Innovation Is Not Invention

“Above all, innovation is not invention. It is a term of economics rather than of technology. Non-technological innovations – social or economic innovations – are at least as important as technological ones.” Peter Drucker

Based on Drucker’s definition of innovation, when we as an organization, identify community needs and convert them into real-life solutions that affect the health, well being and happiness of a community, that is organizational innovation. This is what is particularly satisfying about working in the public or the non-profit sectors of business. These areas of work lend to mission oriented, values driven activity. But it does not have to be limited to there. With a different application of course, private sector (while a little less public mission oriented), can  be just as values driven and possibly contribute even more in certain contexts. This is the very positive side of understanding how we used to describe commercial activity years ago: business and society.

Purpose and Vision Will Keep Us On Target

I was reading through (and writing about) the BIS 84th Annual Report recently and was struck by the tone of the introductory remarks,

The global economy continues to face serious challenges. Despite a pickup in growth, it has not shaken off its dependence on monetary stimulus. Monetary policy is still struggling to normalise after so many years of extraordinary accommodation. Despite the euphoria in financial markets, investment remains weak. Instead of adding to productive capacity, large firms prefer to buy back shares or engage in mergers and acquisitions. And despite lacklustre long-term growth prospects, debt continues to rise. There is even talk of secular stagnation.

What also struck me was that this section was titled, “In search of a new compass.” The repeated occurrence of “despite,” followed by some good news, that is ultimately eclipsed by bad news underscores the point that in spite of five years of economic recovery, this time is indeed different. Most importantly, the above statements speak of policymakers in search of direction.

The context of such headwinds puts extraordinary pressure on those who are trying to navigate their own career through such challenges. This is particularly felt among those who are either searching for employment, or simply searching for direction. In an age where we are bombarded with more information than can ever be processed or analyzed, this highlights the importance of principles and guidelines that are timeless in nature. I thought about that as I recently came across this excellent quote from Daniel Webster:

If we work upon marble, it will perish. If we work upon brass, time will efface it. But if we work upon immortal minds, and instill into them just principles, we are then engraving upon tablets which no time will efface but will brighten and brighten to all eternity.

Purpose and vision will keep us moving the right direction, whatever the challenge. And when we get off track, that same statement of values and mission, will point us back in the right direction.

Strategy: The Outworking of an Extraordinary Vision

Successful business strategy is the outworking of vision, extraordinary vision. Ken Blanchard has summed up the issue well in his classic anthological work, Leading at a Higher Level: The biggest impediment blocking most managers from being great leaders is the … Continue reading