Blueprint for the 21st Century
|Calibrating the Innovation Strategy
How might one get started? A Knowledge Innovation(TM) litmus test is p7rovided as a sample of questions to be answered for an organization to assess its capacity for innovation (see Entovation International's Litmus Test). There are actually over 70 questions in the full assessment available in text or software application form (Amidon, 1997, pp. 62-63). The questions provide a sample of ten carefully researched dimensions of innovation and may be answered individually or in a group. Using this as a dialogue tool, participants may get a better understanding of the complementary competencies that can be brought to bear.
If seven out of the ten questions were answered in the affirmative, it is likely the organization has a good handle on the innovation process and knows how to create an environment for the optimal flow of ideas contributing to the vitality of the enterprise. Primarily negative responses to these basic innovation questions should drive an organization to examine its processes for bringing ideas to market and leveraging intellectual capability into the future. Even if the score is high, the questions can frame an innovation dialogue.
The foundation for a new economic order has been laid. This does not mean the answers are known, but there exists a better understanding of the elements of the infrastructure and the right questions to be addressed. This is a very different paradigm from previous agricultural, industrial or service economies. It is one that truly rests on the value of human potential and how it might be systematically leveraged for the benefit of mankind. The challenge is to determine the integral linkage between human potential and economic performance.
The knowledge economy only affords an unprecedented opportunity for creating the future. This is a climate in which ideas will be valued, but only as they are applied to advance society, however that may be defined. The answers lie in an effective innovation strategy, redefined according to the flow of knowledge: ideas to prosperity.
Increasingly management responsibilities will be viewed as facilitating the learning process, which includes external stakeholders (e.g., suppliers, distributors, alliance partners, customers, and even competitors). How these relationships are managed is far more a matter of collaborative expertise than the competitive skill with which most are familiar.
Values, valuation and valuing will gain prominence as executives search for what to measure, and how and when to evaluate performance. Only when we have a common language across borders functions, industries and countries alike can we begin to explore the prospects for collective prosperity.
The identified trends (established, emerging and over the horizon) provide a glimpse of the fundamentals of the future. Implementation will vary (company to company, industry to industry, nation to nation), but coming to a common understanding of a mutual mission could enable better utilization of financial, technical and human resources.
With the emerging community of innovation practice, it is understood that various practitioners throughout the value system can contribute. How they are engaged in a common mission determines how they are able to leverage their complementary competencies. Rather than competing for resources and spheres of influence, individuals, groups, organizations and nations can realize what they have to gain through collaborative versus competitive strategy.
The core premise of the future is collaboration. This does not mean that organizations do not compete; competition is inevitable. It does mean that that their orientation shifts to one of sharing and leveraging one another for mutual success. In national and global terms, this is described as creating the common good from which all benefit. Previous eras have experienced reliance upon resources that are depleted. Perhaps the era based upon the bountiful resource of knowledge provides an opportunity for true global symbiosis.
Organizations must create the integral connection between the value of human capital and economic prosperity. What is obvious is that this cannot be done in a vacuum. Creating the knowledge innovation language, culture and shared vision is by definition a collaborative process. History will document how well this transition is led.