“Right time, right place, right people equals success.
Wrong time, wrong place, wrong people equals most of the real human history.”
― Idries Shah, Reflections
Mapping kairotic moments
Sustainable enterprises and successful projects go through periods of transformational change, some of which may be anticipated and planned, and some of which emerge in response to unexpected events. For example some researchers have observed ‘critical junctures’ in the evolution of Hi-tech startup firms where business models have to change. We suggest that mapping past events like this in the history of a firm or project using RTRP analysis can help us think about the influence of internal and external factors, our current position and possible futures. “Innovation involves ideas that create the future. But the quest for innovation is doomed unless the managers who seek it take time to learn from the past. Getting the balance right between exploiting (getting the highest returns from current activities) and exploring (seeking the new) requires organizational flexibility and a great deal of attention to relationships. It always has, and it always will.” (Rosabeth Moss Kanter (2006) Innovation – the classic traps, Harvard Business Review, November pp 73 – 83)
Can you plan your kairotic moments?
RTRP (Place, Idea,Resources,Time) factor analysis facilitates a comprehensive understanding of critical junctures in the evolution of an innovation and emergent conditions leading to conjunctions that may provide opportunities for innovation.
It is about situation awareness where the ability to reframe streams of raw data into complex aggregate information about the environment, the threats, the behaviour of agents – whether human or not – helps to respond to the scenario of interest.
Clearly, marketplace – idea pairing is important in the deployment of an innovation, and idea – resource pairing is important in its development. But at the same time, getting the timing wrong can compromise value delivery from a good idea. Our approach draws on a combination of game theory – considering the information and actions available to each player at each decision point, and the payoffs for each outcome, and techniques used in systems engineering to get the timing of interaction between complex system elements right.
In our case we are dealing with an innovation system in a business context. The Business Council of Australia (BCA, 2006) suggests: “In broad terms, innovation can be defined as the application of knowledge to create additional value and wealth. There are times when this involves the application of new knowledge. Often, however, effective innovation is achieved by applying existing knowledge in new and different ways.” In RTRP analyse we utilise knowledge about four factors that combine to present opportunities for delivering value, learning from the past and using a back-casting strategy to realise a future vision.