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Since the early 2000s productivity growth has slowed in many wealthier countries which means living standards aren’t improving as fast as they once did. Innovation—creating new products and services or improving old ones—is a key driver of productivity growth and thus essential for continued prosperity. Federal, state, and local governments all have a role to play in fostering more innovation.
For several years now, one of the tactics that the FDA has utilized for continuous improvement is crowdsourcing. They ask their employees for input on solving problems and it’s helped them to become more sustainable, improve professional development, and increase efficiencies. But in recent years, they’ve adopted a new model for problem solving – one that coaches business leaders on how to put together a good crowdsourcing campaign so that anyone can identify and solve a problem with the help of the crowd, but there are a few things that the team focuses on in order to help make a campaign successful.
All organizations have the ability to be smarter than the sum of their members’ intelligence and talent. Unfortunately, most are actually dumber. The good news is there are a handful of practical steps to boost collective intelligence.
We like to think that innovation is about ideas, but it’s really about solving problems. In order to surface problems, you need to ask questions, which is why Steve’s businesses started doing better when he got out of the building to talk to customers. The better questions you ask, the better problems you can identify. Here are 4 questions that will help you do that.
If you don’t like a Hard Trend, there isn’t a way for you to change it. However, if you don’t like a Soft Trend, you can easily change it to your advantage. I’ve discussed the three digital accelerators responsible for today’s rate of exponential change, transforming every business process in a short amount of time. This is a Hard Trend, while a Soft Trend would be whether you will transform your business processes.
Every startup is exciting and romantic in the beginning. Long hours and shared experience makes the business feel less like work and more like a family. Yet as the company grows and more people are brought on, the social fabric begins to fray. The story is so common that nobody should be surprised when it happens, but inevitably most are, which is why few entrepreneurs prepare for it. That’s a shame, because the breakdown of the family atmosphere can be avoided if you prepare for it.
A problem afflicts many companies undertaking transformation: they aren’t ready for innovation. But they need innovation to change their competitive positioning in the market. Today, many companies want their IT organizations to partner with the business to create opportunities for innovation and supportive services that drive transformation. And they look to their procurement chief or sourcing organization to ensure that any services they buy support innovation. How important is this? It’s critical. In fact, how your company leverages its IT organization and sourcing organization is a determinant of success in digital transformation.
As companies adopt open innovation and crowdsourcing to stay at the forefront of innovation, the challenge of selecting which ideas to pursue is enormous. Research shows that organizations that receive a large number of ideas have difficulty selecting the most original. Evaluate the benefits an idea relative to the cost of developing it. A concept that offers only incremental benefit but requires little investment might be more profitable than a fantastic idea that requires a lot of investment.
Innovation labs are a safe place for organizations to run experiments and iterate on projects, and they’re an important investment for firms that have rigid approaches or that work in highly regulated industries. But do they actually add value and generate growth? According to a report from Capgemini, the vast majority of innovation labs — up to 90%, one expert says — fail to deliver on their promise.
Is what got us to where we are helping us move forward or holding us back? Your company or organization may be thriving, but is this record of success sustainable and can you keep going? Maybe you’re noticing kinks in your armor or a drop-off in your sales. You’re thinking and acting as usual, but something is misfiring. This is what I refer to as “legacy thinking.” If left unchecked, legacy thinking can pose enormous obstacles to your continued success—or worse.
Industry leaders recognize the importance of innovation in product development and business processes. Investing in the latest innovation seems like an ideal step forward, but it’s also a risky investment for anyone concerned with ROI. To explore innovation gaps, let’s look at some areas of improvement you may need to address in regards to business technology and management structure.
Clearly, ideas are important, but not as many believe. America is what it is today, for better or worse, not just because of the principles of its founding, but because of the actions that came after it. We revere people like Einstein, Pauling and Jobs not because of their ideas, but what they did with them. The truth is that although possibilities are infinite, ideas are limited.
Our research suggests that companies might actually benefit from certain employees going to work for others in the same space. We found that these employees act as “bridges” and facilitate more collaborations between their past and present employers. Having people familiar with both sides can facilitate decision-making and lead to better partnerships.
One area where A.I. can most immediately improve our lives may be in the area of mental health. Unlike many illnesses, there’s no simple physical test you can give someone to tell if he or she is suffering from depression. Using A.I., researchers can make better predictions about who is going to get depressed next week, and who is going to try to kill themselves.
Well, according to the Innovation Catalyst at Lake Trust Credit Union, Blake Woods, his job is to drive human-centered design and futurist thinking throughout an organization. This is why they’re called catalysts. Instead of being responsible for generating new ideas and stewarding innovation on their own, they see it as a facilitative role where they’re helping everyone at an organization meet this goal.
There are these cycles where you first improve your conditions, then you enjoy the fruits of your labor, and then you become complacent and ultimately things will go downhill. It is a cycle like all of life is. You can break out of this cycle by opening your eyes. And it is crucial to bring in outsiders and generalists whose perspective is not clouded with your habits. You need to move fast and take serious action, before it is too late.
For eight years I’ve visited leading companies in more than 20 industries around the world that claimed to be in the process of being disrupted. Each time, I’d ask the executives of these incumbent companies the same question: “What is disrupting your business?” No matter who I talked to, I would always get one of two answers: “Technology X is disrupting our business” or “Startup Y is disrupting our business.” But my latest research and analysis reveals flaws in that thinking. It is customers who are driving the disruption.
Based on research in the market and in many countries, I tried to figure out the exact mechanism by which startup ideas are created. Aim is to facilitate and expedite this process for would-be entrepreneurs. Is it mainly a matter of brainstorming effort or are external factors at play?
Innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum. It requires a company that actively fosters it in a hundred ways — from hiring new team members to making time for experimenting freely on fresh ideas in the workplace. Here are six foundational requirements for every company that wants to step up its innovation performance.
Can mindfulness help us be more creative? Can we design better experiences and products because we are slowing down to connect in the present moment with ourselves and our stakeholders without any judgment? Can mindfulness help us imbue our artificial intelligence solutions with greater human meaning?
There isn’t a checklist of steps you can take, but to start remember that the future is a range of possible outcomes; not a set point. Why? Because as you look more forward, say 5 to 10 years, it becomes more hard to predict the future. Your job as a futurist is not to perfectly predict the future, no one can, but rather to paint a picture as to what could happen when certain things connect.
These latest advances in AI make innovators work harder, better, faster and stronger.
Innovation is hard, it doesn’t happen by following a tried and true cookie cutter approach. It often begins when someone begins to think and act differently, usually in isolation, from the rest of an organization; challenging convention.
The biggest illusion in digital transformation is that it will make you more innovative. Unh-uh. Going digital mainly lets you do the same things, faster. It reduces friction for users, be they customers or employees. It helps you suck less, and maybe even achieve occasional delight. But by definition, digital transformation replaces current analog processes with digital ones. Whereas innovation is about identifying unmet needs and new opportunities, and solving for them in novel ways that deliver new value and achieve adoption.
In evaluating ideas for development, companies often rely on the expertise of the person presenting the idea. This is not a bad thing, per se: Ideators are often the most relevant experts, they know “what the idea is all about” and “how it really works.” The trouble is, expert employees may well oversell or undersell their ideas, leading the company to pass up on good ideas while investing in bad ones.
While many companies today are attempting to leverage AI to provide similar service more cheaply, the really smart players are exploring how AI can empower employees to provide a much better service or even to imagine something that never existed before. “AI will make it possible to put powerful intelligence tools in the hands of consumers, so that businesses can become collaborators and trusted advisors, rather than mere service providers,” Sutton says.
The story of Fleming’s Eureka! moment is romantic and inspiring, but also incredibly misleading. It wasn’t one person and one moment that changed the world, but the work of many over decades that made an impact. As I explain in my book, Cascades, it is small groups, loosely connected, but united by a shared purpose that drive transformational change.
Most good ideas emerge from business interactions, not single individuals. Therefore, 3 ”C” (Communication, Collaboration, and Consistency) elements are necessities for keeping ideas flow and practicing effective idea management to achieve their business value continually.
If you are looking for a larger selection of ideas to choose from, put up a big prize. If you don’t mind a smaller selection of original ideas or don’t have the resources to vet a lot of ideas, offering no prize will work just as well. Low rewards don’t seem to serve any purpose, offering the worst of both worlds: discouraging submissions and lowering the level of originality of those submitted.
Now, more than ever, the corporate innovation industry grows as quickly as the technology that drives it. Thus, corporate innovators must set up the right foundational framework to kickstart their efforts. This Ultimate Corporate Innovation Playbook provides that framework by examining:
- Three outdated beliefs corporations must let go of
- Three new beliefs corporations must embrace
- The Ultimate Corporate Innovation Process
New innovations, like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are emerging to once again set executives abuzz with visions of competitive excellence. Savvy business leaders can use these new innovations to their competitive advantage if they stay on the cutting edge of what big data can do. Want to innovate with big data and join these forward-thinking trailblazers? Here are the 4 essentials you’ll need to succeed.
Anticipatory Leaders™ understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow. They know this new reality is driven by the exponentially increasing rate of technology-driven change. Many wonder why so many established organizations of all sizes are moving so slow. The answer is simple: they think they are moving fast. But in this new era, they’re actually moving slower than they realize.
It’s impossible to escape the amazing tales of people starting with an idea in a garage (think Apple) and growing it into a billion-dollar global business. But a startup isn’t as easy as those well-known stories might have you think. There’s a little bit of luck and a whole lot of other influences at play.
It’s a fast-paced business world out there where innovation is the name of the game and a powerful tactic that ensures long-term success. After all, if your company is not innovating and reinventing its processes across the board, then you’re falling behind.
Big data will help ensure the future of self-driving cars, while the continued development of the IoT will form a necessary part of creating a world fit for autonomous transportation. Do not believe what you hear about AI or the importance of "smart cars" – the real future of self-driving cars is big data, which stands to totally upend our modern understandings of transportation.
Over his career, Joe Byrum says he’s worked with thousands of crowdsourcing projects, and he strongly believes that they generally yield more innovative solutions than working with internal domain experts. He primarily uses Innocentive and IdeaConnection. Both platforms are for general research and innovation problems, and Byrum particularly likes the team-based and certified solver capabilities of IdeaConnection.
There is a common misconception that innovation and marketing are two separate concepts when it comes to business. However, if you analyze it, you will see how successful game-changing technologies have used marketing to promote their product and create customer trust. Innovation is the initial idea—it’s the backbone of your entire business culture. Marketing, on the other hand, helps your business take off. Great examples include Google’s AdSense and Nike’s Nike+. Both pushed the boundaries of their industry and both were able to sell to a wide consumer base.
We’ve all seen companies suddenly and mysteriously change. Innovative teams, widely praised for their breakthrough products and vision, begin rejecting the most radical ideas. The people are the same; the culture is the same—yet people suddenly stop taking chances. Culture still matters, of course, but it’s time to pay a little more attention to structure.
Try this brainstorm method; the Contradictory Innovation – also known as the Waterproof Teabag method. Take your leading product or service and everyone has to describe a version which completely undermines or contradicts one of the main properties of the item. The more ridiculous the better. Then you take each useless idea and see if it leads anywhere useful. Like a silent disco.
Innovation spending has declined because many companies, under pressure to show that they can disrupt a market (or to stave off disruption), are pursuing innovation haphazardly. Much of the investment ends up being non-strategic, poorly linked to the business, and under-managed. Some have even argued that innovation spending and activities are often exercises in corporate image-building rather than attempts to increase productivity or performance. No wonder companies are disappointed by their results. However, 31 companies have increased their spending on innovation by more than 50% and are "very satisfied" with the results. What did they do differently?
The major tech companies who open their doors to a new way of thinking and a monogamous partner approach are reaping the benefits of ‘inspired innovation’ and ultimately getting ahead in the AI arms race. As the saying goes, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’ This could certainly be true for the tech sector, a trend we will likely see continue over the course of 2019.
The truth is that the challenges we face as a society today, climate change and food security being two of the most prominent, are far more complex than anything we’ve tackled before. Even a company like IBM, with its century of history and multi-billion dollar research budgets, can’t go it alone. In the new era of innovation, collaboration is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage.
A group of computer scientists once backed by Elon Musk has caused some alarm by developing an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) they say is too dangerous to release to the public. OpenAI, a research non-profit based in San Francisco, says its "chameleon-like" language prediction system, called GPT–2, will only ever see a limited release in a scaled-down version, due to "concerns about malicious applications of the technology".
Corporations in every field must constantly monitor technological advancements which affect their business. If a manager thinks his R&D department can keep up with the constant changes in technology taking place around him and remain relevant, he’s mistaken. Innovation won’t come from within. It will come from without.
This article is about How automation continues to be a game-changer. At present, many of the industries are mainly depending on automation. Repeated actions can be replaced with automation. This article helps the readers to understand in which way the automation is useful for the human.
To create an innovative organization, you have to cultivate curiosity and learning across all levels of your organization. If every employee keeps their eyes open and wants to constantly learn and get better at what they do and help the organization achieve the same, you’ll be well on your way to making more innovation happen.
The Three Horizons allowed senior management to visualize what an ambidextrous organization would look like — the idea that companies and government agencies need to execute existing business models while simultaneously creating new capabilities — and helped to prioritize innovation products and programs. However, in the 21st century the Three Horizons model has a fatal flaw that risks making companies lag behind competitors — or even putting them out of business.
Why can innovators find more view spots than others? Why can innovators think different and connect unusual dots effortlessly? Innovators see possibility in the world when most people only see the way that they have been told. Innovators are the rare breed, but innovators are also among us and within us. Here are five perspectives of being innovative.
How does disruptive innovation emerge, develop, grow and disrupt over time? This “process” of business disruption sounds straight forward and easy to comprehend. But the reality for companies is more complex than it sounds and they are struggling with managing a disruptive innovation, both from an entrant’s and an incumbent’s perspective.
Go to just about any business conference and you will see a pundit on stage. He or she will show some company that failed and explain the silly mistakes that they made, then follow-up with a few basic rules to help you avoid those pitfalls and become super successful. You leave feeling confident, because it all seems so simple and easy.
Today, everyone knows that internal innovation will happen only after successfully implementing an open innovation process with startups. This process must have great value, so that implementing open innovation will be effective and have minimal errors.
If you’re investing in understanding how the world around you is changing, you also need to invest in the relationships and systems that will let you take quick action on what you find.
Here is what we are learning. Corporations that have consumer-driven innovation programs outperform their competition that relies on an outdated model of RND to generate new value. Companies focused myopically on short-term value and a single profit motive only do less well than companies who embrace the emerging paradigm of Conscious Capitalism.
Adopting leadership mindset means you compete against yourself, not against others. You choose to create and deliver better options and not just doing what everyone else does. When you compete against yourself you set your own pace, your own expectations.
AI though controlled by humans will control the future of drones. AI allows machines like Drones to operate on their own and make decisions. But, a machine that can make decisions and learn to work independently could cause more than reasonable and befall society.
Nearly every company’s strategy these days is to grow through innovation, yet many fall short. We all know the standard reasons: innovation is hard, innovation is uncertain or innovation grinds against the gears of the operating organization. I’ve come across surprising and actionable reasons why companies don’t have enough innovation. Here are my top four.
There are some common principles in how innovators approach their work and these are things that anyone can apply. That doesn’t mean everyone can be world famous, but the evidence clearly shows that anyone can be creative and, even if it’s not a major breakthrough, make some contribution to the world.
The question is not whether A.I. will take over our jobs, it will, it’s how soon and how. One thing is for sure: it will happen in phases; first it will create new ones where it will augment our abilities not replace them. Organizations have loads of data about their customers, but that data needs to be cleaned and labeled before it’s fed into an algorithm that will make sense of it all.
People often convince themselves that highly successful individuals who possess a special gift set themselves apart from everyone else. However, the reality is that your ability to have success, however you define it, can be accomplished with a few simple steps.
Forget testing. Forget marketability. Forget strategy. I hear fear, followed by more fear. How can I protect my invention? Will a patent stop my idea from being stolen? Instead of getting emotional, focus on outthinking the competition. If someone wanted to work around you, how would they? In other words, try stealing your invention from yourself.
Should senior management even be involved in innovation work? Well, the short answer is: yes. Based on the research done by McKinsey, 80% of executives consider their current business models to be at risk. As such, the evidence would squarely indicate that for most organizations, change is inevitable and to remain competitive in these turbulent times, innovation is a key capability.
As our technology becomes almost unimaginably powerful, there is growing apprehension and fear that we will be unable to control what we create. The emergence of significant new technologies unleash forces we can’t hope to understand at the outset and struggle to deal with long after. Yet the most significant issues are most likely to be social in nature and those are the ones we desperately need to focus on.
Whenever I get asked by executives about how their companies can innovate they expect me to respond with a prescriptive 3 to 5 point checklist of things that will solve all of their problems. Instead, I respond with a question: what are you doing to impede it?
Measuring innovation is one of the most ambiguous tasks when engaging in innovation management. Because of the complex nature of innovation, finding the right metrics is far from being simple. What makes measuring innovation tricky is that seeing the real impacts of your innovation efforts takes time, and because each business and team is different, not all innovation metrics can be applied to everyone.
In linguistics, there is the concept of deep structure and surface structure. By digging into these, we can gain some insights into the way innovation really works.
Innovation is the mother of necessity, but imagination also drives innovation. There isn’t one single way to get ideas, the most common way is seek out needs and create something that will satisfy those needs. The other way, less talked about, is to scratch your own itch.
The internet was revolutionary in that it democratized the spread of information and ideas at a much faster rate than any other channel. With the increased adoption of computing, we’ve also tracked the rise of “distributed knowledge” databases like Quora or Wikipedia. What is interesting is how powerful these specialized knowledge bases can prove to be in the context of innovation.
An all-star team is making headway with a new initiative that could alter the future of the organization. Then, the results begin taking longer than anticipated to prove, and after too much time spent outside of their comfort zones, the team of high-achieving employees can’t seem to execute within the uncertain environment. How could such a capable team fail?
Every corporate is under attack of dozens, if not hundreds of startups. They are all craving for a piece of the cake. Startups are disrupting corporates, and a lot of corporates are struggling to deal with disruption. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you think about it, corporates have everything it takes to become the disruptor themselves, instead of being disrupted.
When you think of breakthrough innovation, someone like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk often comes to mind. Charismatic and often temperamental, people like these seem to have a knack for creating the next big thing and build great businesses on top of them. Yet what often goes unnoticed is that great entrepreneurs build their empires on the discoveries of others.
Digital advances in the past two decades have enabled more people than ever before to express creative intelligence. Yet apart from the transformation of services powered by mobile apps and the internet, few sectors have seen spectacular surges of innovation—and only 43% of companies have what experts consider a well-defined process for it. In this article the authors present a five-part framework to guide the development and ensure the survival of breakthrough ideas.
Unfortunately, finding the capital to fund your business isn’t the easiest thing in the world. While there are business loans and investors who might be interested in backing your business, the fact is these sources of money are finite. Even if your business is at a point where it makes enough revenue to support itself, even a slight misstep can lead to financial disaster. However, taking an innovative approach can often prevent or reverse a business’s financial woes.
Every organization strives to innovate, but few succeed consistently over time. That’s why so many once dominant companies hit a peak and then decline. Yet IBM, Google and Amazon have been able to buck this trend. While most companies are lucky to come up with one major innovation, these three seem to be accelerating their ability to create impressive new products and services.
Established organizations are highly specialized, they hire optimizers. But hiring for innovation is different, you’re looking for people who are highly curious; explorers. This is culture shock for an established organization because they’re used to optimizing what already works, and a good way to judge that is by looking at someone’s title. None of this reflects ability, because innovation is all about surprises and navigating them.
An important, but often overlooked, aspect of managing innovation efforts is how success and failure are defined and how they are recognized and rewarded. Successful innovation requires dedicated employees willing to take risks, approach challenges differently and from new perspectives, and experiment.
Savvy executives who want their organization to succeed should establish innovation as the core of their daily operations. Ultimately, innovation is about people. Companies that encourage growth and leadership can create a satisfying work environment. Leaders can’t force staff members to innovate. However, in the right environment staff members intuitively act as entrepreneurs and innovation flourishes.
Innovators are looking for a challenge, not a job. Getting the most out of themselves is what drives them. They’re naturally attracted by any challenge that doesn’t have a clear path forward. So rather than evaluate them on predictable results, evaluate them for predictable attitude and flexible approach to overcoming challenges.
With all of the hype around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), businesses are feeling a lot of pressure to embrace and enthuse these technologies. That’s all well and good, business advisors say, but it puts the cart ahead of the horse. Compounding the hype problem, management of data analytics has escaped from the IT department and is roaming the halls, sweeping up enthusiasts from departments who don’t necessarily understand the thoughtful, reasoned approach that will make the effort a success.
Innovation is about the future, without it, you lose sight of tomorrow. Innovation is an exceptional, exclusive, and realistic idea that separates you from others without a second thought. Innovation can happen anywhere in the organization and its ecosystem. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum, hybrid nature, and deep context. You have to systematically develop the business competency to execute it successfully, and that is something you do not accomplish overnight.
My studies of truly innovative organizations have revealed five common elements (regardless of industry) that define cultures that excel at innovation. They are Empowerment, Honesty, Community, Goals, and Leadership. With the five elements in place, your people will start to generate the innovative growth that you desire, and you’ll be able to solve many more of your customer’s fundamental issues.
Often when powerful technologies are not properly understood, there is a desire to pass new laws or take some action to protect the public interest. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. Ronald Reagan famously quipped, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”
Before you embark on a game changing initiative, your organization needs to be prepared for it. In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, columnist Scott Kirsner pointed to a survey of 270 corporate leaders that found that the most significant obstacles to innovation are not things like budget, skill sets or CEO support, but politics and culture. Those are pervasive issues and can’t be solved overnight, but they can be overcome.
What happens if more advanced devices achieve a measure of creativity? Creativity isn’t something derived from a mathematical equation. The simplest thing for a child, picking a random number, is something a computer can only fake. A machine capable of coming up not just with unpredictable numbers but also with spontaneous ideas would change everything.
What makes a ‘great’ workplace? Is it possible to transform where you work into where you want to work? Making the grade as a ‘Great Place to Work’ means that your employees believe in the management; they feel respected and fairly treated, ie, they feel a high level of trust. It may sound simple, but building trust at work, especially in a diverse workplace, is complex.
Advanced artificial intelligence algorithms have the ability to take over tasks traditionally reserved for skilled human operators, such as driving a truck or performing a medical diagnosis. What once was the stuff of science fiction is now reality. This technology has made tremendous leaps in the last decade, yet it remains nowhere near its full potential.
Innovation must become your business routine and corporate culture to renew creative energy. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum and the hybrid nature. It comes in the variety of flavors and there are many opportunities in an enterprise to taste it. The companies who get the most from innovation effort have the right ambition, open leadership, and culture quintessential.
How can companies generate more business impact from non-incremental innovation? Typically, companies have little problems in generating ideas for adjacent, radical or even disruptive innovation and in validating the most promising ideas. On the other end of the process, companies have systems to grow material businesses and incrementally improve their performance over time. But for many companies, the transitional Scaling-Up phase in-between is a ‘Valley-Of-Death‘, in which many promising concepts die on their journey from idea to business impact.
The challenges we face today will be fundamentally different because they won’t be solved by humans alone, but through complex human-machine interactions. That will require a new division of labor in which the highest level skills won’t be things like the ability to retain information or manipulate numbers, but to connect and collaborate with other humans.
The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways. The main challenge is you’ve been trained and are experienced in something that is no longer valuable. Which means you have to develop new skills. The other is most people use technology in their day-to-day lives, but are not trained in using it to create better outcomes for others; they’re consumers not creators. This circumstance is the result of both the education system and yourself.
Contrary to the plot of so many sci-fi blockbusters, a self-aware, evil A.I. purposely aiming at pedestrians is just as unlikely as one launching nuclear missiles. Far more mundane errors are likely to trouble advanced A.I. programs, because no matter how perfect and benign the underlying algorithms, and how flawless the computing hardware might be, things can still go very wrong.
Like any tool, AI can be dangerous when misused. It’s the unknown that’s scariest of all, and fear is the biggest threat to technological advances. Expanding knowledge – eliminating the unknown – is the best way to alleviate anxiety and reduce the natural impulse of politicians to ban what they don’t understand. If we wait until the point where we need to plead the case for AI and O.R. to lawmakers, the battle will already have been lost.
The real innovation challenge lies beyond the idea. It lies in a long, hard journey – from imagination to impact. Even the best-managed corporations in the world struggle to execute innovation initiatives. This challenge, which we call the other side of innovation, is widely misunderstood. Some companies conflate this side and the other side, believing it is all the same. Others imagine that executing an innovation initiative can’t be much different than executing day-to-day operations. Both views are wrong. Innovation execution is neither innovation nor execution. It is its own unique beast.
Yes, you read it right. The title of this piece is ‘Great to Good’. I’m going to talk about how, in the 21st Century, we need ‘Goodness’ more than ‘Greatness’ when it comes to innovation. 20th Century was about a few people finding GREAT discoveries. 21st Century is about all of us, using the breakneck speed connectivity that technology provides, to do GOOD things together for a better future. That is my meaning of Great to Good.
The work of innovation – whether you’re doing R&D, creating a breakthrough, pursuing a disruptive strategy or sustaining your core – is not business as usual. It doesn’t work in a straight line, and the more radical the project the more uncertainty there is. This is more evident in domains where lives are at stake; such as medicine.
Our businesses are designed to reject new ideas for all of the right reasons—often it makes no sense to throw sand in the gears of the well-oiled machines we call companies. Yet to remain competitive, to grow revenue in a substantial way, we MUST do better. That starts with recognizing that our best path to organic growth is the creative ideas that are trapped within our companies with little hope of escape.
Everyone is mesmerized by the mystery and magic of innovation and new technologies through AI, Blockchain, IoT, AR/VR, Digital Ecosystems and more. Conversations center around the latest products and services as well as the future impact of a digital life. Yet there is one question that is surprisingly overlooked in many circles - how will leaders and teams innovate and collaborate in a changing business world?
What makes great innovators different is that they succeed where most others fail. They not only come up with new ideas, they find ways to make them work and create value for the rest of us. Even more importantly, they are able to do it consistently, year after year, decade after decade.
Why do established businesses fail? Because they miss the future. And what contributes to them missing the future? Many things, among them is a focus on maintaining the status-quo while avoiding uncertainty.
In a recent seven-year study in which I looked in depth at 50 projects from a range of sectors, including business, health care, and social services, I have seen that another social technology, design thinking, has the potential to do for innovation exactly what TQM did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes.
Groups whose members interacted only intermittently preserved the best of both worlds, rather than succumbing to the worst. These groups had an average quality of solution that was nearly identical to those groups that interacted constantly, yet they preserved enough variation to find some of the best solutions, too.