their daily frustrations. So what could go wrong?

Are they listening?

Are they listening?

However, in all this excitement, there’s a group that is usually neglected in the engagement strategy – the middle managers. Often it’s assumed that these managers will support all the company initiatives. It’s their role to toe the line and make sure others do. They’ll buy in surely?

Actually, they don’t.

The role of a middle manager is to maintain the status quo and ensure that set targets are met and the organisational cogs keep turning and working as expected. They are not needed to pursue flights of fancy, a.k.a. ideas, they are employed to keep order and manage resources.

And then they and their team are asked to innovate. What’s in it for the manager? If they are measured on meeting their current objectives, innovation will be seen as a distraction to the “real work” with no guaranteed rewards at the end.

So instead of ideas flowing freely through the organisation and being implemented as quick as you can blink, the ideas get stuck.

Really stuck.
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Money: Bad For Ideas

Money motivates. People tend to like it and usually want more of it. However, is it helpful in encouraging and getting innovation?money

I want ideas; I’ll pay for them. It’s almost crude in it’s approach. Nobody likes to think that they can be bought for a certain price. However, when it comes to innovation, it is often the default.

Let me lay my cards on the table here; I believe using money as a motivator can be immensely destructive!
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