This topic was inspired by a recent keynote that I gave at a virtual conference in Chennai on the topic of ‘Innovation for sustainable development’. The title was deliberately ambiguous leading people to wonder what is sustainable, innovation, or development of new technologies? The answer is both!
The key here is the definition of Innovation as a set of behaviours and attitudes, not the shiny new (or green) products that are produced as a result.
The aim of the keynote was to bring together some thoughts on the management of Innovation so that both of these things can be sustained.
Further thoughts on the types of Innovation can be found in my paper Innovation, The Way Forward.
But sustainable Innovation? Surely Innovation is a series of changes so we get on and run change programmes, right?
Definitely not. This causes a series of never ending disruptive effects. It often means that our businesses are at the mercy of expensive consultants who create lasting dependencies on them.
Continuing traditional behaviours also tend to ignore the well being and happiness of workers, and reward systems generally do not address key factors such as expertise, connections, empathy and curiosity which we need going forwards into the future.
So how do we get there? The tools are already here and there is a pathway to follow.
In my talk, I outlined types of Innovation including Structural Innovation which is way beyond disruption but is where we need to be heading.
Next, I outlined the strategic approaches that we use, going beyond Backcasting (Storyboarding to you and I) to Storycasting, a term that I have now used and defined.
Finally, there are the processes and behaviours that we need to adopt. We must go beyond sustaining and disrupting to another newly defined term, Frontiering.
There are good examples and metaphors that we can draw from.
Soup with croutons is a great metaphor for organisational form. It is flat, with an ideal organisational culture and supports the skills and values needed.
Jugaad (frugal Innovation or ‘hacking’) provides examples of resilience and problem solving (but lacks quality).
Finally, Chai provides a useful metaphor for using intuition and providing quality without endless manuals and red tape.
Now you know the reason for the slightly strange title of this article! If your curiosity has been aroused, please do get in touch.
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