In a faster than ever before changing society innovation is becoming a crucial lifeline for every organization. Modern and successful companies change their product and service portfolio quickly and adapt their business model like animal species adapt in a darwinistic natural environment. Business models based on protection and/or pure market power will not last for long, and it is predicted many times that soon the function of the ‘middle man’ will disappear. I advice everybody to read the books ‘what would google do’, ‘tribes’ and ‘the long tail’ to know more about these topics.
My personal prediction is that we are moving into the 6e cycle of Kondratieff *, and that this economical cycle will be based on ‘sustainability’, ‘all natural’, ‘true connections between people’ and ‘love, pleasure and art’. The true key question for each organization and entrepreneur nowadays is: “how do we adapted ourselves continuously”. It’s like the famous story of the Baron Münchhausen who had to pull himselve out of the swamp. The true entrepreneur does have a vision and does identify a blue ocean, and is also capable of ‘acting’ and fulfilling his dream in reality. My personal search in the last 15 years was devoted to the following topic: “what is the role of science in the innovation process”. I came to the impopulair conclusion that science has a very limited influence in the role in this process.
Most inventions that became a innovation ** are the result of great people with an open mind and vision. The invention of the car, the airplane, the first plastics, but also Facebook, the internet and iPad is done by creative and often brilliant people that worked in the ‘society’. Non of these innovations did pop-up via the non-existent linear innovation model from-fundamental-research-via-applied-research-via-development-to-market. In fact the fundamental theories behind these previously mentioned innovations where often investigated afterwards. Almost every successful innovation did follow the process: “from-idea-to-prototype-to-marked-to-adapting-via-user-interactions”.
I will be honest, i’m not happy with the current innovation policy in the Netherlands. The policy has still too much focus on (a) so called knowledge institutes, (b) the role of science and research, (c) the current big industries including the big multinationals. Hence, not adapted to our current times. Universities are great places for education of young smart people. And research is an excellent method to educate people. But does this promote more innovation? No, it does not.
If we want to stimulate innovation, resulting in more welfare and employment on larger time scales in the Netherlands, the innovation policy needs to be reinvented first. More focus on entrepreneurial skills and start-ups. We also need to stop think in grand designs including large EU projects. We should stimulate the start of a lot of small experiments in practice via intrinsic motivated entrepreneurs. The policy should focus more on ‘outsiders’ and be sure that lots of small projects with small collaboration (2-3 partners max) do start in stead of a few big projects with large consortia.
And we need to accept some failures. Good defined and upfront structured projects will not lead to new TomTom’s or Ojah’s. A crucial element of reinventing is to have the guts to break down old systems and to create new. Does our politicians have the vision and guts to reinvent the innovation programs? That would be a nice TEDxBinnenhof topic ;-).
More about the subject innovation management and policy in part 2.
This blog is posted by Wouter de Heij (TOP b.v)
* the 5th kondratieff cycle was driven by ICT and bits and bites. ICT has become a red-ocean sector, low prices, less value creation.
** An idea, invention or development becomes only an innovation when impact is realized. Impact can be turnover for a company or impact in the society.