While Nicolay Worren explains that his new book is intended for MBA students and executives, one can’t escape the thought that much of the learning it offers could be useful to a much larger audience. In fact, it might even be inspiring to those confronted by the complex dynamics and ambiguity in modern business design, and hoping for tools to manage that growing complexity. After all, the book’s stated purpose is to promote approaches to organization design that are focused, current, rigorous and pragmatic. In other words, its aim is to bring science to a business where it has been lacking. Organisation Design: Re-defining Complex Systems achieves that, especially with its bold introduction of Axiomatic Design.
It's time to Occupy business innovation and research commercialization in Canada.
In response to reports that Canada has slipped badly in global rankings of innovation and research commercialization, the federal government asked industry for ideas on how Canada might fix the problem. The result is the Jenkins Report, which is stirring up some debate in business circles (see Globe & Mail column and comments).
The report offers a number of solutions to the problem of lagging innovation but the main thrust seems to be better targeting and distribution of the billions of dollars we already dole out to businesses every year. Strangely, since I’m more left than right, this has me feeling a little Kevin O’Leary about it all. It smells like tweaking a perpetual government bail out of business.
My point is the report and the debate completely disregard the concerns of the Occupy movement, which is pointing to the same broken business finance system. This disconnect is strange because so many of the business people arguing about improving Canada’s innovation financing are also sympathetic to Occupy, especially the younger startup crowd. But they seem unable to recognize their own power and this unique opportunity to influence both issues at once.
The Occupy movement says big money and corporate power can’t be trusted to run the world anymore. Capitalism, if it ever was a noble beast, has devolved to a rigged game of elite cronyism, manipulation and greed. We’re seeing examples of that in the way so many companies and consultants are gaming government innovation funding now.
Occupy supporters say the metrics used by the financial elite to pick winners and losers ignore everything but money. Aren’t those the same metrics used in the innovation funding game?
And Occupy says if corporations are indeed people, as recognized by the courts, then too many of them are psychopaths. Well, how many fat cats just take government money to pad their bottom line and run without a second thought?
While many old-school business people may sympathize with these Occupy issues, they are fearful that speaking out could cast them as socialists or threaten their jobs. Or jeopardize funding for their startups.
Others, though, are not so fearful of speaking truth to power. Their businesses are being built on ecosystems of social networking. They are broadly supported and connected – constantly sharing not only the cold information of transactions but also their feelings about how the world could become a better place. Being in touch with so many kindred spirits, they are not so easily divided and conquered.
So, here’s the thing: Plans for the future of innovation funding in Canada are being made now. These plans call for more or less of the same old same old. No one discussing these plans is connecting the dots to issues raised by Occupy. If you are a socially-networked business person and you sympathize even a little with the Occupy movement, then you have the power and the opportunity right now to influence Canada’s approach to business innovation.
In the 20th century, such shared challenges were traditionally tackled by managers of a single enterprise moving employees and vendors around like chess pieces. The future though will be about networked alliances of companies and individuals nimbly adapting (reconfiguring relationships) to business conditions and opportunities.
If the M2M B2B industry continues to muddle along with business as usual then someone might someday get lucky enough to have an impact that is “in some ways disruptive.” But who can do anything disruptive if everyone is playing the same game with the same tools? Disruption is about changing the game - not just working harder, faster and smarter.
This is a response to Bob Emmerson and his recent post at m2m: Modules: A Constant in a Fast-Changing M2M Environment. The post is a helpful weather report for today’s M2M development environment. Fortunately though, unlike the weather, enterprise mobility is still very young and we do have some hope that we can change the weather. We have a plan for operational innovation in enterprise mobility and Bob's seven points provide an opportunity to position some of our key ideas.