While we wait impatiently for GE’s 2015 edition of the GE Global Innovation Barometer report, let’s take a moment to reflect back on the 2014 edition.
The main take away as far as we are concerned is the obvious perceived dichotomy of needs and wants which senior business executives see and face in their daily quest for innovation.
Take for example the following numbers and statements:
External collaboration vs IP
In Canada, 68% of executives recognize the value of external collaboration and want to do more of it and at the same time 87% of them fear doing so because they are not sure that the business confidentiality and trade secrets are adequately protected.
Speed vs polish
On this subject there is a perfect 50%-50% split between the perception of the need to be first into the market at all cost, and not being so but providing a higher quality product to consumers.
82% of respondent agree that innovation is now a global game and process, yet at the same time 73% also say that the key to success is adapting innovation to local specific market needs.
Speed vs inertia
67% agree that to be successful when innovating, they must quickly adapt and implement emerging technologies, and simultaneously, 57% of them consider internal inertia and the incapacity to be nimble a limiting challenge in their organisations.
Disruption and core practices
A vast majority of executives (69%) understand that they must encourage creative behaviour and disruptive process in their businesses, and a vast majority also admit that they try to protect the core business profitability as much as possible (72%).
Caring inside and outside
A whopping 84% of executives agree that to efficiently and successfully innovate, their top priority must be to look outside at their customers to better understand them and anticipate the market evolution, and a similarly a whopping 79% of them feel they must prioritise what is inside the company, mainly how to attract and more so, retain the most talented skilled individuals.
As Ed Catmull so aptly put it in his book Creativity Inc, the key to leadership is being able to simultaneously “place one foot on either side of the door – one grounded in what we know […] and the other in the unknown, where things are murky, unseen or uncreated”.
So is the way to innovation which generates paradoxes and contradictions. The best companies do not get rid of these paradoxes, but rather bathe into them to find ways forward. In our model, we would say that you are simply addressing Reality for what it is in its many sides and levels of complexity.
So if some days you feel that your are somewhat schizophrenic in your leadership role at the head of an innovative company… well, rest assured, you are perfectly normal!
Creativity Inc., CATMULL Ed, Random House Canada, 2014
top picture by Safe and Savvy