Albert Einstein observed a world caught up in the madness of a World War and said: “The level of thinking that has created our problems will never prove sufficient to solve them.” He understood the value of innovation. And today we hear a lot about innovation, for some it’s a fad, for others a “buzz” word. To Einstein it was essential. I tend to agree. Here’s why.
Progress Not Perfection
The single best reason for promoting innovation is simple: Nothing in the world in perfect. There are important, even essential areas, where we can do better. Personally, we can improve upon our relationships with our family and friends; professionally, we can improve by developing a breakthrough product or service; globally, our lives would improve drastically if we could develop a clean, reliable, renewable energy source. In other words, there is plenty of room for improvement in the universe and it can only result from better thinking.
Improved Thinking is the Key
Those who can elevate their level of thinking will have a tremendous competitive advantage. Let me explain. Access to knowledge is no longer the great differentiator. A home-schooled student in rural Georgia now has access, via the Web, to basically the same information as does the CEO sitting in Chicago. Today the only significant economic differentiator for organizations is how well they can use that exponentially growing bank of information. The true differentiator is how effectively they can sift through it, evaluate it, transform it into new knowledge and maximize it’s value by realizing its economic potential. In the relationship economy what matters most is not what you think, it’s how you think. The ability to think better is the most significant competitive advantage a company can claim. Thinking better is where the real game of life is going to be won.
Easier Said Than Done
Clearly, as the value of innovation becomes impressed upon and embraced by leaders throughout the business world, those who think better will gain the advantage. But cultivating creative intellectual capital is not easy because the value of creative intellectual capital lies in its potential. Creative intellectual capital is difficult to measure, sometimes even difficult to see. And it’s so unpredictable. You can’t effectively control when or how it’s going to produce. This is a very uncomfortable prospect for business leaders who are convinced that reality can be defined by systems and spreadsheets. Cultivating creative intellectual capital may not be easy but it is possible. In fact, it’s essential to our survival.
Now that’s something to think about.