START YOUR ENGINES! - Design your "Fuel" and tune the creativity engine for maximum horsepower!
Have you found the optimum mix of ingredients needed to stimulate your organisations human system into being creative? If not, would you like to know how to choose the best tailored ingredients? Would a simple yet revolutionary framework of understanding be helpful? Hopefully, I can help with that!
How do we know what innovation management decisions will work best for our business?
We have all heard about what we should be applying to our organisations to get innovation working. These things are great; supportive environments, mistake acceptance, collaboration, reward systems, goal orientation, the list goes on. There is even evidence and case studies that point to these things as important contributors for innovation. I agree that they are important, however they only make up a small part of the tools available to us.
Case studies of many organisations note improved innovation under human development strategies in certain environments. However, many organisations struggle to implement many of the these things and if they do, they simply do not get the results they wanted, or, it is only successful for a while.
There is enough knowledge out there to design a pure innovative organisation from scratch, Research Institutes are an example of this. Although, there are no guarantees the human system will innovate, it is calculated that it will work just fine. However, to transform an existing organisation’s innovative capacity is something entirely different.
Let face it, not all organisations are in the business of research or technological innovation, but nonetheless, they are still searching to be better at what they do. Many of these businesses would not even think about implementing an R&D department, let alone pool tables, thinking rooms or game consoles, but they still seek to be better. This is where innovation for them is still very important, but much harder to acquire and understand what really drives it, and how they can continually manage it.
What is needed is a framework of understanding that allows senior managers the ability to decipher the best ingredients for their own organisations. For example:
- One with specific rules of application so that managers will know the power of an applied “fuel” or combination of fuels that will enable them to stimulate the best creative and innovative capacity available from their current human system in their existing organisational environment.
- A framework that will develop an adaptive system and an internal management discipline that evolves with the organisation to keep it at optimal innovative strength.
Innovating - the most natural thing the human system does, it is as natural as sex, and it is a means in which we evolve. There is an understanding that many of our innovative breakthroughs come by way of an accident, and whilst this may be true for the outcome, at some point before this happened, the pathway was being built that led us there.
“Innovation can be systematically managed, if one knows where and how to look”,
(Peter Drucker, 1998)
I attempt a taxonomy that I envisage will give a foundational understanding to managing innovation in an organisation.
- There are two categories of stimuli capable of inciting creativity in the human system – “Pull and Push”
- This stimuli is always present naturally and can be artificially produced and applied
- They exist with varying levels of energy and are termed “fuels”
- We can manipulate these "fuels" by increasing or removing application of them
- If the “Push” and “Pull” stimuli are in energy balance, the human system will enter a resting state. This state is non-challenging and a useful shelter (the human system does not challenge and accepts status quo)
- A stimuli, can eventually turn into a Foundational Input Factor (it no longer works as a stimuli)
- Foundational Input Factors (FIF) - These factors are all conditions in proximity to us, that are mainly inert objects or boundaries that in normal day to day reality have no push or pull effect on us as a group or individuals. We are either satisfied with them, or we don’t like them, yet accept them and take no action to change them (unless a stimuli (fuel) makes us). However, these can still be manipulated, but manipulation normally means a dramatic change and if done incorrectly, can cause a chaotic response distant from planned outcomes.
The Hypothesis Explained
Regardless of intellect, creed, religion or rules, humans are programmed to adapt and evolve, and this means interacting with our environment to suit our chosen needs and wants. Although a high intellect is not regarded as crucial to creativity, in an organisational context, the ability to have access to personal knowledge is important in order to get the speed of innovation to a meaningful level. Example: Studies of prisoners indicated that on average most prisoners were less creative than the normal citizen populous, however, in the prisoners chosen field of expertise, say, picking locks, they were actually extremely creative.
Cognitively we approach innovation, with “creativity” as the engine, and “desire” as the fuel. This fuel comes in many forms, but the character of the fuel must either influence us to “feel good” (Pull) or stop us from “feeling bad” (Push), the only two spectrums that will “excite” the innovation engine enough to start the process. In an organisational setting the establishment and promotion, of a “cause” can be an extremely high quality fuel for the innovation engine. If we find ourselves not innovating then the fuel for our innovative engine is in balance and influencing us to be tolerant of our environment - a balanced and stable situation that I term the “resting zone”.
This “resting zone” is a state that many of our organisations, communities, structures and so on will tend to reside for differing periods of time. This resting zone rewards us with the promise of balanced energy leading us to feel a sense of satisfaction or acceptance. Whilst this is needed, we must resist the lure of this complacent condition if we want to continue innovating. If organisations manually adjust their organisational “fuel mixture”, strategic navigation towards innovation is attainable in quantities relevant to the organisations - Foundational Input Factors.
There are certain environmental conditions that assist in promoting innovation.Under this hypothesis, Foundational Input Factors (FIF) means all the environmental conditions that exist proximal to the human system at any given time. This could be other systems, innate human conditions, cultures, weather, short term unchangeable physical & social laws, locations and physical boundaries and so on. These conditions are differentiated from “fuels” because they cannot be readily manipulated or used controllably. Drastic change of these factors can cause unpredictable and chaotic human system responses.
It is hypothesised that regardless of current organisational conditions, if adjustment is made only to the fuels that stimulate creativity then that organisation will reach optimal innovative speed possible under its supportive conditions - FIF. Whats more, with precise communication and good managment sensitivity, these "Fuels" can be adjusted to tweak results.
Ultimately what this means is that, innovation is not just about the "feel good" stuff as a way to improve. It proposes stimuli that the human system perceives will make them "feel bad", can also stimulate good innovation. Used in moderation, with good social conscience and understanding, a disciplined manager can produce very good results. There is much literature on prisoners of war and the creativity produced in order for the human system to break free from the chaos.
- A high quality multi mode, multi medium communication system - constantly and accuratley being in touch with your teams
- Good emotional intelligence - knowing and foreseeing when to adjust your "fuels" and or plan to change your FIF.
- Better innovation management decisions and organisational impact
- Decisions strategically aligned
- Simplistic understanding of drivers across management - improved consensus
- Active participation of innovation as an everyday discipline
- Recognising any improvements that support the organisation small or large
- Improved ethical and social responsibility
- Better understanding of the impacts of everyday decisions
- Teams, groups and individuals become better and frequently motivated and recognised.
- Organisational spirit of success improves
- Tailored made decisions regardless of organisational industry.
- Promotion of innovation as an everyday practicising discipline
- Easy to understand
- All managers with good emotional intelligence should learn the discipline based on these principles
- Organisations should ensure that they have a simple yet very effect communication strategies planned
- To test this hypothesis;
- An organisational map should be attained and a current datum of innovation be identified
- An analysis of FIF should be made that model FIF into two categories, external and internal
- FIF that effect the team externally
- FIF that effect the team as a team and individuals
- Design your fuels, implement, monitor and adjust as required
Although, these steps make it sound simple, in practice it is a very difficult task and would need practice to become proficient