About the never-ending stream of new technology innovations, and the relevance of them. By thinker & doer Jonas Lundin, based in Stockholm.
Today we live in a time of great promise; hardly a day passes without some new technological innovation being unveiled.. According to some observers, we shall almost certainly see in the next few years more scientific and technical advances than in the entire 20th century—whether these will truly be of a groundbreaking nature or merely incremental in character is a subject of lively debate for now and for the future.
The unceasing stream of promising innovations may offer tempting visions of a rewarding future—but no matter how attractive any technological break-through may appear to be it remains extremely important, indeed essential, to closely examine and interpret the inherent limitations and possibilities of each alternative. In itself technology is nothing more than a means to some desired end, as yet incapable on its own of producing useful content or generating ideas, creating brands, strategies or products.
A problem can be faced time and again is that in creative sessions, and at decision time, the perceived limits of a particular technological concept all too soon are allowed to inhibit imaginative thinking—instead of the other way round. Complacency such as this (for that’s what it is) can result in persisting with unrewarding reiterative processes, following the same path to little avail over and over again—something that can go on for months and lead only to inadequate, half-baked solutions or, in some cases, relying upon, hoping for, some inspiration from somewhere else to rescue the situation.
Today there are a great number of fine examples of how to successfully harness technology to productive ends. Once mastered (assuming the possession of a sound business model, strategy and organizational form) it all boils down to the exercise of creativity, a grasp of content, and execution—and when our NPD teams successfully identify and exploit the most fruitful path to follow, the subsequent smooth flow of productive, creative energy, though scarcely noticed in operation, will achieve results.
Yes, easier said than done in today’s fiercely competitive world, where the necessity of being able to quickly adapt and put to use appropriate technology that can keep ahead of competitors and increase market share—is considered a mark of success.
I had a rant on this subject at a talk recently, and afterwards a gentleman came up to me and thanked me for giving him a few points to make in an upcoming board meeting. His CEO had been pursuing the strategy “buy something, then see what we can do with it”. – Perhaps this would have been the right thing to do some decades ago, but today we are confronted with a smorgasbord of technological possibilities for almost all industrial and other activities, much of it of doubtful relevance, a fact that should stress how important it is for companies to be guided by creative insight and the ability to establish an image of themselves as agile, resourceful competitors in their field of activity. This just might be an appealing alternative mode of operation for Kodak-esque management to seek new possibilities and replace the efficiency chart with imaginative vision.
Finally, a litmus-test for reviewing NPD projects:
1. IDEA—is it powerful enough for your goals and purposes? Can your organization bring it off ? Can you carry it through easily?
2. CONTENT—do you find it as captivating as an enjoyable film, television show, or book?
3. RELEVANCE—Does it make sense? Is it of use? Is there a clear connection to field of activity? Will it make a difference, will it contribute to a better world?
4. ARCHITECTURE—is it scalable? Can you duplicate the process? Can you implement it cross-culturally? Intermedially?
5. TECHNOLOGY—old or new, does it serve your purpose?
Jonas Lundin, Stockholm