Innovation as a Discipline

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Innovation as a Discipline

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Cr: Jay Rao and Fran Chuan, 2013, The Discipline & Culture of Innovation, Profit Editorial.

“Innovation is a discipline and to address a discipline, organizational culture must be built.”

Innovation is not a buzz word. It’s here to stay. Innovation is a discipline, just like finance, marketing, management, strategy, economics, or IT. Innovation can be taught, trained, learned, and mastered. Embracing innovation as a discipline, organization must have the right culture to cultivate the values from the discipline.

In order to embrace innovation as a discipline into an organization, let’s look at how other disciplines are being adopted.

Discipline starts from desire, choice, and commitment

Desire to excel in a discipline comes from the drives of leaders. Desire of leaders comes with commitment for staffs to compel. The desire will then lead to the development of capabilities to excel in the discipline. Excellent in a discipline is a choice. A firm can choose to excel in a discipline. But not all firm has the same quality in the same discipline. Some firm choose to excel in marketing. Some in finance. To excel in an innovation discipline is a choice management has to choose.

Excellent in innovation need guidance from a pool of experts

People in a firm excel in different areas. Innovation is the capability that combines multiple kinds of expertise. To excel in innovation discipline, multiple kinds of expertise must be combined.

Broad understanding of principles and methods

Innovation discipline requires its own principles, frameworks, concepts, methods, tools, and language. These must be developed.

Mastering innovation discipline requires time and effort

It takes years to shift from knowledge → practice → discipline. To build up innovation discipline, proper training and effort of practicing. There is no shortcut or magic bullet.

Mastering innovation discipline requires the build of the right culture

Management cannot foster innovation, but only create the climate of being creative to bring about innovation. The heart of innovation is the corporate culture.

Innovation discipline is the discipline of social science, like marketing, art, management, leadership, or psychology. While accounting, finance, and IT are formal science. The formal science obeys the rules of nature, while the social science obeys no rules or laws. It has general principles, frameworks, tools, concepts, etc. Thus, approaching the development of innovation discipline as if it was like other formal science disciplines is wrong. It will only lead to poor result and frustration. The building of innovation discipline requires formal training and the creation of corporate innovation culture.

The metacognition of learning follows the path of:

Unconscious Incompetence

Conscious Incompetence

Conscious Competence

Unconscious Competence.

Going through this metacognitive cycle requires knowledgeto go from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence, it requires purposeful practiceto go from Conscious Incompetence to Conscious Competence, and it requires Perseverance to go from Conscious Competence to Unconscious Competence. These capabilities also can be known as Knowing/Doing/Being capabilities. Building innovation discipline involves the building of these capabilities too.