KARL MOORE – This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, talking management for The Globe and Mail. Today, I am delighted to speak to Bill Fischer from IMD, a leading business school in Switzerland.
Reinvention – you have been thinking and writing about reinvention, not only at the corporate level but at the individual level. Talk to us a bit about reinvention for the individual.
BILL FISCHER – Just like any organization, we all face huge change in the world around us and increasingly that change challenges the basis of what we know and, to some extent, how we know it.
So I think we are all in the process, for our own security and for our own sustained economic viability, we are all in the process of needing to figure out how do we get to the next “Act 3” or the next new idea, and where is that going to come from? What does it mean for me as an individual?
I don’t think we have had to do that in the past. In the past, many of the people that I worked with succeeded by working harder, but I think working harder is becoming less and less sustainable. Now you need to work with ideas better, and we don’t teach that in schools and we don’t deal with the capability of trying to find new ideas and work with them.
KARL MOORE – On a practical level, what is a manager supposed to do? What advice would you have for them?
BILL FISCHER – I have actually written a book on this called The Idea Hunter, and we talk about four things that people should be thinking about.
One of them is where do they get their ideas from? Are they even aware of where they get their ideas from and if they look at it as a portfolio, is it robust enough to take them into the future?
The second is diversity. So the first is “I”, the second is diversity – “D” – and the issue there is are you speaking to people or are you getting ideas outside of your industry?
The third is “E” – exercise. I live in Lausanne, the World Olympic Committee is there, and we see athletes exercising all the time. Knowledge professionals need to exercise as well. So, what are you doing to get better, newer ideas, and are you doing it better than you were three or four months ago?
And the [fourth] thing is agility; it’s the “A” part in IDEA. I think the thing we gather there is that you need to move to ideas, which means you need to think where are those ideas are richer, and am I in the right spot? If I am not, what am I going to do about it in order to be able to access those ideas?
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