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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Innovation As The Dominant Mantra For 2007

Peter Drucker once wrote :

One thing is certain for developed countries – and probably for the entire world – we face long years of profound changes. It will no longer be possible to consider entrepreneurial innovation as lying outside of management or even as peripheral to management. Entrepreneurial innovation will have to become the very heart and core of management.

Innovation would count as the most important thing that tech organizations around the world would be going after in the new year. If innovation is the single most important thing that organization shall be going after, so what constitutes innovation? As I wrote here, a recent Booz Allen Hamilton report titled smartspenders found that the high-leverage innovators distinguish themselves not by the money they spend, but by building strong capabilities in the four principal elements of innovation: ideation, project selection, product development, and commercialization. High-leverage innovators listen closely to their customers across the entire innovation cycle. Google, for example, is known for generating new ideas with blistering speed. Toyota excels at developing its products and processes far more efficiently and effectively than most other companies. And Apple is noted for its well-honed capabilities in project selection and customer understanding. In the list of 1000 companies analyzed, Ford tops the list on R&D spend and everyone will agree that Ford is hardly seen today as an innovative company. As Michael Scrage noted growing market competition, not growing R&D spending, is what drives innovation. For the tech industry, once the bets for the year are made in terms of what to go after, Innovation in ideas, in delivery, in business models etc would characterise its growth. Innovation should be seen as bringing creativity to a commonplace- ‘back to basics’ philosophy in place of looking at it as a glorified & high risk strategy. But above all as I wrote here, this increasingly services led world, enterprise’s future growth and competitiveness depend more than ever before on attracting qualified workers - an increasingly scarce resource - and helping them work efficiently together within the organization. Its widely accepted that business success today revolves largely around people, not capital. I work in an industry where welcoming several hundred new faces as colleagues every week is an accepted norm. Organizations need to look at talent horizontally across the business classified as per the roles and not necessarily as per the organizational norms and this would be the key in effectively harnessing talent inside enterprises. The differences ought to be expressed in terms of talent valuation - that is, such attributes as knowledge, experience, skills, and personal interaction capabilities - and not in terms of organizational structures (such as business units) or in human resources management terms (such as age, education, seniority, or compensation). In an age where the rules and procedures of an organization can be an obstacle to segmentation and a force for “averaging” the treatment of individuals’ roles, and in a situation where organizations need to offer very specialised services, definitely a radical new look at the way talent gets categorised, nurtured and reviewed are called for and on an ongoing basis, needs to be reviewed to provide a definitively fresh and dynamic approach. After all winning the people war is a crucial determinant of success for any organization. In most of the knowledge business, the future value of enterprises are centered on building seemingly intangible assets vs the coneventional measures of capital assets. Thats where good, capable people, well aligned team, well conceived strategy and top quality leadership matters. With all these in place, the cutting edge would from innovation - in all its forms starting from management innovation to disruptive innovation to innovation of the incremental kind. The ability to recruit/ mould the leaders that will be able to create the future innovations that will make enterprise more successful is a major responsibility & talent management will determine the organization’s growth as much as the overall business strategies will. This will shape organizations in a significant way and if organizations get this right along with purposeful innovation models, competitiveness increases and success would follow.

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