Critical aspects of the Collaborative Innovation Framework

This week a collaborative innovation framework venture has been launched by Jeffrey Phillips at http://www.innovateonpurpose.com and myself, Paul Hobcraft at http://www.agilityinnovation.com.

They have opened up a wiki for anyone to join with the intension of building on these frameworks. This is at http://cirf.pbworks.com.

This effort is seeking contributions, we want your engagement. It is deliberately open to be used, to be improved upon and to form a platform for a standard thinking through for innovation providing it works under the creative commons license it has.

For far too long innovation has been left to chance. We are interested in explaining the many facets that make up a successful innovation endeavour but it can be extremely tough to capture and explain the complexity of innovation. Innovation is dynamic and throwing open this set of models allows for it to be constantly improved for all to benefit.

Four Critical Slides
Here are just four of the critical slides from the different decks you can view at slideshare as well as on the two leading innovation sites of  InnovationManagement.se, with the opening article on this discussion at: http://bit.ly/ee8ID7nd.

We have also suggested these presentation outlines can be best viewed in this ‘given’ order:

Innovation Business Architecture

Innovation Reference Framework

Examination of Innovation Types

The four critical slides to provide you an overview are:

The multiple layers to build

These are the multiple layers and should be followed in a systematic way. You work from outside in for building on each to get a more connected result from working through these.

The four orientation points to keep mapping back too

Good innovation needs to map back to the Strategy. The corporate strategy and what will enable innovation within the organization need to be considered. Also what this slide shows you is the real value of having what we call as anchoring points, the orientation of what you are needed to map back too with your innovation efforts.

The Five Critical Focal Points within Innovation

This slide shows the five critical areas that support and sustain innovation. There are ‘musts’ to have and each of these five aspects need carefully thinking through.

The recognition of the different types of innovation

Lastly, often totally underappreciated is each type of innovation is different, in lots of ways. You need to consider an approach that aligns to the strategy and you need to appreciate the attributes, skills and undestanding of the different innovation types to know what you need to have in place or bridge to deliver against the specific innovation strategy. So often this recognition is never fully appreciated and where innovation really does break down because the alignment is not fully made of matching resources, capabilties with the approach needed to be taken. Knowing the differences and why is vital.

Explore these different decks, some of it will seem blindingly obvious, some perhaps not. Come join in the open collaborative discussion on the wiki at http://cirf.pbworks.com and make a contribution or seek an answer.

The thinking behind creating an open collaborative innovation framework

I often get very frustrated at the huge loss of energy by many organizations on piecing together a more robust innovation structure.Somehow they lose it. They forget to think it fully through, rush to build some of the component parts and then spend a lot of their time, back filling or bridging the gaps they created in the first place.

I really would like to reduce this diffusion of spent energies, so these efforts are directed at the critical points of understanding within the innovation process, to drive through new initiatives in a sustaining way. If we can gain this depth of understanding by all, then there is this greater identification to the whole. Also we gain a better appreciate of the parts we are playing within the system to make a more positive contribution to growing your innovation activities in a clearer environment. It would improve innovation identification and outcome results.

So with this thinking behind us, Jeffrey Phillips at http://www.innovateonpurpose.com and my organization through http://www.agilityinnovation.com, we began to talk through and exchange ideas and concepts for building a collaborative innovation framework. We wanted any end result to be open and freely shared with anyone. We wanted others to build on these early attempts to move, if we can, to a better standard. We recognized whatever we produced needed adapting to meet different circumstances but was generic enough to be recognized.

The aim of attempting a collaborative innovation framework came from this opening exchange between us.We are keen to have a growing contribution so we can establish the validity of the approach and demonstrate that the model is a starting point for any kind of innovation effort.

To this end we have set up a wiki for this and encourage anyone wanting to contribute or simply be involved to register and join in any discussions to advance this collaborative effort. This is at http://cirf.pbworks.com

We submitted these concepts for unveiling our approach at InnovationManagement.se, with the opening article on this discussion at: http://bit.ly/ee8ID7nd and also at InnovationTools.com that is found here  http://bit.ly/gTWKyx. We want to engage also our own network of practitioners and draw in the broader innovation community wherever we can. We want the ‘wisdom of the innovation crowd’ with your help.

Outlining our approach

We decided that it has to remain as simple as it can. The results published initially are a series of PowerPoint presentations not dressed up as ‘sexy, all bells and whistles’ but basic in delivering the appropriate message. We broke down the thinking into three slide decks as we felt you can become overwhelmed and lose the many separate messages that make up the total collaborative innovation framework. Let me explain the three decks briefly:

The first, Innovation Business Architecture, starts by “peeling” the innovation onion.  We recommend starting at the strategic level, and working down through several other “layers”, including people and processes.

The goal of this first model is to deconstruct the important drivers and influencers which will direct innovation activities. What is important is to recognize your anchor points for ‘doing’ innovation. The strategic need and what we call the orientation points or anchors. The purpose of the IBA deck is a deconstruction that will suggest an innovation framework.

The second presentation, Core Innovation Reference Framework, builds on the first presentation by using the deconstructed model to identify five “areas” of focus for innovation success: Strategic Context; Trajectories, Discovery and Insight; Systematic innovation Process;  Go to Market; and Enabling and Scalable Infrastructure.

These five “areas” of focus for innovation detail how the firm sets strategy (Strategic Context) for innovation, how it gathers insights and trends (Trajectories), how it prepares products for the market (Go to Market), how it enables and scales innovation activities internally and externally and how it conducts systemic innovation activities consistently. Any innovation process must map back to these suggested five focus areas and fully considered.

The third presentation, Examination of Innovation Types, examines a range of innovation “types” within the context of the innovation framework defined in the Core Innovation Reference Framework deck. Using the framework we can establish which focus areas are critical for innovation success in the different innovation types.  For example, we can see that Needs-based innovation relies on Trajectories, Discovery and Insight for success because of the importance placed on customer needs.

Investigating the innovation “types” within the framework provides more detailed and careful examination of the actual work involved when innovating using that “type” or approach. There are really numerous key differences between the different ‘types’ of innovation, distinct attributes to successful deployment.

These can be also viewed at slideshare as well as on the two leading innovation sites of InnovationManagement.se and  InnovationTools.com and we suggested best viewed in this ‘given’ order:

http://fwd4.me/00F7

http://fwd4.me/00F8

http://fwd4.me/00F9

The importance is in the potential takeaways

We believe that creating a common innovation model or framework will have a number of benefits, for innovation practitioners, for companies and for innovators.  It can become the common reference point to build from. It can be used repeatedly to refresh and validate changes in thinking and can allow us all to move on from focusing on the process of innovation to the leveraging of the innovation process- a huge step in our opinion.

Who gets value from this?

For a corporate innovator or practitioner, a common innovation model provides a clear starting point for innovation, developed and validated by a number of innovation experts.  This common model accelerates acceptance internally and reduces the work necessary to clarify and implement an innovation approach.  The model also demonstrates what factors must be considered when innovating, which helps define the investments and constituents involved.

For a company or organization considering an innovation initiative or program, a common innovation model removes uncertainty around innovation, provides more clarity, and helps establish the parameters of the effort. It highlights the areas of the business impacted by an innovation effort, and dives specifically into the needs and requirements by innovation “type”.  A common model also eliminates the confusion caused by competing consultants, theories and philosophies.

For innovation consultants or advisors, a common innovation model creates more business since clients can articulate their needs more easily through a common innovation model.  Reducing confusion and uncertainty more firms will conduct more innovation work more frequently, leading to more business and more innovation.  Work moves from process to outcomes, giving better returns.

What we are asking of you- the next steps

We ask that you review and think through the innovation approach we’ve documented.  As you consider these models, please recommend updates, edits or additions to the model, with special focus on the Core Innovation Reference Framework and the Examination of Innovation Types.

You are encouraged to send your feedback, updates or enhancements to any part of the model to:

Paul Hobcraft of Agility Innovation                                           paul@agilityinnovation.com

Or

Jeffrey Phillips of OVO Innovation                                            jphillips@ovoinnovation.com

We will publish updates to the model and we encourage active discussion and commentary on the Collaborative Innovation Reference Framework at the dedicated Wiki: http://cirf.pbworks.com

We encourage you to visit, join and comment so we can build on this further. Innovation needs to move on, we do need to rethink how we can leverage innovation more, not spend the present enormous amounts of resources, energy and debate on achieving a basic understanding.

We must leverage innovation for our collective futures and not stay bogged down in deciding the innovation process on a piecemeal basis.

A beta version of a Collaborative Innovation Framework

Jeffrey Phillips of Ovo and Innovate on Purpose fame, based in the US and viewed on http://www.innovateonpurpose.com , and I have combined to share a view of an innovation framework that aims to reduce many of innovations mysteries. We describe and prescribe to a set of innovation methods that we believe can greatly simplify the innovation process. Here we lay out the beta version of a collaborative innovation framework.

Jeffrey has commented on his blog http://bit.ly/eBGKS5, “We believe that framework can help reduce the mystery and develop a “standard” for innovation which enables more firms to innovate and accelerates adoption of innovation.  This is not to say that the model we are developing will be a “cure all” for every situation.  Any firm starting an innovation effort will need to adopt the model, then adapt it to its needs.  But by exposing the model and examining the different innovation “types” (business model innovation, open innovation, design-led innovation, service/experience innovation, etc) we can establish the validity of the approach and demonstrate that the model is a starting point for any kind of innovation effort.”

Over the next few days we are unveiling the approach at InnovationManagement.se , with the article opening this discussion at:  http://bit.ly/ee8ID7 and also at InnovationTools.com coming out later in the week.

Our goal is to encourage everyone to comment on the model we’ve developed, and add to it.  We encourage you to join with us to develop a common reference framework that everyone can use or adapt to their needs when they start innovating. To that end we’ve developed a wiki, entitled the Collaborative Innovation Reference Framework, which will allow anyone who is interested to participate in the development and extension of the innovation model we are proposing.  Please visit the site and let us know if you’d like to join us in developing or extending the model, or would simply like to be part of the community.

The three models we propose start from the most abstract viewpoint and quickly dive into specific details.  We have developed three key presentations which unveil the approach, and they must be viewed in a specific order we believe. These can be also viewed at slideshare:

http://fwd4.me/00F7

http://fwd4.me/00F8

http://fwd4.me/00F9

As I have outlined our goal in providing these opening thoughts is an innovation model that others can adopt or adapt openly.

We would want to encourage, discuss and openly collaborate around these suggestions so please help us create a transparent, collaborative reference framework that removes some of the mystique from innovation, so more firms can innovate more quickly and with greater confidence.

Managing roadblocks within open innovation

I always find thoughtful lists as extremely helpful to prompt my thinking on different issues. It often helps to unblock my own thinking. This one is for open innovation.

One such list I compiled from mainly two sources on roadblocks to open innovation. The main source was Dr Brian Glassman. He wrote a paper “Open Innovation’s Common Issues & Potential Roadblocks with Dr Abram Walton. (http://www.innovationtools.com/PDF/OI_issues_and_roadblocks.pdf) and different thoughts that I found as well worked through. The other source to make up this list was from P&G’s experiences gleened from different sources. Together I feel they make for a solid list of roadblocks or issues to think through. Let me share these:

Firstly the core need or use of open innovation

  1. Generating ideas for new products and services
  2. Solve technical problems that are vexing or to complicated or expensive to solve internally
  3. Co-development of difficult problems, services, products, technologies

Issues & Potential Roadblocks

  1. Internal buy-in- quick wins, types of motivations- how to tackle this?
  2. Changing the culture is a big challenge. Shifting from inventing everything internally and owning all the IP to an open culture, with shared risks and rewards is a huge leap. You find that not everyone embraces open innovation at the same speed, or to the same degree.
  3. It is important that employees realized that any open innovation was not another name for downsizing and outsourcing jobs but instead, a strategy to ensure sustained business growth for the Company. Leveraging open innovation as a way to increase capacity for our internal researchers makes sense as a key message
  4. Recognise early  to concentrate on what we do really well internally and look to partners externally in instances where they can either do better or faster to bring products to market more quickly
  5. Build rewards and recognition into the career development related to open innovation recognising its value to the organization and its learning.
  6. Change the mindset of open innovation as a ‘threat’ to open innovation as an ‘productivity enabler’.
  7. You have to champion the early adopters. Whether it’s an individual or a business, you take those who are on-board, passionate, and have embraced open innovation and you make heroes of them to the rest of the business.
  8. It’s a process that begins with networking and building relationships, and grows into productive business transactions that benefit both participants as well as consumers.
  9. Approaching ‘partner understanding’ in a similar way to consumer understanding. To become the ‘partner of choice’ requires being outwardly focused to understand partner’s needs, concerns, expectations, goals, etc. and finding ways to delight them at the first moment of truth (their initial contact as a potential partner) and the second moment of truth (during the collaboration).
  10. And at the monetary level, ensuring that partnerships are truly a win/win for both sides.
  11. Set out to coach internally and ask the question “Would you sign for either side?” In doing so, we increase the likelihood of repeat partnerships. And we build a solid reputation as a true partner of choice.
  12. Establishing trust with your open partners- reputation, honesty,  avoiding overly aggressive negotiations, prompt and clear communications, IP openness
  13. Intellectual Property-  complex and often central, full ownership tussles, limited disclosures, fair split on inputs, commitments, resources, capital
  14. Corporate lawyer blocks- core beliefs in potential conflict with open disclosures, at what point involve them, oral agreement stage or before, required buy-ins
  15. IP category blocks- the class the IP falls in, open, who benefits, competitive positions, weapons of defence to block future options, issues of internal security
  16. Payment systems- typical payment process large vs. Small, how and when to pay, pay on milestones, be clear on this
  17. Communications- central capability in finding, evaluating and working, the types of person as communicators, champions, connectors, the mindset needed and determination required to break down barriers, knowing the different channels to answers to unblock.
  18. Structure of the initiative- a web page of officers, connection details, spamming, unlisted hot numbers, availability and response mechanisms, extroverts, mindset based on a deep desire to connect and communicate, proper, active and trustworthy statements of intent
  19. Clear & Stated Agreement Established at the Beginning of the Relationship- establish a clear understanding and broad agreement on vital issues, the ‘up front work’ is critical
  20. Clear, Descriptive and Motivating RFP- these communicate the corporate needs to the open innovation network. RFP’s usual sections- opportunity area, problem statement, detailed information where possible (costs, pressures, priority, value, numbers) and anything felt to be relevant to improve submissions. Not too tight, not to lose, easy to read, well structured and financial rewards potential options
  21. Limiting Participation – often more work examining the proposals than resources to complete this. Pre-qualify partners through screening, widen criteria if needed later.
  22. Unfocused open innovation programmes- go off in any direction, benefits of quick wins, create wish lists of clear wins, based on core area of use (application), great potential areas, vexing problems, high value solutions, finding valuable new capabilities or new resources
  23. Facing the unknowns- no journey is without problems, face these squarely on and admit to shortcoming quickly. We are no longer islands of knowledge, we need to learn.
  24. The skills needed to succeed are their adaptability to change, entrepreneurial skills, sensible risk taking behaviours. Being able to identify and remove organizational roadblocks to open innovation. Continual questioning of status quo and looking ahead to find new solutions. Actively working internally to drive culture change, while remaining laser focused externally at consumer needs
  25. Encourage a more active involvement in real life work settings vs. in the lab.
  26. Provide settings to give as many people as you can real life business experience, and provide jobs to students and faculty in different imaginative ways. A great example could be strong university collaboration partnerships that over time work really well.

These do provide a good working-through type of list, to help get you into a better open innovation shape and be more prepared to tackle issues as and when they come up. Hope you find it useful, I do

Walking that narrow innovation pathway.

Walking that narrow innovation pathway needs some rethinking.

The narrow innovation pathway

Innovation is the pathway to travel and seek out our future”

Today there is as much a gap between the aspiration to innovate and the ability to deliver on this. We still continue to ignore the constant suggestion that innovation should be systematic so the organization can provide some degree of reliability to innovate in a continuous fashion. We often allow the concept of ‘holistic’ to simply float over us and ignore the intimate connection between strategic thinking, innovation and their alignment. It is still sad we seem not to go beyond a certain point in our innovation thinking, it continues along a narrow path of limited understanding. Will it ever change?

I appreciate the statement, I think made by John Kao: “Strategy is useless without innovation, innovation is directionless without strategy”. Innovation can be strategies catalyst but is it still? I really do believe we need a new sense of the scale and scope of innovation; we do need to get a firmer grip on its complexities. I would certainly suggest we do need to align it far more to the organizations strategic imperative and recognize innovation’s role in this for this to be successful and to be repeatable. We must strive and push for more of a complete understanding of the innovation process to manage this thoroughly. Firstly innovation is never linear; it is iterative with lots of trial and error to learn from it.

Innovation leadership needs to step up to the plate and deliver.

Innovation leaders need to develop and execute an end-to-end innovation process that encourages discovery more, better screening and assessing earlier on to move discovery into exploration and concept generation that ‘fits’ with the strategy. The process today needs to manage ideas into conversion for profit and growth at increasing speed as well, it is demanded. Innovation is not an ad hoc process as many still see it, that eureka moment, innovation is a massively important strategic business process. We need to treat it as tackling an enterprise transformation designed to bring consistency into the thinking around innovation. It needs to cross functional boundaries, it has to transform current sub optimized silo’s that gets ‘richer’ through exchange, interface and learning from others and not dumped down as often is the case today. To make it work you need a common language and a common approach well understood by the innovation leader designated to deliver.

My last blog dealt with the new extended innovation funnel, with the argument that ideas that enter the internal organizations innovation process are actually in the middle of the process. Let me expand on this ‘extending’ a little more by discussing some of the parts of the innovation value chain that need to be thought through.

Extending innovations value- appreciating the whole system.

For me innovation needs to be treated more like a complete interlinked value chain. We must step back and see the whole value chain system for innovation. It constantly loops back and feeds back-in to add increasing value and experience.  It has many connected parts that need to work together to deliver effectively and efficiently the new ideas and concepts being discovered through to final commercialization.

The innovation value chain needs the following, seemingly obvious often missed:

  1. An established system that is clearly repeatable to ‘push’ innovation through constantly
  2. It needs to be able to scale, scope and quickly adjust according to the concepts being pushed or even pulled through, often by spotting unmet customer needs.
  3. It needs flexibility, resilience and adaptability that constantly adjusts and shaped accordingly and cannot be ‘fixed’, rigid and overly managed or controlled as many seem to try.
  4. It needs to have break points for considering the innovation options- carry on, kill off, spin out, send back to rethink, to allow to grow at a different pace, to accelerate more.
  5. It needs to ‘capture’ the collective learning and experiences constantly gained from the past and build those into improving the process for future activities
  6. The people who have ‘oversight’ need to have some form of option resolution built in for deciding resources, directions, allocations and investments. They need that responsibility.
  7. All innovation ideas and concepts entering the extended tunnel need to align to the strategic direction, compliment or extend onto the platforms you are providing (core, adjacent or new) and feed the portfolio’s that drive the businesses growth aspirations.
  8. They must have a clear ‘fit’ within the strategy needs and be resourced well.

Designing the innovation pathway

To achieve increasing value in this, there is an innovation pathway you have to design and be ready to travel. It is highly dynamic and you, as the leader of the innovation activities, are required to constantly add the active innovation yeast by promoting the ‘fermentation’ needed for innovation to succeed, including:

  1. Establishing and encouraging a robust set of innovation processes and technologies to support that constantly adapts and adjusts to the needs of the innovation concept, not the other way around.
  2. The ability, energy and commitment to drive maturing ideas and concepts to realization.
  3. Create a powerful desire and motivation to innovate by encouraging the environment of what you do makes a contribution to our future.
  4. As ideas and concepts mature, you constantly build and restate the business case, again and again so it remains clear why this concept remains important.
  5. You actively seek out the different and often diverse points of connectivity with all the stakeholders so they can engage, contribute and lend their support and commitment.
  6. Constantly look for ways to empower individuals and groups to explore, challenge and improve constantly on what they know with what they need to find out and discover.
  7. You have to work actively (hard) at clarifying constantly the links of the idea and concepts across the innovation process for all involved to stay committed to the ‘long run’ between idea to commercialization in times of uncertainty and flux.
  8. Ensure you are actively working those networking, encouraging collaborating and building on the collective wisdom of many so that you are constantly exploring all the (emerging) options and expanding on the alternatives to extract maximum value.
  9. Seek ways to always measure, evaluate and see return through progress and impact so everyone involved or viewing the efforts can constantly ‘see’ the value and where their contribution is helping, not simply once a year in those organised ways and events that fit the calendar or bean counter needs.
  10. Strive for execution that builds from the best of the past by knowing what that is; remain open to what is all around you today in the wider world beyond your often more narrow confines and imagine what is really possible with that extra touch of imagination to ‘push’ by seeing beyond the known’s and traditionally accepted.

The concept-to-customer approach is an innovation pathway that constantly narrows down.

We do need a concept-to-customer approach across innovation. My 5C’s of capture, connect, convert, confirm and conclude shown in the extended innovation funnel can move this along.

Innovation is extremely strategic, it requires a more thoughtful understanding and we have to accommodate it within organizations by stating that it is often unpredictable, sometimes a chaotic process, it cannot be legislated or totally subscribed, thankfully certain significant parts can. It is by having this complete understanding of the entire innovation process so we can differentiate between the parts that can be made predictable and those that can’t. We can also constantly work at making innovation more predictable, in managing its many parts by making them more efficient and effective wherever possible. The more the deeper in innovation insight and understanding, the more we are adding to the internal knowledge. By often allowing for as much flexibility and adaptability for ideas and concepts as possible to ‘travel down’ and consistently improve the narrowing innovation path, the more it is likely to emerge as the right end-result.

As we progress from discovery to execution we need to offer more guidance and encouragement than prescriptive methods, currently prescribed and handed out in ad hoc doses. We DO need to understand innovation well. We then can manage our core well, expand into any adjacent spaces that strategically fit more comfortably and organize the associated activities to push the right innovation through a pipeline (depicted by the funnel in the previous blog). We will often have to go a lot nearer to the edge of uncertainly as we build this innovation path but knowing where these edges are is better than being constantly surprised. Innovation expertise inside an organization makes sound sense. Please see a previous post on some thoughts on this http://bit.ly/fQW6Jq

One last thing here, we must also rather surprisingly, reduce the many existing tools and processes we try to fit around innovation that ‘stress’ the existing core infrastructure but more on these in a further blog might be better.

The new extended innovation funnel

The ideas funnel has been with us a long time. We put our ideas into the funnel and then through a process of elimination out ‘pop’s’ finished products. Henry Chesbrough’s famous depiction of the Open Funnel has continued that concept, that ideas enter the more ‘open’ innovation process and go through a more ‘staged gate’ or equivalent process to emerge as the finished product or even spun-out- all well and good.

In the past few weeks the funnel has been constantly coming back in my life. It has been bugging me. Recently I was at a European Innovation Conference and we got into a roundtable discussion on managing ideas and up pop’s the fuzzy front end and the funnel and putting ideas through this. To be provocative I said “well ideas are actually in the middle of the innovation process” and we got into a significant debate on this and concluded that we all did not share a common language on this or understanding of what I was struggling to articulate.

So let me lay out my view. Firstly this was not as inspired as an insight I can  fully lay claim too as mine. I had read somewhere this very point, ideas lie more in the middle of the innovation process but just could not remember where I had read it- grey cells are my excuse.

On my return from the conference and the catching up that always follows I have now sat down to investigate where I had read this. It was staring at me in my document file, Langdon Morris  of Innovation Labs (www.innovationlabs.com)

Langdon Morris and his book “Permanent Innovation”

Langdon Morris wrote an excellent book “Permanent Innovation” back in 2006. I thought the book was great, full of really useful and practical thoughts for anyone involved in innovation or wanting to understand it well. Langdon has just updated this book in 2011 under a creative commons licence, with some rights reserved. You can download this book at  http://bit.ly/fgpNd2.

In his author’s notes for the revised version he makes the following observation that made me (also) rethink the innovation funnel and process:

“The major improvement involves a common misperception. Many people believe (and I used to be one of them) that innovation starts with “ideas.” People, the common view holds, come up with ideas, and then they turn them into innovations. The managed innovation process was therefore assumed to begin with ideation.

After following this approach for some years ourselves we’ve found that it’s not an accurate description of how innovation actually happens, nor is it an effective guide for how it should be managed. Instead, the most successful innovators are those who begin from a strategic perspective, thinking broadly about their goals and the key trends in society and technology, in order to define their strategic intent. They then develop detailed models of risk and reward as it pertains to the uncertainty of innovation development, and all this gets translated into “innovation portfolios” of their innovation investments.

The design of this portfolio embodies a set of themes and goals, and also identifies many unknowns, or questions. The pursuit of answers to these questions is the purpose of research, and the output of research is then the input to ideation.

In this way, the innovation process is inherently strategically aligned, risk-managed, and goal-directed. And as you undoubtedly noticed, ideation is definitely not the beginning, it’s the middle, and hence the need to revise the Permanent Innovation model to reflect this more accurate and more useful understanding.”

Jeffrey Phillips also then added his view for more thinking.

Then I get back and there is a great blog from Jeffrey Phillips on his Innovate on Purpose site of http://innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com/. This was dated March 31st and entitled “The evolution of the innovation funnel”, which can be read here: http://bit.ly/gIUB0J

Jeffrey comments “However, the funnel still seems too focused on ideas.  Our suggested revision to the funnel is outlined below.  This next iteration of the funnel incorporates opportunities, ideas, technologies and even products, considering “spin in” and “spin out”.  Ultimately the funnel is a bridge between unmet customer needs and the solutions we offer.  The funnel should consider far more than just ideas.  After all, in an open innovation model, we can accept and exchange ideas, technologies or even products that may address a customer need or emerging opportunity.  Limiting the funnel to ideas reduces its capability and power and creates a very limited metaphor for innovation teams”

He by the way, also offers a terrific slideshare as well on this through Ovo,  http://slidesha.re/idByw2. His view of the funnel was this:

Jeffrey Philiips/ OVO suggested funnel

So my three points seems to collide- a collision point I could not ignore.

So I firstly wanted to articualte my thoughts that I failed to do at the conference. Then as I got back into funnels and their ‘place’ in the innovation process I wanted to lay out my thinking.

Let me offer my thoughts on the insights, the suggestions and takeaways I have got from these colliding points.

I see this as the extended innovation funnel or alternative

I see the funnel differently. Initially my ‘flipping around’ was to get everyone quickly grasping a well established concept, the funnel, to see it in a new way. It partly worked in its central message of where ideas fit. Since I have now sat down I have moved from this and would like to offer this as my contribution to funnels, ideas and the extended innovation process. I think it reflects more of todays realities:

The new Extended Innovation Funnel v1

Let me briefly explain this, it certainly takes clearly on board the correct view of Langdon Morris and builds from this in a more detailed way. Also Jeffrey Phillips prompts us all to move from ideas to concepts.

Let me briefly explain this model and its reasoning.

The evaluation of ideas is becoming more refined also before ‘it’ ever enters any ‘funnel’ or evaluation process. In many open innovation initiatives the bigger company is not looking for ideas, they are looking far more for at least partly ‘hard baked,’ or proven concepts, that they can quickly scale or ramped up. The concept of ‘just’ ideas is not a reality for many any more, they are to time consuming and costly in resources and energy. They want quicker answers in growth contributions from outside. Scaling up quickly to ‘grab’ the opportunity.

The larger organization involved in open innovation, or its search and relating of ideas are based more on a concept that has some proven value is changing open innovation.

These ‘ideas’ are exploring different connecting points across varied sources and collaborators. They go through a clear match in strategy, capability, cost, return and value in a risk assessment before and they might even loop back for further research, before they enter the internal innovation process of going through idea conversation to meet commercialization objectives. Then and only then, do you enter the more classic innovation process of converting, confirming and concluding concepts before entering the market place. This inside-out process follows each organizations established stage gate or criteria milestone system of checks to process these concepts through to commercialization, often called the process of innovation ‘attrition’ or validation.

There is much more to bringing in from outside-in with a high level of Business Develpment actions and then a more inside-to-outside development process to take it through or spin it back out. This whole process is so much more than the present concept that ‘just’ ideas enter the internal process, are ‘staged-gate or managed through the equivalent accepted internal process that we seem to talk about today. Ideas are entering into this in a far more refined (defined) way than is often not fully appreciated and these are far more in the middle of the whole innovation development process.

This for me is the new emerging funnel, the extended funnel that depicts more of the present practice surely? Do you agree?

The Antibodies Sitting in the Innovation Petri Dish

For many years I’ve been fascinated by these ‘Corporate Antibodies’ that we find in that classic management pathology that instinctively rejects and refuses to alter its ways, so as to protect itself.  The internal immune system somehow identifies and neutralizes often far too many foreign objects, ideas, concepts or solutions. In the medical world the antibody is a protein produced to protect the body’s immune system when it detects harmful substances, called antigens. Innovation to be successful has to immune itself from many ‘antibodies’.

Last week I was remind of this. I attended a good, insightful conference (www.eic2011.com)  on open innovation and new business creation, along with 200 practitioners from large mostly European organizations. What struck me was the consistent reference to stopping the ‘culture’ of rejection; ‘killing off’ projects, the fear of not-invented here. I often felt some of the speakers themselves were actually reinforcing this antibody culture, yet they were leading the charge for more open innovation, the very force to eliminate this.

I will be completing some thoughts on the conference, not initially here in this blog but for the on-line magazine www.innovationmanagement.se in the coming weeks but let’s get back to this ‘strand’ of ‘antibodies’ and Petri dishes.

For starters, doesn’t this seem strange or what- a depiction of Antibodies and the Open Innovation Funnel?

 

Antibodies and Managing Open Innovation

Classic Antibodies depiction vs Managing Open Innovation

 

Detecting Antibodies, Studying Organizations, Managing Innovation.

Innovation remains hard. People are the foot soldiers in the ability to bring innovation to life. They are the active ‘host’ within any organization for ensuring innovation succeeds or fails. People create a culture, the ‘culture to innovation’ but often we do not pay this aspect the sufficient attention required in the depth of understanding it needs to grow this often different culture.

This is where my Petri dish comes in for innovation.

The primary use of the Petri dish is to culture cells. It allows us to observe each step, perhaps the equivalent is in the innovation journey- insight, idea to commercialization. Innovation is often consistently placed under the microscope, constantly dissection and used for basic experimentation. We can see an idea grow or die- we could say these are the growth medium, often finicky organisms when they ‘introduce’ a new culture (idea, concept, open innovation result) and we need to nuture them so they are able to germinate.

The very ‘host’ for innovation, our internal people, somehow have these natural antibodies that detect and defend inbuilt internal perspectives however hard they try to reduce this natural ‘reaction’. The Petri Dish is your home turf actually, you often feel you need to stop contamination to allow innovation to grow and thrive internally as a positive culture and often this conflicts with current wisdom of more open innovation coming in to challenge conventional internal practice.

We do underestimate these antibodies within our organisations at peril

We do need to detect these ‘antibodies’ that stop innovation in multiple, sometimes subtle ways. A number of people have written about this. Stefan Lindegaard in his book “the Open Innovation Revolution” (http://amzn.to/9HCDGk ) devoted one, regretfully short chapter, to “defeating the corporate antibodies” yet does offer ways and observations to fight them. Andrea Meyer, a researcher and writer has written about this observation in different organizations in her blog  (http://www.workingknowledge.com/blog/). Recently I came across an academic paper written by Gary Oster entitled “Listening to Luddites: Innovation Antibodies & Corporate Success” asserting that like biological antibodies in the human body, the work of innovation antibodies can be either positive or negative and suggests a revised innovation sequencing model. Henry Chesbrough and countless other knowledgeable experts on innovation have observed the antibodies at work within organisations, yet we still don’t yet know how to fully counteract them or provide the right conditions for the positive ones that stimulate and grow innovation.

The other ‘killer in our mist is the Not Invented Here Syndrome (NIH) or its close cousins.

To quote Wikapedia: “Not Invented Here (NIH) is a term used to describe persistent social, corporate or institutional culture that avoids using or buying already existing products, research or knowledge because of their external origins. This NIH definition seems to grow and fit many barriers we are quick to ppoint out.  The reasons for not wanting to use the work of others are varied but can include fear through lack of understanding, an unwillingness to value the work of others, or forming part of a wider “turf war”. The opposite culture is sometimes denoted Proudly Found Elsewhere (PFE) or Invented Here.

Proudly Found Elesewhere or Invented Here (with pride) is an opposite of “Not Invented Here.” Again Wikepedia suggests this occurs often when management of an organisation is uncomfortable with innovation or development conducted in-house. Reasons why this might be the case are varied, and range from a lack of confidence in the staff within the organisation to a desire to have a third party to blame in the event that a project fails. One effect of this version of “Invented Here” is that detailed knowledge of the innovation or development never passes to permanent employees, resulting in recurring additional expenditure and a lack of goodwill and bankable experience by employees. One quotation that sums up the philosophy of Invented Here is “Gee, it can’t be worth much if someone local thought of it first”

By the way I saw this ‘badge’ of ‘proudly-found-elsewhere’ worn at the conference I attended last week. I totally understood the reason within an open innovation setting it is used but it can have negative consequences internally to sometimes allow the antibodies and resistence to kick in if this is not carefully managed.

Other distant Antibody cousins we need to watch for –can you recognise these within your organization?

  • The “I made it here” syndrome misdirects organizations to overvalue their internal creations and often undervalue superior, outside innovation.
  • Often cited and a common catch-all is “Business-as-usual” might have considerable deeper meaning of significant resistance within organizations and often needs greater enquiry .
  • The feeling of something being “forced down my throat” creates an unhappy person who will find a way to sabotage this going forward. You can spot these by the level of whining that can go on, the first to complain or the silent one in the meeting but vocal outside it.
  • The person who is genuinely willing to hurt his own company in order to prove his point by going to extremes to derail an initiative
  • We all can have that ‘instinctive’ reaction when (suddenly) presented with an idea that conflicts, clashes, undermines or challenges our possible existence or contribution to the organization.
  • The reaction we often get of “that won’t work” or the alternative “picking up with it”, jumping in and making it even more relevant and eventually successful.
  • The love of blaming a third party when something fails is another sort of antibody.
  • Those scouts that want to be the hero who found a great idea outside the organization and brought it into the company are then suddenly confronted with internal rejection and can’t figure out why- hello antibodies.
  • Reading about someone else’s work as better than ours is not easy to stay neutral, especially when the boss has asked for your comments
  • Admitting someone else is better at implementing than you are can be hard as well without making some ‘barbed’ comment.
  • The inside knowledge that thousands of dollars, time and effort have been invested, sometimes millions of dollars and you could have found the solution already out there, if you had bothered to look without your rose-tinted glasses on.
  • Reuse is often a holy grail to not thinking hard for yourself so you accept and embrace ideas, concepts and best practice by not putting that critical thinking in to frame what you are doing in your right context.
  • “Find the right dependences and eliminate them”. Other people’s contributions outside your own teams are just not good enough so you reject it. Equally being set up in competing teams might have some value but it can kill off much promising stuff if not managed well.
  • The sense of the rules, norms and metrics within organizations also offer us a clue to the chance of antibodies, the tolerances allowed. These give rise to the values, beliefs and assumptions.
  • The risk in using the Stage Gate process can be double edged. Many promising ideas or concepts get ‘killed off’ through lack of quantification, hard metrics or personal agendas due to limited funds and resources. Recognizing and guarding against this is often very hard to manage but these are often negative antibodies at work irrespective of what is sometimes presented.
  • The encouragement of devil advocates, the encouragement to rip it apart to validate it can also have lurking underneath this a powerful vested antibody.
  • Perhaps contentious but sometimes  built into organizations is a living breathing antibody called Six Sigma, bent on driving out waste, striving for efficiency and effectiveness, promoting the opposite to where innovation often naturally needs to thrive- being fluid, fuzzy and a resource burner in pursuit of a nascent idea .
  • The difficulty to admit something else, outside our knowledge is better for us than what we are presently doing is so hard to draw out and resolve, but we must.
  • Finally that stubborn, argumentative colleague that is really hiding their own inferiority complex and will ‘fight’ every way possible to reduce the positives in any ideas or innovations to reduce you to their level.

So what are the cures to all these aliments?

Firstly we have to see the problems around us, we have to open up more and admit to them, not just make a passing comment and everyone listening just nods in their exceptance. If we allow these antibodies to take hold or fester away, in the innovation Petri dish, they will constantly kill off the positives, sometimes slowly, sometimes in dramatic ways. We need to tackle these head on.

The therapeutics for spotting antibodies needs this greater recognition. Many antibodies hold innovation back in many different, often unseen ways. We need the concept of the Innovation Petri dish so we can view innovation in transparent ways under a dissection scope so we can recognize both the positive and negative growths going on inside and then ‘inject’ more of the positive innovation antibodies to enhance and promote organizational innovating success.

The answer can only come through recognition, acceptance and action to openly talk about and reduce the negatives. This does come from a more extensively trained, culturally orientated and highly skilled set of people being constantly invested in, who fully understand the importance of climate and cultures to allow positive innovation to grow. Often this is not given its rightful position of importance in everyday innovation so antibodies are allowed to grow, to feed off of indifference.

I feel it is a time we changed this with the need for developing the ‘antibodies’ detection kit. Yes, I’m working on it in my living innovation lab. I just need to evaluate a few more Innovation Petri dishes first to identify the different strains to then immunize them with a different culture.