Definition: When powerful intangibles like vision, innovative thoughts or cutting-edge ideas become accumulated into soft power. The supremacy of soft power is hidden from the balance sheets as only hard assets are tabled. Ignoring soft power issues is not good; they carry, if not equal, far more value over hard assets. The majority of businesses all over the world primarily chase all kind of hard asset issues, and the lack of recognition and three-dimensional modeling of soft power issues is where the secrets lie. Is new product development missing some soft power?
What’s Vision? Simply put, Vision is imagining full-fledged and completed ideas way before they happen. A vision is totally a soft power issue. So, why should it be simply allowed to wander around in the canyons and chasm of the bearer’s mind? Why shouldn’t it appear visible, like a three-dimensional model, calibrated and measured just like any other production issues, where charts and diagrams allow advance level modeling to probe and tweak to achieve supremacy of performance?
On the other hand, the worldwide practice of framing vision mission statements for every wall where common and almost meaningless words are rigidly arranged to make people feel inspired in their cubicles is a primarily futile exercise. The most common phraseology of the expensive mission-vision incubation exercises result in such meaningless sloganeered promises such as “We are committed to top quality and innovation and will provide the best customer service at all times” and ‘’The endurance of struggle of our foresight is embedded with resolve and fortitude.” The real vision is confused with common illusions.
Which one of the following was discussed in the last board meeting? We had a great profitable quarter. (But do they know if they had very heavy losses on their soft power?) We secured all our patents and design but no sale. (Innovations must be directly linked to soft power.) We need more funding to invent more new products. (It’s more important to fund soft power.) We are cutting cost at every corner and still it’s not working. (It will not, as the keys rest with soft power.)
In business terms, what‘s a vision and soft power? Is it a series of new ideas that are stacked up into a kind of hierarchy, or imaginary circumstances that spin and wobble in and around a sphere, or set of procedures stacked up to the top in a box? It’s a combination of all of the above and much more. A systematic modeling does help in formulating its shape and size and functionality.
There are hierarchical issues that form pyramids, spherical challenges, where action and reaction creates perpetual interaction and there are dimensional issue that fit around the idea to provide a proportionally balanced shape and size. When properly charted, all these shapes come to life, for rest of the teams to touch and feel and discover the missing links way before “hard assets are created.”
Successful programs like TQM, Balance Scorecard and Six Sigma dramatically improve quality and performance. They are designed to rightfully calibrate the hard asset issues of production. There is a serious lack of three dimensional modeling for soft issues, like innovative thinking and the dimensions of the core vision itself enveloping all production issues. These image supremacy rules challenge current methods and offer checklists to assess the need of newer, softer and special agenda-centric approaches.
Corporations engaged in innovation and seeking image supremacy must embrace both sides of the equation: Bending pipes to make a perfect chair is a very noble cause of innovation, but equally important are the mind-bending exercises in the boardrooms necessary to create innovative culture throughout the organization. Most organizations use innovation as a last-minute bandage on injuries caused by lack of sales and charge upon competitors under the innovation flag with newer models.
Quick fix innovations lead to quicksand. Ideally, they would be better off doing nothing; take a deep pause, retreat internally, start an evaluation leading to a revolution and strive to become a totally innovative organization driven by the creative depths of their own core vision. This way, they have a better chance to become shockingly powerful.
When was the last time you organized a board meeting just to discuss all the soft assets of the organization?
What are the top five questions every management member knows but dares not ask?
Why is the organization making only “pants” but not “jackets” or vice versa?
Why does the organization have too many or too few brands?
Why is the organization headed in a particular direction, and what will it take to change course?
The Innovation Nomenclature
Increasingly often, corporate nomenclature is used to create the sensation of innovation, “new this” and “new that.” The “inno”-based names primarily created to attract end user attention are already highly diluted. The excessive usage of the term “innovation” often grafted in anticipation of sudden blossom reveals voids and chasms in the core vision, where the fogged illusion of invention clashes with market realities. If you could ever see a crystallized version of a truly innovative corporate vision, its middle core would be embalmed with molten lava to continuously energize innovation. Gravity defying organizations like Apple, Google, BMW, Facebook, Virgin or Tata, for example, make up a minuscule percentage of the successful global businesses and clearly point to the remaining majority for running on somewhat entirely different types of treadmills.
Innovation is the single most important missing component among organized business all over the world. An easy parallel can be drawn to IT, a term that has also lost some of its power and meaning and has become a loose expression that fits any situation. What is IT today? The use of the iPad, Cloud computing, Excel, Internet or driving with GPS? It’s all around us but not everybody is in IT. Depending on the nature, type, style and size of the operation business, nomenclature must address and clarify by whom and where true innovation is being applied. Despite all the PR claims, not every claimant is into true innovation.
In how many different places does the organization promote the word “innovation” and how many times correctly?
How often does the entire organization go through an “innovation audit?”
How rapidly is market share increasing due to all the new innovation talks?
What percentage of the staff is really committed to new innovation and why?
The Innovative Culture
True innovative culture can be created when both the hard asset issues and soft asset issues blend within the organization—such overlays create dramatic results. When a corporate mandate boldly acknowledges both soft and hard issues as two parallel dynamics throughout every aspect of production and encourages company-wide dual-application, the result can be a groundswell at the grassroots level. This proves to be far more productive over traditional practices like framing mission statements and hanging them in each cubicle.
To capture the hidden magic, knowledge from the best innovation consultants, experts, designers and provocateurs can tackle this apparently impossible task. This is where the acid test comes into play; vision is a soft asset issue and so is innovative thinking. Both soft issues must become visible for the top teams. Only upon comfortably conquering both sides of the equation, where hard and soft assets issues are simultaneously overlaid, can optimum performance commence. Hence, the supremacy of innovation becomes demonstrable and such movements can change the rigidness in attitudes especially in a totally hard asset-based mentality.
Vision, on the other hand is far too complicated and difficult to map out when modeling its dimensions and applicability. Vision sometimes acts as an immense magnet, attracting all kinds of fly-by ideas—whether metallic splinters or full-sized objects, these ideas cling and, over time, distort the original shape of the magnet.
Welcome to the world of artificial-innovation-incubation, where ideas are adopted without any logical or creative soft issue base and rigid production creates illusionary progress. Most organizations approach innovation by mixing good and bad ideas with good and bad processes and hope for the best. Basically, without the “do or die” passion of the innovative thinking, the road appears confusing and bumpy. The power of vision must be harnessed, and therefore, soft asset modeling is one way to measure its power.
How often do the hardcore engineers and best creative minds share ideas?
How often do the top leaders talk about core vision and invite challengers?
How often do the innovative ideas, discussion and changes appear effortless and part of culture?
How often does the leadership attempt to chart out vision as a three-dimensional model like any other production challenge?
Surviving in the current age of abundance (as opposed to the past age of scarcity when simple tinkering with the product was considered innovative), requires 360-degree, upside-down turns. Constructing a dynamic, innovation-friendly and manageable environment means the corporate culture must use both its hard and soft assets and create a new, balanced mentality. This double-barreled audit approach allows for successful staging of the following key procedures to ensure dynamic debates, pragmatic solutions and definite improvement toward added “value creation” and “image expansion.”
Crystallization of the vision: If vision is the ultimate source of all inspiration, then this vision, as a soft issue, must be openly accepted as a soft asset issue that together with added layers of hard asset issues creates a three-dimensional model. Such calibrations of hard and soft issues allow all teams to touch and feel the direction and goals of the enterprise.
Ignition of hidden talent: If human talent (and not necessarily the “machine”) is the place where all the good ideas are processed and fertilized, then talented feedback must be boldly accepted and moreover, encouraged in all phases of production, whether we are speaking of tangible goods or services. If implemented correctly, such changes will ensure both competitive advantages and better team performance.
Extreme value creation: If your current offerings are already considered “best in class,” then taking an intellectual hammer and literally smashing them into finite pieces and later hanging them in the middle of the boardroom will germinate the ideas for extreme value creation. Drastic innovation demands drastic measures. The future belongs to the bold.
Extreme image generation: If your current innovations are not getting traction, flip the coin. Image and name identity constitute the glue that binds the elements of success. Even the greatest innovations can, at times, get lost in twisted name identities (confusing customers and dissipating in global cyber media) or get drowned via wrongly positioned commercials (logos and graphics), killing the essence of the product, service or business.
Garden of money trees: If your successful and highly innovative products and services are not creating a garden of money trees, chop them down. The beauty and pleasure of working in a truly high-value generation enterprise is to witness the ripe of the fine fruits of success. Seek out all the wisdom and knowledge, get the best innovation experts and train your entire organization to think of innovation as its core competence. Innovation is not about a sudden change but about change in continuous motion.
Image supremacy of innovation: If your teams are naturally inclined to place soft assets issues before hard asset issues and can boldly face the outcomes, certain supremacy will surface. The finite spectrum will be harnessed, the quality and logic will combine and image will come under global spotlight. Easier said than done, the bearer of the vision must be in full participatory mode right from the start, otherwise the fog creeps in and illusions start showing.
These six stages may vary depending on the style and size of the organization, but they conclusively lay out a winning combination and will make the hidden entrapment come to surface. It’s important to note that all such soft procedures have to deal with the following friendly or hostile realities.
“Last century mentality” mindsets, such as producing better products and services at low prices, must face the new reality of finding superb ideas and highly affordable blueprints to produce the best products at best prices to serve the right customers at right places, generating the best profits.
For innovative thinkers, teams and visionaries—the day for them to target global ideas and aim for the brass ring has arrived. The institutions leading charge of innovation and the governments agencies absorbing global trade shocks can now be armed with the latest technologies and skilled people and play the game in the upper stratosphere. The global gateways of e-commerce are now enabling ideas into global structures.
Create a list of the top 100 soft issue-related questions that you think your organization will be most reluctant to answer. Link all the answers back to all hard asset capabilities. Then, create a company-wide debate and seek consensus; look at the issues from all angles—inside and out.
Next, if you are not already the “innovation thinking” tsar for the organization, circulate a memo today and have the best one appointed before the end of the month.
If your leaders and bearer of the core vision have the right match with the right ideas and your business model does the same with the right teams, you are almost there; otherwise, it make it an urgent mission to organize a three-dimensional structure of all these soft issues and create an open debate to get the best innovation expertise to produce a guiding plan.
Anything less will keep you stuck in mediocrity. The supremacy of innovation is a highly logical and achievable process. Though it tends to slant towards soft asset issues, it cannot be successful without full hard asset support.
About the Author
Naseem Javed is a world-recognized authority on global naming and brand name identities complexities, also ICANN gTLD dot name and domain name expansion and global cyber branding affairs. He is founder of ABC Namebank, a world-class speaker and author of several books. Javed is now leading charge with a worldwide movement on how to become image supremacy master and create image supremacy. His latest book Image Supremacy was released January 2013. For more information, visit www.imagesupremacy.com.
Released: April 10, 2013, 11:43 am
| Updated: April 10, 2013, 12:19 pm