Increasingly we are looking constantly for better value. We are increasingly restless and explorative. The big question for many companies that simply sell products is can they benefit from making changes in these platform models. How do they go about it to capitalize on this restlessness and constant need of new experiences? Is the stand-alone product model breaking down? Do the more traditional approaches to customers, those that are more supply sided, still serve their needs today? The answer is no, platforms are building very different connected experience for customers, they are voting with their digital clicks to move their business to these offerings. Are you building platform businesses? You should.
We are in urgent need to build a clear innovation architecture as we do need this new business innovation capability. We are entering a different innovation era and if we don’t pay specific attention to the architecture of innovation we will not have a bright future, we will increasingly fall behind those that do get the need for serious investment in building innovation capability and capacity.
There is this need to have a new cycle of innovative design. We need a really radical way forward on innovation, a highly adaptive solution, where all these solution parts are available on demand, constantly adjusting and adaptable to the situation you have to resolve. We build a process that relates to the problem on hand in its structure, offering the suggested process needed in frames, tools, process designs.
We need to recognize that innovation is one of the hardest things to align to strategy. It’s inherently messy, fairly unpredictable and its team-orientated approach sometimes cuts across borders, challenges different established positions and seemingly conflicting priorities.
Often it is within the strategies that should be outlined, lies the potential new spaces to play for innovation’s design. Yet how often do we fail to connect the innovation’s we design and execute specifically aligned to the strategic need?
To achieve better outcomes and to drive sustained growth we need different management practices. We require scalable participation (ecosystems) to relate to and generate new knowledge flows. We need to be increasingly responsive, adaptive and fluid in any design of structures and solutions.
We need to bring innovation and its process up to date. With cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, cloud-based solutions, purposefully designed apps and specific tools and frameworks, we do need to begin to stretch our imaginations further and flex our technology and app solutions more towards providing a better, more connected innovation process. I want to see a new innovation era happen.
There is a significant transformation of the value lying within this extended system of collaborators and organization design. It is the ability to leverage, through technology the broader ecosystem of partners and internal collaborators by a more holistic view of sharing building ‘greater’ value together
Can we be bolder and more determined to differentiate ourselves or do we stay tucked into the pack, like a long distant runner, waiting for something (someone) to break away, hopefully, able to equally ‘kick in’ and stay in touch, still hopeful we will be in a position to win but mostly remain a fast follower only?
We often forget it is our people that really make innovation work. They determine the ideas, drive these forward to deliver them as new innovation concepts into the world. People connect the fragmented pieces or dots within innovation from being random and intangible, into being explicit and tangible.
Innovation has been rapidly changing and much of its basics have been swallowed up by some newly defining frameworks that have raced up to the top of the innovation agenda. They have driven much of our thinking and reacting. It is right that we all respond to these but we often forget much of the rest of what innovation needs to be built upon.
We spend far too much time copying others and not deliberately setting about building our own ‘distinct’ capabilities and capacities to innovate, building the necessary building blocks through our own learning experiences. These are always shaped by the context and content of your innovation, the organization’s position, its resources, commitment and leadership appetite for innovation. Each of our choices takes up on our own evolutionary paths, we can never truly understand other ones because we never really “walk in someone else’s shoes” Copying only renders us the same, not a great ‘winning position in highly competitive market conditions, is it?
The tenet of each organization in the past has been in protecting its core. This is changing as the very core is changing to adapt to more volatile conditions, changing landscapes and more disruption. The core is not so much in what we know or own but in what we can learn from that surrounds our core and this is increasingly found at the edges and externally.
For me, the bedrock of innovation is built upon competencies, capabilities, and capacities and all these involve people as well as technology. They go hand in hand in our connected world.
So if there was ever a time to clear the existing innovation agenda and rework the entire space for innovating, it is about to become the pressing reality as we enter into 2017. We are moving from diverging into one of converging, we are at a changeover point for innovation.
Our existing organization needs to envisage a changing world full of disruption that calls for radical change. To meet different challenges, to be highly adaptive it needs to begin to organize around ecosystems to deliver on a vision that recognizes it has to be part of a greater collaborating network to thrive in this highly connected world.
In this post I wanted to explain my thinking through on this ability to be ‘ambidextrous’, knowing the difference of when to exploit and when to explore as essential to leveraging innovation, in all its forms and watching out for some of the traps in not managing this well.
An increased focus on innovation as a consistent discipline requires significant reflection on what needs changing, what impact this change will have and how do we proceed to implement it. This requires senior management attention because of the significant organisational impact.
Crowdsourcing does offer increasing value as a contributor into our innovation management system. It can open up a real rich potential of tapping into diverse opinions that were difficult to reach in the past. Yet it does, from my perspective, need thoughtfully working through in its application and the expected end results, as each will challenge the initial assumptions and that is exactly what you will be looking for, challenging the accepted knowns and revealing the many unknowns.
Large organisations sense they are missing out on radically different business opportunities and cast their envious eyes towards the young start-ups, not just coming up with original ideas to solve existing problems and pent-up needs, but seeing the work as potentially disruptive to those managing in the existing space. This start-up and entrepreneurial spirit are making many senior executives nervous and they want to find ways to harness this within their own organisations, and thus the intrapreneurial movement has been born and is growing fast.
We need to increasingly deliver better end results; as more distinctive, bolder and creative, delivering greater value to our customers’ needs. Can we change our thinking to achieve this?
So what does block innovation? Arguably there are plenty of things up and down organizations: a lack of resources, an overcrowded portfolio of ideas, a lack of dedicated people, treating innovation as one-off, keeping it isolated and apart from mainstream activities.
Our whole understanding of innovation is changing; there are numerous shifts occurring. We are opening up our thinking in where and with whom, to collaborate.
We need to react and become more responsive, becoming more adaptive to changing environments and business challenges, that are often unknown, unexpected, or not yet explored or exploited. Shifting to a different change model to meet the changing market conditions and customer needs will require a high level of transition; it needs us to transform our innovation management practice
I have been spending some significant time on questioning the current innovation business model, from both the customers (clients) perspective and the innovation consultants’ one. For me, the process and management of innovation really does need to be definitely questioned.
Often we forget to frame what we want to really achieve in our innovation activity, instead we simply dive in and start innovating. I believe until we know what solutions we feel we need or the market wants, we will more often than not, end up disappointed in our innovation solutions. Simply generating ideas, for ideas sake, just does not cut it at all.
Where do you set about to intervene and begin to change the organizations ability to innovate? There are seemingly so many intervention points it can get bewildering. The innovation environment can be made-up of how well you collaborate and network, the level of group and individual interactions, the presence and commitment of leadership towards innovation, as well as the organizational set-up and structures.
You can’t escape the reality that having the right environment for innovation means different things to different people. What we should be all able to agree upon is that the environment for innovation houses many of the conditions that connect innovation in people’s minds.
There is always a certain impact that innovation brings, it should change habits, alter perceptions, improve our lives or alter the way we work and think. Each change brought about by innovation does have different impact effects upon three important market constituents: customers, the markets and the industries themselves but also and often totally under-appreciated, internally on the innovator driving the change.
We often constrain our innovation because we ‘shoe horn’ any conceptual thinking into a given time, usually the yearly budgetary plan, so it dominates the actions decided and can exercise a large influence in this constraining of ideas to realization.
We should make the case that different types of innovation operate and evolve over different time horizons and need thinking through differently.
We have three emerging horizons that need different treatment for innovation.
For me, innovation has eight possible pitfalls or sink holes that we need to consciously try to avoid. Some are in our hands, others are clearly out of our hands but all we can do is try to be aware of them so we can avoid them the as best we can. We sometimes need to be more prepared for these traps based on our judgement and experience.
There has always been a consistent call to automate the innovation process. Now it might turn into a stampede, based on real ‘digital’ need. We have made solid progress in the use of out-of-the box software for capturing ideas at the ‘fuzzy front end.’ We have developed pipelines and use product life cycle software systems to manage this through to commercialisation. Yet today we still have a fragmented, often broken innovation process, very reliant on the manual processes, where the human intervention dominates. Can this be changed? Technology must form a greater core of the innovation process.
If we believe we can make a difference and even have gone that one step further, many never seem to get there, where we have an intentional process to get us to new relevant solutions that do actually create a positive impact. Then we are getting closer to that ‘magic point’ of transforming ourselves and those complex challenges, into opportunities to be designed and developed to make that difference. Now that would not be such a bad place to be.
The 3H methodology enables us to look out into the future, across three different horizons that can manage the transition between short, medium and long term in our innovation activities, something often badly lacking in most organizations thinking.
The middle managers obsession with constantly chasing efficiencies alone, there is little ‘slack’ for innovation and new learning. Their measurement is often based on this efficiency and effectiveness emphasis and not on generating innovation.
We all need to recognize the type of innovation leadership personality within our organization, the ones we are working for, as this might help you manage the innovation work a whole lot better and attract in the resources you need.
There is no question the Stage-Gate process has had a significant impact on the conception, development and launch of new products. Yet there have been consistent criticisms of it, as the world of innovation has moved on. Today it is faster-paced, far more competitive and global and become less predictable.
We need to think differently about innovation and why it needs complexity and adaptive thinking as part of its design. Complexity within systems challenge us to think differently, it pushes us to think outside often our normal experiences, to confront and understand and then restructure, often the unordered, into a new ordered. Organizations are in need of understanding the complexities within their systems far more.
...we have this huge gap between those ‘working’ innovation and those at the top simply not engaging with innovation or still failing to understand it or even failing to connect the dots. That growing gap at the top in what they need to do to make the connections both inside and outside the organization to manage the changing landscape. One that still suggests we have this consistent failure to align the strategic and innovation activities and provide a more balanced orientation in the mapping to different horizon thinking that is needed. It seems perspectives are totally out of whack.
In response to a recent post of mine, Tobias Stapf on the Social Innovation Europe LinkedIn networking group, pointed me to a really good report “Innovation Is Not the Holy Grail” and I really have appreciate it. I wanted to draw out some useful learning from this report and useful reminders here in this post that there is no easy answers in innovation, social or business related.
The report outlines the difficulties of enabling innovation in social sector organizations. In this review the authors undertook exploring what enables organization capacity for continuous innovation in established social sector organizations, that operate at an efficient scale, delivering products and services.
I have been recently revisiting Everett Rogers work on diffusion and adoptions and using Rogers rate of diffusion principles you can end up offering a fairly powerful positioning statement
Although there is a tendency to 'throw' more money at developing talent we need to think through the basics first. If talent does not know the direction or the strategic scope it will have a hard time 'driving innovation'. We need to address the fundamentals first in organizations
We fail to recognize all the capitals that perform in our organizations. Financial capital rules but the majority that make up the underlying knowledge capitals are actually far more valuable to nurture and understand.
Context is everything, it allows people to frame their thinking and direct their efforts. For innovation this is vitally important.
Alignment is so important. When we align we are able to focus on the task, not what surrounds it. We spend disproportional time working on alignment, we must find ways to address this to 'release' the energy towards positive innovation needed.
If you could ask those that lead innovation, your senior organizational leadership, a series of question that might help unlock innovation blockages would that be valuable?
Firstly I would argue that innovation, to be managed well, needs to operate like an ecosystem, the same as a tropical rainforest. Ecosystems to flourish need to experience critical feeds, in the rainforest this is high average temperatures and significant rainfall. Well innovation to thrive needs equal attention; it needs a real focus, above average and significant attention to be well maintained.
We argue for diversity within our innovation teams, in our thinking, in our environment and that is no different from the high levels of biodiversity in tropical rainforests. We need this ‘richness’ of thinking, of approaches, of discovery. We search constantly for ideas, we experiment, and we are subjected to change. We are always looking for that certain something still undiscovered.
Today we grapple with more uncertainty than ever before. For many of us this is the time of year when planning out the future becomes more ‘top of mind’. These are moments where we have to stop chasing the daily numbers, pushing the immediate projects that are in the pipeline and turn our attention to laying out our future plans. Sadly we often make a poor ‘stab’ at this thinking through process; we don’t get our thinking into the right mental frames.
The problem for management is anything discussing the future enters the ‘zone of uncertainty’ and this ability to often ‘read the tea leaves’ can very much determine the future health and direction of the organization. Ignore these shifts or signals and you are on the path to your own ‘destruction’.
Innovation nearly always suffers some form of “mind the gap” and yet we tend to ignore the obvious and stumble into these gaps or fail to recognize them completely. These ‘gaps’ comes in so many different ways and guises.
We are in a need to constantly “mind the innovation gaps”, these are everywhere.
I have to be clear here, I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of advancement in our understanding of innovation. Today we have a real challenge, all of us, in boosting our capacity for innovation. We need to achieve this ‘boost’ as the outcomes we will gain are both economic and social in their potential value. We need to move beyond the existing and tackle the blockages to the preferred, when it comes to innovation achievements.
Big Data is knocking very loudly on our door, how are you going to let it in and manage it? We need to actively encourage connected minds for value creating opportunities and knowledge sharing for innovation to flow right across all the organization. All the raw data needs connected and engaged minds.