“The biggest issue at stake in this emerging age is the ongoing tension between creativity and organization”
- Richard Florida – The Rise of the Creative Class
Be it the individual or an organisation, the greatest source of all anxiety, curiosity and worry is ensuring sustainability/growth of the enterprise, so as to make the journey enjoyable and rewarding. As summed up by John Stuart Mill “By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain”. Therefore at all levels across the society and business, there is intense search for locating and deploying tools and technologies to improve predictability of future events. With the advancement of the science and mathematical tools, the degree of forecasting accuracy has significantly improved. Deployment of digital technology using big data analytics, simulations as well as Artificial Intelligence driven future scenario building capabilities, have taken the predictability of future events to very high level of accuracy. The new developments in the area of Quantum Computing may enhance the computing powers to hitherto unknown levels thereby enhancing chances success in predicting the road ahead.
As we take a look at the National and Global corporate arena, we find that despite the swings of the stock market or fluctuations of the economy, select companies have been quite successful in retaining their domination of the market place. Apple/Google/Microsoft/Amazon/IBM/Tesla/Boeing/Airbus/Alibaba/Samsung have dominated the international arena while on the home turf Reliance/TCS/Infosys/HCL/Wipro/L&T/SBI/HDFC/Hindustan Lever/Tata Motors/Maruti/Mahindra have been the dominant players of the 21st century. At the same time global companies like Ford/GM/Kodak/Nokia/Mitsubishi/US Steel as well as Indian companies like Premier Auto/Mafatlal/Century/HMT/ITT/ Cooper Engineering/DCM are no longer at the top but struggling for survival.
Why is this happening? Who is to blame – market forces or management? Is it merely a case of product life cycle tapering or organizational burnout? Are these cases of mismatch between the need of the hour and their offerings or inadequacy of their management tools to make a difference? Is this the result of VUCA (Volatility/Uncertainty/Complexity/ Ambiguity) syndrome? Management experts globally have been studying this phenomena and critical analysis of the successes and failures worldwide have been done and published through hundreds of research papers and books. Still world continues to follow the dictum of Aldous Huxley who said,” That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Managements and organisations all over the world continue to make the same mistake despite evidence to the contrary.
Even a brief analysis of market success and failures of the first two decades of this millennium will run into mass of sheets and data. Therefore, I wish to touch upon some vital clues or key elements which constitute of the DNA of successful organisations worldwide. There are some obvious key drivers of success of the 21st century enterprises. The first and foremost key driver is e empowered management system covering the entire value chain of the organization, networking internal and external customers, vendors, stake holders, regulators, communities and society. This facilitates buildup of nimble organization with lattice based company structure as Gary Hamel puts it in his magnum opus on The Future of Management. He believes that while Obedience, Diligence, Intellect, Initiative, Creativity, Passion will have an amplifying effect on management of an organisation, the key driver will be management of innovation which will ensure sustainability and perpetuate success of the venture.
However the billion dollar question confronting the management theorist and practitioners is, how do you continue to ride the innovation wave? Scores of fine tuning measures and bold corporate initiatives are being attempted worldwide to promote in-house innovation culture, while attracting and retaining the best innovators to their fold. Financial returns, democratic management systems, building communities of creative class of employees linked with technology, talent and tolerance while focusing on the purpose of the organization as well as the smells and sounds of work place, have all been factored in to take the organization forward beyond the innovation frontier. But this may not be enough to keep them in the forefront.
For this effort to succeed we have to look at our learning processes, especially at the B schools. As we all know the classical learning journey of the society has been the pyramid of Information – Knowledge – Wisdom – Science – Philosophy (P1). This has been the journey of ascent of human thought to the highest level of philosophical wisdom which has guided the humanity since creation. However to ensure sustainability and meet the challenges of seven billion souls battered by the VUCA conditions magnified by the spectre of climate change, the organisations need to reinvent and redesign the learning continuum. Data - Information – Knowledge – learning – Creativity – Innovation - Wisdom – Science – Philosophy(P2).
It is vital that right from the elementary level to the B-schools, we must drive the learning processes so that entire learning is attempted to be absorbed, developed and applied through creative processes resulting into innovations in some forms or the other which may be some utility to the society/business. Then through the filter of wisdom, the output will result into science / products which may give rise to the philosophies to enlighten our journey into next millennium. Unless this continuum of innovation gets into the DNA of our educational system, it is unlikely that we shall be able to hold our place in universe. From Cambridge Learning to the Chinese school lab culture there is already stiff competition in this arena.
Therefore, as the B-schools are entrusted with the task of shaping the business leaders of tomorrow we must work hard to drive the Innovation continuum in the students, so that as they cross the corporate threshold, they proactively seek to convert creatively whatever knowledge they have acquired during their journey in education. The key here is to continuously build on creative models and hope that one day it would light up the path ahead for generations to come. Remember there is no danger of failure – as Thomas Edison says,” I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work”.
The Future of Management will be driven and defined by the speed with which organisations induct the Creativity-Innovation gene in their DNA facilitating its mutations spread across the structure like the Base pairs across the helix. Remember, the CEO will have to be CIO – Chief Innovation Officer so as to ride the Chariots of Fire. So here is a prayer for the rising MBAs and professionals – be the Innovation gene and spawns across the length and breadth of the organization.