Sunday, July 30, 2006

Conditional or unconditional?

Innovation is a buzzword in today’s business. To create an innovation culture in an organisation, people are urged “to think out of the box”.

What is out of the box? It may be explained as thinking and doing things that are “unconditional”.

What do I mean by “unconditional”?

Let’s use an example. You are driving on a road. An old lady is standing by the roadside wanting to cross. In a normal day, you would possibly slow down, stop and wait for the woman to cross before you pick up your journey again. You do it graciously. You are not expecting her to heart you and say a big thank. You are not expecting her to announce to the whole world how great you are. You are not expecting to gain something tangible.

So why do you stop and give way to the old lady? You just follow your heart. It is UNCONDITIONAL.

Again you are driving on a road. An old lady is standing by the roadside wanting to cross. This time you are in a rush. Although your heart tells you to stop, but you continue to press the accelerator and carry on with the journey.

At a moment of reflection, you think back the incident of why you do not follow your heart. Before kicking yourself, you find good reasons. Because you are rushing to the airport to pick up an important person. Because you do not know her intension, to cross the road or just waiting for a cab. Because you have the right of the road, hence she just has to wait for the right time.

So why you do not stop and give way to the old lady? Because there are thousand and one reasons. It is conditional.

Once it is conditional, we are being framed by the boundaries, the boundaries of a box. Many things we do, many approaches that we have taken are conditional based. Before we start doing it, we think of the payback, the return on investment. What do we stand to gain, win-lose or win-win?

In simple words, we are driven by business sense.

Many innovations do not originated from business thinking. Instead they start off with PASSION. Passion leads on to business and fortune. Great innovators do not use the end fortune as the driving force. But business starts with expected outcomes. In an organisation, there is this paradox.

Are you an innovator? Do you think, sense and act conditional; or unconditional? Let’s follow your heart.