Do you want your business to exit the crisis? Start recruiting “CROSS-BORDERS”. The future of work is in their hands
Society used to focus on status, power, celebrity, then COVID-19 happened.
We thought we were invincible, in control, and technology was enough to extend our lives. Yet we have been relying on not so advanced objects for over a year – social-distance and faces masks – to avoid knocking someone out or being knocked down.
All got questioned. Many started looking beyond the blissful ignorance conducive to a highly busy and stressed society.
We had already listened to death about the importance of innovating, the theory, its case studies and the sad demise of the likes of Blockbuster (bored just to write about it). Yet the infamous “If you don’t innovate, you die” motto, has taken a whole unfamiliar stance since the pandemic started.
We now know that we have to innovate – not to exit the crisis, but to understand how we need to change to exit.
The pandemic has helped even the most skeptic to appreciate the necessity to innovate. Still, we lack the drive and courage to change and remain narrow-minded about our own life, in a state of passive resignation. Resting on your laurels, staying complacent, while hopelessly believing the circumstances are not right now to seek a shift.
The reluctance of Blockbuster to go digital (bored again) is equivalent to our hesitance to step outside comfort and start doing things differently. It crushes our aliveness and our potential.
Said that what’s the answer to effective innovation and growth strategies? It’s people, of course… yet a different type of people.
They are the ones who operate where algorithms move with difficulty.
Those people are rare
They are the ones who operate where algorithms move with difficulty. In the space of:
Ability to act horizontally
Intersect between contexts, disciplines and cultures.
They are the Cross-Boarders.
The future of work is in their hands.
They need to be digital experts, story-tellers, marketers, understand customers’ journeys, able to design dashboards, analyze data, and have an innate drive to integrate across disciplines and departments.
The commonality between those candidates?
A state of being. The state of being creative
Creativity fosters a forward-looking mindset. It drives the passion to go beyond what it is listed in a job description or not directly relevant to a department.
As being creative means living in a constant state of innovation, those agents of change are resilient and less reluctant to step out of their comfort zone.
Humanity is a creative species, our natural predisposition towards creativity traces back to prehistoric cave drawings and ancient stories. Creative insight (the aha moment) triggers a neural reward signal in our brain. Basically, human brains have evolved to reward creativity.
We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of fostering creativity both as necessary for innovation and also as a form of personal expression and wellbeing.
Let’s take the case of Gunpei Yokoi.
We are in Japan, 1965. Yokoi is a fresh graduate, aspiring engineer, who lands a job in a company which sells playing cards and is close to bankruptcy.
Yokoi loves playing the piano, dancing, singing and making things, in a nutshell, he loves monozukuri.
The company was Nintendo.
The story goes by as there was not much to do in the office, one day Yokoi built an extending arm that reached out and grabbed objects. Hiroshi Yamauchi, President of the company, saw it, and instead of punishing him, asked Yokoi to turn it into a game. The “Ultra Hand” was born, becoming the first success for Nintendo (selling over 1.2Mio pieces) and the first hit outside the cards business.
Yamauchi, President of the company, founded a new R&D department and put Yokoi in charge.
It was a disaster at first.
Yokoi was a self-admitted mediocre engineer…yet he was CREATIVE. He was a Cross-boarder.
They started with games taking advantage of the latest technologies, but they didn’t have the know-how, nor the funds needed to break into the gaming industry. Additionally, Yokoi was a self-admitted mediocre engineer…yet he was CREATIVE. He was a Cross-boarder.
He had the ability to connect existing ideas laterally, driving him to use readily available technology and combining it in novel ways. An approach he named “lateral thinking with withered technology”. You’re better off picking a cheap technology (‘withered’) and using it in a new way (‘lateral’) rather than going for the expected next-step.
He didn’t create the latest technology breakthrough in gaming, their hardware wasn’t cutting-edge.
For instance, the LCD screens used for the devices were cheap and easily available. While competitors were outdoing each other with colour displays and computing power, Nintendo focused on providing great gaming experience with ordinary technology.
Over the next decade, Yokoi produced toy after toy for Nintendo and was him who oversaw the company’s pivot into video games in the late Seventies. He invented the D-Pad, the four-way directional control that can be found on almost all modern game consoles and controllers. And the Game Boy, became the highest sold game console of the 20th century, selling over 118 million units.
It’s easy to confuse the latest technology for progress and innovation. Technology is only a tool. As Nintendo’s case shows us, innovation put the user and experience first. True value creation cannot happen with innovation alone.
Yokoi, was more of a garage tinkerer than a tech geek, the best programmers didn’t necessarily make the best game designers. So let’s not be fooled by impressive CV, LinkedIn profiles or titles alone. The next person you get onboard needs to a Cross-border able to use their super-power to unlock value.