Blueprint for the 21st Century
Innovation Management


Creating the Innovation Culture

Creating the culture where knowledge is valued and shared effectively is one of the most difficult challenges faced in practice. One of the primed influences may actually be the competitive environment that has been developed over time and begins with a child’s birth. Competition is healthy when describing sports, and it was appropriate for an economic climate where resources were plentiful. Once global competition became a reality, available resources shrank rapidly overnight. However, the knowledge economy promises an abundance of resources if the metrics and measurement systems can be properly defined.

Of primary importance is the innovation language – a language that transcends the paradigm and biases of one function or another. Ideally, such a language would also encompass industries, sectors and regions of the world, and therefore be universal in scope. There are several attempts to define the language with a glossary of terms. Of course, the language must be adapted to the heritage, purpose, mission and strategy of a particular entity. It is important that the language be established and pervade all operations and planning efforts. The intent of this paper is to suggest that the language can best be created under the rubric of innovation strategy – redefined, of course, according to the flow of ideas.

Culture extends beyond the enterprise. When the stakeholders in the process are considered (e.g. suppliers, alliance partners, distributors, customers, competitors and even the customer’s customer), the view of the knowledge base from which organizations might learn is expansive. The Strategic Business Network (SBN) is illustrated in Figure 2. This model is in direct contrast to Alfred Sloan’s multi-divisional structure for organizations, which was well suited to the Tayloristic industrial paradigm. Dividing the large enterprise into independent strategic business units was considered the optimal way to measure performance.

Figure 2: Strategic Business Network
Figure 2: Strategic business network

However, the dynamic economic climate demands a networked, fluid organizational structure that balances accountability with responsible risk taking. It is not the parts themselves that add value, but the synergistic nature of the whole, the value of which is greater than the sum of the parts. This is the nature of fusion and the result of symbiotic learning networks, both human and technical. Demonstrated value resides in the interfaces between the boxes, sometimes described as the white space, which must be the object of our performance management systems.

Shared purpose is essential for an enterprise to thrive in the dynamic global economy. Amidst the turmoil and chaos of the past decade, throughout downsizing and re-engineering processes, many organizations have lost their sense of direction. Initiatives have become fragmented and, worse still, internally competitive. Interestingly enough, it may not be the financial resources that are scarce today as much as the mind-set and available commitment time of the enterprise leaders. Too often managers operating in the traditional, competitive work climate are managing initiatives with unnecessary duplication of effort and sub-optimal allocation of resources. In many instances organizations must find a way to coalesce, rededicate themselves to a common agenda, and respect the complementary competencies that can be brought to bear. Creating the community of innovation practice may be one way to begin the process.

Innovation Overview

Excerpts from some of the more recent publications in which we find documentation on the foundation for an economic climate based upon the value of human potential and the flow of knowledge in the terms of innovation are listed below:

World Economic Survey
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
European Union
United States of America
The World Bank