Innovation — 2, The Importance of Change by KS Raghavan SignUp
Innovation — 2, The Importance of Change
Dr. KS Raghavan Bookmark and Share

As noted, innovations and transformations go together hand in hand. Innovation essentially is change for better. Change is everything and is, in fact, the most permanent thing in life. All progress is triggered by change. But people are habitually averse to change. The aversion is often so deep that it has been identified as one of the hurdles in the path of innovation. Charles Kettering, who led the Research and Development Division of General Motors for a long time, has this to say.

The world hates change. But it is the only thing that has brought progress.

John Wooden is a well-known name in Basketball. He was very good player and later became one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game. He is known to have continuously brought in changes in the way the game is played. He has gone on record saying

Failure will not necessarily be fatal. But failure to change can be.

We live in a highly competitive world. In order to flourish, or for that matter even to remain floating, organizations need to innovate. Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric for over twenty years. During that time he brought in innovative management techniques and took GE to great heights. In those twenty years the company’s market value soared from $20 billion to over $400 billion. TIME magazine named him as the Manager of the Century. He was fully appreciative of the primacy of change in organizational growth. He has this to say

When the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside,
be warned that the end is near

Similar feelings have been expressed by Peter Drucker. Drucker has been recognized as the father of modern management. He was the first person to usher in the principles of management in the non-corporate establishments like universities and hospitals. With regard to innovation he is of the view that it is important to be a leader in bringing about the change. His words are quoted below

Without change there is no innovation, no creativity and no incentive for improvement.
Those who initiate change will have better opportunity
to manage the change that is inevitable.

Note that according to him change is inevitable.

Sometimes change will be thrust on us by changing environment and boundary conditions. In order to survive it is essential to bring in changes by adapting. In this context the saying of Charles Darwin, the originator of Theory of Evolution, is relevant.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one which is most adaptable to change.

This is one hundred per cent true for organizations. In corporate history there are umpteen number of cases of organizations disappearing into the oblivion because of failure to bring in timely changes when situation demanded. The most classic case is that of Kodak. Kodak was the leader in photography in the days of roll film technology. As we know that technology has been swept away by the prevailing digital photography. Kodak failed to adapt itself to the quantum change and has consequently become a non-entity today.

We are talking of organizations. Organizations are nothing but collection of individuals. It is the people who have to drive change and bring in innovation. So it is implied that the people who lead have to change their attitude and mindset. An open healthy attitude towards change will lead to organizational progress. Robin Sharma (famous for the book “The Monk who Sold his Ferrari”) is one of my favourite current-day management counsellors. I quote below his Innovation Mantra

There is no safety in being the same person today that you were yesterday.
That is just an illusion that ends up breaking your heart.

Robin’s message is that one should consciously make effort to change attitude, thinking and outlook.

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