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Why Britain Is (and Always Will Be) the Innovation Capital of the World

June 04, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 93

If you follow discussions between quality professionals you will have noticed Innovation has become a hot topic. In short, that's probably because ISO 9001, the most widely adopted quality management system worldwide, does not mention innovation at all.

First, let's define Innovation: doing things in a new way, using existing or new tools or techniques, which results in major steps forward in micro- or macro-societal benefits, including profits.

Objectively, we know that innovation has been an essential part of the story of global development and prosperity since the industrial revolution, if not even earlier.

So the focus on innovation now, when economies are struggling to re-start their growth engine, seems both obvious and worrying. Can the process of innovation really be bottled? Can it be reduced to a simple diagram like the P-D-C-A (plan-do-check-act) cycle of ISO 9001? I for one do not think it can although there are certainly gains to be made from adopting a system for continual improvement.

British organisations have long been at the forefront of adopting good management practice through alignment with ISO 9001. The British have a cultural attraction to the concept of things running like a "well-oiled machine." However, there is another side to the British character that is essentially incompatible with P-D-C-A thinking but which regularly results in practical breakthrough innovation.

In essence, it is the (annoying) British willingness to cross bridges only when they come to them. This trait is annoying because we are told that procrastination, head-in-the-sand, blinkered management is at the root of most organisational faults. Sad but probably true.

But while I agree this characteristic when expressed that way is hugely frustrating but it also comes with the flip side of "backs to the wall" efforts to dig ourselves out of a hole (yes, I know - how many metaphors can I mix up? But please bear with me).

It is the historic British cultural ability to pull together and deal pragmatically with circumstances as they arise that can lead to real breakthroughs and lead to innovation.

So my solution to the economic crisis is that we should all become a bit more British and try to embody these mutually incompatible characteristics in our daily lives:

1) Make your organisations work like well-oiled machines and

2) Be ready to rethink everything at the drop of a hat.

Who knows, you may come up with something so innovative, it could change the world.

Roderick Hogarth BA(Hons) MBA IRCA ACQI Regional Manager, IMSM Limited ISO Management Systems ConsultantsRodHogarth@imsm.com

Source: EzineArticles
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