Effective organizations know how to establish a well-understood process and set of skills for adaptability. They do not expect adaptability to be achieved without effort. For example, 3M sets a corporate objective that every five years, 30 per cent of their products must be new.
As solutions are implemented, new problems (or opportunities for innovation and improvement) are discovered. Top Japanese corporations place newly hired R&D scientists and engineers into sales departments to begin their careers. The intent is for them to learn experientially the problems of the customer, and recognize that such learning is the beginning of innovation. Thus, a positive mindset towards creativity begins with a positive attitude towards problem finding, meaning the behavior of continuously and deliberately discovering and formulating new and useful problems to be solved.
Although adaptability skills are essential, it would be naïve to believe that all that is needed is to train employees at all levels in a process of creative problem solving and the skills to make it work. This would only be one third of the battle.
In order to make adaptability performance a normal way of life, an organization must integrate the process with a clear-cut business need and infrastructure to encourage employees to experience success applying it. Creative Problem Solving skills and process must be accompanied by communication and acceptance of a well understood and motivating organizational business need for adaptability. People need to understand why they suddenly need to use their creativity on the job. The business need must be translated into a specific goal(s) to pursue.
Measurable adaptability goals must be placed into the corporate strategy. As well, a complementing infrastructure must be created which makes it easy and encourages people to routinely use their skills to pursue the goals. An ideal scenario, for example, might see employees receive creative problem solving training.
In the training, the process is learned by using it to find and solve specific company real world problems (rather than non-work related “practice” or theoretical problems). Thus, progress is made against the goals during the training itself. Of course the infrastructure must extend the application of the training back to the job. The infrastructure might also include tracking, sharing and celebrating tangible progress.
Leaders in Egypt’s business community can facilitate the integration of this new kind of thinking into the daily operations of their businesses and communities as an ongoing process, rather than an “extra thing” they do “once in a while”.
Each organization must develop a simple and unique (to the organization) innovation strategy that combines achieving important business results with the involvement of their people trained to use the innovation process skillfully.
Following is a typical innovation strategy:
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