The Future Of Innovation As A New Paradigm

Dr Antonio Hidalgo

The future of innovation must be seen as the responsibility of everyone in the organisation, with the aim of overcoming what is conceptualised as the rationalist paradigm of management, according to which companies are organised under the philosophy of mind-workers managing the muscle-workers who carry out the work. In these organisations the responsibility for innovation lies mostly with an elite of professionals and not the organisation as a whole.

In this context, innovation in companies does not occur on the basis of good ideas produced by brilliant minds. This is firstly because people who are distant from the place where manufacturing or contact with the customer takes place are generally not aware of the opportunities that arise in these areas. Innovative ideas should ideally come about as a way of adapting to things which matter to, and at times even obsess, those who generate them; they very rarely occur as a result of the uncommitted actions of higher intelligence.

The survival of companies is becoming increasingly uncertain due to the risk surrounding them, the unexpected and the competition. It is well known that the intelligence of a few technocrats, even the most brilliant of them, is not enough to face these challenges. Only the intelligence of all the employees can enable an organisation to live through the ups and downs entailed by the requirements of the new environment. This leads us to put forward the idea that it is crucial to promote and provide incentives for innovative activities by all members of the organisation.

However, it should not be forgotten that another distinctive element in innovation management is closely linked to the ties that a company has with its customers, suppliers, competitors and its environment. The company must not be inwardly focused; quite the contrary, it should aim at interaction with external factors, with innovation management being approached from the outside in. Nevertheless, it is not simply a case of interacting with the customer without even asking for their comments or about their needs. The key is to listen, which implies a willingness to open up and make a commitment to tackle the problems, concerns and interests of the customer. Rationalism usually leads us to make mistakes in this regard, since it means that we look at the customer as a rational being who knows what their problems are and what they need from us.

Lastly, it should be assumed that in the future it will not be possible to successfully compete in the field of innovation if new conceptions are not developed for organisations and their management. Modern conceptions which are of use in the new scenarios which are being seen: globalisation, technological change and, above all else, competition in economies based on paradigms which are different to those currently familiar to us in our most immediate surroundings.

Article © 2009 Dr Antonio Hidalgo. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Dr Antonio Hidalgo

Dr Antonio Hidalgo

affiliation:   Universidad Politcnica De Madrid

position:  Professor

country:  Spain

area of interest:  Management of Technology

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