WAI “On The Go” is your Friday innovation story inspired from elsewhere.
I recently came across a beautiful article about Yoga from the monthly printed version of Books magazine (in France). In this translated version of her article, Rebecca Mead takes us through times and landscapes of Yoga, this oriental practise that has become so trendy in the Western world. In her intent to contrast the physical and mental exercises that ancestral yoga traditions have carried for centuries in the poorest part of India and the new business generated nowadays in the U.S., now supported by stars living in the rich world, she takes us through colourful cultural variations that have inspired this article, showing yoga and innovation have some unexpected links.
Yoga is not just for the body, it’s also for the spirit
Innovation is not only for strategy, it’s also for organisation. It requires a good grasp of transformation, and the use of this word is not accidental. Transforming means knowing your base shape and taking it to a more suitable one that enables you to get through what you have to get through. Transforming means you can “see” the changes, you can sense them, you can live them. Transforming means you know what the end shape is and all of your organisation follows. Innovation is not only a strategy, it is also a mindset.
Yoga has different levels which lead to different benefits
Innovation spread differently in groups and organisations lead to different results. If only at start, then don’t expect massive changes. Innovation takes time to learn, create, sustain. If it is a core part of your strategy, innovation should generate higher benefits and more flexible processes. If it is both an engine and a commitment towards your customers and partners, innovation is opening new ways of working, new business models, new markets where you navigate with ease (at least more easily than if you are only starting innovating).
Yoga is perceived as a “fashionable” spiritual activity
Innovation is often (too often) treated as a necessary business bullet point that needs to show up every two slides of a presentation. This is the “SEO effect” you do not want to find in your strategy, meaning you speak innovation hence you think you make innovation. Are you employees saying they like change? Are you considering markets as numbers or as a group of evolutive individuals with different goals and cultural background that you want to learn from? Are you partnering for financial reasons or for a more “globalised” value to be shared with others? Innovation is no fashion. It is supposed to start individually and spread differently according to a group needs and objectives, then carry changing and challenging habits so we get used to adapting them, along with our values.
Yoga ultimately leads to a state of extreme connection with nature
Innovation ultimately makes you see how you have to behave and change according to the entire environment you live in, opening strategies to uncertainty, creating flexible plans and tools that navigate from the known to the unknown. It is enabled by diversity, co-creation, co-development, teamwork, inspiration from elsewhere. It leads to connecting organisation with the world they serve.
As well as yoga, innovation requires confidence and beliefs, intangible work that happens in individual minds and tangible changes that show in team work. A practise that has survived several millenniums and is still giving birth to businesses today certainly has a lot to teach us. With an open-minded reading and such a great insight on this very particular world, it certainly does. I encourage you to read Rebecca Mead’s article in The New-Yorker, August 15th 2000 issue for the English version, Books n°57, September issue for the French translation.