Why we live in a golden age of innovation

Despite horrible daily headlines, the important news is that we are living in a golden age of innovation. It has been called “the digital age,” among other names, although this label is misinterpreted to imply that it is all about technology. In reality, it is a combination of the two new technology and radically different management. It’s the combination of the two – new technology and new management – that makes things fundamentally different from what was happening in the 20th century.

New digital technologies are amazing: internet, cloud, algorithmic decision making, blockchain, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and 3D printing. In addition, technologies evolve rapidly and, like Vivek Wadhwa et al point out in their book From Incremental To Exponential (Berrett-Koehler, 2020), they interact with each other to create even more possibilities.

A revolutionary new way to manage

Yet, technology alone doesn’t make much of a difference. We have learned over the past two decades that little benefit comes from new technology unless there is also a different mindset towards management – human beings create value for other beings. humans. It is a new management meta-model that is fundamentally different from the management of the industrial age, which was based on efficiency and results. Companies such as Haier and Microsoft, among many other companies, have demonstrated the new path, not only in technology, but also in cars, finance, healthcare, agriculture, music, movies, retail. retail, restaurants, games and hospitality. The new management mindset includes.

· Adopt a goal of creating value for the customer as the main foundation of everything the company does.

· Free up talents in self-organized teams and micro-enterprises. Talent is now the engine of strategy, rather than the other way around.

· Function as a network of skills rather than a hierarchy of authority.

· Enabling a business to build new businesses, new business models, platforms and ecosystems, and manage data as an asset.

And once the technology and management are in place, tremendous benefits begin to emerge, in three dimensions.

First, the awesome benefits for customers are almost magical, transforming the way we work, how we communicate, how we travel, how we shop, how we play games, how we provide healthcare and hospitality. education, how we raise our children, how we have fun, how we read, how we listen to music, how we watch the theater, go to the movies and how we worship: in short how we live. This combination of new technologies and new ways of doing business is changing most of our lives, even those in developing countries.

Second, it has changed the workplace, potentially for the better. When those doing the work collaborate in self-organizing teams focused on creating value for customers, the work can be meaningful and uplifting. At best, human beings bring value to other human beings, as opposed to individuals producing things according to the instructions of bosses.

Third, it is much more profitable for the companies themselves, once they have fully entered this mode. Microsoft is a prime example. She embarked on the new path in 2014, under the leadership of CEO – and now President – Satya Nadella. Since taking over and implementing this different way of running a business, Microsoft has added $ 1.5 trillion to its market capitalization.

Is all of this really new?

Some critics ask if there is something really new about the new way of doing business. And indeed, management innovators have been working on some of these changes for at least a century, starting with Mary Parker Follett in the 1920s. Yet until recently there was little lasting success, like Art Kleiner l ‘noted in his book, The era of heretics (Jossey-Bass, 2008).

As Gary Hamel explained last year, “You can go back and read about the precursors of Agile management, about the early attempts to build self-managed teams, about more participatory decision-making structures. Much of this work, in the 1960s and 1970s, produced extraordinary results – huge gains in productivity and engagement – but little change has intensified. Most of these efforts were ultimately aborted or marginalized. Ultimately, the empire retaliated.

A new management meta-model

Thus, this new management meta-model is not just another variant of 20th century management. It is true, it is not yet everywhere. But the extraordinary gains made by companies that have embraced the new meta-model create massive incentives for other companies to make the switch, as well as huge disincentives. not to make the change.

What makes Microsoft such a remarkable story is that it is often cited as an example of a stagnant bureaucracy that will never change. His transformation shows that change is possible.

Meanwhile, many large industrial age companies are struggling. This is why it is dangerous to consider the new age as “the fourth industrial age”, rhythm Klaus Schwab and his book The fourth industrial revolution (Mint, 2017). If companies see it as a continuation, or evolution, of the industrial age, they are unlikely to succeed with the new business meta-model needed to manage digital technologies.

Mass human development?

Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps suggested in his book, Mass flourishing: how grassroots innovation created jobs, challenges and change (Princeton, 2013), that we could be on the verge of a “Mass Human Flourishing”. And when you see what’s going on in the best companies today, it starts to sound plausible. But there is also a legitimate fear that we are on the verge of mass human repression, if these new technologies were to be used for malicious purposes. It is a choice that societies all over the world face today. Are we moving, as Phelps suggests, towards mass human flourishing? Or mass human repression? The choice is ours. But to make this choice, you must first understand it.

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