Friday, 26 October 2012

Innovation and inclusion - a matter of space and time

[Image by Salim Virji]
Vijay Vijasankar and Ethan Jewett dragged me into a conversation on innovation and inclusion. Well of course they didn't, I butted in as usual

My answer was:

Innovation disrupts - there can't be any innovation that doesn't. Disrupting means ripping apart - of the status quo, no matter how big or small either of them.
Let's stand at a distance, shall we? Imagine you are an oil company, and I am an employee. Maybe even an distinguished employee. Maybe even your best and biggest biz friend.
I find a way to power vehicles solely on solar energy, or wind - free power sources, that in the next few years would put you and your competition completely out of business

Would you like that? Even appreciate that? Or, on the outer end of the scale lovingly embrace that? No. You'd dissuade me, pact up against me, ignore me, fire me, haunt me for ever

What would other people do, once I took my ideas public? The tree huggers (sorry, I love trees too, but this is the popular word I'm afraid is used to ridicule you) would carry me on their shoulders. Your competition? They'd behave fairly the same-ish. Can't have a traitor among the ranks, even if it's on the other side - we have to uphold the system and close ranks even across enemy lines if it's threatened as a whole

So, that innovation doesn't really rub on so well now, does it? - to those in my immediate vicinity.
Let's fast forward a given amount of years, decades or centuries, when my idea has become so blatantly basic, natural and afterthought-less as can be - pretty much like water coming out of your tap, electricity out of your wall, etcetera.
If my boss / company and its competition were still around, how would they behave now? Needless to say, they'd have become the poster child of my idea they persecuted so feverously at the moment it was born

That is what time does to innovation - it includes the vast majority. Or, of course, if not innovative enough, or disruptive enough yet opposed enough within due time, it won't. Acid rain and global warming are the most recent examples of the opposites of that, by the way - but let's not lead me astray for this post

A less extreme example perhaps, to show how space can and can't propel innovation. Social networks such as Twitter, Yammer and Facebook come to mind. Imagine you are ye old-fashioned enterprise, and I'm the usual silly self-proclaimed evangelist, oh noes, strategist. Of course I'm starting this in splendid solitude and isolation, and you aren't aware of that, as I am a humble grunt servant out in the fields.
Then, more and more people adopt, and all of a sudden you find yourself confronted with a minor majority, or major minority, which ever perception suits you best, of people who engage in something you're absolutely clueless about, unfamiliar with, and unlikely to like.
A perfect example of Euan Semple's Trojan mice

What's the way forward then? Well, as usual, it's all about the immense shades of grey in between black and white.

  • Are you, or your business, looking for innovation in a serious sense of the word? You'll find yourself in a warm bath, and if you have to worry about anything, it's probably other people taking credit for your ideas
  • Do you pay servitude to an Enterprise? Maybe it would be best to take your innovative ideas, including yourself, outside. The best way would probably be the Trojan mice way. Or, if you're into the Inner Circle, your innovative ideas might resonate when you've won the support of your peers and the people they please. Or you are not part of the Inner Circle, and will have to rely on Time to be on your side

The shades of grey in between the two kinds of companies above - and your role - determine the Space and Time of inclusion.
Are you part of an inherently social business because it's small-scale enough, where every employer knows every customer and vice versa? Include everyone, or don't even bother, as any good innovative idea will automatically do so. Time is no factor, your ideas will either get fast forwarded immediately, of forever forgotten.
Are you a member of a droid factory where people 9-to-5 their way through life? Highly dependent on what your ideas innovate on, you'll very likely start with inclusion of a small group, your own inner circle, and run into the glass ceiling at some point. Your ideas might simmer beyond that, and surface from time to time, and might even get successful - but those chances are slim, and chances of you being credited or even slimmer, as in non-existent

The goal of every innovation is of course to include everyone, starting with the very top, right now. But not too seldom, the goal of that very top is to either kill or own any innovation. That is where you should stretch your Space, and aim for Time to close the gap - or simply take your ideas outside

0 reacties:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Copy your comment before signing in...