Global convention and world congress call to avoid unnecessary, wasteful and unsustainable change
Can one have too much innovation? According to Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas speaking at a global convention and world congress in Dubai: “Much effort is devoted to improving areas that are not critical success factors or a source of competitive advantage or differentiation. Activities are also improved that may no longer be required. The focus should be on changes that represent value for customers and are a source of competitive advantage.”
Where resources are scarce, the Adaptation chairman and author of Winning Companies; Winning People suggests it is irresponsible to seek to be excellent in areas that are not priorities: “The pursuit of improvement and/or innovation regardless of cost and relevance can be unnecessary, wasteful and unsustainable.”
Coulson-Thomas reminded delegates that: ”It is customers who create value. Companies generate wasted effort, dead ends, scrap and unwanted stock unless what they offer is purchased by customers. They decide whether or not what we do is relevant and represents excellence and innovation.” He warned: “Many changes are motivated by a desire for cost savings. They are for the convenience of a supplier, rather than to benefit a customer. Excellence, improvement and innovation should be relevant and value adding to customers and users.”.
The Adaptation chairman raised the questions of whether governance arrangements excessively favour shareholders and keep customers and other stakeholders at a distance and whether we need new ways of engaging them and securing their allegiance: “The requirements and views of important stakeholders should be taken into account. Key customers and trusted business partners can be consulted on excellence and innovation priorities.”
Coulson-Thomas emphasised: “Organisations face multiple challenges and opportunities and effective responses can require change, reinvention or transformation. Collaboration and co-creation with customers and business partners can enable a collective search for ideas, options and solutions that go beyond the limits of the imagination of a few people and the capabilities of a single organisation. Creativity, innovation, excellence and entrepreneurship should be helped rather than hindered by corporate policies and practices. They should be focused, relevant and sustainable.”
The Adaptation chairman suggested: “In some situations it may be irresponsible and fatal not to change. We need to decide what to cherish and what to alter, and whether continuity, improvement or transformation is required. We should avoid excessive prescription, overly tight guidelines and rigid rules in favour of greater freedom, openness and diversity. We should encourage questioning and challenge. Make sure your board’s strategic direction is still valid. Regularly review your aspirations to ensure they reflect new possibilities and still inspire.”
Coulson-Thomas finds: “Board policies and practices can prevent questioning, creativity and positive change. The rituals of board meetings and ingrained habits of directors insulate them from new options. We should not expect risk averse and unimaginative boards to unleash creativity and ignite innovation. Incurring risk is evidence that you are alive and trying to accomplish something. Contemporary risk management practices can be an obstacle to innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The Professor also pointed out: “We need to balance short-term market, competitive and other pressures with longer-term challenges such as ensuring environmental sustainability and coping with climate change. We are excellent at polluting oceans and creative in our use of materials that do not easily degrade. Greater priority should be given to re-use and circularity – arranging activities so that a waste product from one process becomes a welcome input to another.”
Coulson-Thomas also feels: “We need a broader perspective and a more inclusive approach to excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship to ensure they address the aspirations of a wider range of stakeholders. Standard business excellence and governance models should be replaced by bespoke approaches that are right for a company’s aspirations, situation and stage of development.
More consultation, a social purpose and greater attention to sustainability might help to ensure that excellence and innovation are relevant, appropriate and acceptable. They might also restore public trust in companies, markets and capitalism.”
The Dubai Global Convention 2018 and 28th World Congress on Leadership for Business Excellence and Innovation was organised by India’s Institute of Directors and held at the Hotel St. Regis, Dubai, UAE. Its theme was transformative leadership for fostering creativity, innovation and business excellence.
Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, chairman of Adaptation and author of Winning Companies; Winning People, Developing Directors, Talent Management 2, Transforming Public Services and Transforming Knowledge Management has helped directors in over 40 countries to improve director, board and corporate performance. Details of his most recent books and reports can be found on: http://www.policypublications.com/