Innovation always means change. Innovators are hungry for change, for improvement, for finding better, smarter ways of doing things. And change always means that things will be different. Where people don't like to see things getting different there is no room for innovation. I assume there is no dispute on that.
Innovators drive change. They don't wait till they are changed. About a decade ago the small book “Who moved my cheese” from Spencer Johnson provided an entertaining and inspiring allegory on the need to embrace change and to actively get involved into working on the future and driving change.
Now, for sure all of us constantly see situations where people, groups or organisations are hesitant to accept change because they fear of loosing something, be it status, influence, market dominance, etc. The consequence is resistance to change – which is, in turn, a barrier to innovation.
It is, therefore, important to create a mentality for innovation. It is up to everyone of us to become more open to change, to constantly look and strive for change rather than waiting for others to start change processes. After all, those who do not drive change, will be changed. In his speech at the European Innovation Summit President Barroso talked about the task of “nurturing the mindset” (p.2). And for sure we need to go ahead with good example and develop the proper mindset ourselves.
The following 5 imperatives are fundamental for a culture of change and we constantly need to investigate ourselves:
Are there changes or modernisations that I consider necessary or desirable?
Are there areas where I am resistant to change and therefore block or try to avoid?
What prevents me from going ahead?
Am I open for the necessary changes and the consequences?
Am I ready to invest time and effort in taking responsibility for driving change?
These imperatives are certainly not inclusive. We can work on them to make them more precise. Suggestions more than welcome. But what is clear, I think: A successful innovation society needs a culture of change, a mindset that accepts and embraces movement, improvement, change – in other words: a mindset that is always ready to innovate.
See also my blog entry on Cornerstones of an Innovation Society (Part I): Openness