All too often, vendors talk about products or features when customers really want solutions and “how do I get there?” models for evolving their business. Cloud Computing is a topic that definitely falls into the latter category because it isn’t a single piece of hardware or software, but rather it’s a new way to align business needs with technology capabilities.
For many companies, Cloud Computing represents both an opportunity and a challenge. From an opportunity perspective, it potentially represents a chance to leapfrog your competition by leveraging technology as a core driver of new business models. This would create a compelling business differentiation and it’s most likely what every CIO will be talking about in 2011. From a challenge perspective, it introduces some new types of change that your company will need to address, such as:
Any number of case studies can be cited as evidence that innovation and creativity are crucial to business success. Yet results from the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) suggest that many countries have much to do before they can be described as ‘innovative’.
So a real problem facing European organisations is that they just can’t recruit enough of those special ‘creative’ people -- right? I’m not so sure. I’d suggest that the statistics say rather more about the way we tap into the innovation within our people than it does about any lack of potential creativity. And the real issue lies with our perception of creative thinking…
The problem can be traced back to 1981 when Professors Sperry and Ornstein told the world that human beings are of two minds. Their landmark “left brain, right brain” experiments showed that the two hemispheres of the brain are dominant in specific functions – left for logical and right for creative.
But an undeserved legacy of Sperry and Ornstein is a belief amongst the business community that ‘right-brain’ creative thinking is a gift that few of us are graced with. The reality is very different. Whilst their work showed that each side of the brain is dominant in specific functions, it also showed they are skilled in ALL functions and that analytical and creative thinking are complementary skills available to and accessible by all of us. Indeed it is simply our misconception that there is a gap between them that very often hinders our ability to be creative or innovative.
The business environment tends to perpetuate the myth that creative or innovative thinking is for the chosen few. In our information-overloaded lives we tend to ask our people to use the logical, analytical and rational ‘left-brain’ labelled functions. And from childhood we are taught to create lists, to prioritise by numbering, to join the dots, to think ‘logically’, to focus on results, to seek an outcome, to follow the sequence, to take linear notes… the list goes on.
It’s also a fact that, for many of us, it’s not often that we are asked, allow ourselves -- or are allowed by our work situation -- to think creatively. And when we are, it’s no surprise that many of us feel that this is something out of the ordinary and perhaps beyond our grasp.
I believe that creativity and inclusion go hand-in-hand because it is flexibility and creativity that make possible inclusive ways of working. So what are inclusive ways of working? Well first and foremost it’s not everyone doing the same thing in the same way. Of course, there are behaviours that help guide our actions, but inclusion comes about through acceptance of diversity and non-conformity. If we are afraid or unable to be different, to relate our work in our own way, then we will be less able and willing to appreciate and develop the abilities of the people around us.
The challenge I’m giving myself – and you -- is to take a creative or innovative approach to situations both at work and at home. That doesn’t just mean being different, but being different and better……so let’s mind the gap
When I think of “Inclusion and Diversity”, I automatically think about creating a diverse and inclusive workforce environment: providing all employees with learning and development opportunities, ensuring employees with disabilities have the right tools and resources and educating all employees on how to work with people with disabilities, sending out regular communications on techniques for how to strengthen inclusion and diversity in the workplace and so forth.
Reading this article from UTalkMarketing.com this morning over a cup of coffee made me question my own definition of “Inclusion and Diversity.” I came to the conclusion that my view on this subject was far too narrow – I was focussing on it from a purely internal perspective and needed to think outside of the box and include an external perspective too. Inclusion and Diversity isn’t just about making your diverse workforce feel included; it’s also about ensuring that your customers feel included AND that their voices and their business needs lie at the heart of your business.
The author of this article, Chris Beswick, argues that businesses need to develop a relationship with their customers, look at the world from their perspective and appreciate the problems they face and the things they aspire to. Instead of focussing on their own products and services, businesses need to put greater focus on their customers’ problems and tensions – it’s not “what you do”, i.e. what you sell; what you provide, but rather “how you do it”, i.e. how you fuel innovation and differentiation.
Yet Beswick argues that true customer-centricity is only possible if you first become people-centric. In his words the only way you can provide an exceptional end-to-end customer experience is to ensure that everyone in your organisation understands how to collaborate on solving your customers’ problems.
How do you extend Inclusion and Diversity to your customers? Share your thoughts below.
Do you have an Inclusion and Diversity story to share? Please send it to email@example.com.
Peter Granger talks about Cisco’s Manufacturing Active Collaboration Solution and how it can help with innovation and product development. GE calls their version Virtual Collaboration Space.
As you can hear in my video, the truth of the matter is that Collaboration and Innovation go hand-in-hand simply because when people get together they feed off one another, adding to each others ideas and seeing opportunities from different angles. They solve each others issues and talk through problems using words, images and video. When you click ‘read more’ you’ll hear more about GE’s use of MACS in a short video featuring senior GE and Cisco figures. I’ll also solve the riddle I set for you in an earlier blog about how to make a new square out of four matches! Read More »