How to Harness Complexity to Produce Radical Innovation
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VUCA — Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity — is used by the U.S. military to describe extremely unpredictable conditions.
Don’t fear VUCA. Harness it to produce radical innovation.
Three conditions of radical innovation:
- Generates 10x improvements
- Redefines industry dynamics
- Creates platforms other innovations can build on
Radical innovation processes are designed for transparency, speed, connection, and generating diverse thoughts.
Let others self-organize – don’t give them detailed instructions but broad boundaries and let them do the rest.
Radical innovation culture:
- Embraces failure as a necessary input.
- Self-organization is a fundamental practice.
- Diversity of thought is the primordial soup that sparks radical innovation.
In today’s VUCA world, where new things are popping up every day, it’s essential to maximize the pool of diverse thoughts so your solutions can address problems in unconventional ways, such as going outside of your industry to strike a complementary partnership.
Diversity is a strategic opportunity, not a compliance issue.
Radical innovation requires confident leaders who delegate and enable decentralized decision-making.
Good decisions need three elements:
The current speed of change in business exceeds the speed with which organizations can send information from the front lines up to the top. Responsibility and authority must be pushed down to where the information is, empowering good decisions at the front lines.
- Maximize diversity of thoughts by tapping into everyone’s voice – let the shy ones speak first.
- Increase transparency by holding regular all-hands meetings.
- Separate feedback from evaluation to make it safe to try and learn.
How might leaders enhance the innovative potential of their organizations?
Dr. Sunnie Giles is President of Quantum Leadership Group. She catalyzes leaders to produce radical innovation and redefine the game as individuals and organizations. Her new book is “The New Science of Radical Innovation: The Six Competencies Leaders Need to Win in a Complex World.”
She is an advisor at the Stanford Business School Institute of Innovation in Developing Economies. She is a TEDx speaker on radical innovation. Her global leadership research for innovation has been published by Harvard Business Review, and she is a regular contributor at Forbes.com.