A CIO Insight (www.cioinsight.com) é um portal de divulgação de informações do mundo dos negócios focado em estratégias inovadoras, técnicas de administração e perspectivas tecnológicas. Seu conteúdo é publicado em 45 países e em 17 idiomas.
A recém-criada versão chinesa da CIO Insight me entrevistou sobre o livro “A máquina de inovação” e sobre o potencial da China em investir em inovação.
Abaixo seguem algumas das respostas transcritas em inglês.
Q: Could you introduce GAD Innovation simply?
A: GAD’Innovation is an consultancy focused on products, services and innovation culture. It is an integral part of the GAD’ group of companies, which shares a focus in design, branding, communication, packaging, as well as retail and online environments. With 25 years of experience in the Brazilian and Latin America market and 200 professionals, GAD’ is one of the premier branding, design and innovation consultancies in Brazil. GAD’ maintains a portfolio of approximately 150 active clients, including 3M, Natura, Adobe, Embratel, Gerdau, Grupo Pão de Açucar, Iguatemi Shopping Malls, O Boticário, Petrobras, TAM Airlines, Telefonica, Samsung and Wal-Mart. GAD’ has received numerous national and international awards, including at the New York Festival, London Design Awards, IF Design and a Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival 2009.
Q: Let’s get right to it: What should “innovation” mean to China’s high potential CIO’s?
A: It’s my pleasure to share ideas with CIO Insight China and your audience. I strongly believe Innovation should mean an opportunity to China and to any other country and to anybody. It doesn’t matter if you are an individual or an organization, you are living in a very competitive environment. The pressure to differentiate only increases and we have to find ways to learn how to live in such uncertain time. So, it’s really a question of surviving. Darwin never said that it’s the strongest or the most intelligent that survives. What he said was that who survives is the most prepared to changes, the most adaptable. Industrialism did as much damage to our minds as it’s doing to our planet. Most people were trained to repeat tasks, to follow templates, to find solutions without asking the right questions and to stay in their own field of expertise. And organizations still ask themselves why it’s so difficult to innovate? Before creating innovations, organizations need to create innovators. It involves the individual mind as much as the collective, which is the organization culture.
Q: Your book, The Innovation Machine aims to discuss innovation in a different way, it is easy enough to understand what innovation is, so what innovation is?
A: Although I am involved in many projects for big companies, I am deeply theoretical. So, I have a tendency to look the intellectual side of things. My view of innovation follows this approach. I don’t think its necessary to define innovation. I don’t think definitions are that important. For example, there is no one definition of life that all scientists agree, but medical treatments and life expectancy continue to evolve. I believe its easy to identify innovation, its something that you want to have, that draws your attention, it’s something that leaves others behind. The difficult part is to achieve innovation. And for that you need to explore the unknown. So, my intellectual approach to innovation is that it means to be comfortable with the blank page. Means to be comfortable not knowing, comfortable to question existing approaches and to explore alternative intellectual routes. Unfortunately, not many people and organizations are able of doing that today. The industrial thinking took the power from people and placed it on the processes; now we have to bring it back if we want achieve innovation.
Q: Why you said that the innovation is machine?
A: What I said in my book was that the mind is the innovation machine. So far, innovation only happens in our minds. It’s something that you can’t see from the outside, it doesn’t matter your age, sex, where you come from, or the color of your tie. It involves the ability to make connections among things, the ability to see similarities’ and differences. And how we think affects the way we see things. We have many real problems in the world today and we need to rethink the way we think. The great physicist David Bohm used to say that we would not to solve these problems with the same thinking that originated it. If we really want different results we need to approach problems differently. Richard Feynman, other great physicist, used to say that to deal with difficult problems he used to pretend he was a Martian, so he could think without being blocked by the existing thoughts and rules.
Q: Can you give me an example of a successful CIO today that because of innovation?
A: I love the example of Wikipedia. Many big organizations tried to create an encyclopedia of knowledge but they failed. And this simple platform helped people do it organically. I believe, because of industrial revolution, we understand a lot about planning, control and hierarchy, but we forget about the beauty of the organic, evolutionary and adaptable. There are examples of services for delivering meals in India which achieve high standards of quality, but when you first see it is just chaos. Also, there are soccer teams with technically less capable players that win important championships because of the organic synchrony they manage to achieve. I like this type of examples, innovations that happens by people, organically and with fewer resources.
Q: You said that this book aims to discuss innovation in a different way, it sounds like we need a different mindset to maximize the return on innovation by working with all actors in the value chain?
A: Yes. I believe we need a completly different mindset. We are putting too much investment and power on the systems, processes, and tools. We need wake up and invest in people first. If we do that, we will need less control, less process, less stress and we will have more enjoyment. Good process is less process as possible. Clearly to do that, we will need to learn how to dialogue, to try to understand the perspective of others. Humility is very important to innovation and leaders should take on the job of motivating people and support them when they are exploring alternative hypotheses. Life is uncertain and we should remember that when thinking about the future. If you already know what should be done, if you already know what you are going to get from a process, then it’s not an innovation process.
Q: What would you recommend to motivate our audience, CIO’s interesting in learning how to be more effective, to invest in innovation in these turbulent times in the global economy?
A: This is a very good question. My take on that is – we don’t need to learn anything new to innovate, what we need to do is to unlearn what is blocking us to innovate. We need to think as child again, with curiosity, with excitement for learning and not care what the others will think about us. I believe we are following too many templates and are forgetting to think. So, it’s really about unlearning the terrible things the industrial approach taught us. If we unblock that we will innovate naturally.
Q: How much more challenging is the innovation process today compared to a decade or two ago – given the rapid pace of technology and startups churning out disruptive technologies that can change the rules of the game virtually overnight?
A: That is part of the ecosystem. We are condemned to increasing complexity and sophistication. Technology, connectivity and competition act as the 3 mechanisms of life, that means mutation, crossover and selection. So, the trend is indeed increasing the speed of change, complexity and sophistication. It’s an inescapable trend. We just need to look at ourselves, also as a result of these 3 simple mechanisms.
Q: As we wrap up this very stimulating conversation, I would like to ask you a few questions that relate more narrowly to IT. In your opinion, what are the three keys to driving growth through innovation in IT?
A: I believe the game is about interpretation. Besides this noodle soup, what matters is how we transform information into knowledge; knowledge into advantage; and, advantage into offers. This requires focusing on what is important, on syntheses, on simplicity. Einstein used to say, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand well enough”. So, I believe IT should focus on helping people become free and not a slave of technology.
Q: Have you noticed a growing recognition of the importance of innovation by China’s CIO’s?
A: Yes. I live in Brazil and I see many similarities among China and Brazil for the next few years. And innovation capability will be crucial to both countries.