As the Obama Administration makes strides to rebuild the broken and fragile infrastructure of our nation and the world, business works simultaneously, with renewed determination, to leverage innovation at all levels and catalyze change that can, and hopefully will, help to ensure a better tomorrow.
Innovation - until recently, an over-used term whose meaning had deteriorated - is reborn with new-found purpose, intent and distinction. Rebuilding the world, and our nation, elicits this meaningful and palpable shift, turning the once pedestrian word and corporate practice into a meaningful demonstration, transforming formerly idle rhetoric into tangible and defined action.
Disruptive innovation - designed not just to delight, but rather firmly to satisfy the need for change - impacts the landscape as companies replace long-standing frivolous approaches to development with fierce hunger for creativity and true value.
Beyond disruptive innovation even, companies have success with re-inventive innovation, which brings in the best of the past instead of marginalizing it. Re-inventive innovation emerges as a guiding principle for brands as they strive to do more with less in today's fiscally conscientious environment. Austerity chic prevails and permeates society.
Businesses continue to value people as their top assets, over stagnant technology. Creativity is rewarded. Entrepreneurialism and thought-provoking intellect with long-term promise are valued far more than generally accepted thinking linked to immediacy.
Leadership that is real and tangible becomes more important than the brand names that used to inspire and demand loyalty among consumers. Corporate stewardship rightfully returns as a definer of success, ushering in a new generation of leaders.
New ideas generated inside small, agile companies present risk but also the promise of a better and different tomorrow. Increasingly, they stand to challenge big companies that once seemed, and were deemed, admiringly risk-averse and beyond reproach. As a result, the new corporate world order continues its emergence. And, the drivers of brand success, on both the consumer and corporate levels, continue to evolve.
No longer is a company judged simply by the strength of its wares - or its stock price - or its leadership. Rather, it is judged on the merits of its connection to its key publics and the responsibility it demonstrates in delivering value on all levels. Value is found in the ideas, products and services the company brings to its consumers, but more importantly, value is in the manner in which the company delivers and contributes to the reinvention of our world and the secular shifts needed to actualize it - while, too, adding to the necessary restorative optimism the world so deeply craves.
Amidst these alterations and re-examinations of many of the vital bedrocks of our national and global infrastructure - including key industries, leadership and government - ironically, one of the core touchstones of democratic advancement flounders - the media industry. As industry and the economy are ravaged to the core and forced to rebuild, the media industry, not immune to these rippling currents, emerges alarmingly weakened and potentially beyond repair.
The state of media puts into question our ability to remain true to the fundamentals of our democracy, which have been long based on the critical role of unfettered and elegantly inquisitive journalism. In a corporate sense, the decline of media poses unsettling speculation for brands on their ability to touch the public's they need to reach - at a time when high performance is in many ways judged by successful communication.
As the longevity of traditional media remains in question, it becomes more important than ever for successful and agile brands to embrace communication as an innovation itself - thereby transforming themselves from mere disseminators of information into strategic purveyors of content.
Tomorrow: Some key trends to look out for in the quarter ahead.