The Future Of Innovation Is Rethinking Innovation

Mr Jean-Pol Michel

My proposition refers to the book "Rethinking Science", by Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons. I wish it to be understood as a plead for a radical different place of science in society. The authors don't consider science as an isolated pillar of society. By isolating science from the other activities, it looks like the world could be divided into full-scientific activities and science-free activities.  Instead of this dichotomic view, science has to be seen as an embedded quality of all the human activities in the modern society. So, there is a certain intensity of scientific activity in each human action.

I think that the future of innovation is rethinking innovation in such a radical way.  To the collapse of the academic ivory tower proposed by "rethinking science", I would like to add the demolition of the scientific management theory (or Taylorism).  Even if these two positions, scientific academism and scientific management seem archaic for many of us, the mindset they contributed to develop is still deeply anchored in the today's practices. The same as the scientific academism has created a certain science conception; scientific management has created a certain innovation conception coming from a Scientific Management principle arguing that all intellectual workers have to be withdrawn from the workshop to be gathered in the design or planning offices. It looks like the world would be divided into full-intellectual activities and non-intellectual activities.

Instead of this dichotomic view, my proposition is that there is a certain intensity of innovative activity in each economic, social, political or cultural action. As a consequence, the future of innovation is a new culture of management committed with the presence of a certain intensity of positive indetermination or innovation ability in all the human activities. This new paradigm has to get rid of today's beliefs that, the human is always the problem to be managed.  To the contrary, the new paradigm put forward that humans have to be considered as the best capacities because they are "not entirely predefined". By humans, I mean workers, shareholders, clients, suppliers, competitors, external experts, scientists, regulators, members of professional associations, communities of interest, labour union and others.  Such a type of management is largely open to the outside of the organisation  and is focused on human capacities, human interactions and knowledge management. The knowledge is seen as the result of a new mode of science-based production in reference to Gibbons' works.

Rethinking Innovation in such a way is particularly important in service activities which have high intensity of labour and human interactions. In such a place as the Luxemburg financial place competing with international low wages regions science-based innovation toward excellence and exploration in business services is mandatory.  Rethinking innovation in services is also a good opportunity in relation to fast-growing demand for new social and cultural services. 

To progress toward a new paradigm, we need large scale experimentations. The institutionalization of the European Research and Technology Organisations (RTO) gives an opportunity to such experimentations. RTO are defined as autonomous organisations dedicated to science-based innovation services. While RTO's core-business is innovation, their organisational & management emerging models could be the drafts for tomorrow standard organisations. So, RTO as living lab for new management experimentations could be one of the valuable roadmaps to build the future of innovation.


Article © 2009 Mr Jean-Pol Michel. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Mr Jean-Pol Michel

Mr Jean-Pol Michel

affiliation:   Centre De Recherche Public Henri Tudor

position:  director & member of the managing board

country:  Luxembourg

area of interest:  Innovation Management, service innovation

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