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Overcoming challenges in an innovation imperative world – 2nd edition

Just a few weeks ago I highlighted how important innovation was and yet how disinterested everyone was in it: Innovation has never been more problematic or needed – 3 things you can do. I went on to suggest 3 ways in which you could address this challenge. Not more than a week later, this post came out on the World Economic Forum (WEF) site: Companies need innovation more than ever. Here’s how to measure it. It makes similar points that cover challenges and solutions. In my previous post I shared an example of a company tackling things the right way. In this post I’ll talk briefly about the WEF post and share another great example of a company doing things right.

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Jobs of the future will be what robots cannot do

The title of this post actually comes from a video I viewed on Big Think way back in 2016. It was a short video by renowned American physicist, Michio Kaku. I’ve just searched the site extensively to try and find it again but couldn’t. Good thing I downloaded a copy at the time and uploaded it to YouTube. I wanted to capture it as I recall it was not shareable. I have based a lot of my thinking on its prognostications since then. I first referenced it here: After robots and AI – intellectual capitalism where creativity and imagination thrive.

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Innovation has never been more problematic or needed – 3 things you can do

Click to enlarge

Everyone wants innovation, no one wants to innovate. It’s similar to change. Therein may lie the rub. They are such broad terms, they may have lost their significance. But the problem goes beyond lack of interest, there is a lack of purpose or organisation/management, the pace of change, all and more contribute to this situation. Call it innovation fatigue if you will, in fact a book has got that covered already: Innovation for the fatigued – How to Build a Culture of Deep Creativity. And yet, the imperative is as high as ever.

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5 ideas who’s time has come

This was more fun (to doodle) than anything else. But there is some data to back the ideas up, or at least sources I used to make my points. More than anything though, these 5 ideas are deep rooted feelings I have based on reading and experience over time. Anyway, here are some of my sources.

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Tech trends of 2021 number 31

The title of this post is based on an article from Fast Company: Here are the top tech trends of 2021, according to 30 experts. I am adding to the 30. Note I excluded any reference to myself as an expert – I abhor the term. I wouldn’t call myself an expert but I have been known to dabble in trends, past reports here and new one being worked on here. Anyway, it seems a good time of the year to chime in on this topic so read on to see my prediction.

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Crisis renewal and the future of work

Also a dabble with new publishing formats

A brief intro and some sense making on a recent article and book covering the topics in the title. And as the captions states, I continue to explore new ways of communicating or publishing – video mixed with content created on Canva. Experimentation coincidentally also a theme covered in the short video so n00b alert 🤓 The book is Humanocracy by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini. The article in FT – Future of work: how managers are harnessing employees’ hidden skills.

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Learn how to Innovate and Invest in your Future

I’m playing with a new format for stories using AMP technology. I’ve tried two editors, this story below is from a WordPress Plugin from Google, the other provider is Make Stories. The latter is my preferred but its not quite ready for WordPress (.com) integration just yet – here is the story in full animated glory.

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As a Service trend research – customer solutions

This is a topic I will be covering as a chapter in my As a Service trend report. It’s not entirely dissimilar to one of the other chapter topics I will be covering and have written about here: As a Service trend research – products to services.

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For citizen development to work address innovation culture first

I’m seeing more and more signals driving this trend which has only been around a short while. Gartner describes citizen development thus.

Its precursor was the consumerisation of IT. One of the key aspects of this trend was that decision making on the use of software in organisations was increasingly being taken by business users, not IT.

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The changing influence of culture and technology at work and the battle for the mind

I work in a field that frequently deals with changing the culture of work through managed change engagements. They are most often aligned to new technology adoption or digital transformation efforts. In all this work, the typical influencers present themselves: people, technology and process.

I’m exploring the first two in this post and assuming people as being synonymous with culture. Mindset is a relatively new component I also delve into. This is an essay capturing recent observations on the changing influence of all these elements. You may get more questions than answers ;)

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Meaning and models as future work motivators

We don’t all have the luxury to question why we are working and to what end.

Many are in dead end, soul sapping or even worse, life endangering jobs.

But the reality is they have no choice. No choice but to toil in whatever adversity they find themselves because there is no alternative

On the other hand, many in the first world are spoilt (and I count myself amongst them). We are lucky to have jobs and vast choices with global employment rates at all time highs.

We have incredible jobs, are highly paid and in fantastic industries.

And yet engagement levels at work are at all time lows.

I ascribe this near universal condition of motivation in first world employment to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Once our basic needs are met, we will naturally incline towards the higher levels and that is what my enquiry in this post pertains to.

I believe it is in the higher levels that we are falling short and this is leading to so much dissatisfaction and lack of engagement at work.

Dynamics of meaning

I have explored (and still am) many aspects of motivation and meaning because it is so fundamental to outcomes and success in the work I do with customers.

I have taken Maslow’s theory and applied it to organisations and this seems to have resonated: The Modern Organisation’s Hierarchy of Needs.

I am exploring that further in a very detailed manner in terms of the things that are measured and how this drives behaviour: Leading the right behaviours through metrics and new work models.

I believe at a practical level, with robots and AI taking some of the lower level jobs that we are going to be forced (or have the luxury – depending on how you see it) to the higher levels: The post robotic AI age and the role of creativity and innovation.

I am not alone. The purpose or meaning driven organisation and defining the elements of its success have practically become an industry. Culture as an important contributing factor too.

Whether out of necessity or luxury I believe this to be meaningful work, to get a little meta.

However, as Maslow suggested and I too believe, we will constantly be forced by circumstance (e.g. losing a job) or simply because its healthy, to re-evaluate the lower levels.

As individuals, it might mean our excessive food intake has become a problem that needs addressing. So too organisations might be forced to re-evaluate their business models when the basis for the industry they are in is disrupted.

Dynamics of the business model

I have suggested in my hierarchy of organisational needs that the business model sits at the lowest level. I posit that it is as basic and necessary for business survival to have a good model as it is for individuals to have food, water and shelter.

And the basic business model of many organisations is under pressure to be re-evaluated and transformed like never before.

One such pressure I am currently exploring in a new eBook / trend report is coming from the subscription economy. Software as a Service has influenced enterprise technology and this has led to a broader As a Service trend (that’s a link to all posts with the tag where you can find material I am using in my work).

Business model transformation and innovation has become an industry in its own right too.

I would argue that this sits within a context and hierarchy of its own. The context is probably organisational transformation and what is currently very much in vogue, digital transformation.

It terms of hierarchy, it probably sits at the apex.

I’m doing some work at the moment around these very elements and have two charts that I use to demonstrate these aspects.

By “elements” you can probably see that I don’t mean those of the business model itself (which something like the business model canvas does very well).

In terms of effort and impact, you can see business model innovation is the hardest to do yet has the greatest impact over time and in value terms. Too often I see the focus on lower level transformations because they are easy.

The thing the diagram at right also points to is the limited impact over time that innovations or transformations have, hence the need to constantly be innovating and transforming.

This brings me full circle to the two pinnacles of my modern organisational hierarchy framework: innovation and creativity. The need to constantly innovate and create (or re-create, in a circle of positive creative-destruction) is key in the future of work.

In conclusion

This also brings me to the motivation element in the subject of this post.

One point I make is about the critical role of meaning in our future work roles, as individuals and organisations. About how we must spend time defining what creates meaning and will make a difference and this means going beyond the basics.

The other point is about how we cannot ignore the basics but in the case of organisational business models, how crucial it is to work on reinventing these for greatest impact. But here too, we shouldn’t waste effort on lower level efforts.

I am highly motivated by all this at the moment. In turn I strive to make it key motivator for the efforts of individuals and organisations I work with because I think it will make all the difference.

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Agile in nature not just by name

Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft where I work) recently shared his thoughts on how organisations need to embrace “tech intensity” to innovate and grow in today’s high-intensity digital economy.

He didn’t specifically call out speed but its implicit in everything he said.

I’m surrounded in the work I do at Microsoft, by IT teams that have embraced Agile. I’m sure Satya would agree that this would form a key part of tech intensity efforts.

Yet of all the things that Agile is, the one I find most often missing as the name would suggest, is the need for “rapid and flexible response to change”.

I’m on a mission to emphasise the need for speed in the work I do in Customer Success around technology adoption.

Here is the line I push:

I am not one to be be speeding things up just for the sake of it. As a DharmHacker I actually think stopping, slowing down and reflecting frequently is crucial for effective decision making. Mindful over Mind Full is the title of an eBook / trend report I wrote that pretty much sums up the imperative.

Speed and Innovation together make the difference

Mindful decision making does not contradict speedy actions once you have realised the need for change and decided on a course of action. And speedy action carried out with intensity is what distinguishes leaders in today’s digital landscape.

digital innovationIf you are changing at speed as a result of external pressure, you will be better off than those that are slower or not changing at all. But as Satya pointed out, innovation is a key part of tech intensity and if purposeful innovation efforts are executed at speed, then you will become a leader in your industry. If innovation needs to be the “why” and change the “how” then your “when” has to be yesterday.

In the video above and in the last post I just linked to, you should see how I’ve positioned speed and innovation efforts side by side as key differentiators of digital transformation success.

Why agile is not just a software development methodology for IT

As you may also have seen in the video above where I included a snippet by Paul Willmott (Senior Partner and Digital McKinsey Leader), they have a clear view on the importance of speed in digital transformation efforts.

As a leader in digital transformation strategy setting and execution, McKinsey also have views on the many other factors that need to be considered. Here are just a choice few of my favourite articles that they and others have recently published which elaborate: