Tuesday, August 9, 2011

From ‘Ego’ to ‘Pride’ – The change in Innovation mindset?

‘Ego’ occupies its place inside every individual from early childhood, be it a self respect or a self esteem, or even arrogance. And as enterprises are made of people, enterprises too have their ego. 

Traditionally ‘Ego’ has been one of the driving forces behind companies doing innovation. I say - one of the factors, because there are many other factors which drive innovation, but here I am trying to explore just the ego angle.

This ‘Ego’ is usually two fold, one in terms of being superior to the competition and second being superior to your own self. Both types are healthy!

Over the time, however the cost of keeping this ‘Ego’ has gone up. It’s neither the individual’s fault nor the enterprise’s – ‘Globalization’ is the culprit, and unfortunately you or your enterprise cannot stop this guy!

So should one forget about the ‘Ego’? Some decided just that, some are ok to pay the cost of it, but some of them decided to reinvent it.

Let’s talk about the people and enterprises that are reinventing it, in other words innovating the innovation itself. What I feel they did is – they (e.g. P&G) worked backwards. Backwards from the final goal of wanting to be innovative. Instead of looking down and cut cost they looked up, they replaced the ‘Ego’ with the ‘Pride’. Even in this lot, not everyone worked backwards, others who saw this work, just followed the trend setters.

With ‘Ego’ being out of sight, these enterprises became far more open, they started collaborating with employees, customers, vendors and even someone completely stranger for their innovation needs. The real test though was if they really can get innovation done this way, it turns out that they did!

Obviously now instead of cost of ‘Ego’, they dealt with cost of ‘Pride’.

They soon realized that they no longer need to increase their innovation budget in direct proportionate to the increased innovation expectations.

The cost of pride turned out to be far less than the cost of ego, in turn resolving their initial challenge around cost.

Additionally, ‘Pride’ felt far more positive a feeling than the ‘Ego’.

Unless you are like Steve Jobs, who would rather keep his ego, albeit for the right reasons, and innovate yourself at the cost and speed you can afford, for rest of us, I feel switch from ‘Ego’ centric innovation to ‘Pride’ centric innovation is on its way to become mainstream.