Innovation … ?!

Since my studies at DTU I have been interested in change: what is it; why do we do it and how is it done best?

As I see it, change is increasingly needed to develop our social organization and technology, to meet the challenges that we, partly, have emposed on ourselves.

No matter if it is climate change, fighting powerty, the ageing population or any other major challenge, we are in need of changing our ways to make it better.

But change is not the same as development or innovation. As several authors have spend many pages on, innovation and development has positive connotations: not all change is good for everybody. The challenge is to seek and secure the positive changes for as many as possible.

As a practical guideline, I think of three objectives to consider when moving towards positive change: the problem at hand; the people engaged, and the more general learning to derive from a venture towards innovation.

  • Change usually starts with a problem: an unwanted situation where a powerful coalition decides that it is time for change. A problem has (at least) three dimensions: for whom, about what, and in which context? Typically, the problem-what is given most attention (but not always thorough attention), whereas the “who” and the “context” is thought of as implicit. I think the problem should be considered more holisticly, as there is a tendency of things being connected in intricate ways.
  • The people-part of the problem is not merely a passive part of the problem. They are also an important part of the process – both regarding development and implementation of new solutions.
  • Finally, each change process has implications for the organisational culture and future learnings. What can be brought into the change process from earlier changes and what can be passed on to the next change process?

And, throughout the processes, I have been engaged in focussing on the participants’ competencies to engage in the processes, because participation is more than just having a couple of seminars where the “insightful” pour the new ways of working over the participants.

One way, towards a more active engagement of the people in change processes, is the co-creation method of design thinking. In my mind, design thinking is pointing in the right direction, and I think that as it increasingly is used in various concepts, we should avoid the worst change mishaps.

There is, however, more aspects of change: e.g. the aspect of organisational power and the intersection between power and empowerment is a current interest of mine.