Many people just talk about innovation in corporate level, but I believe that today innovation is also important at individual level. It is not just companies that must innovate ; individuals must also innovate. Why? Here are two reasons:
1. We are now living in globalization 3.0
In his best-seller book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman says that we are now living in globalization 3.0. And what special about this era is we now compete globally even in individual level. This is different from globalization 1.0 where the main participants were countries and globalization 2.0 where the main participants were companies. Of course, countries and companies will still have important role in globalization 3.0, but the fact that individuals can also compete globally is something new and something we must be aware of. And if individuals can compete globally, then it means that individuals – just like companies – must also innovate to success.
Individuals who do not innovate will suffer the same thing as those companies who don’t innovate: they will be left behind in competition and may have to declare bankruptcy later on!
2. We must differentiate ourselves to avoid commoditization
In globalization 3.0, skills and knowledge can be transferred from all over the globe very fast and easily. It means that we face the danger of commoditization on our skill set. In globalization 2.0 we may feel safe because very few people in our environment have the same skill set as we do. Those who have the same skill set are hundreds or thousands miles away. But now in globalization 3.0, the world has become a global village. Why village? Because people can now find each other very easily around the world.
For example, how much time do you need to wait for your mate in IM to respond to your question? A few seconds. Wow! It implies that all people around the world with the same skill set as you are suddenly within reach from each other. No matter how far they are, they are actually only seconds away. It also means that your client can very easily choose them and not you to do your job, especially if they are cheaper than you.
Not really. We can see it in different way: now, instead of only your environment, you have the whole world as your potential clients! What a great opportunity! It’s like a dream comes true. But the ingredient you need to success in this era is differentiation. What’s so special about you that other people don’t have? What makes you different from the others? To answer these question we have no choice but to innovate.