Sooner or later continuous improvement, by any individual or organisation, runs out of steam.
Marching up the slope ahead of us makes sense as an effective way to move onwards and upwards, until we reach the summit. But the summit of what? Most likely it is not the summit, it is just a summit.
There are other summits, and many of them are higher than this summit. Now what?
Discontinuous improvement is called for, to transition across the valley or chasm to the slope of our next, higher challenge. With sufficient resources and expertise, we might be able to build a bridge or to swing or, even, fly across. Without them, we must commit to descending into the valley.
Or, of course, we could just stay where we are at the top of our little summit.
The questions about innovation are not about why we innovate or whether to innovate. They are about what, when, where and how we innovate.
We are all looking for opportunities, aren’t we? Or do we focus mainly on problems?
How often have you heard that every problem is an opportunity? Is this true?
So what is the difference between a problem and an opportunity?
Opportunities and problems are opposites.
Usually, we do things because we can see the benefit of doing them.
A problem exists when we see a benefit, but we are not able to generate it.
An opportunity exists when there are things that we are able to do, but we have not yet seen the benefit of doing them.
Whether or not we can turn every problem into an opportunity, we can focus less on problems and focus more on opportunities.
When we have a problem, we focus on the benefits that we cannot generate:
- we do not know what things to do to generate the benefit
- we know what things to do, but do not know how to do them,
- we know how to do them, but are not able to do them.
When we have an opportunity, we focus on benefits that we can generate.
How can we look for opportunities?
We can relax about the things that we are not able to do, and focus on the things that we are able to do.
We can relax about the benefits that we are not able to generate and focus on benefits that we are able to generate.
Is this an opportunity for us all?
Aspects and characteristics
It is unlikely that anyone doubts that the ability of an organisation to innovate is strongly dependent on the nature of that organisation. Its nature can be described by various characteristics (including cultural, behavioural and structural characteristics) and by several aspects (including the static and dynamic aspects) of those characteristics. Continue reading “Organising for innovation”