The future of innovation in 5 assumptions and 1 thesis
1. Being creative is inside the DNA of humans, being innovative is inside the DNA of organizations.
Some people are more creative than others; some companies are more innovative than others. However, all the individuals and organizations are always capable to perform certain level of creativity and innovation.
2. Innovative organizations exist because they have extraordinary processes and/or extraordinary people.
While Toyota has managed to beat its competitors basing the processes in a lean management discipline, Google is twisting talented people from around the world. Both of them are making extraordinary things everyday.
3. The extraordinary processes are not linear any more.
Manufacturing based in Taylorism, Fordism or post-Fordism is still convenient in many industries, but they do not make the difference anymore, even when off shoring. Leading companies as Procter & Gamble have understood its business as an open platform for developing its markets. What makes the difference is the ability to distillate inputs from different sources. Recalling the Cluetrain Manifesto, markets are conversations, and they are not linear at all.
4. Extraordinary people are able to recombine existing knowledge and technologies in a creative way.
Diversity and personal experience are some of the most powerful ingredients that foster creativity. In this sense, the polymath (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, Homo Universalis) has a competitive advantage when trying to solve a challenge in a creative way. The more diverse skills, interests and experiences, the more extraordinary results will be obtained.
5. Today is easier for any individual to be extraordinary.
Globalisation and digitalisation have brought a plethora of valuable resources that facilitate the development of the Homo Universalis. For the first time in history, any individual can learn astronomy, photography or philology anywhere, anytime. It is only a matter of will and determination. Anyone can easily obtain professional results with digital cameras and photoshop, be a DJ with itunes, become a video producer, or create a new TV channel.
In the light of these facts, the future of innovation is providing an exciting opportunity for individuals, especially those that feel themselves extraordinary, or do want to feel themselves extraordinary.
For example, consider this fictitious scenario:
IKEA communicates its challenges to millions of consumers from around the globe
People provide their concepts by using smart software (everyone can be an industrial designer)
IKEA chooses the idea from a policewoman in Las Vegas
One studio in Buenos Aires performs the fine tuning for industrialization
IKEA publishes bills of materials, standard costs and auctions for manufacturing
A shoemaker in Barcelona discovers how to simplify the production of certain components and gets a contract for one year
200 years after the Industrial Revolution, the specialized single-skilled job is condemned to extinction. Organizations do need individuals that are some how polymaths and the world is starting to procure them now. The challenge for the organizations is how to orchestrate these contributions when they are not linear.