“In the knowledge economy the generation, combination, dissemination and application of knowledge and ideas are key to achieve sustainable success. In recent years, it has become clear that there is a need for better understanding of the corresponding strategic aspects of innovation management and business venturing, in particular those organisational issues related to open and radical innovation and business venturing. ”
Talkin’ Business met with Dr. Paul Louis Iske, who was recently appointed as professor of Open Innovation and Business Venturing.
Besides his brand-new position as an SBE professor, Iske holds a variety of positions . He is Chief Dialogues Officer at ABN AMRO Bank, which includes the functions of Director of the Dialogues House and Dialogues Incubator. Furthermore, he is Founder of the Institute of Brilliant Failures, calls himself Consulting Challenger and is speaker on topics related to intellectual capital, knowledge management, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Finally, he is Partner in ‘Conceptisch’, an organisation focusing on the (co-)creation of environments that support the development of intellectual capital. What is driving this clearly energetic person? Paul Louis Iske: “I have a passion for creating value on the basis of combining knowledge by connecting people and organisations. For me, the dialogue is essential in this process, because in the dialogue people are open to each other’s ideas and experiences and they are willing and able to enrich their own knowledge and the knowledge of the other. This is the central theme in all my work. The diversity in activities in various environments (with some mainline) is very stimulating to me. It allows me to look outside, recognize situations more easily and translate these to a different environment. It creates value for me, but also for the various environments in which I am active. A sort of living, walking dialogue…”
Different isn’t always better, but better is always different!
The main areas of interest of the Chair Open Innovation and Business Venturing include: New Business Models, Innovation Management, Intellectual Capital Management, Complexity and Alliance Management. The Chair studies new business models for innovation and business venturing based on the Knowledge Dialogue. Paul Louis Iske elaborates: “To me, innovation is the process that creates value by applying knowledge where this wasn’t done before. Therefore, to me it is a series of activities with the outcome of new forms of (added) value. That can be done with new knowledge, but also by using existing knowledge in a new context. Think for example of the iPhone: for the major part it consists of existing technology, but because of the unique combination of design and a new business model it has become a product that everyone regards as a classic example of innovation. Innovation is however important as a means, not as an objective. The objective is to find new solutions, being able to deal with a changing world, creating social and economic value, progress. My motto is: different isn’t always better, but better is always different!
Creating the conditions for the knowledge dialogue
As SBE wishes to establish an active dialogue with the international business world, what is Iske’s view on interaction between education and business? “I am familiar with both environments.” says Iske, “Originally, I am a theoretical physicist, but I have learned how inspiring the practice can be for discovering topics for fundamental research, with the applicability in society as a bonus. On the other hand, from the perspective of business it is sometimes a tremendously positive experience to be able to apply knowledge from the world of research, and thus create business (and financial) value. This indicates that there is great (potential) value in the dialogue between the two worlds. However, that doesn’t mean that it is simple and comes naturally. Differences in language, culture and practical matters such as timing create a challenge for a meaningful dialogue. Think for example of a company that has a problem it wants to solve this instant. When this problem is submitted to a university, the answer might be that this is an interesting subject for a PhD research, which will take four years… Creating the conditions so that a (knowledge) dialogue can develop is probably the most central theme that deserves attention. And my activities for SBE will mostly focus on that theme.
A great initiative that SBE recently undertook to support its ambition to enter into alliances with the business world, is the recently established Service Science Factory: a fantastic ‘instrument’ to help organisations develop new business services, based on their own knowledge, but complemented with knowledge from the School and knowledge in the networks. For me, a typical example of stimulating the knowledge dialogue!”
The dialogue reveals the value of the diversity
“As a professor, I also want to connect people and organisations. Work towards the development of dialogues and search for new opportunities to create intellectual as well as economic capital. Show that there is value in the diversity and that it is worthwhile wanting to learn from others. Especially from parties and people who have different perspectives and experiences than yours. Finding out under what circumstances this works best. Which trends are relevant for this collaborative thinking process, in the technological, social as well as business areas. Together with the students, I want to find out how you jointly identify and realize opportunities, and I want to share with them that it is worth the effort to better understand and appreciate the complexity of the world. I want to show them that undertaking business activities holds opportunities as well as risks, but that this should never lead to paralysis. Together with them I also want to discover which environmental factors influence the common development of new, sustainable propositions, both social and businesswise, and preferably in combination. I would like to share the insight that in each environment there is a great deal of intellectual capital that can still be developed, provided the willingness and the ability are present. In this context, I am also very much looking forward to working together with other groups within Maastricht University, such as the Network Social Innovation, which focuses on social and organisational innovations to improve organisational performance. NSI also believes that this can only be achieved if science, business and social organizations join forces.”
Concluding, Iske expresses his ambitions for the cooperation with the corporate world: “First, I will start to work on the Service Science Factory and try to find possibilities for cooperation with the business world in the field of open innovation. I am also working on the description of an environment – comparable to the ABN AMRO Dialogues House – in which Maastricht University and the networks around it can enter into a dialogue and collaborate towards joint opportunities for research and innovation.”
For more information of dr. Paul Lous Iske, click here