Ode to Innovation – 5 Principles of Disruptive Innovation Environments

Thomas Edison once said: “Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” In Europe, we are all about the rules. We have completely forgotten that progress is driven by creativity and inventions. I always like to think about laws (similar to language in many ways) in the context of dynamic movement rather than a stop sign. Unfortunately, the bright minds of politicians and public servants define our reality by focusing on everything that is not allowed, and ignoring the narrative that society is only great when allowing personal prosperity to flourish. You do that by enabling, not restricting, not by repeating the behaviors of the past.

Our decision-making process is designed on old assumptions that what already exists is right and should not be changed. The adaptation of technology is slow and driven by gaps of knowledge instead of understanding fractions, growth, and value. We are trying to feed old horses with paper money while expecting a free ride to a colonized Mars.

Rules should be designed to help you when you get into trouble, not to prevent you from getting there. Europe has lost its imagination, passion, and courage. The vision of past thinkers was way ahead of their time and gave us tools to push ourselves beyond anything we thought possible. We’re now closer than ever to a point where a sheer lack of creativity is defining our reality. We can’t continue to search for ‘the new’ by using patterns of the old. Furthermore, we can’t pave new roads, using old tools, and expect them to carry us into the future.

We know how to sponsor technological research. Yet when it comes to rethinking our policy infrastructure, we dare not challenge the status-quo. Yes, there are some experimentation here and there, but the majority of policy-based decision-making relies on fashion and trends rather than thinking. That is made clear when the outcome of public work is a report rather than a result. We use ethical reasoning to justify the judgement of individual moralism, and by doing that, we drive innovation and creativity to the fringe.

Joseph Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’ is the dissolution of “thought fixation” around old practices in favor of innovation that can drive new revenue streams. Instead of using resources to improve the past, leaders should pave the path to establish new routines of economic behaviors. You do so by continuously seeking new ways to divert organizational resources to capture and harness the data generated from consumer interactions with your outputs within the consumer ecosystem to rethink your input model. This is how you create innovation equilibrium – the managerial accumulation of creativity and invention in a competitive market that produces coherent results.

The 5 Rules of D.I.E

  1. Think in terms of ecosystem and ecologies – not job titles. It seems the point here is that you can’t go it alone. And change, innovation and transformation are not conceived on command. They come from the bottom up or from the outside, in – not the top, down.
  2. Innovation without creativity and invention equals what you have now (i.e., not innovation) Are you allowing for true creativity and invention in your enterprise? If you internally smirked before you said, yes – you take my point. Admit that you’re simply fast-following (at best) if there just isn’t room for creativity and invention in your business at present (you may wish to freshen-up your resume).
  3. Focusing on increasing your core earning model – and forgetting how to entice and defend it – will never give you the tools and know-how to expand the pie of your business model. If you’re just focusing on how profitable your business is today, your business will not be profitable tomorrow.
  4. Engaging in iterative change ensures you follow the pack rather than reaping the rewards of being a market leader. — Hat-tip to lesson #2, but as far as I’m concerned, this goes beyond never receiving the glory. In essence, we deserve what we get out of the geopolitics, social and technological revolutions if we don’t truly disrupt ourselves.
  5. You can never look into tomorrow using yesterday’s eyes. — In a way, this sums up lesson #1 through lesson #4. Fear of the unknown, of change, is the spawn of ignorance. If you only consider what has happened – or worse, what is currently happening – you can’t help us with tomorrow. Learn from the past, be present at the moment, and let that insight allow you to think differently about the future.
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