Robust to Resilient for Innovation Thinking

It is always interesting how one ‘thing’ triggers another thought, and then you reflect and learn something that helps you add a new kernel of knowledge. This happened today while looking at the discussion topic for an upcoming #innochat that happens every Thursday at noon EDT, 5pm UK time.

The question poised is “Innovation isn’t working! Is it time we innovate how we innovate”. The facilitator is Graham Hill (@GrahamHill) who will attempt to moderate this session that is simply a flood of thoughts of 140 characters by anyone who wants to participate. Everyone ploughs in, offering thoughts or exchanges and for one hour parts of the question get ripped up and tossed around, other parts, the less tasty ones, are just left on the table. It is a twitter ‘feeding frenzy’ for people who are involved (or simply interested) in innovation matters. Fun, relevant and topical.

Graham chose to provide within his briefing paper (www.innochat.com) a reference to Dave Snowden’s work. In this case from his Cognitive Edge Blog “Moving from Robustness to Resilience” http://bit.ly/kvDN5Y  which initially surprised me, and then I really began to understand one important aspect that I thought I’d share here. Thanks Graham!

Innovation is in need of a step change in approach.

Anyone following this blog will see I have been arguing that innovation needed a better common framework. In a collaboration with Jeffrey Phillips and his http://innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com/ where we have been putting forward the case over the past few weeks. You can view this at http://bit.ly/mggPt4.

I strongly relate to Grahams argument that “Innovation has a long and inglorious history of failure. According to common wisdom, over 80% of products fail on introduction into the market (some even claim 95%). And 60% of them fail again on re-introduction. But the problem isn’t the products; it’s the way we innovate. There has to be a better way. Our current innovation models were created for simple and complicated markets. Where understanding what customers need and plugging that into a linear innovation model was enough to drive winning innovation. Today’s markets are different. They are complex and increasingly, chaotic. The linear innovation model is no longer fit for purpose. We need to innovate how we innovate”.

The new learning from this for me is shifting to Resilience

Where Graham (well, actually Dave Snowden) has opened my eyes is with the move from the need to stop building ‘robust’ innovation models but shift this over into ‘resilient’ ones. If you have ever listened to one of Dave Snowden’s presentations, it can be scary. He has an amazing way to present and in every step of the way he builds an argument there lays a depth of knowledge. In this blog of his it is so ‘matter of fact’ it is worrying for us mere mortals. He is so annoying in the best possible way, as he is doing this all the time, shifting my thinking in the work that he and others do at www.cognitive-edge.com. Some people that know David well, say he is just constantly challenging and people love to engage with him but you have to go well prepared. Oh I nearly forgot, if you are Welsh it can be easier. He does make you think.

Shifting my thinking

In his ‘Risk to Resilient’ presentation I heard a set of important things that shift my thinking and advance it. We should refocus on building in more resilience into our approaches. In his case here, resilient systems.

  1. Robust systems try to avoid or prevent failure and can often become crippled in the event of the failure.
  2. Resilient systems accept that failure is inevitable. If you move from focusing on prevention to 1) early detection 2) fast recovery and 3) the opportunity, early exploitation (think Silicon Valley)

Dave Snowden highlights the strategic importance for organisations to refocus on the creation of resilient systems. This has real importance for innovation.

Failure is inevitable

He goes into a Probable > Possible > Plausible for event failure and the triggering of anticipatory awareness and this presentation is very valuable to listen through a couple of times.

Why does this shift my thinking?

Well in a number of ways. I certainly need to down play the robustness and build up the aspects of resilience more to encourage more risk and creativity in innovation design.

Robustness

  • Firstly I have always ‘pushed’ for robust systems of innovation and this presentation causes me to reflect on this approach. To some degree you underline ‘fear’ to reduce failure so you consistently set about reducing this risk. Ideas that started with a real flash of insight come out the other end no more than a ‘damp squib’ that is more incremental and not as ‘disruptive’ as initially intended. They need to be ‘robust’ to survive or just more resilient?
  • Secondly, robust systems fit well with financial people, with the ‘counters and controllers’ of this world. It give them a better sense of identity that innovation can be ‘well’ managed.
  • Thirdly , robustness works with Six Sigma, with process efficiency experts and the more you can manage the  system’s characteristic behaviour the less uncertainty you can have.
  • Fourthly, robustness is often associated with being strong and healthy, hardy and vigorous, with the opposite as seen as weak and feeble
  • Lastly, robustness is often associated with accountability, keeping everyone responsive but due to the often ‘rigidness’ built into the system, we do suffer sometimes spectacular failures. As Dave Snowden says “we become crippled in the event of it”.

Resilience

  • I do think we are all looking more and more at building into our systems, into our own personalities a greater resilience. We have to absorb more; in complexity, in events, in our personal energy
  • We do need to recover more from failure, as failure is inevitable, to adjust to a misfortune or sudden change. We need to deal with difficult changing market conditions more than ever, to cope with adversity.
  • This coping may result in the individual or the organizations ability in “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or using the experience of exposure to adversity to produce a “steeling effect” and function better than expected, to learn from the failure.
  • Some different research shows that resilience is the result of individuals interacting with their environments and the processes that either promote well-being or protect them against the overwhelming influence of risk factors. (Wikipedia quote).

Building in resilience into innovation systems

We need to enhance resilience for innovation management. Closely linked to resilience is adaptive capacity, our ability as humans to deal with change in their environment by observation, learning and altering their interactions in response to changing (market) conditions. It is harder to adapt a robust system.

So resilience leads to responsiveness, listening to the market and customer needs, adapting what we have learnt and being ‘resilient’ in altering what we do to deliver the specific need. Being ‘adaptive’ is critical to innovation

Dave Snowden  finishes with this in this presentation of the differences between robust and resilient:

“The future belongs to companies, and to organizations and to governments who recognize the need for strategic agility and with that comes an approach based on resilience rather than robustness.”

My arguments for a common framework needed for innovation management

Following the release on Monday, April 25, where we published a Collaborative Innovation Reference Model by Jeffrey Phillips of OVO Innovation and myself, Paul Hobcraft of Agility Innovation, I would like to put forward some further opening arguments for proposing the broad adoption of a common framework for the innovation management process.

You can read more about its background here and you are welcome to participate.

Why innovation does needs a common reference point?

When you don’t have a common approach to something, in this case the management of innovation, you can have considerable pockets of inefficiency and a high level of ineffectiveness to deal with. Your organizational energies become fragmented as you constantly deal with differences, gap issues & misunderstandings that result in much hidden costs and ‘spent, unproductive’ capital. Resources are not focusing on advancing innovation; they are often spent on fixing what you have. By not having a clear common approach that everyone understands you fail to establish a common language. By not adopting a common set of innovation reference points you can remain often unproductive, consistently readapting, re-working and plugging gaps that could be better invested in managing the many aspects of complexity you always find in a better thought-through innovation management structure, one that focuses on advancing your activity.

Simply Jeffrey and I believe that the innovation space needs a common starting point – a collaborative reference model.  Certainly many other large and successful industries have common standards – the IBM PC, for instance, or common accounting protocols in financial services or a host of others that have significantly advanced that industry or service.  With these shared and transparent frameworks, clients can gain knowledge, have a growing confidence and understanding by recognizing the value of having something in common and the opportunity to leverage from this. Organizations focus should be on advancing innovation activity not constantly adjusting and adapting to different ‘standards’ or approaches.

Today innovation management advisory firms are mostly small, loosely organized, some highly specialised, that have a flourishing complexity of activity but often spend inordinate time reinventing many aspects of innovation management that are not necessary and serve little value for the client. While client’s requirements for structuring innovation are often claimed as unique and distinctive, they are in many cases, actually not. What they really want is to acquire a common, repeatable, scalable innovation structure that allows them to manage their distinct innovations on a consistent basis. The understanding of the innovation process is basically common. Until this point of difference between what a client wants, a common, scalable process and the providers wanting to offer their own versions, innovation in general will face numerous disadvantages in not advancing, as it is not formed around a basic set of common standards.

Why argue for a common approach?

The benefits of using and developing a common approach are numerous. They provide confidence, reliability and comparability in the market place. They also help to build and place the focus, cohesion and critical mass into building more efficiency and value into the process of innovation.

Common approaches can accelerate the advancement through clearer applications of technology and leading practice, and focus on the ability to reduce the transaction costs along the whole innovation value chain. Using a common language for information sharing, or developing more common thinking, can still allow individuals to gain a competitive advantage in the appropriate place, in their innovations advancement.

Developing further from a common framework can alert customers to the features of a product, service, technology or process improvement, to consider for adoption. It further optimizes and builds from this common point. Having a common approach can actually offer the choice of connecting to an increased number of partners for building connectivity/compatibility between different collaborators. It becomes a multiplier from this ‘common’ application, it lifts the standards.

Adopting a common innovation framework has numerous advantages

Clients in partnership with advisors can build from this basic common platform of understanding by the more effective use of applying people with the right skills and capabilities to focus and accelerate the job-on-hand: the need-to-deliver innovation consistently to final clients needs. If consultants, advisors and practitioners can demonstrate that their solutions are based on a common framework they they set about the creation of their differentiation, based on their unique skills and points of value-add, not hiding behind the need to fire fight and plug gaps, or sometimes add to the mystery that unclear aspects of innovation management or incomplete advice can generate. It degrades efforts in our view.

So what are the advantages? What value do common approaches bring to an industry?

This lack of a common model creates uncertainty for potential corporate innovators, who must decide which innovation method or approach seems the most appropriate or valid. In the absence of a common starting point or framework every solution considered seems equally reasonable until you arrive at a point where it is not doing the job you had wanted. A lack of a common approach creates different levels of uncertainty because there are many competing methods and tools that all seem reasonable, often with vested interests in the models proposed but it is the supporters of these different approaches who benefit from the advocacy of their approach, not the management of innovation.

We believe that creating a common innovation model or framework will have a significant 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.

Specific advantages that a common approach to innovation can provide

  • Transformation of ideas to a marketable concept

The accepted of recognized concepts and emergent thinking gets ‘pulled through’ to market by their incorporation into this common approach at increasing rate. The use of appropriate measurement allows the concepts to be defined and quantified so that the suggested common approach is widely understood and accepted. It accelerates by increased adoption.

  • Networking and access to experts

Access to recognized experts through association to prescribing to a commons approach can be extremely beneficial to an organization, in the development of their own innovation approach, as they will gain a better appreciation of the state-of-the-art in other organizations, across industries and compare more with their competitors. You also gain in growing benefits from the collective expertise of the community that subscribes to this and in their combined knowledge or expertise, in that it brings a multiplicity of partners together that might not have had the same opportunity in a fragmented market. Smaller and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular can enhance their status, and can gain a marketing advantage in growing specialization, expertise and knowledge advancing.

  • Competitive advantage

Developing a new common approach for the innovation process in fresh thinking is a way to apply pressure on competitors, whilst gaining a competitive advantage. It enables an organization to ‘raise the stakes’ and alert consumers to the latest feature, insight or knowledge advantage. Common solutions actually ‘push’ the industry to improve its game, raise its standards and increase value to clients. Due to the potential of reducing costs associated by taking a common approach, the use of commonality also allows for growing price competitiveness in the market- not a bad thing.

Using standardized approaches reduces the amount of research needed at that early stage so investment can be made more in its advancement. It directs activity to more forward looking advancement of innovation management. It can also reduce much of the present duplication and legacy issues from past efforts that are often resident in uncertain situations. Finally in the part,  it increases the purchasing power of the interested parties to evaluate far more on this common platform accreditation, with growing confidence on common criteria, alongside the value adding points of differentiation to meet the work that needs to be done through new innovation.

  • Network effects

Today the network effects in adopting a common approach typically increases with the number of users sharing and feeding off of each other in learning, knowledge and experience. This more ‘open’ sharing effect accelerates collaborations, connections and knowledge disbursement.

Network effect markets will become increasingly attractive targets for companies who can position their own proprietary technology (technology that is protected through IPRs) as the technical standard in that market, to improve upon the common approach to help in its management and execution. Having a common approach provides an essential building block for collaborative platforms for different parties to work together in more ‘open’ innovation environments for their mutual goals that is increasingly being recognised today as less likely to be achieved by working in isolation.

  • Quality and reputation

Organizations today are demanding better quality, depth and expertise in what they adopt. Adoption is more likely if it is backed up by accepted common approaches that are recognised by the broader community. Alternatives will increasingly become harder to accept with their growing disadvantages of not being party to the potential of sharing around the commonalities recognized as standard, within this more common adopted approach to innovation management practice.

  • Growing international and global recognition

Involvement accelerates across global organizations by adopting these set of common approaches to innovation. Through subscribing to international common approaches standards and practices throughout the organization’s global innovation activity, this will give a common language, clarity and greater line of sight. Operating on a common approach agreement, gains in the longer term for collaborative ventures all working through the same common approach or platform. It aligns to better efficencies and potential leverage in different ways.

  • Variance is significantly reduced.

The number of different approaches to solutions is reduced by adopting a more common set of solutions, due to increased optimization of the process. This is known as variety reduction. Variety reduction leads to economies of scale that can lower production costs and therefore investments. Variety reduction would help along the whole innovation value chain. It can lower core adoption costs allowing organizations to concentrate on the features that are most important to their innovation needs, thereby leading to a sharper focus on what is critical for their specific innovation delivery. It promotes greater creativity by providers of solutions by focusing on the positives and building from this more focused approach to demonstrate competitive advantage.

So to summarize

When relevant common approaches do not exist then organizations remain uncertain and weary, they limit their investments resulting in inadequate application and understanding of innovations true value. Investment made without a consistent approach have high levels of inefficiency cost built in and the market remains unhealthy as there is this consistent under investing occurring due to ongoing uncertainty.

When relevant common approaches can be established organization confidence increases significantly, risk is more quantified, there is a growing understanding of the common approach by a broader audience and increased funding is more available for forward looking investment. The health of the innovation market benefits from this potential cycle of increased investment. It builds upon a stronger platform not lots of fragmented pieces.

Benefits and key takeaways:

We believe that creating a common innovation model or framework will have a number of significant benefits, for innovation practitioners, for companies and for innovators, actually for the whole innovation community that believes in innovation as the most significant enabler to growth and renewal.  It can become the common reference point to build from. It can be used repeatedly to refresh and validate changes in thinking.

Paul Hobcraft of Agility Innovation who can be contacted at paul@agilityinnovation.com or Jeffrey Phillips of OVO Innovation who can be contacted at jphillips@ovoinnovation.com for discussing this concept further through the suggested models provided as a starting point.

Principle Source of Reference and Guidance for structuring the specific advantages: Standards and Intellectual Property Rights: A Practical Guide for Innovative Business by Matthew Clark, published in 2004.

Paul Hobcraft, Agility Innovation Consultants, 8th May 2011.

Questions raised on a collaborative innovation framework

Yesterday, 5th May, there was an interesting exchange on #innochat relating to collaborating frameworks for innovation. We have a wiki on this http://cirf.pbworks.com if you care to take a look so you get the context and the suggested framework we are proposing.

#Innochat is a lively, informative and inspiring one-hour(ish) discussion on Thursdays at noon (Eastern US time). Usually the best way to follow along is to head over to TweetChat – sign in with your Twitter credentials and follow along and participate. Take a look at www.innochat.com and join in.

Jeffrey Philips @ovoinnovation and myself @paul4innovating have been suggesting that we need to organize more around a common approach to innovation and having recently published this we decided to put this forward within this discussion hour to learn more from many established innovation thinkers. The fact that twitter decided to go ‘whaling’, stalling and generally misbehaving to create some bottleneck in exchanges, it did seem to generate a lot of ‘chat’ and a great diversity of opinion.

The first question was: “Is innovation a cottage industry? If so, is that because of a lack of a standard approach” warmed everybody up that was for sure. The definition supplied by @ovoinnovation was “small players, different approaches that are not scalable, with no shared solutions”.

There were plenty of thoughts on this, with a summary of some of the more interesting ones shown here:

  • “Too much competition to have one model”
  • “Companies should have their own frameworks as companies would be similar in their approach”
  • “Diverse activities without common threads or themes”
  • “Does innovation adhere to common frameworks?”
  • “Cottage industry sounds like lots of hand weavers”
  • “Hand weavers being replaced by factories”
  • “Cottage implies less professional”
  • “There is lots of adopting and applying (to innovation)”
  • Cottage maybe, not all take on ongoing formalized approach to innovation”
  • “Innovation contains artisans”
  • “There is lots of adopting and applying”
  • “Common starting point but (perhaps) different ending points”
  • “Main reason why Innovation is so important to services companies is because it’s easy to commoditise, and easier still to copy”
  • “Custom-tailored frameworks are needed”
  • “We still don’t have a common language”
  • “Not even a common language for strategic plans”

For me coming out of this ‘opening’ exchange was some real concerns.

My thinking that came out of this was “protect the known’s, reject the unknowns”. It struck me what an awful lot of reinventing of the wheel or in this case the innovation process, still does seemingly takes place. Is this either productive or value-adding for the clients who are looking for sound advice? It suites many providing advice to do this, as you come back to one of the very salient points made yesterday: “easy to commoditize, and easier still to copy”, so you offer a custom-tailored evaluation process and provide a variant, wrap it in some mystery to offer, in all truth a custom-designed solution.  So why not go with one from the very beginning to frame discussions, to establish a common framework and then explore options to advance on this? Instead it seems ‘we’ move on, look for the next one, repeating what is already actually established as common. I think we should move on from this and advance by providing a common, generally accepted innovation framework, as the starting point.

Yes, from what I read, nothing convinced me that we are NOT still in a cottage industry for innovation and surely that has to change?

Frameworks or Standards

Another part of the discussion was around frameworks or standards.

The conclusion was we lacked a framework and it is problematic. Adopting standards remain to be seen, as this can have many constraining factors. Lots of exchanges were around the use of the word ‘framework’ and there seemed to be a consensus of the better use of ‘guidelines’ would be helpful. Well at least it is right perhaps at the start of anything to suggest guidelines maybe. The other observation was “structures must be extremely loose, any framework very light”

Did the discussion advance the topic?

From my perspective it did. Within one hour a fast and furious exchange the issue of lacking a common innovation framework was raised as a real constraining issue, it got a number of people certainly interested to become more involved. So I’m hopeful as we push the argument about having a more organising framework or guidelines for innovation we might achieve the level of advancement we do require within innovation thinking.

One tweet “Innovation within parameters” summed it up nicely. Some advancement would help by framing innovation more on a common platform or around a set of guidelines. We certainly gathered more involvement and interest within the innovation community and will continue to argue for the establishment of some common approach.

Frameworks provide confidence, reliability and comparability, by working from something common surely? All we have to do is find a common starting point and that seems that it is not going to be easy, by all accounts of the exchanges that took place yesterday. Still we will push on, as the advantages certainly outweigh the concerns of protecting the ‘knowns’ and ‘easy to copy’ and differentation can be found and better demonstrated further down the innovation value chain.

The shaping of innovation- future directions

Rethinking innovation after a week where I have argued for a more common approach to innovation (see some of my recent posts )- as one that can be well structured and managed – I feel needs to be discussed next. I do fear if we don’t radically rethink innovation we are in danger of missing out on much that is coming towards us.

If we do not adopt and gain a clear understanding of (basic) innovation, its structure, process and differences in approaches we need, we will certainly struggle to move beyond the basics to the ‘promise’ of advancement that innovation should be offering.

I would like to offer some of the factors that I feel will be shaping innovation’s future; many are presently taking place but in pockets of expertise and experimentation, that we have to investigate more to understand the implications further.

What is holding innovation back?

Firstly we do need to provide some ‘bunker busting’ of the different silos of resistance:

  1. The internal functions that are presently closed off from each other
  2. The different management layers failing to communicate and talk to each other
  3. The inability to combine ‘multiple aspirations’ of suppliers, internal experts, clients and end customers on a common platform
  4. The continued weakness and recognition by middle managers of innovations value and worth.
  5. The need to break up those clusters of knowledge built by increased specialization, so the expertise can be more openly shared.
  6. Bridging the field, middle management and top executives understanding to narrow internal differences of interpretation.

Somehow we do need to break these pockets of resistence down to allow innovation to move on.

Spotting some of the trends that are emerging to challenge us even more.

  • Innovation is not the preserve of the (selected) few but the domain of the community.
  • The growing need to move on from the reliance of symbolic projects to justify innovations existence.
  • Recognizing innovation is traversing functions, entities and boundaries faster than ever.
  • Open Innovation is moving out of the R&D Lab and moving very fast across an organization for a more Open Enterprise approach
  • Collaboration is formed at the hip with Co-creation.
  • Design comes increasingly to the fore
  • The shift to ‘open’ workbooks that offer specific step-by-step guides, latest thinking to be shared and freely contributed too.
  • Platforms and ecosystems are emerging to manage complex innovation challenges
  • The power of social innovation, bottom of the pyramid thinking is ‘hot’
  • Reverse innovation and its ability to be rescaled to adapt across different markets is equally a valuable source of growth within organizations. Scaling becomes important.
  • We need to “reconnect to dominant economic activities of the larger society”, add a ‘higher’ purpose into our innovation activity. Scoping is equally important.
  • There is a growing hope we are in the final death throes of the organization, of moving even further away from the linear process that has dominated much of the 20th century thinking.

What are the implications of not advancing in innovation understanding?

  1. Innovation used to be about product, technology and R&D but it is now about value and anything that carries value; it is about creativity and entrepreneurship and it is even more tied to a clear vision so it does become a vital part of the culture of the company.
  2. We are going to have to learn to collaborate across the entire value chain but this is complex and often time-consuming. It will challenge everyone but it can be very rewarding…in faster and more relevant innovations but only if this coordination can be leveraged effectively.
  3. Defining value at the customer point and not within an organization in the R&D lab, as has been the past practice, is a significant shift. The increased focus on the consumers unmet, unarticulated or required needs by making customers central in the web of co-creators and co-creation activities that need to be orchestrated within organizations and their partners.
  4. We have seen some really dramatic shifts in research techniques to know more of what ‘pulls’ and ‘connects’ with consumers – and where more open innovation helps in delivering on this understanding. Equally customers are looking to become more engaged and involved in their products and services. Managing the dynamics and implication of this mental shift will be hard for many.
  5. The shift in emphasis to the customer and their unmet needs makes a really compelling case for increased trend spotting, scouting, aligning and recognizing behavioural changes so as to make insights a real core of your business. Understanding the true source of those ideas is a very different skill set than developing ideas simply  that are emerging from within an organization.
  6. The value of different Business Models to apply within any assessments of innovation is showing increased willingness to develop more ‘spin outs, to encourage the concepts to flourish.  Even in large organisations they are showing more commitment to separating out promising concepts to allow these newly identified opportunities to bear fruit and be more focused, so as to deliver the ‘identified’ result.
  7. The growing willingness to explore Business Model Generation as a deliberate policy  is altering the competitive landscape even more in the chase for growth. Establishing the right approach and business proposition design is becoming a must have skill in evaluation and execution.
  8. The constant ‘quest for growth’ will need an even deeper connection between Marketing and Innovation as they will continue to be two ‘twins’ as the strongest drivers of margin and revenue growth.
  9. The recognition that adopting someones elses best practice is not the ideal way to go, it has been the ‘lazy man’s’ solution needs even more challenging. Defining your specific emergent or good practices that fit your culture and context are clearly better. Your context, your culture, your resources are uniquely different and other peoples ‘best practice’ is not the right starting point.
  10. The art of spending wisely between experimentation, trial and error internally, and receiving knowledge from external expertise for understanding innovation needs to be brought into a better balance . Presently it is not, as external expertise has failed to provide decent thought leadership and internal innovation expertise has not been dedicated as it should have been on implementing the levers of innovation and achieving alignment within the organization. Greater depth of expertise needs to be injected into the equation to gain a deeper understanding of innovation management.
  11. Building a more robust ‘innovation activity system’ into managing innovation that goes beyond just simply pipelines and portfolio’s, needs thinking through. It requires a more open logic model to be articulated and built around.  Many people are contributing more insight today to allow for more early ‘open’ thinking. The pipeline needs a higher level of flexibility and diversity of end result options, and this needs to move beyond just product moving through the innovation system.
  12. There is an increased need to reposition your firm as a “fast discoverer” using rapid intelligence to built into this innovation activity system.
  13. External parties are seeking more involvement in a ‘joint’ innovation processes and development, they are increasingly reliant on each other to become a critical contributor or component provider to resolve more complex problems. There is a growing understanding these mutual dependencies are important to be managed better than at present.
  14. There is an increasing need to manage a diverse group of collaborators across a common process which might not want, or need the same end-result but do need each other, to ‘combine’ for a given concept to be realized. This new complexity of managing for different end results will be a significant challenge to identify and manage these differences across a common platform approach.

Some of the possible obstacles we need to resolve

  • The constant urge to keep trying to force change and disruption on the client with new products and services they find difficult to adopt in their “steady state” life or recognize as really necessary.
  • There is a movement that disrupting is the ‘only’ appropriate innovation solution to change existing market or segments. If this momentum is allowed to flourish and take hold the outcome for many firms will be fraught with many dangers. Managing disruptive innovation really does need deep reflection and clarification of the risks before anyone embarks on this approach.
  • The consistent difficulty of failing to create a listening culture around intellectual mobility and social platforms still lies within organizations to discover, transmit and transform ideas into competitive advantage. Managing this new source of intelligence is proving difficult for many to understand.
  • The balance and current distinctions between older techniques of more structured repositories, file orientated management, document based with the newer ones of browser-based, Web 2.0 approach that is more online often free-flowing, simultaneous wiki-like collaborations that many will have to become accustomed too is a tough area to balance.
  • The issues of achieving a strong strategic alignment by the innovation folks needs to be better understood and managed within organizations.
  • The right timeframe for innovation is what:  next quarter, next year, in three years, in what period? When is a corporation going to learn innovation does not conform to the annual financial calendar, it needs to account for this differently to allow innovations to move with its natural discovery to delivery cycle, not being shoehorned into a unnatural calendar that limits the original concept and compromises the potential result that could have been delivered for perhaps more game changing innovation if it was to be allowed the ‘right’ time .
  • The question still remains on when innovation will be totally embedded in the psyche of the corner office and that the C-level focus innovation really requires to move from emerging to established as a dedicated function.
  • The transformation of new concepts into concrete results that can be well measured is still a challenge to achieive. Innovation needs to show it can clearly make the growth contribution so often talked about but often difficult to  quantify. We do need to show the real value innovation brings in new wealth creation and growth for countries, organizations and society to advance innovations standing.

Innovation can be remarkable if we can embrace it fully

What is remarkable about innovation? It is highly dynamic.  It’s a task that anyone could do, given the time, education, clarity of purpose and the understanding of their contribution. Today, only a few people actually are allowed to work on innovation activities, yet the outcomes are ones that everyone wants and we do need to find ways to allow innovation to be part of each persons daily jobs . Having a sense of purpose to improve or change something through innovation is a powerful enabler.

Getting from where we are today, seemingly bogged down in many of the legacies of past innovation understanding, the reluctance not to adopt a basic common approach to innovation as a minimum is going to continue to limit all the ‘promise’ that is surrounding innovation. Recognising some of the above trends and the implications that are coming rapidly towards is like an express train that will speed pass as we are not yet fit to travel. We do need to rethink innovation fast or it will never achieve its real potential and we will be left simply standing on the station as the train rushes past.