Constructing Innovation as Value Management

Innovation and ValueInnovation needs to create value, both short-term and progressively over time. It fuels the growth and fires the imagination.

Yet our innovation activities are constantly coming up short for the leaders within our organizations, who continue to remain disappointed in its final outcome to stimulate and drive the growth they want to see.

It is actually the classic “chicken and egg”. Aristotle (384–322 BC) was puzzled by the idea that there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed. Leaders need to lead and are they the chicken, for how can the people charged with innovation lay the ‘golden eggs’ needed if they are incapable of laying? Or should the innovation egg come first for our leaders to become more confident and build the bird up?

The real importance of the question has faded since Darwin’s On the Origin of Species assuming the question intended “egg” to mean an egg in general rather than an egg that hatches into a chicken. Yet we can’t treat innovation in general anymore, it needs to develop its uniqueness for each of our organizations to evolve. We need both the egg and the chicken for this to be ‘producing’.

What I’m driving towards here is that innovation is evolving is my 1st point

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The Challenges Being Faced by Innovation Consultants

Ignoring different voicesFrom my perspective I’ve been looking at a real challenge today, that many consultants offering innovation services are not providing real sustaining consulting value to clients, only ad-hoc services.

Unless this changes it will continue to erode the clients’ confidence in these service providers and they will be seeking increasing internal solutions to tackle their problems. I think if this trend continues it will be a mistaken course.

Consultants are not addressing many of the changes occurring and ignoring opportunities to adapt to different circumstances, they are simply not putting up a strong case of their engagement  by redesigning their business models or opening themselves up to different forms of collaboration.

In many ways, the consulting industry specializing in innovation is its own worst enemy.

It is highly fragmented, often highly specialized in certain innovation practices, and with much of the advice comes from a cottage industry of independent practitioners, caught up in executing and little time for advancing their own knowledge.

There is this sense that consultants are resolutely staying very internally driven, self-promoting, still trying to convey the story of innovation mastery, when clearly this is lacking in rapidly changing market and technology conditions and due to this staying ahead of the knowledge curve are actually failing the client.

Many consulting firms have spent the last decade trying to make themselves more efficient, going from craft work to selling one solution as a mass production to many, to yield ever-increasing fees, so as to gain a re-occurring return on a one-off invested solution. Innovation solutions simply need to be crafted to each set of circumstances mostly, in my opinion and that conflicts with this repeating model.

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Risk and Innovation frustrate me

Managing risk and innovation managementI have been really struggling in the past few weeks. Partly a niggling health issue finally got resolved with a ‘delightful’ week in hospital, a couple of operations later, with a reasonably speedy recovery now thankfully under way.

The plan of course was for me to really use this confinement period as one of those opportunities to catch up on an awful lot of reading around innovation, planning out some areas to focus upon in the coming months and year ahead.

My logic was at the time, well this is similar to a long train journey or flight, you use this time and climb into a number of areas that have been quietly ‘festering’ away in the back of my mind, sitting on on my desk or tucked away in my computer.

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Building the new dynamics into our capacity to innovate

Exploit and ExploreDo we know what are the dependencies and requirements for building and sustaining your organizations innovation success? How do you sustain innovation, is it more through the structuring of everyday work, by creating a particular set of social rules and resources that foster specific routines? Or something different?

We work really hard at maintaining these re-occurring processes, never willing to extend and push them in different and new ways. We have actually become very static in our approaches and learning, we are not learning anew. We often simply end up with incremental innovation that might just ‘nudge’ the growth needle but does little more than sustain us in the present and can be ‘contained’ in a tidy process that makes many, including the ‘bean counters,’ very happy until someone changes the game.

Then we need to think differently but this is usually far too late.. As demand is more volatile today we need to experiment, explore, learn and adjust. What becomes more important is the ‘work to be done, and how we go about tackling this and not the work done’ where we often simply ‘default too. Surprisingly Adam Smith identified this important difference in work way back in 1776.

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We are transcending traditional industry and product boundaries

Global connectionsIt seems this is the era of the digitally savvy entrepreneur. With the dizzy array of choices, combined with technology prowess and ‘plugging’ these into ‘seen’ customer needs, they are setting about disrupting existing businesses and establishing new ones, on an ever-increasing global scale.

So what and how is the incumbent meant to react if it is an existing market? What should they do when they realize the traditional markets where they have safely operated for years has suddenly been overtaken by a new market creation, one that has gone outside old borders in industry and product.

Markets that are in the hands of the technically savvy entrepreneur are to be sliced, diced and recombined, are providing totally disruptive approaches to existing business models. If they get the factors right, hit the needs of customers in their design, understanding, agility in responding to learning and adapting, ability to be fast to market and capable of scaling up really fast, then they transform spaces, leaving the established players desperately struggling to find answers and catch up.

The whole world of business is changing radically.

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Achieving Innovations Capability Coherence

Coherence 1Innovation often fails to align to the strategic needs. This is often not the fault of the innovator, happily working away with no specific guidelines, apart from the general remit of “we need to be more innovative”, it lies in the boardroom that is not communicating the board’s needs clearly enough down the organization.

Building up our capacity to innovation does need to understand and reflect the organization’s business activities, as innovators need to grasp the value creation aspects that will deliver the necessary capital-efficient and profitable growth, and then ‘go in pursuit’ to achieve their contribution into these goals.

Even the basic questions often remain unclear, those of how are we looking to grow revenue, save costs, reduce working capital or improve our fixed capital? Managing our innovation activities can help in all of these. Actually if you ask I expect the CFO would say “all of them” but each does have implications on understanding of the fit and eventual role of innovation’s contribution.

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Deeper read or quick summary? Depends on the time we have.


I recently wrote a post “Finding knowledge and research to help you learn and adapt. On reflection I should have replaced the word “research” with “time”……time to help you learn and adapt.

Finding time is a real struggle and going that extra mile to read thought leadership views, long often drawn out reports or academic papers can be a step too far, I know but I can’t help myself, it is part of my job and certainly for me, many are really worth the read in a positive end result of new learning..

In that post mentioned above, I was recommending Deloitte and their thought leadership as a good place to visit. Now I’m not sure how many of you actually did so I thought in this blog, to pick out a couple of ‘choice pieces’ and make a posting summary of these, as ones that might be useful.

So I’ve chosen two that challenge and break ground.

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