June 1, 2016, by The Ingenuity Lab
How do crisis and opportunity work in unison?
Written by Paul Kirkham, Researcher in the field of Entrepreneurial Creativity at the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Nottingham University Business School
“Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change,” wrote Milton Friedman, economist and Nobel Prize winner, in his highly influential Capitalism and Freedom, first published more than 50 years ago.
Was he right? Not really…
Granted, crisis does produce change, if only because crises tend to be situations in which staying the same isn’t a viable option. Moreover, it’s all too easy to believe we live in a state of near-permanent crisis, so remarkable has the sheer pace of change become.
But sometimes the driving force of change is opportunity. Witness, for instance, the advent of the smartphone and its transformation of the developed and developing worlds. There was no communications crisis before the smartphone came along.
So what do crisis and opportunity have in common? Both underline the virtual inevitability of change; and both, by extension, provide the occasion for innovation.
The importance of being heard
Studies by Nottingham University Business School have shown the ability to innovate – we might call it “vision” – isn’t an inexplicable gift bestowed on a lucky few. Appropriate guidance, mentoring and the freedom to “bounce ideas around” can help unlock, develop and refine the required skills in anyone.
Accepting this, surely we can see there’s no need to wait to get lucky. Serendipity is all very well, but the ideal innovative organisation cuts to the chase by encouraging creative problem-solving at all levels and considering each and every new way of thinking, irrespective of its origin.
The fact is that good ideas can come from anywhere and anybody. And if they aren’t to go to waste then a genuinely meaningful culture of innovation – as opposed to mere rhetoric – has to start at the top and be all-pervasive.
It’s vital to acknowledge, and indeed expect that everyone is capable of contributing to the innovation process – and, just as importantly, that everyone deserves to be heard. When you think about it, this, too, is little more than common sense. QED.
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