InnovationThe following text has been published as the conclusion in both
the CMA monograph - COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION and the KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY (Society of
Management Accountants, 1998) and in the article "Blueprint for 21st Century
Innovation Management" (Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 2. No 1, September,
"The knowledge economy affords organizations and society an unprecedented opportunity for creating the future. This is a bountiful 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.' The mandate is quite clear; but he role of the CMA is yet to be defined. What will be the legacy left in ten, twenty or fifty years?
The role of the management accountant has evolved substantially over the past decade. More significant changes lie ahead. Responsibilities have already shifted from monitoring the financial accounting process to the overall management processes of the firm. Once the emphasis shifts from managing the tangible to the intangible assets, their advice and counsel will be needed more than ever. Not only are the language and concepts transforming, but the basic principles of the profession may be challenged. This can be seen as a real threat. Progressive managers will, instead, see an opportunity to shape the very foundations upon which the future will evolve. What was managed previously will be viewed as myopic in contrast to the multi-variable economy of tomorrow.
Management responsibilities will increasingly be viewed a 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 skill that competition competitive advantage with which most are so familiar. There are ways to optimize results rather than leave destiny to serendipity.
The focus on values, valuation and valuing will gain prominence as executives search for what, how and when to measure performance. Only when we have a common language across borders - functions, industries, countries alike - can we begin to explore the prospects for collective prosperity.
Given the identified trends - established, emerging and over the horizon - we get a glimpse of the fundamentals of the future. Implementation will vary - company-to-company, industry-to-industry - but coming to a common understanding our mutual mission could enable better utilization of resources - financial, technical and human.
Knowledge of the 'emerging community of innovation practice,' we understand 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 don't compete. This is inevitable. What it does mean is that the shift in orientation becomes one of sharing and leveraging one another for mutual success. In national and global terms, it is described as creating the common good from which all benefit. We have experienced the previous eras of reliance upon resources which 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. There is likely no better community than that represented by management accountants to bring clarity, meaning and methods to the process. What is equally obvious is that this cannot be done in a vacuum. Creating the innovation language, culture and shared vision is - by definition - a collaborative process. History will document how well this transition is managed into the next millennium.
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