February 29

Driving Productive Innovation

The further we move away from the depths of the recession, the more it becomes apparent that the pre-recessionary world that we were so familiar with has changed forever and the greater the need to drive productive innovation. It’s not simply that household names have disappeared; nor is it that driven by the need to do more with less technology evolved, thereby enabling fast and more agile businesses to sweep in and take market share. These are contributing factors, but so is the rise of the internet generation, the change in public mood and expectations, and the changing geopolitical landscape.

All these factors and more mean one thing; any business which thought it could consign the recession to the depths of history and move back to business as usual has got another think coming. So much so that PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO survey comments that “CEOs face a business environment that’s becoming increasingly complicated to read and adapt to” adding “We believe there is a more fundamental shift taking place, namely from a globalising world to one with many dimensions of power, growth and threats.”

This changing business landscape was also highlighted by MPC member Martin Weale in a recent speech entitled “What’s in a week’s work.” The speech explored changes in working patterns including the rise in the proportion of women in the workforce, the way in which educational aspirations are delaying young people’s move into the workforce and the impact of people staying in work beyond what was previously seen as retirement age.

The conclusion to be drawn from all these factors is that the working week is likely to shorten still further, potentially leading to cost pressures as organisations are forced to hire additional staff to maintain productivity levels. This in turn will have implications for overall inflation levels.  Interestingly, Martin Weale suggests that this move towards shorter working hours may be exacerbated by a rise in flexible working.

However, given the changing business landscape, any predictions about changes in working week or productivity are to some extent best extrapolations based on previous patterns. For example, organisations which are proactively responding to the changing business landscape by building a culture of innovation are finding that they are creating an entirely new work/productivity matrix. When innovation is driven from the engine room of business culture, when employees are not only engaged with the innovation ideal but are actually leading an innovative business strategy then previously held ideas about productivity can become virtually obsolete.

This transformative potential was one of the drivers behind writing ‘Building a Culture of Innovation’ with my co-authors, Derek Bishop and Jo Geraghty. Between us we’ve worked all over the world coaching senior teams on innovation leadership and helping organisations change cultures in pursuit of innovation and and we’ve see the way in which building a culture of innovation transforms organisations. But, we’ve also seen businesses holding back as they simply don’t know where to start the transformation. Accordingly, within the book we’ve set out a step-by-step framework which takes organisations from understanding their initial level of innovation maturity through to embedding a culture of innovation.

To get your copy of ‘Building a Culture of Innovation’ click here.


building a culture of innovation

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