While many people have a tough enough time dealing with even the least bit of change—which, incidentally, is understandable but inappropriate behavior, especially in these times of turbulence—Luc de Brabandere, former director-general of the Brussels Stock Exchange and a consultant currently with The Boston Consulting Group (clearly, the man has some bona fides) thinks that it is necessary for people, when they make a change, not to make just a change, but to make two changes. He writes in The Forgotten Half of Change: "Not only do we have to change things, but we have to change the way we see things." Once is not enough. The two parts of this are reality, that which is changed, and perception, the way that we assess and interpret the reality. He maintains that "Innovation is the approach whereby a team manages to change reality. Creativity is the way an individual succeeds in changing his or her perception. To innovate is to make something new in the system; whereas to be creative means thinking up a new system." You certainly can have one without the other. But it may not be sufficient.
In addition to his bias for change, de Brabandere has one for speed, as well. He holds forth on what he calls "non finito," which is the art of not finishing things, leaving latitude. He writes, "It is in opposition to the sinister ‘we don't move so long as we don't know where we're going,' where non finito would say ‘let's in any case do what has to be done,' even if it can't be finished." Start. Eventually there will be a finish. Some people have what is sometimes called "analysis paralysis," wherein something isn't started because they are still trying to figure all of the angles. De Brabandere doesn't address that directly, but he has another twist on this: "Sometimes we are given too much information. We should not make the mistake of using all the information we have (even if our education told us to). More isn't more in all cases, he suggests.
While much of this is deliberately startling—sometimes in order to change someone needs to be figuratively smacked in the side of the head with a 2 x 4—he has an exceedingly down-to-earth and salient point: "it is only good ideas that will allow companies to create and maintain a distance from their competitors."
Ideas matter. Fresh ideas. Ideas that are put into action. Without them a company—and the individuals that make up that organization—are stultified. I'd put a clever end on this, but there's something to that non finito.—GSV