Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Innovation! Again?

All I've read recently about innovation discusses a myriad of subtopics and views. With one exception: Adaptation.

Innovation can be changing a product to improve it. It can be changing the way we do things. It can involve where we do things.

Topics like these are sometimes linked to basic principles in economics: Time/place utility, form utility, and so on.

However, in every article I've read about innovation, competitiveness, even in my own writings, what has been omitted seems not to be conspicuous by its absence.

A new boss once said, in his hello speech, "The ability to adapt is a sign of intelligence." What he really meant is that we would have to recognise the fact that he is the boss now, not the other guy, and that we would have to do things his way. Fair enough.

However, the first thought that came to my mind was this: Intelligent people have the ability to change their environment.

Humanity did not survive based on the ability to grow fur to adapt to the cold. We either migrated or learned to build shelters with a heat source in order to survive the cold. However, I said nothing. I did not want to be pedantic and I did not want to be fired.

As nations go global to do business with others, the question of adapting arises.

First, and foremost, we want to adapt to the environment: Business, Financial, Economic, Social, Cultural, Legal, and so on. However, if there is no adapting by others, this will create a lopsided form of change. True, we can use the term evolve. We can suggest that others will evolve. However, that is condescending, patronising, and rude. The method, subject to much spirited debate, is that others must be aware of the fact that they too must adapt.

Change, for the sake of change, may not satisfy the demands of a new market, culture, customer needs. If we use the word innovate as interchangeable with change we are missing the point. In addition, how much change can we expect will be accepted by a broad range of markets, cultures, and customer needs?

Henceforce, let's relegate the word "innovation" to the same scrap heap of linguistic legerdemain as the term, "strategic planning". Let's use the word adapt. Let's be clear about what the adaptation involves. Then, we can move forward from a different perspective with a different view, and better results.



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