Businesses have been yammering about innovation for the last few years. Those businesses that are the least innovative seem to talk about it the most, as if somehow repeating the word will make them innovative. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It’s a little like sex. Those who aren’t getting any are the ones who talk about it the most, but talking doesn’t make it so. Before I lose you down that path, let’s get back to the concept of innovation.
Individuals and organizations frequently suffer from inertia when it comes to change. Sometimes inertia is good, because not all change is beneficial. In our fast moving and driven culture, we are guilty periodically of assuming that we have to be implementing changes on a personal and/or corporate level constantly or we are not improving. The danger in that mentality is that we implement change for the sake of change instead of carefully considering the action, direction, and anticipated outcome before deciding whether change is required.
Anyone can forecast changes in life with the broad sweeping strokes of the law of odds and the laws of nature. But what about those changes that assail the marketplace, leaving organizations reeling? Is it possible to forecast those changes, to anticipate their unfolding? A combination of reflection on the past and a scan of the present can provide an organization with a useful picture to predict the trend lines of the future. For this past-present-future exercise to be valuable, one needs to wield a broad perspective and an open mind.
Change is a really powerful force at work in many areas of our lives and world at any given time. We can chose to change or change can happen to us, one way or another change is inevitable. Our enterprises change, our bodies change, even the sunrise and sunset changes on a daily basis in my neck of the woods. If change is such a pervasive and integral part of our lives, why does it provoke such fear?
I’ve combined a couple of headlines from Twitter to get your attention. Forbes.com had an interesting article and video on Squashers today, and the Harvard Business Review had a post about Innovation Assassins. I am quite certain that in the realm of business the squashers and the innovation assassins are related. We all face them on a regular basis.
The International Year of Cooperatives was officially launched on January 12, 2012 by the United Nations to celebrate cooperatives around the world and raise awareness for an alternative business structure that requires an entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. Purists of the cooperative movement might be cringing at the suggestion that an entrepreneurial spirit is required but if you go to Merriam Webster for the definition of ‘entrepreneur’ you’ll see that the concept has possibilities.
Last week I was in contact with several small business owners and there was a common theme to the conversations. Each individual loved being an entrepreneur but they were all struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness. There is a unifying misconception among the entrepreneurs I spoke with, that they feel the need to be the one source of all information for their business. What a lofty and impossible goal to set for one’s self. Large corporations have teams of experts, each with their own area of knowledge, coming together to solve problems and set future strategies. Yet, the entrepreneur tries to do it all alone then wonders why they feel lonely and why they frequently fail.