"Innovation can be defined as the task of endowing human and material resources with new and greater wealth-producing capacity."
". . . every managerial unit of a business should have responsibility for innovation and definite innovation goals. It should be responsible for contributing to innovation in the company's product or service; in addition, it should strive consciously to advance the art in the particular area in which it is engaged"
"Managers must convert society's needs into opportunities for profitable business."
" Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, 1973, page 67
Reviewing Drucker's work, I am struck by the continuing relevance of his comments, more than 10 years before he published Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
One thing that stands out about Drucker is the second word in the book's subtitle: Responsibilities. Drucker speaks about the need to balance focus between the individual and the whole.
How would you go about your day if you saw it as your responsibility not only to serve your boss, your customers and your coworkers, but to advance the art of your profession? While the organization must commit to innovation, no leader can wait for the rest of the organization to begin to innovate.
Later in this same chapter, Drucker discusses one of the buzzwords of his day - productivity. He acknowledges how little is known about productivity while affirming stating that "Productivity means that balance between all factors of production that will give the greatest output for the smallest work." You need people's talents (social innovation) plus their inventions to improve productivity, just as you need the entire organization to innovate on behalf of the customer.
Responsibility includes looking at today's problems and finding growth opportunities in solving them. Drucker suggests that solving today's challenges of education, health care and the environment are no different than nineteenth-century challenges of transportation, communication and basic pharmaceuticals.
"The new needs similarly demand the innovating business."
While the buzzwords may change, Drucker's point of view continues to ring true.
What do you think:
- What organizations do you know of whose innovations began as departmental or functional problem-solving and evolved into organization-wide Blue Ocean opportunities?
- How do leaders balance the interests of shareholders, customers and employees while addressing society's needs?
- What can non-profits learn from Druckers' viewpoint on innovation and responsibility?