UNDERSTANDING THE FUNDAMENTAL INNOVATION PRINCIPLE
There are various ways to tackle the topic of innovation, hopefully based on a central value promise. The fundamental principle is „innovation everywhere“. Innovation should be constantly promoted and lived. An involvement and collaboration culture for the entire company is necessary.
THE THREE AREAS OF INNOVATION
Often only 5% to 10% of employees are actively involved in innovation thinking. Usually, the majority of the company works in the core area which is characterized by permanent optimization in small steps to increase the output. It is not primarily about creativity but rather to execute tasks that have to be done. A smaller proportion of employees are working in the incremental area where major changes are achieved by rethinking e.g. production processes and project structures. This can cause jump-fixed changes. Normally just a chosen few are dedicated to think and act big as intrapreneurs in the disruptive area. They are given the freedom and financial support to create new products, services and systems and don’t have to follow the corporation’s usual routines and protocols.
This means that the majority of employees are not participating actively in the future of the company. Particularly difficult when internal R&D departments are also left out. Slowly, the trend from pure outsourcing to insourcing as a sustainable model becomes more popular and investing long term in the benefit of one’s own creative and constructive potential is becoming apparent. Here’s a simple calculation example: If it is possible to make 90% of employees spend just a few percent of their work on innovation thinking and ways to magnify their productivity, then this should be a good addition to the innovation gain in the disruptive sector. Just do the math. If only 5% of employees develop and increase by 50% in terms of innovative power. What would be the result if the remaining employees moved by only 3% or 5%?
AUDI LEARNING MANTRA
A great example to train people for the unknown in order to exploit future possibilities. Learning to understand the mechanics of future requirements as an essential part of ongoing reinvention. Not a guarantee of success, but a very good safeguard of future opportunities.
“How do we prepare people for jobs that currently don’t even exist; for the use of technologies that are yet to be developed, in order to solve problems of which we cannot possibly have any knowledge today?“
For all of the examples mentioned, the idea of actual value generation is present. The common factor is managed reinvention. Be it at Adobe with enterprise-wide tinkering, where things can be easily tried out. Or as preparation for the expected unexpected a la Audi. The trend towards a „Learning Company“ is increasing. „A learning organization is an organization that has the ability to generate, acquire and distribute knowledge and change its behavior on the basis of new insights.“ The definition of corporate learning – all activities and measures in an organization that make the vision of the learning organization tangible in daily work – shows the importance for the future success of a company. Clearly not every employee can be a part of the company’s innovations processes, as the daily business would no longer be done. But the more employees are involved, the more innovation and progress can be created in all areas.