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Adaptability & flexibility turns expertise into entrepreneurialism

Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw PHD - Thursday, February 09, 2012
brain cogs

I am currently immersing myself in the topic of how to improve competitiveness and profitability in manufacturing organisations through innovation in preparation for the Enterprise Connect funded WIIN workshops entitled "Innovating to Compete in a Global Economy". Manufacturing systems need to be flexible (FMS) to allow reconfiguration to meet rapidly evolving market demands. This is what smart, successful and innovative manufacturing SMEs are doing to succeed in a very competitive global marketplace despite difficult external factors. Similarly there is another complex system that needs to be flexible, responsive and easily adaptable. I refer to the system inside our heads, the one that 'manufactures' our ideas.

Being highly skilled has always been desirable - and still is - but today it is also important to be adaptable. Being highly skilled implies knowing how to do something very well and being able to do it efficiently and effectively. The down side of that is that people can become so good at operating in a particular skill area that they then can't adapt that knowledge to apply it to different kinds of problems. That kind of system becomes obsolete very quickly. The best way to guard against that is to continually tackle challenges that require creativity rather than just competence to solve. Constantly looking for new ways to synthesise knowledge and skills turns a knowledge expert into a knowledge entrepreneur.

Adaptability is the key to sustainability - whether that applies to a system manufacturing a product or to manufacturing ideas. We need to be knowledge entrepreneurs as well as a business entrepreneurs.

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