YKK Stories

Fundamental Behavior 11 – Innovate

March 12, 2021
Author: YKK
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To innovate is an action directed to create something new. So it has three moments: 1) the awareness moment in which something is telling us, reality is telling us a change must be made, 2) the thinking process moment where ideas are discussed and 3) the moment in which actions are taken to innovate, to do something new. It is very interesting that the Latin roots of the word Innovate comes from “innovare” which means to renew, to improve, and it has the prefix “novus” which mean “new”. So what precedes the innovation process is the creation process, or putting it in another way, innovation is creativity at work. So there is a psychological component (creativity) and a behavioral component (innovation) and usually what triggers innovation is the need to create to survive. As the prefix in the Latin word indicates, it is a renewing creative process. If an organization does not innovate, it is probably close to death. However, this is impossible. Like any organization, the management process is the struggle between what is now and what should, could or must be in the future, and in between there is this psychological process where individuals are challenged by the environment, to respond and ensure that such demands are met. To be petrified by old paradigms and be unable to respond will make sure the organization is going to stay where it is now or even worse, to stay behind the competitive market.

So, the process of innovation is born at the base of the organizational culture; this is exactly what resists the innovation process. Making a paradigm shift is essential when innovating. Confronting the current values of how things are done — this means that innovation and creativity go as deep as the DNA of our culture. So, we are not only innovating processes, or procedures, or technology; the real discussion is about values. In the innovation process we are questioning if our undercurrents of values serve our organizational purposes. Many times we do not innovate not because we do not have that capacity but because it means breaking part of our culture and that means giving up some intrinsic values we work with.

Culture and values also create structures of all types. Administration and management have structures, and human relationships have a structure nested in the company´s culture and values. Those are at a certain level the rules of the game. This is innovation—that which challenges the current values but at the same time has its value in the creation of its objective through such structures. That which hinders the process (the structure) is the very thing that gives it its intrinsic value. Why? There is no innovation where there is no structure to challenge. There is no creativity, so the structure must persist and must have the capacity to have certain flexibility so the process of innovation could be accomplished. There is a belief that without rules and structures an organization is full of innovation and creativity… Sorry, but no. There is no innovation in those backgrounds, only chaos, which is not the same thing. Moreover, innovation transforms chaos into potential, into a possibility; but it has to be confronted with a structure.

Innovation is the way in which organizations adjust their structures to respond to the demands of internal and external environments in order to survive. Innovation is that call that confronts what we need to sacrifice of our values and culture to survive for tomorrow. It is a call to courage also because it asks the individual to challenge the status quo and be decisive, proactive, reliable and accountable for change. Our Core Value talks about not being afraid of failure. Tadao Yoshida was very clear that for the company to continue, grow and expand, employees must be courageous. Innovation is hindered when you are afraid.

Marco Baratta
Human Resources Manager & Compliance Officer