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Changing from a Pyramid World to a Pancake World

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By Connie Harryman, Applied Concepts Creativity
Guest Blogger IIR USA
LIVE Front End of Innovation Europe 2010

Topic: Engaging with the Future Differently

Speaker: Josephine Green: Senior Director Trends and Strategy, Philips Design

Josephine Green worked at Philips for 15 years and looked at the future by studying people, cultures and society. She asks us to consider a change from technology as a driver to technology as an enabler. What if innovation is a circular process instead of a linear model?

The 21st century will be about social innovation. In the 20th century the economy was based upon mass markets, economies of scale, and mass products to drive growth. It was a techno-market era with a top down command and control structure--a pyramid.

People are now enabled by technology to be creators of their own lives and designers of our own lifestyle. The World Wide Web allows people to move from back end to front end of innovation. It is not about consuming anything. It is about living side by side. It is all about customized personalization in an eco system.

The techno-market era is about people, technology, and the environment. We are a transition group and we are moving to a socio-ecological era. We are going from a model of a pyramid to a pancake (circular). At the bottom of the pyramid are women and children. Men are at the top.

The pancake model is quantum soup. Many walk to the center. It is not based on mass anything, it is based upon customized, personalized, context aware solutions. It does not have lines of command and control. The pancake model has systems thinking, it is connected.

We must embrace new stories with new metrics to measure the new economics that goes beyond growth. One idea is ISEW instead of GDP.

GDP) Gross Domestic Product versus (ISEW) Index of Social and economic welfare.
1. New production and consumption, beyond big.
2. New lifestyles, beyond materialism.
3. Move away from concepts of ownership to sharing.
4. New social industries, driven by social need, beyond product.

20th century, has the pyramid model with centralizing innovation, market innovation, R&D and technology, consumer needs/insights, and experts/professionals.

21st Century, will go towards a pancake model with social and sustainable innovation, people, communities/systems, stakeholder needs/insights, partners and value networks.

Josephine Green recommends these websites:

New skills and competencies are needed. We will need to develop the non rational skills such as intuition, sensing, and feelings. We will need to work across disciplines and across functions. We must re-think our organizations and culture.

In the Pyramid World the skills required include: management: planning, budgeting, measuring, evaluation, organizing, structuring, and controlling. In the Pancake World the skills required include: innovation, questioning, challenging, dreaming, imagining, experimenting, learning and enterprising. We must reinvent language.

In the pancake world we are distributing complexity which enables people to think and act with agility in the moment, to create, and to innovate. We need transitional leadership with courage to do the following:

1.) Embrace that the future is social
2.) Maximize innovation and mission
3.) Create the space for longer term investment and returns
4.) Decentralize the organization
5.) Let go

Women and generation Y are already in the pancake world. Distributing complexity means distributing power and this leads to a greater democratizing of the future.

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