For a long time now, digital skills are an integrated part of the daily life of our companies.
They pervade all our processes, culture, structures and people inside the organization.
Within this framework one to the topical issue that companies are facing and addressing now is Cultivate Digital Talents and Leaders that typically place a decisive emphasis on developing existing talent or recruiting new talent.
Organizations, cross all industries, are competing ever more aggressively to find the right people, motivate them and retain their highest performers.
But, presuming we already shared and agreed a common definition of talent, it seems there is only one route to success in today talent wars: innovation.
Innovation, as science shows, means create something both novel and useful; it can be large or small, incremental or not. We could image a new product, service, process or a new way of organizing: it is a results of trial and error, lot of false start and mistakes.
It seems that one of the most important concerns for many leader is creating new business models to adapt to the today’s disruptive context. In other words to “drive innovation“.
Not long ago, strategy was king. Forecasting and planning created the power sources within organizations. The future of a business (or a career) could fit into an established framework or system. If managed well, success would follow.
Today, uncertainty is palpable. Planning for next quarter is a real challenge…organizations and their leaders have lost their crystal ball.
If that’s true, the first question is: why are some organization able to innovate again and again while other hardly innovate at all?
So, in a time of so rapid change, the ability to innovate quickly and effectively is perhaps the only enduring competitive advantage for our organization.
When faced with confusion or a problem, our instinct is to repair it with order. We examine and analyze the situation, looking for logic, until we can say: “Ah, I know this. Now I know what to do.” Unfortunately, the rapid analysis and rational decision-making that most leaders use to run their organizations has limitations.
What worked before doesn’t work today.
To make effective sense of unfamiliar situations and complex challenges, we must have a grasp of the whole of the situation, including its variables, unknowns, and mysterious forces.
Innovative groups act rather than plan their way forward, and solutions emerge that are usually different from anything anyone anticipated. But this also can be challenging.
Innovation requires integrating ideas—combining option A and option B, even if they once seemed mutually exclusive—to create a new and better option. It also requires that leaders be patient enough to let great ideas from people in all parts of the organization develop.
This requires skills beyond everyday analysis. It requires innovation leadership.
At this point the second question that arises here is: how can leaders build an organization that can innovate over and over?
Contrary to what we are used to thinking…no lone talent, no flash of inspiration can guarantee this advantage. Instead each success is an hard product of many people working together.
It looks like we have moved away from the conventional view of talent, innovation requires a different kind of leadership, not a solitary one.
These new leaders need to learn to operate in challenging, unpredictable circumstances. They also need to create a climate for innovation within organizations to make them healthy and sustainability (Business Roundtable recently announced – August 2019 – the release of a new statement about a more sustainable economy).
As said by most of experts on the subject, innovative organizations need leaders who create and sustain an environment that release
slice of genius in each of their people and then combines that ‘collective genius’ into a unique work of innovation.
The role of a leader of innovation is not to set a vision and motivate others to follow it and execute. It’s to create a community (more than a team) that is willing and able to generate new ideas.
The role of leader is create an environment in which people are willing and able to collaborate and innovate again and again.
This repetition requires that the leader be more of a stage-setter than the star performer.
Given that, we could say that innovation is a journey, it is a type of collaborative problem solving among people with different expertise and different point of view.
Paraphrasing what happened in the scientific word, it seems innovative organizations need to move from a “force” concept (single talent) to an “energy” concept (collective genius).
But it is not so simple. This ability to innovate requires an environment of diversity where opposing approaches cross against each other is greatly successful in fostering innovation. Innovation usually emerges when diverse people collaborate to generate a wide ranging portfolio of ideas, which they then refine and even evolve into new ideas through give-and-take and often-heated debates.
Thus collaboration should involve passionate disagreement (perhaps one of the most popular advocates of that was Steve Jobs).
And again, this ability to innovate requires a specific approach to pursue new ideas quickly and proactively with multiple experiments (trial and error attitude must be practiced).
We were constantly considering and reconsidering our systems. Something that worked well at one scale would likely fail at another.
So, in short, a tremendous opportunity for our digital talents and leaders. Ready?