The urgency creates moments of clarity. For example, I can think of clients I’ve spoken to where there has been some kind of regulatory change and they need to bring in a big consultancy firm to fix a problem and that’s kind of an easy decision because you go ‘right, we’ve got to solve it.’
But what would be better, is if it didn’t have to get to that point of urgency to fix a problem together. We can inject that pacy, problem-solving collaboration into everyday work together, to deliver innovation that anticipates the future, rather than just reacting to it. I think that’s where we’re heading with variations on the agile, scrum, lean start-up sprint, test and learn experimental approaches.
If we think about the organisations of the future, I think of them of being much more like ‘federations’ - the future feels much more like people doing more project based roles, and this is already the case - rather than being given a job and it doesn’t change for five years, that job will be evolving.
Rather than company divisions in a nice, neat pyramid, there will be different projects and teams, picking up different opportunities at different times. And that naturally leads to different partners for different projects. That’s why I think we’re seeing more ‘network’ partnerships between the larger consultancies and more specialist firms, because there is a recognition that it doesn’t have to always be about proving you can do everything perfectly within your own team or organisation. It’s about complementary skills and that more flexible model of an organisation.
You see companies coming together within a sector - like large strategic or technology management consultancies working with smaller, boutique agencies and innovation companies. Or you get companies across different sectors blending their skills, experience and capabilities to tackle problems together.
Northumbrian Water does something fantastic with bringing their suppliers and partners together for an innovation festival in a field in Newcastle, for example - tackling their own industry challenges and societal issues by bringing together completely different companies in sprints - and with brilliant festival entertainment, which brings down barriers.
Building on that future of organisations thinking, what do you think it will take to be successful over the next few years in the innovation space?
We live in a data-rich world and I think that lends itself to people wanting to see results they can measure. The experimental approach that companies like Fluxx take means that you set-up clear tests of customer or colleague behaviour which you can measure. Do customers sign-up to show their interest in this new product? Can colleagues deliver a new experience in the way we expected? Gathering real evidence earlier.
And that data richness I can only see increasing. Everyone wanting to know if we’re making progress as a project develops. Not measuring progress as ‘clocking in and clocking out’ as perhaps the old simple model of billable hours.