Creating a culture of constant innovation

How can we add constant innovation and creativity to our thought processes and job descriptions? The South African author William Plomer put it this way: “It is the function of creative man to perceive and to connect the seemingly unconnected.” Given that IT is besieged and encircled by under-exploited technologies, we have the opportunity to become the centre of corporate innovation.

Pick only three technologies out of the vast buzz of fads and developments and you’ll have enough to keep any team of organizational brainstormers busy for a week. Let’s see . . . how about some of the more obvious ones? RFID, podcasts and Myspace.com?

RFID: Does your organization count anything, at any time of the year? If there isn’t a team mandated with at least thinking about how this stuff could be used in your organization, you will miss either a business opportunity or cost savings.

PODCASTS: As someone who speaks for a living, I’m skeptical about the value of any “audio performance” of less than perfect quality. Yet, as universities continue to increase their use of podcast technology to store and distribute lectures, the pressure to seek corporate applications should also increase. How could podcasts improve, complement, replace and/or enable communication channels in our organizations? Are we even looking at this as an opportunity?

MYSPACE.COM: In every organization I’ve ever worked in, I’ve had reason to ask questions. Coming up with questions was easy. What was difficult was finding the right person to ask. I don’t know what the results would be if everyone maintained their own profile, skills both formal and informal, areas of interest, etc. I don’t know if a project team would become more of a team if that information was available.

I suspect that whatever the outcome, it would be unexpectedly positive and steeped with opportunity.

If after reading the above triplet of idle musings you’ve passed negative judgement on the ideas, you’ve missed the point. It’s never about whether one idea succeeds or fails; it’s about creating a culture of innovation, a culture that compels us to constantly re-evaluate all business processes in light of new capabilities.

Creating a culture where ideas are nurtured can be difficult. Go back to your thoughts as you read the opening paragraphs of this article.

If you pooh-poohed the ideas I presented, you’ve got some work ahead of you. Creativity requires — make that, demands — an open mind and a willingness to search for what might work, rather than pointing out what will obviously fail.

So, what new, untested, unexplored, unexploited technology will you examine in your next meeting? Some readers of this article think that’s a good idea. You’ll meet them soon enough. They’re your next competitors.

Peter is a speaker, consultant and idle writer. You can contact him and read more of his work at www.technobility.com.

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