In an opinion piece for Management Issues ("The Cosmic Egg of Change"), Max McKeown points out that organizations often approach innovation as if they were dealing with a blank slate. However, innovation doesn't just happen -- all "change" must come from somewhere:
"Take a quick look and you will find that change management models, frameworks, four steps, seven steps, and so on, don't tend to worry about what happened before. They start as though everything just "was"...
And yet all the evidence is that change is inextricably linked to the past. Change is not overcoming inertia as much as it is redirecting, guiding, tweaking what already is and what has already happened. We must believe that we can make choices and that those choices can alter the future. However, our choices are limited by the past, the present, and the actions of others and the future is bigger than our individual choices. We are finite. It is infinite. We are bounded. It is limitless."
This idea has profound implications, of course, for any company attempting to transform itself through innovation, whether it is Dell, Ford Motor Company or Pfizer. Instead of trying to become something that they are not, maybe they should focus on leveraging existing strengths:
In other words, change is the (occasionally) skilful redirecting, renewing, and reconnecting of stuff (like time, money, things, jokes, knowledge, hopes, passion, and dreams) into something better for us, for someone, even for everyone. Something Mr, Mrs, & Ms CEO could take to heart. So while you can't fight fate, you can play with it."
Or, as David Bowie so eloquently sang, "Time may change me, but I can't trace time."
[video: David Bowie, "Changes"]