Chenille Papillon (1) (1)

It is not a matter for the caterpillar to become bigger and bigger. What matters is to become a butterfly!

Creation, innovation, disruption…

One of the main problem humans encounter in everyday life is the meaning they give to words.
Is it shared? Is it hazy? Is it diverted?

The lack of “common” sense costs millions of Euros, Dollars, Yens, Yuans a year to countries and communities. Without mentioning frustrations, antagonisms, psychological disorders, burn outs and brown outs that result from these misunderstandings: briefings which are not understood! Users manuals which are not clear! Visions, missions, strategies which are hazy and thus ill-applied!

The same is true here! Do we agree on the meaning of Creation? Of Innovation? Of Disruption? And what about Innovation?
There might be a need to “reinvent” the meaning of those words.

Our learned colleagues W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, of Blue Ocean Strategy-fame, have written a most interesting article in the Spring edition of the MIT Sloan Management Review entitled: “Nondisruptive creation: rethinking Innovation and Growth”.

In this article, they present some important findings they made:

1. Many people view Disruption as a synonym for Innovation
2. Disruption is not the only way to innovate
3. Non-disruptive creation offers a new way of thinking about what is possible

By disruption, the authors mean “something that occurs when an innovation creates a new market and Business model that causes established players to fail”.

There are many examples to confirm their definition: Swatch and the Swiss watch-making industry, Uber and urban transportation, Air B&B and the Hotel Industry etc. In these cases, a certain type of Innovation creates disruptions and indeed difficulties for the incumbents.

We therefore found interesting the new concept they introduce. Non-disruptive creation is a capacity for companies and organization to create new markets where none existed before.
As an example, they cite Cunard line, which 40 years ago, pivoted from transatlantic transportation of passengers to the business of luxury vacationing at sea. By shifting from simple transport to a vacation experience, they opened up the entire cruise tourism industry.

Moving beyond linear Thinking to rethink the paradigm in which we want to innovate

Non-disruptive creation is indeed a non-chaotic, non-destructive approach to generate new revenue flows and it finds applications in many instances.

It is indeed “creation”, the action or process of bringing something into existence (which therefore did not exist before).

It is also “creative”. Our definition of Creativity being the capacity to generate optimal value within well-identified constraints.

What we want to emphasize is that this type of Innovation might not be enough today!
In our view, non-disruptive creation is essentially linked with the “Present Curve”, in other words, with a “logical development” of adjacent products, services and markets”.

In this sense, non-disruptive creation is the result of a certain type of “creative thinking”.
You can feel that “linear” and “logical” thinking can almost lead you there.

Nothing wrong with that, if you do it consciously. And if you do more than that.

Because in an era of disruption, playing it safe isn’t actually that safe.
Remember the man who manufactured the best stagecoaches in the world? He died in total quality because, one day, the world stopped needing stagecoaches!
Excelling is not Innovating. Renovating isn’t either!

Every company needs more than just logical improvements to be Future-relevant.

If practically, your main challenge is to actively shape the Future of your organization in this “game-changing” world, you may feel that “linear” and “safe” Thinking are no longer enough.

Companies must reinvent themselves much more frequently than before. Or accept to die faster.
They need Imagination and Creativity…not only to see new possibilities and to create new products and services in the current paradigm. But to re-think the paradigm itself!

A moment in Time: decoding what is happening and the choices we have

“Every few hundred years in Western History there occurs a sharp transformation.
Within a few short decades, Society rearranges itself: its worldview (paradigm), its basic values, its social and political structures, its Arts, its key Institutions. Fifty years later there is a new world.”
Peter DRUCKER: “Post Capitalist Society”. Butterworth Heinemann (1993/2001)

We believe it is fundamental for all of us to recognize that what is happening is indeed a profound and irreversible Sharp Transformation at all levels.
A crucial consequence is that NO known remedy will ever bring back the status quo.

The problem
We can no longer reorganise the furniture in the same room. We need to reinvent the room. And in more and more instances, the building itself.

Even if there is a necessity to manage the Present with short-term and “correcting” measures, traditional approaches such as Reacting, Restructuring or Reengineering are NOT creating the Future in this turbulent context. They are merely “correcting” the Present. That is exactly what we mean by reorganizing the furniture in the same room.

These ways of IMPROVING operational Excellence are certainly crucial but don’t stand the test of Time. Because they consist in applying the same rules better and better in a game-changing world. But you cannot create your Future by holding on to what makes your success today – even less on what generates today’s difficulties.

The unprecedented scope of changes that organisations face requires more than “correcting” measures.
They call for a deep TRANSFORMATION – even a REINVENTION – of approaches.

We don’t need more “stuff” or “things” to consume. We need to transform our lives.
We need true “solutions” to the key issues of our time.

This is a call for deep and transformative Innovation: the kind of innovation which supports the fabric of life and creates Sustainable Value.

The real question for people and organizations is NOT about being just interested in becoming “more” creative or innovative. It is about contributing to transform our lives.

In the current historical moment of disruption we live, each of us has a choice to make: preserving the old or Shaping the new.

We believe it is impossible to operate with both intentions at the same time.
One pushes us to operate from the Past. The other really starts with our desire and help us operate from the Future.

In other word, we have the choice to

  • either regress, i.e. fight against the decline of the “old” ways with the “illusion” that it will bring back a more “secure” world, or remain locked in the repetition of the “S.O.S.” (Same Old Solutions): Restructuration, Cost reduction or Re-engineering.
  • or progress, i.e. fully engage in regenerating our approaches, helping the Future to emerge and participate in the creation of life sustaining solutions in a new kind of world. This implies to INNOVATE and REINVENT Businesses in more fundamental ways.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly” (Richard Bach)

A deep transformation is needed. Business can be a leverage to solve the true issues of our time and DO GOOD for our lives and the world rather than fight to be the best” in the world”.

Some might decide to fully commit to helping the butterfly to emerge. They know it will imply a planned “obsolescence” or a “destruction” of the “caterpillar”. Some might decide to grow the “caterpillar” bigger and bigger or fight against the inevitable decline of the old ways, with the illusion that we will be “back” to a secure and known situation.

Whatever the decision, we must be aware that, through our attitudes, choices and actions, we have the collective power to shape our Future, individually and collectively.

This transformation can be powered by all of us, tapping on our Imagination, our Intelligence, our Courage and our Hopes.

We can see the great disruption we are going through as a moment in time that unveils all the uncertainties but, above all, opens a lot of possibilities, opportunities, inhibited forces and potentials.

“Prototypes” of the Future are already visible. A new type of purposeful and soulful organisations already exists and authentically commit themselves to creating a new type of wealth through innovation: Life sustaining solutions which truly make a difference in people’s lives and world issues.

Despite the complexity, confusion and uncertainty, the task of Business leaders is to overcome paralysis and to actively shape the Future. By working to enable shared understanding, powerful search for innovative possibilities and commitment, they can help a new economic paradigm to emerge, shape our organizations and our world for the better. A world that we don’t totally apprehend yet.

The challenge: creating the “Revolution in our Minds” for True Innovation

As Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved by using the same Thinking that created it.”

True Innovation is empowered by the profound transformation of Mindsets, of Thinking and of Perceptions.
Imagination and Creativity are needed not only to discover new possibilities and create new products and services in the current paradigm, but to rethink the paradigm within which we want to innovate.

What is really needed is a Revolution in Minds!

It all starts with a way of looking at things.
“The Eye can only see what the Brain is ready to understand” , said the french philosopher Henri Bergson. 

As we know, a crisis of perception – the inability to see an emerging novel reality by being locked inside obsolete assumptions or business paradigm – often causes strategic failure.

The key is to fuel Strategic Thinking with “Creative Thinking”.
But the true secret is that Creative Thinking is not about “throwing ideas in the air”.

In its essence, Creative Thinking is about the Art of Reperception. Changing the “way we look at things and see”. In other words, changing the “reality between our ears” which is the basis of our decisions and actions.

We can’t create the Future starting from obsolete maps, In other words, from imaginary worlds which lack Imagination.

What all of us need, and mostly Leaders, is to “rewire our brains”, to SEE and THINK differently, so that we can CREATE new realities rather than stick to what we know and to S.O.S (Same Old Solutions)
We need to challenge and reframe our mental maps, so we can see the world with fresh eyes, explore the unknown with Imagination, Creatively open new paths to the Future and navigate Uncertainty with pleasure.
In Business terms, this is called Strategic Innovation: change the story people tell themselves and invent meaning-making stories of the Future for our lives, our organizations and our world.

Based on these new and more pertinent ways of “seeing”, strategic teams can accomplish the 4 fundamental Movements of any strategic approach to Creation and Innovation
1) Seeing and understanding the world with new lenses
2) Sensing emerging potentialities, needs and new creation and Innovation opportunities which are truly connected with the issues of our time
3) Seizing them in pertinent, original and creative ways to create meaningful Value and develop a Vision for the Future
4) Acting in new ways to embody your Vision and Shaping the Future

Some useful principles of the Art of Reperception

1) Reframe your Mental maps to change the landscape: challenging your perceptions, assumptions and getting out of your “Mental Highways” is a prerequisite if you want to actively Shape the Future of your organizations in a meaningful way. New perceptions and regenerated Mental Maps are needed to conquer new territories

2) “Hold the space” for people’s deep aspirations – including yours -, connected with real issues. It is the Leaders job to reframe their own mental maps so they can completely change their story of “what is possible”. Instead of focusing on what they might lose or risk, they need to create the desire to move forward in a purposeful way. This helps them to “hold a space” for others to grow, to be inspired and live their aspirations

3) Tango with reality: look at the world around you, see and sense what is needed not because it will create a market with “consumers” but because it is a true “demand”, something that demands to be created and is truly meaningful to people

4) Rethink the paradigm in which you want to create and/or innovate and the impact you want to make. As Business Leaders, you have to question your “orientation to Value creation”: it is vital to be clear on the “contribution” you want to make to the issues of our time. Innovation is not good “per se” if it contributes to “produce” things in the old paradigm. You need a clear “purpose”. You need to be able to refocus your whole organization from generating income to creating meaningful outcomes.

5) Reinvent your strategies and the ways you build them in an unstable world. Strategies that are based on linear Thinking are often “commoditized” and lead to “incremental” approaches. The key is to fuel Strategic Thinking with “purposeful creative Thinking” in order to open up new meaningful paths towards the Future and make better decisions for Humanity.

Let’s become Butterflies!

Leave a comment