It’s been almost six weeks since we left Israel and journeyed down under, to Australia, via Seoul, to visit clients, family and friends. Amazingly, with all of the abundance, wealth, beautiful beaches and sunshine filled days, a land that is far away and safe from the wide range of global threats, some business people we encountered, seemed to be quite stressed, burnt out and overwhelmed with sustaining it all! This made me wonder what really constitutes an equitable and flourishing society, how can we innovate and flourish at the same time, and how can we better touch and add value to the quality of people’s lives, contribute to the good of the whole, by creating the space to innovate and flourish simultaneously, in an uncertain world?
What does it mean to innovate and flourish?
Flourishing means living in an optimal range of human functioning, and with the range of wicked problems and generative challenges confronting us in the 21st century; it is certainly an aspirational state of being and living. Because if innovation is the key to improving quality of life for people in every part of the world, we face a range of enormous challenges today – as individual companies and institutions, but also as nations, as societies, and as a planet. And if innovation is the primary driver of business, financial and economic growth, how can we drive growth in sustainable ways that enable everyone to thrive and flourish, in an uncertain world?
Which is why innovation really, really matters!
Whilst most innovation activity is generally undertaken to increase profits, levels of service, growth or business competitiveness, innovation is also the key towards shaping corporate life.
Innovation enables talent in corporations to sense, see and perceive the world through different lenses:
- Allows us to focus on the possibilities available in mergers and acquisitions
- Provides an edge to entering new markets faster and deeper and puts companies on the offensive.
- Enables organizations to transform strategic business issues into innovative products, services and solutions.
- Is a consumer driven and social process; it relies on the collaborative efforts of people, in real life, in real time, and no-one can innovate alone.
- Enables people to interact, connect and share problems and opportunities.
- Gives people permission to experiment and to fail, and to learn together by doing in ways that result in imaginative unexpected ideas and solutions.
A culture of innovation is fundamentally different in that staff are empowered and emboldened to take risks, learn from their failures and as a result, are more deeply engaged and motivated to contribute and make a difference to the organization.
Innovation results in improvements!
The Australian Bureau of Statistics provides us with the hard data, collected by the Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) and reports that overall, 91% of innovating businesses reported some form of benefit as a result of new or significantly improved goods, processes or methods. Including improved customer service (43%), whilst the arts and recreation industries reported increased revenue (42%), and agriculture, forestry and fishing reported a reduction in costs (36%). The information, media and telecommunications business reported a gain in their competitive edge (38%) and healthcare and social assistance reported improved customer service (65%).
Innovation results in flourishing!
Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, provides us with the soft data; he outlines his ERMA for flourishing as:
- Engagement – tunable by preferentially using one’s highest strengths to perform the tasks which one would perform anyway. Innovation requires large doses of curiosity and self efficacy and this is only developed when a person is attuned to, and enabled to maximize their inherent strengths.
- Relationships – tunable, but not in a way that can be explained briefly; listen to timestamp 15:12 and following of the audio. Innovation is a social process that requires collaboration a sense of community and a generative skill set that builds deep relationships.
- Meaning – belonging to and serving something bigger than one’s self. Innovation creates the space for purposeful contribution and making a difference.
- Achievement – determination is known to count for more than IQ. Innovation requires purpose, stretch goals, disciplined strategic focus, as well as the courage and resilience to bounce back from failures and stay in the game to deliver game changing right hand turns and inflection points.
An integrated and balanced approach!
This suggests that we need an integrated and balanced approach to innovation, one which creates a unique demand for innovative leadership. We need strong innovative leaders not just in our organizations, or academic institutions, but at the most senior levels in business, in government roles, and in not-for-profit and non-governmental institutions. Who have the drive and courage to focus talent beyond surviving towards flourishing. If we can go beyond the daily stresses, self interest and the urgencies of our daily lives, from being just OK with our lives and play in the innovation space, then we can really start to thrive. Doing provides some interesting answers our initial questions – how can we innovate and flourish at the same time, and how can we better touch and add value to the quality of people’s lives, contribute to the good of the whole, by innovating and flourishing, in an uncertain world!
We can innovate and flourish, develop more well-being and flourishing in every aspect of our lives, and be the change we wish to see in the world; perhaps we can change the world in the process!
At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.