Business leaders know that great strategies with great execution produce winning companies. They also know that winning companies are far outnumbered by mediocre ones. What they may not realize is that it’s the path from strategy to execution that often separates the two. The typical path goes something like this: You start by setting your goals. These could be financially oriented (grow earnings a certain amount by so-and-so year) or strategic (become the leader in this-or-that market). Then you prioritize the actions that will get you there: invest here, cut there, reorganize this, buy that. And then you implement like mad: align the organization around your goals and priorities, review your progress quarterly, reward performance accordingly, and so on. Of course, some companies are much better than others at following this track. That could explain the difference between winning and mediocre companies — but in my experience something much more significant is at play.
Creativity often seems a lovey-dovey sort of thing. In brainstorming, all ideas are welcome and criticism of ideas is a capital offence. Idea management systems often reward participation by quantity of ideas rather than quality. Criticism stifles creativity and probably causes cancer -- or so we are led to believe. But the truth is, we need to be critical if we want to be creative. After all, if we believe that an ill-thought out idea is already truly marvellous, why would we want to push it further? Likewise, if an existing process is good enough, why bother to come up with a creative new idea to replace the process? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," as we say in English. If existing products are great and racking up lots of sales, why try to come up with a radical new product concept? Why not just implement incremental improvements from time to time to make a good product a bit better? If in a staff meeting, your manager proposes a new idea and everyone tells her it's great, why should she or any of her direct report bother to push the idea further or replaces it with a more radical idea?
If you need to do something different, but find yourself procrastinating, your excuse is probably on this list. And while you may have all the "proof" you need to prove yourself right, being right doesn't necessarily increase your odds of innovating. So, take a look, note the ones that bug you, and find a way to go over, under, around, or through them.
1. I don't have the time. 2. I can't get the funding. 3. My boss will never go for it. 4. Were not in the kind of business likely to innovate. 5. We won't be able to get it past legal.
East Africa’s "Silicon Savannah" with its emerging startup ecosystem has attracted much international attention in recent years, and rightly so. Co-working spaces, hubs and incubators are mushrooming in innovation centers such as Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali, raising hopes and expectations about the future of entrepreneurship on the continent and attracting increasing investor interest. A recent mapping conducted by Afrilabs and the World Bank counted 100 tech hubs across the continent. Places like Ihub and m:lab in Kenya, klab and THINK in Rwanda, Hivecollab in Uganda, Co-Creation Hub in Nigeria and HubAccra in Ghana have become hotbeds for young entrepreneurs and represent key actors of a new movement. Hackathons, idea competitions and challenges have created excitement across the continent, encouraging young people to start a business instead of entering into white-collar jobs or seeking employment in the public sector like their parents' generation once did.
Amazon has joined Uber, Lyft and many others in redrawing the lines between independent contractors and employees. On March 30th Amazon announced an expansion into the “on-demand” economy. Amazon Home Services is a service marketplace that connects customers with builders, plumbers, cleaners and even teachers. Amazon has successfully made it very easy to buy books and goods. It now plans to do the same for professional services. It does it through (1) standardizing offerings so that prices can be agreed in advance, through (2) promising that workers are trustworthy. Amazon scrutinizes workers through searches, interviews and reference checks and (3) providing a great interface experience for employers to a world that is very cumbersome: one-click hiring of workers and easy payments through Amazon.
So it is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all philosophy in terms of successful innovation. The one constant is that you have to be open to change and new points of view. Innovation is continuous. Successful innovators and entrepreneurs all embrace change and the risks that they pose. In fact, innovation is the poster child of the mantra that there are no rules. Only by trying out new things, by failing, by discovering what works and what doesn’t, do you gain answers to the innovation question.” – Shaun Coffey Innovation and Learning Practising PKM, as a flowing series of half-baked ideas, can encourage innovation and reduce the feeling that our exposed knowledge has to be ‘executive presentation perfect’. Workplaces that enable the constant narration of work and learning in a trusted space can expose more implicit knowledge. Organizations can foster innovation by accepting that collective understanding is in a state of perpetual Beta. A culture of innovation can be created by changing daily behaviours, which the practice of PKM can do.
By studying the movement and bodies of insects such as ants, Sarah Bergbreiter and her team build incredibly robust, super teeny, mechanical versions of creepy crawlies … and then they add rockets. See their jaw-dropping developments in micro-robotics, and hear about three ways we might use these little helpers in the future.
Mastering the art of leadership takes time, dedication, and a willingness to fail, and we all need some inspiration from time to time. Here are some valuable leadership lessons from seven of today’s top CEOs. 1. Focus On People, Strategy, And Execution 2. Be Tough And Tell It Like It Is 3. .....................
Last week I was in Tampa with a group of colleagues. We meet every five months or so to help each other with our business strategies, all solopreneurs like myself with advanced practices. Almost as soon as we gathered we created a visual that we called the Axis of Vulnerability to describe our work at its best. It resides at the intersection of four attributes: 1. Practice – the application of our craft 2. Repetition – doing our work over and over again The above two work together to create the experience pool that breeds expertise. 3. Edge – the frontier of innovation where it is impossible to practice because of its novelty 4. Mindfulness – the state of being fully present and aware The above duo calls on our best, devoid of expectation, fully focused in the present moment
What do you get if you take Apple's new MacBook, pry out the keyboard and duct tape the display to the body? An OS X-powered MacBook tablet, that's what. OK, I'm sure Apple would do things a little more elegantly than that, but the innovation crammed inside Apple's newest MacBook looks eerily similar to that of a tablet. Look at what the new MacBook brings to the table. A super-thin 12-inch retina-display panel, a tiny logic board featuring a fanless Intel Core M "Broadwell" processor drawing only 5 watts, terraced batteries that allows every nook and cranny to be filled with power, and a single USB-C port that handles power and connectivity.
When I attended the hands-on part of Apple's "Spring Forward" Event last month, I was surprised to see all of the Apple Watches under glass. Typically, Apple places their new products in easy reach for the press to inspect closely. Those glass-top tables, however, are very likely how the Apple Watch will be displayed, providing a very different experience for customers in Apple Stores.
When big companies want to innovate these days, they tend to do all kinds of things such as: including the word "innovate" and its variations on corporate literature; promoting managers to be innovation managers; investing in idea management software; and running creative thinking events such as brainstorms and anticonventional thinking sessions. While these actions can all lead to improved innovation, the improvement is limited. If a company really wants to become an innovation powerhouse, there is one simple action they can take: fire the CEO and hire a new one with a focused vision.
If you want to be creative, you've got to step out of your comfort zone, right? Wrong! If you look at the great authors, artists and composers throughout history, you will see that they almost universally worked in their offices or studies and often kept strict routines. (For examples, see here and here). In other words, they not only worked within comfort zones, but they cultivated very comfortable comfort zones. You should do the same when you need to be creative. But first, it helps to understand what a comfort zone is. In his paper, "From Comfort Zone to Performance Management" Alasdair White, defines a comfort zone as The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk. In a nutshell, then, a comfort zone is an environment or situation where you minimize anxiety.
Trying to create a culture of innovation is a daunting task for even the most committed organization. Cultures take decades to form. Changing them is not an overnight phenomenon, no matter how many outside consultants you've gotten on the case. You might as well try to end world hunger or wipe out Aids overnight. It's gonna take a while. But if you and your colleagues are game, culture change is possible. The question, of course, is where to begin? Starting is always the hardest part. And, in the absence of clarity about where to start, procrastination creeps in -- and nothing changes. OK. Enough preamble. Here are five ways to get started. Pick one or all five -- and don't forget to enjoy the process.
1. "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." -- Goethe 2. "Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -- Helen Keller 3. "It's not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It's because we dare not venture that they are difficult." -- Seneca 4. "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go." -- T.S. Eliot 5. "What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it is another matter." -- Peter Drucker
Search on the phrase “the world is rapidly changing” and you’ll get nearly 42 million hits on Google in .74 seconds. Obviously, the concept of a changing world is not a new one, but it is one that is certainly shaking up the telecommunication industry and prolifically affecting communication service providers (CSPs) around the globe. The truth is there is hardly anyone in the telco industry that is not affected. In fact, SAP surveyed executives at the Mobile World of Congress last month in Barcelona and what they told us was no surprise. Nearly all of them (94%) believe that the changes in this industry are impacting them significantly – and most believe the impact is pretty considerable.
There’s no better technological innovation than the electricity grid,” says Amit Narayan, CEO of Autogrid, “It works so well we haven’t made any changes for the last few decades.” Narayan tells how big data and cloud computing can make the grid smart, and bring affordable and sustainable power to everyone.
Big news to share! Last week, I was invited to present the opening keynote at SHRM India’s HR Technology conference in Mumbai. Not only is this an incredible opportunity to learn more about the state of HR technology in one of the world’s fastest growing markets, it also challenges me to put some stakes in the ground on what I think are the most important trends driving innovation in this corner of the enterprise. I’ve been thumbing through research I’ve done over the years, and found five that I think are worthy of discussion – in Mumbai, as well as in the US. I thought I would start by sharing initial thoughts here on the Brandon Hall Group blog. 3 Trends Shaping HR Technology Disclaimer: I usually shy away from “The Most Important Tech Trends” conversations – not because I don’t have an opinion, but because there are just too many things going on, too many change drivers, too many questions and considerations. There are a number of megatrends that we’re still wrapping our heads around in human capital management technology. For the sake of the post, I’ll dig into a few of these trends and how each is shaping HR technology.
Master the strategies and processes that promote advanced creativity—from defamiliarization to syndetic thinking, from the approaches of Archimedes in his bathtub to Einstein riding his elevator of relativity. Then, learn how to decide what to pursue first now that you have all these creative ideas.
Look around yourself for new sources of innovation—trends, incongruities, wildcards, outliers—and the people who can help you achieve change: leaders, adaptors, connectors, and financiers. Innovation is not an individual sport—it’s achieved when groups of people with diverse skills meet and collaborate. In order to facilitate collaborative innovation, you need to create an environment that brings people together and you need to harness the sources of innovation around you, from creativity clusters and collaborative innovation networks to innovation jams and crowd-sourcing.
The unsettling oddness was there from the first moment, on March 8, when Malaysia Airlines announced that a plane from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, Flight 370, had disappeared over the South China Sea in the middle of the night. There had been no bad weather, no distress call, no wreckage, no eyewitness accounts of a fireball in the sky—just a plane that said good-bye to one air-traffic controller and, two minutes later, failed to say hello to the next. And the crash, if it was a crash, got stranger from there.
NAND flash memory isn't the type of technology that might get your heart racing, but breakthroughs in making solid-state storage denser means more storage can be squeezed into ever-smaller spaces. While Samsung has been the company most associated with making 3D NAND technology the latest trend in flash memory, longtime partners Intel and Micron have just announced the results of their collaboration that could yield equally impressive results. As the term suggests, 3D NAND adds a new dimension to producing flash modules. By stacking cells vertically, density is improved, which allows for more capacity in the same dimensions. Intel and Micron have further refined this process by using a floating gate cell for the first time in 3D NAND production.
While our smartphones have grown ever more advanced and power-hungry over the last few years, improvements to their batteries have so far failed to keep pace. Now, scientists at Stanford University have developed a new battery technology that they believe might just change that. Aluminium instead of lithium Scientists have been looking at ways to improve battery life for some time. Last year, Stanford was experimenting with a 'pure' lithium battery as a possible way to boost battery capability. Now researchers at the university have come up with a new alternative: an ultrafast rechargeable aluminium-ion battery.
We often hear about the importance of failure when driving new ideas or new businesses. We’re given advice to Fail Early, Fail Often, and Fail Cheap. While this well-meaning advice is accurate on the whole the reality is that failure in most organizations comes with pretty heavy consequences. Within mature organizations a failed initiative can have a dramatic impact for both the individual and the long term success of organization itself. For the individual, a failure can lead to a tarnished brand, missed promotions, lost bonuses, or even termination. For an organization, how it responds to failure can impact the culture and determine the success or failure of future innovation initiatives.
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