COVID forced us to become digital and (almost) ready to kick start the dreams of the 4th industrial revolution. Yet, well-meaning consultants will carry on inundating us with promises of “digital transformation”. With so many freshly digitised companies generating enormous amounts of data in the virtual new-normal, I suspect we will also get the second wave of “data-driven business” pitches and newsletters. Let’s hope this wave will be more focused on insight-driven decision making, and not only on big data collection for collection sake.

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Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash

We are awash with data, and the rate of its creation is just not going to stop. I know you’ve heard this cliche before, but look at some of these mad stats. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated every day. Every click, swipe, and Zoom call creates it, proliferating the demand for big data analytics. …

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Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Life is a risky business that always ends badly. Hopefully, this doesn’t come as a revelation to you! Yet, we expend a tremendous amount of energy and efforts to mitigate risks, to keep the status quo, and avoid crises. I guess it’s only natural, but the concept that everything in life needs to be safe can be paralysing. So unless we want to lead a substandard existence despite our talents and capabilities, we need to take risks. Now it’s the time to take calculated risks, and fast, as out of crises can emerge new and incredible opportunities, particularly if traditional approaches and systems are questioned and challenged. …

A friend of mine’s comment on my post on creativity and innovation being a team sport was that I didn’t answer an important question — how to engage all those that constitute the team? So, here are a few lines to remedy this omission!

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Photo by James Thomas on Unsplash

We all know from personal experience, different things keep different personalities engaged and motivated. It could be a shared vision, recognition, money. But in my experience, there isn’t a better engagement tool than measurable targets. Well, perhaps the only other thing that deepens that engagement is a well-defined plan to deliver those targets.

So, I could talk about “high-performance teams” and examples of “winning cultures”, but you can read about them here and here. I could talk about the role of a well designed and communicated operating model, or as I call it an “operating system” (sort of an iOS or Android that you don’t need to know exists, but it makes your phone perform smoothly). But instead, I’m going to jump straight into targets to track how well your team delivers innovations. …

How about giving your product ideas’ testing some more rigour? Yes, for creativity and innovation to deliver value, they require a degree of deliberation and process of which testing is the crucial step. You gloss over at your peril.

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Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

But first, before asking the team for new products ideas and selecting any of them for testing, are you confident your people can articulate the business strategy, i.e. where those new products should get you? If yours is a typical organisation, the strategy was probably delivered by either an external experts “for your eyes only” or an internal strategy team in a darkroom. In effect, most of your people are familiar only with some top headlines. Here is a brilliant hbr article on how to remedy this lack of comms and disseminate the information effectively, so you won’t be wasting your team’s creative juices without giving them clear direction of travel. …

Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that ideas are cheap. Yet, recall your execs saying “now, we are going to be innovative, just send us your ideas!”. For me it’s an equivalent of “darling, what are you thinking?” moment, that we all experienced too often. Usually, it produces either an uncomfortable mind freeze or something lame just to show a sign of being engaged. Not constructive either way!

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

So how to reconcile the fact that creative ideas are at the core of innovation? You say, without those magical moments, there would be no new products. Yes, just don’t rely on serendipity alone to bring home the bacon. For the ideas that lead to successful outcomes, don’t just come out of nowhere and by chance. But let me expand a little on how to influence creative thinking in your team, before I slap it down with a process, so all this blue-sky thinking delivers value in a corporate setting. …

If we used to think the world was changing fast, now it’s the time to look around and with a deep breath admit… the world we knew so well no longer exists.

The human cost will be live transforming at the personal level. But based on the first-hand experience of losing the loved one, we will move on.

The economic cost will be more devastating and life-changing for many of us, and for longer. But once we heal, nothing should stop us growing an equally prosperous, and maybe even a bit more equal reality. But whether by kicking off some sort of a new model for globalisation, or allowing the fourth industrial revolution to take the leaps where we were too nervous about taking them, none of this growth will be possible without innovation. …

Now and then, you fancied the idea of turning your business into an ambidextrous organization. Of course, you know all the soundbites on the “three horizons” and other latest frameworks. And you were just about to kick off your innovation “program”…, but COVID-19 had other plans. It decided to test the immunity of your diversification, intrapreneurial culture, and your appetite for exploration.

And how are you doing now? Gasping for air or blazing through the fires carried by the motivated and innovative workforce?

Even if you are somewhere in between, you should still count yourself lucky. If you don’t believe in luck, now is the time to prove it. Given the “robots are coming for your jobs” and that entrepreneurs coming for your market this might be your last (small) window of…

Annie Krukowska

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