Business Issues  



Beyond Innovation: THE WHOLISTIC ADVANTAGE

By Professor K C Chan and Elyn Leevana


INNOVATION IS NEVER NEW. But going beyond innovation is outrageous. However, on second thought this is not without basis. Base on the analogy of the Olympic competition, if the world-class athlete does not supersede the previous Olympic record, than there is no breakthrough in performance. The reason why the athlete manages to break the previous record is because he/she found a better, faster and smarter way to outperform the previous Olympic winner. From an industry perspective, the concept of disruptive innovation is precisely the same. Disruptive innovation as propounded by the world number 1 management pundit, Clayton Christenseen, “is to transform complex and expensive products/services into simple and affordable ones”.

Change the Way We Think

Figure 1 depicts the “House of Wholistic Thinking” to achieve accelerated learning. The elements are:

Lateral Thinking is for effectiveness in analysis, i.e. a technique of problem solving by approaching problems indirectly at diverse angles instead of concentrating on one approach at length. See Figure 2.

Figure 1. House of Wholistic Thinking

Figure 2. Six Thinking Hats

Holistic Thinking is for effectiveness in planning. A model/paradigm is used to integrate all the key elements to achieve synergy in business results. See Figure 3.

Figure 3. Concept Diagram

Systems Thinking is for effectiveness in control. A strategy is only as good as when it is successfully executed with the right people, process, and tools to achieve a closed loop track and manage system. See Figure 4.

Figure 4. S-I-O Model

Critical Thinking is for effectiveness in decision making. Innovation incurs risk. A sound decision requires more than gut feelings. The ability of a manager to integrate, implement and innovate resulting in improvements in being faster (speed), cheaper (cost), better (quality), wiser (flexible and dependable) are the key performance of sound decision. This is the outcome of critical thinking. See Figure 5.

Figure 5. Faster, Better, Cheaper

Accelerated Learning to go beyond Innovation

Learning must be equal or faster than the rate of change in the international business environment impacted by the forces of globalisation and technology. Thus, one of the key to attain sustainable competitiveness is accelerated learning of the human capital. World-class human capital needs the 3Cs to strive and thrive:

Concept: leading-edge ideas, designs, or formulations for products or services that create value for customers.

Competence: ability to translate ideas into applications for customers, to execute to the highest standards

Connection: alliances among businesses to leverage core capabilities create more value for customers or simply open doors and widen horizons

These 3Cs are of prime importance to harness accelerated learning to stay afloat in this turbulent global business tsunami.

The 5 Why’s of Going beyond Innovation

To be sure, we need to answer the 5 why’s of going beyond innovation:

1. Why innovation is vital to a country’s economy?
Concept of innovation is to achieve worldclass sustainable competitive advantage.

2. Why innovation is imperative to an industry’s growth?
Competence of industry’s human capital is the key to survival.

3. Why innovation is essential to the survival to a company?
Connection is vital in doing international and global businesses.

4. Why innovation is important to every government?
Innovation attracts foreign direct investments; investments equal to portfolio of programs and projects creating employment.

5. Why innovation is crucial to global institutions?
Global institutions must have the capability to develop world-class whole brain (wholistic) managers with the trilogy of management, leadership and entrepreneurship for sustainable competitive advantage.

To stay relevant every organisation (people, process and tools) needs to do things cheaper, faster, better and smarter by going beyond world-class, i.e. innovation advantage.

PROFESSOR DR K C CHAN
is a practice professor and stragetic project management and International Business Consultant.