Thursday, August 18, 2005

People = learning and growth = innovation = business excellence

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, August 18, 2995

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
People = learning and growth = innovation = business excellence

THE balanced scorecards recognize that the major enablers of an organization are learning and growth even as management guru, Peter Drucker, repeatedly emphasizes that how an organization develops its people will tell how good that company could be. It is your people who bring in ideas, put them together and convert them into products, services, processes, customers and profits.

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence is built upon a set of core values and concepts including managing for innovation. It defines innovation as “making meaningful change to improve an organization’s products, services, processes and operations and to create new value for the organization’s stockholders.

Baldrige asserts that innovation should lead your organization to new dimensions of performance. “Organizations should be led and managed so that innovation becomes part of the learning culture. It should be integrated into daily work and should be supported by your performance improvement system. It builds on the accumulated knowledge of your organizations and its employees. Therefore, the ability to rapidly disseminate and capitalize on this knowledge is critical to driving organizational innovation.”

Innovation used to be the exclusive domain of a few think tank in your organization—the research and development group, or that seemingly elite group of nerds in your company, who poke into every minuscule component of your products and services and find out how they could still be improved.

Today, everybody in the organization is an innovator, a member of the R&D Team, because innovation has become important, albeit life-saving, for all aspects of your business.

There are four kinds of innovation styles according to the author William Miller (The Flash of Brilliance): modifying style (move one step at a time, build on what is already known and proven); visioning style (focus an ideal end result, identify goals and provide direction, inspiration and momentum to get at the vision created); experimenting (test out new ideas and get input from all concerned to ensure that everyone buys into the solution; and exploring (thrive on the unknown and unpredictable, use analogies and metaphors to come up with new ideas, add a sense of adventure to any project and open up the potential for dramatic breakthroughs).

Breakthrough innovations are the ones that render everything around it, or along its path, obsolete. Edison’s system of electric light sent gas-lighting companies into eternal blackout. Personal computers sent typewriter and mainframe industries and related products manufacturers to the museum. Post-It became the central figure in the life of 3M.

The company that does not pay attention to the changing and varied needs of its stakeholders (customers, financiers, employees, suppliers, communities and others) is not paying attention to its business and its future. Without innovation, you’ll have the same products and services and same processes which do not bring in the same or more customers and same or higher profitability. Many good things never last because of innovation. If you do not innovate, your competition will.

CEO Tom McMakin wrote in Fast Company Magazine: How has Great Harvest Bread Co. opened 130 bakeries in 34 states? Freedom, community and ideas. We’re a brand company, but we’re also a university. We’re creating a community of learning. A network of equal participants doing similar things will generate lots of new ideas—and produce a big competitive advantage for the whole company.

CONGRATULATIONS to the teachers of Tatalon Elementary School! They finished their four-day accelerated learning workshop on August 13. Led by the principal Belen Salvador, they invested their precious Saturdays to their own training and development. At the session “Show You Know,” the teachers came up with innovative ways of teaching math, science, English, Filipino, music, edukasyong pantahanan at pangkabuhayan and maka­bayan using the principles and steps in accelerated learning. Bravo! The training program is just the beginning, the Rotary Club of Quezon City North and its volunteer trainers will continue to hold the hands of the teachers for the whole school year and jointly positively affect the kind of delivery of education we have at Tatalon. Your financial contribution is very much welcome. Gawa, hindi ngawa!

(Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. and RC­QCNorth. Her e-mail address is

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