By Brinkley Warren
The most competitive firms of tomorrowland should already be manufacturing disruptive innovation in a race to reinvent themselves. Boards and CEOs are realizing, some faster than others, that the Millennial Kids Growing Up now will completely transform how the World operates, including how we live and work within it. The workforce talent of tomorrowland will have grown up with Pervasive Super-Computing at their fingertips, and as NLP comes online — fingertips will morph into liptips (is that a word yet?). These kids will be living in a world where talking to an intelligent, pervasive, and most-likely personalized supercomputer becomes normalized practice. It’s possible that some of our grandparents don’t even have capacity to imagine the possibilities and ramifications of this future trajectory.
As a corporate leader, you must begin now to rewire your organizational culture, your people, your principles, your processes, and your systems — and begin to align them around manufacturing continuous and disruptive innovation. Scalable growth. Open-source reciprocity. Rapid prototyping. Creative partnering and the ability to collaborate on a massive scale. The willingness to co-create with and to empower diverse talent workers.
As a species, now is an amazing time in our hyperconnected global society when we can model our reality with incredible scale and speed, likely unparalleled in our human history. We have ubiquitous computing, and when you reconfigure communication, you reconfigure culture. Culture is the artifact of collective human experiences. It’s the honeycomb. As a corporate executive, you can choose to think of it as the soft and sticky stuff that doesn’t matter as much as cold hard revenue, but you’re wrong. As goes the comb, goes the honey. It’s all one.
Digitization, predictive analytics, AI, and human ingenuity has already launched a rising wave of democratized manufacturing, an Internet of things that will help to save the planet and sustain our navigation as a species into a positive future state.
Every leader of the future will have a clustered supercomputer and personal assistant at their disposal to help them navigate the chaotic and disruptive transition that is already coming. The millennials kids are coming, those members of society who have never known life without a ubiquitous supercomputer at their fingertips, and a networked world of infinite possibilities before them to discover and play with. The goal of the enterprise of tomorrowland is to harness and channel this startup/maker culture and energy so that it can capitalize on new scalable growth opportunities. If “harnessing” and “channeling” sounds like capturing lightning in a bottle, you’re right. It is. This stuff is hard because it’s soft.
Possibilities themselves become unlocked data and connections ready to be synthesized in creative and value-sustaining ways. The leader of tommorrow will want to manufacture disruptive innovation in intentional ways, and do so with authenticity. Part of being intentional, of being an authentic and successful leader of the future is about being willing and able to experiment, and that means a full embrace of rapid prototyping.
Rapid prototyping is about harnessing the cognitive and creative surplus of GEN-Y talent (engineers, knowledge workers) by empowering and inspiring the entrepreneurial leaders within the companye. The successful conglomerates of the future will already be diverting cognitive surplus away from bureaucratic inertia and unleashing it, using startup culture and lean techniques to make the firm more innovative; meanwhile this repurposing of talent is also generating massive new value opportunities, improving competitive positioning for talent acquisition, and essentially: being proactive about reinventing yourself as a company.
Also important for leaders to remember — rapid prototyping is about creating a culture that celebrates failure on the road to success. Fail early, fail often, fail cheaply. Fail fast and ship — this is a part of the new hacker spirit, and so as leaders we must ensure that we are maximizing the learning that comes from our failures, ensuring that everyone is communicating and feels safe to fail and take calculated risks, ensuring people have the methods and lean startup capabilities that may be required. The Lean Startup sprint methodology is a good framework: Build>Measure>Learn loops aligned with all members of the innovation team.
All successful companies and brands must constantly reinvent themselves to stay competitive. There is the soul of the company which is never-changing, but the rest of it may as well be Ever-changing.
Writing this has inspired me to write another post that digs into the “HOW” — so I will go further with Open Innovation and the Lean Startup Movement and how they can be combined to help firms master inside-in innovation AND outside-in innovation.