Innovation in the 21st Century
Innovation, a discipline highly impacted by the environment in which it is conducted, is the life blood of creating wealth and sustainable competitive advantage.
The industrial revolution was thunderous. You could hear the factories and trains; you could see cities transforming; you could smell the changes. Key to the innovation process and business development was the centralized research laboratory that evolved from a prototype developed at Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park facility into a general model in the 20th century.
Today another revolution is occurring driven by the wide availability of information which was coined by Peter Drucker as “The Silent Revolution”. We can't look out our windows and see the catalysts that will change the way we innovate and organize our companies and employees do their work. However, it’s becoming clear that this silent revolution is built around human assets which are the key to all innovative activity. It's all about knowledge, information, and collaborative connections and partnering which impact how companies are designed and compete on a global basis.
The impact of this silent revolution is far from quiet. The role of management at every level is amplified as is the influence of the customer. Employees must learn more quickly and work collaboratively while dealing with ever increasing complexity. Employee motivation is driven less by financial gain and more by organization purpose. In this revolution, leaders are seeing the heightened risks from wrong decisions, no decisions at all, or poor execution of right design decisions concerning innovation and wealth creation.
These change forces are mandating that innovation management and business development move from the internally driven centralized model that has worked so well in the past to an external view where virtual organizations and processes become key factors. A key driver of the virtual concept is the acceptance by companies that they can’t be good at everything and in reality they can only be competent at a few distinct skills with other requirements being coming from specified external sources. In a highly networked, global economy, skillful execution of a well-crafted open innovation program, designed to consider the elements of the “Silent Revolution” and new knowledge worker employee, is critical to their survival. My comments will touch on innovation management within this new paradigm driven by “Silent Revolution”, the emergence of the knowledge worker and the need to access innovation external to the organization while skillfully integrating such acquisitions within the existing enterprise. The ultimate goal is the development of new businesses that become the source of wealth.