Thursday, April 24, 2008


"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower" (Steve Jobs).
No doubt, that we all want to be innovators; we want to be leaders. We want the organization we live in to be innovative. By all what is said and written, innovation is a key for business success; moreover, it is exciting to work in an organization that innovates; much more than to work in a conservative organization that never changes.

However, innovation is not as trivial as we would expect. Continuous innovation even may contradict the concept of knowledge re-use. One of the challenges, that few people have dealt with, is how to define when it is right to re-use, and when innovation is preferred.
Innovation is not as trivial as we would expect. Because innovation is not only hiring a good consultant and setting an innovation team, and ending the year, we have a new product or service. Innovation is a way of life. Innovation is something ongoing, part of the routine, not a project with a beginning, some tome and an end. Innovation is one thing we would want employees to have in their blood; not only one exceptional excellent employee, or one group of managers, rather all of them.
Innovation is not as trivial, as it is not only related to products, rather relevant to various organizational layers: Operational innovation; Innovation in processes; Innovation in products or services; strategic innovation; and innovation in management.
Innovation is not as trivial, as it not really can be managed. It relates to culture. Therefore many steps can be proceeded, all in the right direction- but the aim of all is nurturing the continuous innovation and not creating it.

The task of explaining what innovation is, what its components are and how to facilitate it, is complicated and suitable for a book and not for a post. However, I think it is possible to share some of the tools I use, in the organization I manage, in order to nurture and encourage innovation.
There are two types of activities: practical ones, and cognitive one. Both are important and I do not believe one type can be skipped.
Practical activities include:
Working in teams; small teams that enable discussion and strengthen innovation.
Employing different people to work together on the same team/project/type of job. Formal job definition may lead us to the "ultimate". There is no such thing. Several years ago, I found myself employing female managers, one after the other, with two many similar characteristics to those of myself: women, mission oriented, very energetic. Today, the staff is heterogynous. So are all other employees. Heterogynous in their characteristics, heterogynous in their education (for the same job) and heterogynous in the experience they had in life.
I make efforts to assign each employee to more than one project (in parallel), and as much as possible, to different types of projects, and with different contexts. I make efforts to mix people, so that every employee has the chance to work with and see different perspectives of different employees.
I make efforts to enable my employees to be independent; to distribute the power and the decisions. I encourage the managers under me, to act in the same way.
We professionally enrich all workers on a regular basis (twice a month- six hours altogether). The things we teach and share include practical knowledge together with higher-level knowledge, knowing that what is not relevant for the employee today, will help him or her tomorrow. Help on a different project, or even help in understanding and seeing more perspectives to what is done today.
We demand our employees share new knowledge and good ideas, on a monthly basis. When the company was small, we did it as part of our face-to-face meetings. As the company grew, this became very impractical, and we now renewed the new sharing in some other routine formats.

However, beside the practical activities, there is the cognitive perspective.
The cognitive perspective includes:
Us recognizing, as managers, that knowledge and ability do exist, and mainly in the field. The first consequence of such understating is that everyone has to be some part of his or her time in the field, including all managers, top down. The second one, is recognizing (and that is not as simple as one says it) that our employees, even though they are younger, even though they have less experience, still, are those to innovate. Not tomorrow, rather today. Moreover, not only adding new but also contradicting what we successfully did yesterday. Dealing with Knowledge Management so many years, it indeed took me some time to open myself to learn from my employees. The change- was in me.
The employees recognizing that innovation is expected from them, and even as a demand. Innovation is not only a nice value declared as part of the company's mission and strategy, rather practical. Recognizing that innovation is a right, that innovation is an obligation, enable and ease the minds to start innovating.

More than all, personal example is required. Never, never stop renewing and innovating myself. Innovation is an organizational engine for growth, but not less a personal growth engine.
It contributes me, and a lot.


Friday, April 11, 2008


I have a long drive today, as I am giving a lecture somewhere far. Long trip means lot time for thoughts. My thoughts are wondering, thinking about a friend, a customer who has passed a significant surgery. Will she recover? When? The questions stand open, and no one has an answer. The hours go by, and we are all waiting. Tensed.

Yesterday, several people have told me that they are looking for a job, as the organization they have worked in is experiencing a reduction in force. Last week I spoke with another colleague, who spoke about a near re-organization, and again, reduction in force. For two or three months now, everything seems sad there. Even though, in his division there is a lot of work to be accomplished, people are not as in the past. They leave early, speak quietly, and every week a few more people leave, as they found themselves a new place to work. My heart is with the people laid off; my heart is with the people who have to fire.

In the 21st century, it seems as if we became more sophisticated; the advertisements and rating have led us to places we did not dream of. Communication and media consultants of politicians lead strategy and we stare and do not believe. Is everything fake? Where does reality stop?

In this same century, the working relations have changed radically. The information and knowledge era, we are to give more out of ourselves: Not only our time (which seems to be 24 hours of work with the cellular and laptop); not only our brain (even a more precious resource); but also our hearts. People who work technically only, succeed less. Work of the 21st century is composed of partnership. Partnership while working in teams in the organization; partnership while working with suppliers; and partnership, real win-win situations working with customers. Every other alternative will leave us far beyond.
This behavior triggers opening. The way from opening to exposure is short. We enable other people, who we would lock out of our thoughts after 17:00, to continue and stay in our hearts 24 hours a day. When they hurt, we heart; of course, it is much easier, to be happy when they joy.
We turn to be less strong and more vulnerable. But we also turn to be more human-beens. People. Purified.

Steve Jobs spoke this week in the graduation ceremony of the Standford University. Listen to what he said ( He shared three personal stories in which he exposes himself been adopted; himself dropping from university; himself walking once a week seven miles to have a decent meal; his cancer; his being fired from Apple. All these stories are relevant. There purpose is not to make people feel sorry for him or to think he is a hero. They all are part of guides of life he tries to share with the graduating students.

I think we are gifted to live in such an era. With the risk of being vulnerable, comes a big chance; I am not speaking of the chance of greater success. That, also. The bigger chance is personal for each one and one of us as a person. As being a human-been.
We are lucky. Work may on take over our personal life; but work in these conditions helps us being people.

Educate your workers to be people; Let us all be people with whomever we work. Not only with our friends back home.

Let us wish everyone health.


P.S. Day after- to all those who wish to know- my friend is better; the surgery succeeded.