The Future Of Innovation ... Reach Out For It!

Ms Dianka Zuiderwijk

In today’s volatile business environment, sceneries change at a dazzling speed. Survival of the knowledge-based enterprise is determined by its ability to change at the same rate or faster. This requires equally challenging management formats. What we need is management ability to respond to changing competitive environments and the courage to branch away from entrenched routines.

The knowledge provider of the future is polymorphic, adjusting itself continuously, while connecting its elements through a shared capability platform with its core values as its principal guidance. It is organized as an open system, allowing it to reach out to elements outside of its network on many different ‘terms of engagement’, while continuously grouping and regrouping existing and new capability in combinations the environment demands tomorrow. The scope, scale and pace of the various organizational elements will not fit a one-size-fits-all solution.

Managing this complexity requires dynamic systems to connect to domestic as well as to more ‘alien’ elements that exist at varying levels of organizational maturity and service complexity. The knowledge enterprise of the future does not have strict organizational boundaries, it does not spend time on suffocating control systems dragging trenches through its organizational landscape, and rather than wasting its energy on making new clones of itself, it cherishes diversity in its elements.

These enterprises understand that innovation lives on the boundaries between disciplines, on the interfaces with clients and on the outer edges of the space in which the organization resides. They adopt performance metrics that drive future rather than historic value, and manage delivery based on a light but robust risk-management framework, anchored into each of its element’s operational systems, embracing, protecting and supporting them rather than disrupting the systems that were carefully shaped to suit their specific business and client needs. These enterprises know that the opportunity cost of innovation is extremely worthwhile, for it creates the business of tomorrow. But at the same time, they carefully balance their innovative activity with their core capabilities; generating today’s profits with yesterday’s exploration.

Innovation cannot be managed. It is rather a consequence of organizational climate. This climate can be nurtured by putting conditions in place that provide room for shared thinking in cross-functional and cross-business relationships. Innovation will come naturally once the silos have disappeared and relationships based on mutual trust and respect have had a chance to grow.

Keeping the innovative spirit in a knowledge-based enterprise at times of economic downturn requires courageous leadership and a shared precociousness. The best reason being the fact that the services valued by clients today would not have been there if the organization had not displayed this courage in the past.

Article © 2009 Ms Dianka Zuiderwijk. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Ms Dianka  Zuiderwijk

Ms Dianka Zuiderwijk

affiliation:   Lloyd's Register

position:  Oil & Gas Business Assurance Manager

country:  Netherlands

area of interest:  innovation climate, diversity management

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