FROM Scarcity TO Abundance

katz_judith.jpgIs there a limit to how many ideas you can have in one day? To dreaming new dreams? How many ideas have you had today? In the last five minutes? Ideas are infinite – leading to innovation, greater creativity and new ways of doing things. The challenge, of course, is how do we create an environment in which people feel safe enough to “think” not just alone but together? How do we create organizational environments that can really capitalize on the intellectual genius of their workforce? That is the challenge for the 21st century; and we are still very much in the infancy of this major revolution. In previous posts we talked about the shift from the Industrial Revolution—an age in which mechanization ruled and people were seen as little more than hands and feet. Organizations are now struggling to make the transition to this new age where a person’s value is measured by their intellectual contributions, of which there are no restrictions or boundaries.

We are transitioning from a model of scarcity—of old mindsets of limitations, production and control to a new mindset of abundance in which competitive advantage comes from individuals’ and teams’ ability to outthink their competitors if given the right supports, systems and processes. We are moving to an age in which our capacity to innovate, and the need for speed of knowledge transfer and application will determine the ability to succeed which means we must trust one another and successfully share ideas and thinking more rapidly. Clearly if there are no limitations to our ability to think then there is no limitation on our ability to be innovative and creative.

The challenge, however, is that while we‘re moving towards a place where our best asset is our intellectual capital, organizations haven’t figured out the many ways to capture and capitalize on it. Mass collaboration and Global Co-Creation enabled by social networking platforms and Web 2.0 technology are a start, but they need to become a way of life inside organizations to make a difference. Most of the performance management and reward systems, promotion systems and structures are not yet designed to embrace and support our ability to think and ideate in organizations. When was the last time you actually had thinking time in your day-to-day work schedule? When was a meeting structured in such a way that people were able to bring their best thinking and not just top-of-mind answers as they hurry through their day?

Ask yourself again, “Is there a limit to what I can think?” If the response is “no,” then in that answer exists the crux of this revolution of ideas and intellectual capital

There are many things that need to change within organizations to make sure it is safe enough for people to share their thinking, and to capture and best leverage this intellectual capital.

Where would you start?