It is really incredible how much time each of us spends everyday in useless or low value activities, instead of concentrating on what your company would need the most: innovation.
To a certain extent we have become too “efficient”. So we do not put enough attention to the thinking process that is at the basis of creativity and innovation.
We are simply too busy to innovate, and what’s worse, we seem to enjoy the busyness over the contemplation necessary for innovation. Like a man who starves to death in a bountiful land because he is too busy to plant, many businesses will wither because they were too busy to innovate.
This is what Jeffrey Phillips writes on his blog. And I believe he is really right. We spend endless hours into meetings for the sole purpose of being present (I will come back on this, but for the moment you can read this great article on how to avoid being dragged in too many meetings), endless call conferences, tons of email whose relevance is all to be demonstrated.
At the end of the day, really, what’s left for innovation is the shower in the morning. But can a company really rely on great ideas that appear like that just by chance?
The answer is obviously no. And some companies have started working on this. From email limitation (for example taken at Atos), to stricter meetings regulations, to work life balance exercises…. All to try to be more effective for once.
Because let’s face it: our key issue is a continuous desire for efficiency. Here there is a great example of how efficient solution to a problem, can actually lead to the wrong identification of the real issue behind a problem.
When we see something that doesn’t look right for the business, we need to label it as a problem. But that’s only to get it on our radar. Then we need to ask some questions to make sure we’re looking at a “real” problem and not a symptom. We can start by asking the classic Who? What? Where? And When?
But how many people do this? In reality we identify problems simply by looking at the (most efficient) solution.
Einstein famously said that if given an hour to solve a problem, he’d spend 55 minutes defining it and 5 minutes on the solution. That’s exactly the opposite of what we would do today: focus on the solution, and try to get some time for our next call.
But is this really correct? Can we really tell to our stakeholders, sorry, I didn’t have time for innovation?