The Future Of Innovation ... Is The Only Possible Future

Mr Eduardo Sicilia Cavanillas

It is rather bold to talk about the future of innovation. In any case, I would change the title to “INNOVATION IS THE FUTURE”, the only possible future.

I do not think we can picture a future without innovation. We can see saturated markets, where supply is higher than demand, where it is difficult to stand out, where globalization makes us equal and, finally, where technology and its breakthroughs surprise us at a speed we cannot imagine.

Who can survive under these rules? Those who innovate, those who are ahead of change. We are living absolutely exponential times, where everything happens rapidly, where change happens today and is here to stay. If economy prosperity doesn’t force change, the present international crisis must do it.

Let us give an example:

The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004 – jobs today require skills and specialisms, qualifications that did not exist six years ago.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million:

Radio 38 years

TV 13 years

Internet 4 years

ipod 3 years

Facebook 2 years

For students starting a 4 years technical degree this means that half of what they learn in their first year study will be outdated by their third year of study.

On their tenth anniversary, Google rebuilt their 2001 search index. It is hard to believe that in this index, words such as iphone, youtube, gmail gave us a search result of “does not exist”.

However, there are two major challenges in Innovation as future: reach management, people and organizations. Not everybody is ready to follow this new lifestyle and way of producing. There are people and organizations willing to accept “the unexpected”, but only a few.

Big organizations are reluctant to innovate and are full of barriers; people do not want to change. Big companies can accept new ideas, but they find it hard to change the old ones.

Let us try to recruit new different profiles (why are most people in a company similar?), of different races, from different countries, cultures, education and backgrounds. This wealth will be critical for organizations. In addition, let us incorporate entrepreneurship people who are not afraid of the risks of change. We should learn from their ability to fight, their devotion and their imagination.

I remember a recent domestic flight in the USA, there was an hour delay. The five members of the crew of the airline American Virgin started singing in their desk and improvised a Karaoke. First they sang, terribly bad, and then other passengers took over one after the other. All the passengers looked pleased and people put up with that delay without realizing as they were all so entertained. “Innovation is the future.”

A second challenge and a final wish. We have all the means, probably we have fantastic individual examples, but compromise as an international community is missing so as to make the most of this intelligence and use it to make the differences between the two worlds, the rich and the poor, smaller. “Innovate for a better future for the planet.”

Article © 2009 Mr Eduardo Sicilia Cavanillas. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Mr Eduardo  Sicilia Cavanillas

Mr Eduardo Sicilia Cavanillas

affiliation:   Escuela de Organización Industrial

position:  Director Executive MBA

country:  Spain

area of interest:  Innovation and Strategy

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