The Future Of Innovation And The Case For Hope

Ms Barbara Perry

The future of innovation will be strategic. Innovation efforts will be integrated into and directly impact the organization’s long-term vision and strategy. Gone are the days when resources (time, money, and the human spirit) can be squandered in random, superficial, “busy-ness.”

Proactive. As innovation becomes more strategic, more emphasis will be placed on doing the front-end right in terms of people, process, and leadership. The leader’s role will be to “hold the container,” protecting the micro-culture of complexity and ambiguity necessary for true insights and learning to emerge. The leader’s own willingness to challenge assumptions and champion open-ended, exploratory customer-research will demonstrate the commitment within which innovation thrives.

Collaborative. As innovation becomes more proactive and strategic, it will necessitate earlier and deeper cross-functional (perhaps cross-company) partnerships and collaboration. The world is moving too fast, the innovation challenges too holistic and complex for linear processes and silo mentality, particularly at the front end. Dialogue will be the core competence of this inclusive world, grounding stakeholders in shared reality and interpretation.

The Case for Hope

In his campaign, President Obama said, “For many months we have been teased, even derided, for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope was not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in that path. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.”

Obama has it right. In our twenty years of researching hopeful organizations and leadership, we have learned that under the “safe” words we use – morale, engagement, and especially, innovation, hope is the animating force. Innovative organizations have to be hopeful organizations. Hope is forward focused, inspires action, is rooted in reality, and engages our heads, hearts and hands. It results in positive energy, enhanced performance, personal commitment, and faster learning. Hope impacts us everyday in large and small ways.

In our book (Hutson and Perry, Putting Hope to Work) we have identified five principles that, woven together, create the fabric of a hopeful organization:

Hope is born in Possibility – our shared dreams, visions and goals.

Hope is energized by Agency – my personal ability to make a difference.

Hope is inspired by Worth – the meaning of my work.

Hope is informed by Openness – a culture of risk-taking, truth, and learning.

Hope is completed in Connection- to co-workers, customers and reality.

While not “spiritual,” these principles speak to the human spirit at work. Actionable in big and small ways, they are the foundation for building a healthy front end of innovation, which is, after all, the birthplace of hope for the future.

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Article © 2009 Ms Barbara Perry. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Ms Barbara Perry

Ms Barbara Perry

affiliation:   Barbara Perry Associates

position:  Cultural Anthropologist

country:  United States

area of interest:  Ethnographic Research

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Ms Barbara Perry

Putting Hope to Work: Five Principles to Activate Your Organization's Most Powerful Resource

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