The recent wave of political decision relating to visa and immigration got me thinking about how we distinguish authority from power.
As the elected officials of the countries by which we reside the political figures have the ability to impress these decision upon us. It is however fundamentally important that we as individuals start to differentiate the legal authority and ramifications of these decisions and the actual real power they have over our ability to move forward.
One of the big conversations that have come out of these recent decisions around immigration has been how the restriction of employment of foreign talent is seen as a restriction on innovation. Maybe on a surface level this holds some truth however it strikes me that perhaps the government backwards step on immigration has really done us all a favour. Allow me to explain.
Over the past twenty years during the rise and rise of technological advancement, it’s difficult to cover the depth of change that has occurred within every aspect of the commercial landscape. A rate of dramatic change that shows no real signs of slowing any time soon. One of the biggest casualties of rapid change can be our ability to change our mindset and approach to match it. If you really look at the way we approach innovation within companies, how much has the way we acquire talent and pursue innovation really changed to match the environment it’s trading within?
Historically the model has been that the key innovative skill in any organisation was derived from its core internal team. That specialty, solutions and technicality was really something you held within the company. When looking at this model it is easy to understand why large established or even new organisations following this model might feel a little concerned when their access to directly employ core skill is largely restricted.
If the current path is no longer viable, is it time for the company to try something new?
When approaching how we solve core problems and innovate does the organisational model need to be reengineered?
The new book by Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson’s called ‘Machine, Platform & Crowd’ goes on a deep dive into the current and potentially new way of to approach the place of the company in society. They break it down in a great way, proposing that companies have three core aspects of function. In the past it has been focused on “Mind, Product and Core” verses a new system of “Machine, Platform & Crowd”. At the heart of this topic the real questions that companies are contending with is how do they balance and operate in an environment when “Machine v’s Mind”, “Platform v’s Product” and “Crowd v’s Core.” are being asked of everything they do?
This way of thinking raises a number of key questions around how you approach, acquire and use talent and innovation within an organisation. It’s a back to the basics conversation to consider what the core role of the company actually is in a future where Machine, Platform and Crowd hold so much power and potential. Is it the company’s role to be able to solve all the problems internally or has its role shifted to be able to take an externally created innovation or solution to an internal problem and turn that into a deliverable product or service. Historically it has been a game of both or nothing, but with the advance of technology within the crowd sourcing environment have the rules of the game now changed?
The discussion around this topic can get heated when it starts taking a road of one or the other, so for example, is machine a full replacement of mind. However that narrative is missing the critical point of this evolution. The real space that the company requires the focus is how to augment the two for its greater benefit and the benefit of those it strives to serve and going back to the simple questions is where it starts.
What is the best way to use machine technology and platforms to assist and expedite growth when these tools are coupled with the smart and agile minds of the organisation?
Under the operational model the company needs to let go of being the problem solver and become specialists in how to clearly define the problem needing to be solved. They need to become havens for defining what they really need to innovate to achieve their desired product or service and in turn how to clearly articulate this to the crowd.
The company needs to let go of being the problem solver and becoming specialists in how to clearly define the problem needing to be solved.
The crowd then becomes the innovators and the problem solvers.
Once the solution or innovation is sourced, the company must be prepared and setup to bring that innovation back into the organisational fold, to tweak and personalise the functionality to fit within the real service offering required.
It means the companies core focus is predominantly where it always should be; focused on what the client, market segment or industry its serving really wants and needs. More so focused how they can best deliver that in a timely manner.
It means that the success game will shift from being company’s that lead because they have the best talent, to company’s leading because they ask the best questions and can clearly define the specific needs of their target client. In the crowdsourcing of talent, everyone has an equal platform, the difference in outcome relies purely on the parameters given to be solved.
One of the most exciting (and interesting) aspects of this is that in so many instances the best solution does not actually come from the typical skill set or person an organisation would have hired for the purpose. This has been shown in countless examples to date, and will no doubt continue to trend in this direction. When single mums in London can deliver a coding improvement over all the qualified engineers and a student in India can invent major environmental advancements the social impact of organisations outsourcing innovation far outreaches pure commercial gain.
Now that governments all around the globe are taking restrictive steps with visa’s of skills workers, it is time for organisations to step up and recognise that governments might have authority to make these decisions, but as founders, leaders and individuals we have the real power to decide how and where innovation comes from and how much of it we want to have flowing through our workforce.
You can find yourself a copy of ‘Machine, Platform & Crowd’ on Amazon by clicking here