Innovation as a strategy to embrace uncertainty
Strategic Planning used to be the answer. In blue-chip companies Strategy Departments used to forecast, predict. They commissioned surveys, they had their best brains performing data mining and analysis (sometimes to the point of paralysis as we’ve all experienced occasionally), they would even participate in industry-wide benchmarking exercises to re-assure themselves that competitors were not on a different track.
But uncertainty is increasing exponentially. Market disruption is permanent, leading companies purposefully disrupt and even re-invent themselves to stay ahead of the game. It has become a cliché to say that there has been more change in the last 100 years than in the previous 1000, and even more change in the last 10 years. The crystal ball does not work anymore. We need another response, ones which embraces this uncertainty we have come to realise we cannot fight, just as in the early years of the last millennium, King Cnut showed to his people he was not capable of stopping the tide.
Let’s get in the flow of uncertainty. In new-millennium speak, let’s surf uncertainty, turn it to our advantage by creating ourselves more uncertainty for our competitors – instead of trying to reduce it. And to create such uncertainty, we have to come up with the unforeseen, that is, to innovate.