This article is perhaps more relevant now than when it was originally written. The balance seems to be shifting rapidly. Those who once led the world in terms of Innovation are struggling a little. Those who considered themselves to be lagging behind are feeling the wind in their sails.
I often get asked about the pace of innovation in different countries or their ability to innovate. Many such questions come from people whose awareness of global issues is sadly lacking. They often represent so called developed countries. The answer I give to them is the same as the one I give to those in less developed countries who are seeking inspiration and motivation for their efforts.
My own personal definition of Innovation is purely based on Human Capital so I choose a metaphor that involves people. Think of Innovation as a race, but with a difference. Some runners have an advantage in that they start further ahead, perhaps because of time or resource advantage and some start with varying degrees of disadvantage.
Those initially at the front may be well trained and have the latest sparkly gear but they are running almost as fast as they can. Improvements being measured only in small amounts. Our runners at the rear will acquire the trappings of leading athletes such as running gear, coaches etc in due course.
There are still two very important factors to consider. How long is the race and how fast can those at the back run? The race we are in is, I believe, a long one with sustainability and resilience to crises being key. So, the longer race will provide greater opportunity for less developed countries to narrow the gap. If their natural talent is greater than developed countries, the race could be close.
My word of warning to those in the lead currently is never underestimate the opposition and look over your shoulder once in a while. My words of encouragement to those at the rear is to believe in your talent.
2012 will be an exciting year!
Do you think that we should consider cancelling Christmas?
No this is not a manifesto from a fringe group who are avoiding the frayed nerves and expense associated with Christmas Shopping, cooking, boisterous children and upset tummies. Christmas is a time where a million and one things must happen and be in place (more or less) by the time presents are unwrapped on Christmas day.
To be honest most of us manage it. We enjoy (or tolerate) the influx of friends and family and for once we seem capable of multi tasking i.e. having a drink, fixing the tree, carving the turkey. Using Christmas as a metaphor, why can’t we do all these things in the workplace? Why can’t we encourage diversity, set objectives, plan and execute strategies?
A subtle clue might be in where the focus lies. As individuals, who do we focus on at work, who do we focus on at home (especially at Christmas)? Now think about where the most dramatic results are achieved!
So far we have considered taking Christmas to work, but what if it were to be the other way around? Just think of all of the rules which we tolerate at work, or at least put up with because it suits us. Here are just a few of the issues that might surface during the festive season:
- Tall object with pine needles – removed for health and safety reasons
- Three Wise Men – disbanded because of contravention of equal opportunities policy
- Baby in a stable – social services involved, baby now in care, animal rights protesters angry because of displaced donkeys
- Larger house needed – health and safety dictate that there is not enough floor space per human/animal/present
- Christmas dinner cancelled – no proper workstation assessment carried out on dining table and various rickety items of furniture that we use
- No presents – Santa has not been on a manual handling course
The list could be endless. There is a serious point to be made though. Yes we do need some frameworks to work within. Someone must look out for the less fortunate and disadvantaged. But too many rules and too many people saying NO is stifling. In the current economic climate we need to bend or even break the rules where necessary.
So its time to decide whether in 2012 you wish to embrace a more creative and productive way of working or wither away under a pile of rules and red tape. Remember, if Christmas really was like work, it would be cancelled. Long live Creativity and Christmas!