Lake Mead is near an environmental tipping point. Photo: Adobe Stock Images. Think of a “tipping point” as a moment in time when either human actions or natural phenomena occur in such a way as to cause a situation to be decided for us. A point of no return.
This could be when a business opportunity closes, or a new opportunity emerges. They often occur in technology. Or it could be a permanent change in climate that dries up a water supply. It could even be an act of war. Look at Russia’s act of invading Ukraine and its global consequences.
In product development, tipping points are often sought out by taking a leap across a chasm of buyer trepidation and acceptance.
Our colleague Dana Paxson is an inventor, author, teacher, and professional innovator. Listen to his short podcast on the nature of tipping points.
Dana is also a science fiction writer and as you can hear, he makes tipping points sound ominous, even dystopian. When they bring cataclysmic climate change, they are.
We can be vigilant for negative tipping points, by monitoring signs and actions and try to avert them. But some tipping points can be good. For example, a business prospect encounters a new dynamic in their market that makes them suddenly need your product. Another positive tipping point is what ICS works with: innovation.
An innovative process or product can be a game changer. An occurrence after which everything is different. Something that works better than previous methods create new opportunities where there were none before.
An intentional tipping point that we can control
Innovation is a tipping point for business survival. But it often gets stalled. Primarily due to two factors, fear of change and/or lack of an innovation organization.
All tipping points bring change, and it is human nature to avoid change, more so for some people, less so for others. But fear of change is the primary inhibitor of innovation.
But there’s hope.
In any human organization, it’s possible to find the people who like to think out of the box. Those who are intrigued by uncertainty for the opportunity it represents. Those who eschew conventions and sameness. Tipping points excite these humans. And the less risk-oriented team members play a role too. While they avoid change, they tend to be the people who carefully make sure things get done properly. You need them to facilitate the innovation in a marketable and profitable way.
Innovation is a process that takes a team. Without the less revolutionary team members, the outside-the-boxers might get too wild and never achieve sustainably innovation. Without the cautious, more evolutionary types, the spark of innovation might never start.
That’s the essence of the Innovation Strength Preference Indicator (ISPI) assessment. To find where people are on the spectrums of conventionality, pioneering, evolutionary improvement or conservative analysis so you can form a team with the optimum balance for successful controlled tipping points of innovation. Far-sighted organizations constantly scan the horizon for indications of possible tipping points and prepare and contingencies for negative consequences. Innovative companies do the same, but also create their own tipping points that work in their favor.