Innovation jobs-to-be-done

I tend to not like offering up checklists as blog posts, you know those one hundred and one ideas for this or that, although I have to admit I like collecting them as a kick-starting resource. Today I decided to change my mind, Why?

Well I think those of us involved in innovation need to keep reminding ourselves to not just work on the days problem that is in front of us but to ‘move along’ all the others, so this is my innovation jobs-to-be-done list that clients and consultants need to work upon. Also these do build towards a possible Chief  Innovation Officer’s agenda and content.

A reminder of what we need to keep tackling and consciously working on. What do you think?

  1. Building innovation capabilities: evaluating and accessing the company’s innovation capabilities, working through the culture, climate and environment that is needed for innovation, removing the barriers to innovation to increase the potential available.
  2. Developing the competencies and capacities to innovate: make innovation everybody’s everyday job; to grow the understanding and organization for innovation and often for the renewal that is needed.
  3. Creating breakthrough strategies: insights and fresh thinking, tools & techniques that enable the creation of new strategic innovation, discovery, exploring white space, extending beyond the existing core to turn thinking into real world solutions.
  4. Developing new business models: exploring different business model design and innovation. Building the business case to accelerate, change and (radically) alter the existing state in greater valued ways.
  5. Finding opportunities for innovation and new growth: create new value, disruptive and radical innovation, disrupting the market to create new growth, identifying and developing new markets and segments, optimizing new products, honing the incremental value, building bigger and better ideas that solve the customer need.
  6. Catalytic thinking: Innovation can be the catalyst to a set of strategic questions and problems, providing a new scope through innovation, shifting perspectives and mindsets, making different connections that lead to growth opportunities.
  7. Knowing the emerging, leading and best practice of innovation: having the latest insights, awareness and understanding of trends and approaches through innovation and what this can possibly bring to existing thinking.
  8. Recognizing innovation lifecycle management: organizing around different platforms, portfolio’s and approaches to enhancing the value of the investments made. Pinpointing, verifying and improving the ‘impact’ innovation can bring to the different stages
  9. Accelerating and bringing change: critically exploring speed-to-market, execution, alignment, stretching and scaling accordingly, more fluid structures, asset utilization, using innovation as the positive change agent/ enabler.
  10. Enhancing the quality of inventive intellectual thinking: leveraging the intellectual assets and the intangibles by enhancing knowledge sharing, transferring and the conversion strategies for improved deliverables and worth.
  11. Strengthening the collaborating effect: through a growing need for greater networking, collaborations and changing relationship management techniques to broaden horizons and possibilities, reducing tensions and accelerating agreement and opening up more informal innovation pathways.
  12. Building innovation resources: access to concepts and theories, tools, templates, techniques and methodologies, research, inspiration, knowledge insights and critically links to related activities that feed off of innovation.
  13. Leading clearly for innovation: insights on the role of top management and how innovation processes can be facilitated, developed and embedded through coaching, championing and facilitating. Turning aspiration into reality.
  14. Management 2.0: is about reinventing innovation management for a new age, management model innovation, and management of innovation activity in general. Building innovation into the very fabric of the organisation.
  15. Long-term innovation:  the ability to embed a ‘sustaining innovation’ mindset, develop the environment for independent thinking and longer-term identification, seeking out tomorrows pathway through a more holistic view, growing more dependency on increased interactivity.

Care to add any I might have missed out, although I must admit this list is long enough as it stands. By the way, they are not in any particular order.

Those disruptive moments when you simply need to let go

Emotional attachment prompts some incredibly strong bonds, a host of clear affections and different reactions when it comes to our favourite brands or products. When something suddenly ‘disrupts’ this, it triggers a set of mixed emotions that shakes you and stirs up different feelings that take some time to re-order in your mind. I try to seek understanding and then simply have to let go, even when they so often staring you in the face. Sometimes you still don’t want to finally let go until you are ‘hit’ by such a disruptive event.

The recent Kodak moment is one of those

One of those has happened to me with the filing of bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 for Kodak. For so many people those “Kodak moments” make up such incredibly important parts of our lives. Stuffed under the beds, in boxes, in cupboards are those images of youth, family, important occasions and holidays that sit happily in the back of our minds waiting to be prompted by those images captured with the help of Kodak.

Hindsight and that regrettable smugness, that seems to always emerge.

I’ve been reading in the past week or two about all that might have gone wrong at Kodak and you feel that certain smugness that hindsight often gives us. I wish all that I read would make it so simple. I’d argue you should ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ before you rush to offer reasons and cause. In Kodak’s case such a fundamentally different technology was unleashed, the ability to see what was coming towards you at such a rush and from so many sides was never easy and I’m sure they tried.

Disruptive technology can be subtle as well as prominent in its impact. Confronting something so enormous in a society’s movement to this change would challenge anyone. Technology, especially digital technology, has been such a whirlwind of ‘creative destruction’ taking Blockbuster, Borders and other film producers that were caught out in this- Ilford Photo in 2004 & Agfa in 2005. All I know is we can expect that many more will be caught in the new technologies ‘destructive’ path.

Process technology is struggling with the rapid changes

Process technology is under enormous threat. Not just Kodak but similar transitions are being managed (or not) by newspapers, book publishers, movie studios, broadcasters, record labels although some of the issues are different it is technology, new technology, that is reaping the destruction. Yet the core is stronger than ever- capturing moments digitally, storing and using information and pushing entertainment in new ways.

It might be also premature to fully write off Kodak. It has this protection and from this a certain time and space to restructure and by all accounts, it has a technology portfolio potentially worth billions. To remake itself though, is going to be really tough, I grant you that.

We all have great emotional attachments

I can think of three really important ‘shock and letting go’ moments for me in recent years. Kodak being the latest one, the other two, for me, was Swissair, the icon of everything Swiss and F W Woolworths, or “Woolies” a real icon for the Brits.

Swissair was special for me

Swissair got so caught out after the terrorist attacks in September 2001 as it was in the middle of a massive expansion plan and was suddenly hamstrung with debt and a wrong strategy of expansive exposure. Bad ideas, poor top management left the airline in an incredible state of providing large sums of cash to their pilots to purchase fuel at foreign airports. It shocked the Swiss, it shook me also as this was the one airline I had real emotional attachment too when it ceased trading in 2002.

Living in Saudi Arabia, then followed by Kenya and travelling to some less secure countries in Africa and the Middle East, Swissair stood out like a beacon. One you could run too every night, come rain, sun or attempted coup attempt that seemed to occur all too frequently, in the 1980’s, whenever I travelled in these regions. That tail fin seemingly always illuminated to show the national red flag with a white cross (a bold, equilateral cross) in its centre. On board Swissair simply conveyed those Swiss values such as “personal service”, “in-depth quality” and “typical Swiss hospitality” and “reliability and dependability,” offering a safe haven.

Letting go was hard. I’ve never had the same emotional attachment since with its revised Swiss International Air Lines and part of the Lufthansa Group. I let go of a strong emotional attachment.

Good old Woolies.

I grew up in the UK and Woolworth’s was essential in my life. You entered the store confident you would find that something you needed and many things you didn’t but ended up buying. With over 800 stores at its peak, Woolworths was very much a part of everyone’s lives on the High Street. You got your basic school supplies (pens, paper, ruler), sometimes a bargain item of clothing, basic house-ware but for me, its magic was the ‘mix and match’ sweet counter. Any selection of sweets for the same price and all you had to do was select them and then take them for weighing. Did I love that, my parents I think less so, although I can often remember their hands ‘snaking’ into my sweet bag pulling out their favourite sweets well enough.

So when Woolworth closed, some real emotional attachment suddenly detached and floated away into the memory.

Kodak is up there in emotions for me.

It simply has played a role in my life, my family’s life throughout most of the 20th century. Those slides, those prints hold our most treasured possession- our memories. I’ve already lost far to many in my countless moves, rashly thrown away. Digital images just do not seem the same, no feel, that tactile effect. Digital certainly triggers reactions but not that moment but they are certainly easier to store. But for me nothing evokes more emotion than a faded, slightly out of focus picture that you are forced to focus upon to make out the details.

Would I have preferred these on digital, perhaps, but having that print in your hands, passed down from parent to parent or from a friend who took the picture, not to post it on Facebook for all to see but to hand it to you, so you could both relive that moment and what it meant, a tangible connection- a real provenance.

Emotional attachment is important for brands to build into our lives.

As we work through innovation we often forget the emotional aspects of people, emotions and relationships. Today Apple stands out in achieving that. One real trigger that Kodak prompted in me was revisiting the ten commandments of emotional branding suggested by Marc Gobé as they need to be revisited when we go about our innovating business for business, products and services.

Ten commandment of Emotional Branding

  1. From consumers to people
    Consumers buy, people live
  2. From product to experience
    Products fulfill needs, experiences fulfill desires
  3. From honesty to truth
    Honesty is expected. Trust is engaging and intimate. It needs to be earned
  4. From quality to preference
    Quality is the right price a given today. Preference creates the sale
  5. From notoriety to aspiration
    Being known doesn’t mean that you are also loved
  6. From identity to personality
    Identity is recognition. Personality is about character and charisma
  7. From function to feel
    The functionality of a product is about practical or superficial qualities only. Sensorial design is about experiences
  8. From ubiquity to presence
    Ubiquity is seen. Emotional presence is felt
  9. From communication to dialogue
    Communication is telling. Dialog is sharing
  10. From services to relationship
    Service is selling. Relationship is acknowledgement

Based on the book Emotional Branding, written by Marc Gobé and updated recently as “Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People” as fully revised paperback edition.

This is a terrific list about brand feeling which can be defined as peoples emotional reactions and responses to brands. These brand feelings also relate to the social currency induced by the brand which can be positive, negative, intense or mild. Identification is still so important for lasting relationships between company and customer.

So why do big companies suddenly fail?

The reason is that while big companies are often good at fostering “sustaining” innovations – ones that enhance their positions in established markets – they are generally hopeless at dealing with innovations that completely disrupt their market. They fall into that trap of consistently looking at solutions through their lens of the market; they want to always put existing assets into the new business. They fall victim to their history and this baggage becomes an increasing liability that gives huge drag at the very time you need to be bold. This is their emotional attachment.

Schumpeters “Creative Destruction”

When you have something iconic, full of emotional investment, something that defines an industry, standard or practice, it simply is not easy to let it go. Companies can in theory live forever but today if you are not willing to cannibalize yourself, it does seem others will do it to you.

Applying Innovation today is often like being in a fight to the death or struggling on a path to survival, it is a constant march searching and sensing for possible change points, investing in the creation of new and often untested ideas, to learn and discover and to shed those that can’t match this new ‘creative destruction’ going on around us. Innovation is absolutely essential so we have to embrace it, like it or not in what it disrupts that is all around us.

Kodak was well aware of the future; it failed to confront it with a strategy that needed to be more ‘transformational’, ‘revolutionary’ or ‘evolutionary’. Sustaining innovation must be either ‘discontinuous’ or ‘continuous’. Today it is expected, big companies simply disappear if they don’t do great things, executed well and on time to stop destruction hammering at their door but please don’t tell me this ‘letting go’ of what we have is easy or simple, it is not. It is full of emotion.

The reconstructive rides we face.

Sustaining does not come from incremental innovation; it comes from embracing amazing things and letting go often faster than you like in what you have built up in legacy and getting that right is really, really hard. No wonder there are more and more successes coming from start ups with no emotional baggage, they don’t need to deal with these harder emotional issues.

Emotional attachment, we all have them and to simply let go is not so easy and this should not just happen when we are facing those disruptive moments, we need to equip ourselves a lot earlier. The issue is seeing the challenge early and plunging into it head first, confronting it, taking the wild ride that comes from such destructive forces and hoping you come out the other side better. I think there are going to be more and more of these ‘destructive to reconstructive rides’ I feel in our present challenging times. Sometimes we simply have to let go.

Shoring up the fragile innovation system, call GE

Well, the World Economic forum’s annual meeting is beckoning later this month. During the period of 25th to 29th January the WEF attempts to engage business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.( http://www.weforum.org/)

Just released on 18th January is the GE Global Innovation Barometer with its results of its second annual review on innovation. Here is the source site to check out and explore your own needs : http://www.ge.com/innovationbarometer/

The aim of the release is to use this and have this available for the meeting in Davos as well as shape GE’s innovation agenda going forward. For the Davos meeting lets hope our leaders have the time and inclination to review its content. No doubt GE will be there and if  Beth Comstock is going as the senior vice president and chief marketing officer of GE I’m sure she will be leading the “innovation does matter” charge.

Beth is emphasising a number of vital points that are arising from this survey. Let me provide a few, her rallying cry for business leaders is to understand where and how their innovation strategies are being challenged and to drive towards new solutions.

The report raises all the uncertainties found in today’s market place are challenging business’ ability to innovate. There is a growing restriction on accessing external funding or a conservative attitude and appetite for risk. Some would argue this ‘hording’ of cash, of not investing at this time does push us into more of a deeper hole so how can this be resolved. Enter the political group to provide a more confident environment for investment so let’s trust some resolution of resolve and consensus emerges out of this meeting of minds.

The top line summary taken from this GE barometer taken in October/ November 2011

  • • 9 of 10 executives report economic crisis negatively impacts their ability to innovate
  • • View innovation as primary driver of economic growth, jobs, quality of life
  • • Pro-innovation markets produce better economic results
  • • New model for innovation in the 21st century validated
  • • USA, Japan, Germany, China still perceived as most innovative

The continued belief, confirmed by the majority of business leaders interviewed is that innovation continues as the main driver of prosperity, competitiveness and job creation, and but also points out how challenging and uncertain the present economic and political environments we are in, may hinder companies’ ability to deliver meaningful innovation.

My one comment here on this- Leaders please ‘walk the talk’ on innovation.

A partnership paradox

I found more than interesting in the release by GE that a disconnect has surfaced between the importance of partnerships and the need to pursue them in the near term. There is a clear confirmation (86% of those surveyed) that partenerships are an important component of the new model of innovation but only 21% believe finding partners is an immediate priority to innovate more on a day-to-day basis

My comment here: That is a real disconnect between the present belief and momentum supposedly going on in open innovation and the possible activity taking place in the trenches and what the top knows about. That gap if it is there I think needs urgently addressing to get everyone on the same collaborative page.  Might actually “put the cat amongst the pigeons” for many.

Creating conditions for meaningful innovation

There is a reminder that one-size does not fit all. At the global level innovation continues to move towards an open, more collaborative model, innovation at the local level presents a complex landscape of challenges and opportunities that broad strokes can’t resolve. These constraints or nuances need to be dealt with at the market level as perceptions on innovations ‘place’ are radically different. This is where the barometer has some good insights for those applying global innovation across different market situations.

My comment here: Adopting a more flexible approach to innovation might have increasing value, especially in these more uncertain times where discontinuities will increase more than decrease.

Embracing the new innovation approach

The report reflects on the needed shift for innovation to thrive in the 21st century. That is embracing a new paradigm, one that engenders this collaboration need between several partners, values the creative power of smaller organizations and individuals, and tailors solutions to meet local needs. Business leaders around the world agree that great innovations in the 21st century will be about shared value — addressing both human needs and the bottom line – versus delivering profit alone.

  • • More than ever, 88 percent of executives agreed that the way companies will innovate in the 21st century is totally different than ever before.
  • • 77 percent of executives acknowledged that individuals and small- to mid-sized enterprises have the ability to be as innovative as large companies.
  • • 73 percent agreed that innovation will be driven by people’s creativity over scientific research.

My comment here: Again, I have to question this, not the notion or intent but the real understanding.  I would argue innovation still has not got the appropriate attention and critical understanding at leadership level for the vast majority. To believe they are taking us through a new paradigm is a tough one, I would suggest they are being dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into the 21st century, hanging on to tried and tested 20th century practices.

My second comment here: The danger for executives in larger organizations does lie in the second point- individuals and small-to-mid-sized enterprises do have the ability to match and often exceed them in innovation. In individuals and small units or the smaller pockets of like minded communities does lie the potential of creativity and large organizations are struggling to get their heads around this dilemma.

Convergence and Divergence- narrow the gap.

So I hope the combined forces of Beth Comstock, GE and its global innovation barometer discussed in Davos provides a platform for strengthening innovation’s message at the leadership level.  I would certainly feel within GE it is shifting the focus in their own innovation challenges and as they absorb the outcomes of this barometer I look forward to seeing more innovating coming from them.

Come on GE lead the way and show that continued willingness to take risks and engage across and with society. It is better than the alternatives that many leaders are taking- to reduce innovation where they will eventually pay that price. Get the innovation message across Beth please. The Global Economy needs innovation more than ever to move forward.

A Business Model Canvas Set to Explode

I’d just finished a workshop on Business Model Canvas about gaining clarity in large organizations, when suddenly the flood gates seem to have opened up a day or so later, for me to see beyond and piece more of it together in my mind. After swirling around in this maelstrom of articles, tweets, new publishing, advanced announcements I had to gain some high ground to recover my breath and think a little more. Catching my breath, here is my clarity take and prediction for the BMC.

Ignoring lots of early warning signs

Maybe I should have seen this coming earlier but sometimes you hear a distant rumble but you simply shrug your shoulders and get on with your own work. This week it hit me so I spent some time piecing together different aspects around the shifts taking place on the Business model canvas that have been going on in different parts of the world for my prediction:

2012 is the BMC tipping point year

From what I can see is the Business model is about to go through a really important (further) tipping point and cross that chasm (thanks Geoffrey Moore) into mainstream adoption. Why?

The convergence of so many things seem to be coming about to make this about to explode. Let me try and piece these together. Those on the inside will knowingly just smile while those that didn’t know they were on the inside and those positioning themselves to ride on the crest of this wave will all just nod their heads and recognise their parts in this pending explosion, but it is a set of events that is bringing this all  together.

Firstly the Macro events- those outside our own control but happening now.

  1. Key Trends- the foresight part. Society, Technology, Socioeconomic are all shifting or altering shape. We use technology more, we are being challenged more in society and the rapid behavioural interactions of individuals and groups through social capital and social “markets.” The formation around the new social norms of Facebook, twitter and numerous other social media is disrupting much of the existing norms
  2. Macro-economic forces have changed dramatically. Global market conditions are very much living on the edge, capital markets are drying up by the day, money is going under the mattress more and more, banks are stopping to lend to business, Economic infrastructures are tottering on the brink, commodities and resources are dramatically dwindling or becoming more scarce that prices are rising way out of the old norm (gold for instance).
  3. Industry forces- the incumbents in many markets are being challenges. The difficulty of letting go, of being ruthless, of radically altering the existing business models is moving to slowly. New Entrants, those insurgents, are beating at the door and blazing new paths. The supplier and accepted value chains are being attacked and altered. Stakeholders are demanding more and more and the amount of substitute products and services abound.
  4. Market forces are altering. The traditional market segments are altering before our eyes, new needs and demands are expected to be satisfied at break neck speed. Market issues rise and fall catching many slow to respond in the net of destruction. Switching costs are falling, like stones around organizations necks dragging them down and dramatically altering the revenue attractiveness of many.

Now let’s go climb into the micro stuff- getting down and dirty.

The current business model everywhere is under these powerful macro attacks. Business models need to become slim lined, leaner, rapidly ready to be bundled and then quickly unbundled, to react at speed. They need to be quickly seen for what they offer so they can attract the attention of others and show you (or me) where the value is. Business models need to shout “show me the money”  and “show me the reason” in these times so we do a swift sweep of the approaches to Business models and the Business model canvas comes quickly into view to help in this.

Each business model has its time- BMC is entering its time.

So why do I think we are entering a new tipping point for the BMC? A ‘potted history’

The amount of seeding that has already taken place

If you follow Alexander Osterwalders travels you will see he has been on a crusade to spread the gospel of the Business model and why his (and Yves Pigneur’s) canvas works. It has been going through a classic adoption curve. Firstly the curious who worked on a collaborative book with him (about 470 people from 45 countries) in different shapes and contributions with an amazing end product on the revolutionary design of these labours- the Business Model Generation book, published in 2009. This was firstly self published and then picked up by Wiley (smart move that).

Alex is spreading the word according to the BM gospel, that the Business model needed a common voice, a common language. He demonstrated everywhere the ease of the BM canvas so ‘all around’ were recognizing the value of this tool in many different situations as valuable, so a BM can be understood, easily and quickly. He demonstrated this could be a major advance on what we presently use in having to explain our business models and took his message out across the world last year and seemingly continuing in 2012 but perhaps a little more focused.

Finding a common language is one of the critical tenets that Alex has been arguing with his Business Model Canvas approach- I think we are getting close on this. Here is some of the events merging to make this happen.

Then we had a set of different Epiphanies

The realization by Steve Blank (www.steveblank.com) that the Business model could be incredibly useful for his area of work on the customer and venture capital investment sides. The BMC suddenly was manifested into something of more meaning and value. He went about wanting to find a solution stack for Entrepreneurship. He combined his work on customer development and Business Model Design. He argued the canvas needed to be moved beyond a tool for brainstorming hypotheses and it needed more formal ways to test them. He then alongside Alex, saw the canvas could be a wonderful scorecard for visually tracking iteractions as they changed. Others not so deeply involved could use this as a change dashboard of seeing real learning as a Business model evolved.  Lastly, when you are pitching for funds the canvas provides a top picture that others can quickly see and appreciate the why and how- they ‘see’ the value and the $$ potential and how it constantly evolves as the entrepreneur learns from exposing the business concept.

Then enters Eric Ries and the famous “pivot” that enters our main stream thinking for business and political explaination of what we are doing and why we made a change. Eric Ries is the creator of the Lean Startup methodology and the author of the popular entrepreneurship blog Startup Lessons Learned and provided us one of the more exciting books “The lean start up”( http://theleanstartup.com/book  ) on how today’s entrepreneurs sse continuous innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.

As Eric explains the concept of the pivot, is the idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they’ve learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. Over time, this pivoting may lead them far afield from their original vision, but if you look carefully, you’ll be able to detect common threads that link each iteration. By contrast, many unsuccessful startups simply jump outright from one vision to something completely different. These jumps are extremely risky, because they don’t leverage the validated learning about customers that came before.

So these events have brought together customer development, start-ups, the entrepreneurial environment and the lean/agile movement- a set of giant leaps and validations for the BMC but we needed more.

Continuing in our convergence

Then we are faced with the arrival of ‘plug-ins’ – a beginning of a set of toolboxs for working with BMC. Firstly for the iPad that combines “the speed of a napkin sketch with the smarts of a spreadsheet”. This app enables you to map, test, and iterate your business ideas — fast. As the iPad app was released and is now available on the iTunes App Store and for those with questions, challenges or comments, Alex and his team have created a forum for discussion around the iPad Business Model Toolbox to learn from and develop beyond.

As an additional add-in post post I forgot to mention that AO and his team have shifted their (software) company name to Strategyzr. The reason is that they have a vision beyond the business model: the goal is to integrate all the best (visual) tools and weave them together to an integrated toolset. Something that Steve Blank would call the solution stack. That’s their breaking vision.

The site of Alex’s is www. http://businessmodelhub.com and it is been undergoing a quiet reconstruction to structure the different aspects of the BMC concept to make it more ‘holistic’ where you can go for tools, knowledge, about the book, forthcoming events, blogs, a forum and a place for a growing community. For example back on Dec. 31, 2008 they had 148 members. By book publishing that grew to 470 members and recently they welcomed the member # 5’300 on Nov. 19, 2011! All busy contributing to the evolution of the BMC, all building knowledge and getting involved.

Michael Lachapelle, an administrator on the Business Model Hub but actually far, far more,  recently commented  that for some time now he has been experimenting with a couple of plug-ins to help clients work out the details of their value proposition in the business model. He has used the Value Mapping tool from the Board of Innovation, and the Whiteboard value map that is described in Cooper & Valskovitz’s Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development. He also experimented with some of the approaches in Ash Maurya’s Running Lean; in particular, identifying three key problems and three solutions. So ‘Apps’ are rapidly becoming the new muscle for BMC.

He goes onto comment “one of the best approaches I have plugged into the customer-value proposition analysis is the ‘job-to-be-done’ approach of Clayton Christensen and Mark Johnson”.

Then we enter late 2010 and early 2011 and connect some seperate parts.

In early 2010 Mark Johnson, a cofounder of Innosight published an alternative book for solving Business models, called “Seizing the White Space”. It is a very different book to Alex’s but it comes from a very different perspective- one that is written by a strategic consultant that looks at the challenges from a larger organizations perspective to Business models.

Mark offered a most helpful four component model for every successful business model exploring a compelling customer value proposition (CVP), a winning profit formula and key resources and processes. He raised the critical area of jobs-to-be-done and why it was important to focus on unmet jobs customers want to get done. He linked existing core space in existing enterprises and offered thoughts and approaches to exploring these white spaces.

Recently I heard that Alex and Mark have been exchanging thoughts on how and where there are fits and ways to collaborate together. That piece of convergence was or is important. It brings some excellent skill sets together if it can be worked out.

Early January 2012 a new plug in prototype

In the first few days of January of this year Alex provided his next step where he has been thinking even more about “plug-ins” that complement the Business Model Canvas for a while. One concept he had been looking at more closely over the last few weeks is the invaluable “jobs-to-be-done” approach. In his work-in-progress he is wanting to turn this concept into a visual approach like the Business Model Canvas (BMC). The result is a prototype conceptual tool, the Customer Value Canvas v.0.8., that he present in this blogpost  http://bit.ly/zXiTb7

He explains that he originally set out to design an ultra applicable, simple, and visual Canvas for the (customer) jobs-to-done-concept with his  motivation to create a dedicated and complementary Canvas that helps organizations sketch out and analyze the fit between their value propositions and the customers they target in a more granular way than the Business Model Canvas mapping does.

The result is his endeavour at a prototype conceptual tool, the Customer Value Canvas v.0.8. He has been testing this out over several iterations of prototype concepts, test runs with workshop participants, try-outs students, applications with my own team, and several conversations with my #bmgen site buddies and co-author of the book Yves Pigneur.  It seems he has arrived at a result turned out to become a mash-up of several approaches from various different thinkers but trying to absorb the JOBS canvas concept, where he started.

So far so good- now to moving more into 2012 and the ongoing BMC roll out

Saul Kaplan of Business Innovation Factory fame (http://businessinnovationfactory.com ) or BIF has written his book, due out in April 2012. Saul suggests Business model innovation is the new strategic imperative for all leaders. Today, all organizations must be capable of designing, prototyping, and experimenting with new business models. His book The Business Model Innovation Factory provides leaders with the survival skills to create a pipeline of new business models in the face of disruptive markets and competition

Saul’s observation is exactly right. Business models don’t last as long as they used to. Historically CEO’s have managed a single business model over their entire careers and that is just not going to be the case in the future or even know.

Self-reinvention is the new imperative

As Saul pointed out in October 2011, in his article “Five Reasons Companies Fail at Business Model Innovation (  http://bit.ly/r1xCJX ) for the Harvard Business review blog where he suggests companies routinely fail at self-reinvention because they are so busy pedalling the bicycle of their current business models they leave no time, attention, or resources to design, prototype, and test new ones.

Saul & Alex are combining on Friday Friday, September 21, 2012 following the BIF-8 Summit, so those that participate in the BIF can get their hands ‘dirty’ with Business Model Innovation collaborators, Saul Kaplan and Alex Osterwalder, in an exclusive Workshop digging into the challenges and opportunities of business model innovation, “an emerging but still poorly understood discipline” as suggested by the promoting of this event.

Their aim here is for developing and experimenting with new business models that  transform how a company delivers value (while continuing to drive the performance of your current business model) as this is one of those real exceptionally difficult points.

The argument is to compete in a world where the “shelf life” of business models is shortening, leaders need the tools, skills, and experience to envision, test, and implement new business models. Moreover, successful organizations will establish an ongoing process to explore new models for delivering value—even those that are disruptive to current operations.

Business Model You hits the stands! Get your copy.

Changing Times, Changing Business Models- enter Business Model You. Much of today’s job market turbulence is driven by factors beyond our personal control: recession, sweeping demographic changes, intensifying global competition, environmental issues, and so forth and enters the one page model for re-inventing your career. Go to the preview here http://t.co/gZy4CiUF

Then we have the meeting in Berlin in November  2012 (dates to be fully confirmed)

This is ‘billed’ as the Business Design Summit. This is where a group of invited (?) parties come together to understand, design, rework and find better ways to implement Business models. The emphasis will be on greater use of new web applications, the growing input of design into BM’s and perhaps where the Business model generation comes together, to create the future.

So I just see much is merging, combing and making BM the talking point of 2012.

The arguments for BMC are getting compelling; there are a lot of forces at work. We are moving well beyond mobilization of the Canvas we are in the era of the buy-in. Of course we all have to get comfortable before any ‘bar’ is lifted. The reality is the goal posts have dramatically shifted on the need for new Business models than ever before. Just go back and read the macro analysis here again.

The build will occur thoughout 2012 and this meeting in Berlin will consolidate as well as push out I’m sure.

Reality will dictate we are facing multiple industry breakpoints in 2012.

There is a once-in-a-decade or our lives set of events heading our way. Can you spot the signs? There is a growing possibility that there will be falling demand for standard and existing products, they will need some radical overhauls. The pressure on declining margins and sources of sustaining profit are drying up, competition is going low cost, low price in many areas. The application of new technologies continues to disrupt existing approaches to business, we have more (over supply) of sources of supplies and new entrants are pushing new value curves supported by completely different economics. It all is getting disruptive and this will cause new behaviours that will make it even more disruptive.

There is a time, a certain time, when we all have to reach for the napkin, sketch out as new business model or dozens of them and then set about validating them. As the speed of disruption ‘kicks in’ even more the Business Model Canvas and all the growing associated tools, techniques and methods will be needed more than ever.

I’d recommend getting going on knowing this BMC framing device inside out to keep in pace and touch with considerable change in the need for new business models.

Shifting perspectives

We have seen the significant shift from internalizing to externalizing through open innovation. In seeking differentiation, businesses have had to loosen up and give up some of their ‘control’ in these face changing times. The world is heading for an even  more dynamic and complex place where you have to find a unique position in the market, and one that quickly builds on competitive advantage seen through the eyes of your customer not from within your four walls.

For me there is something intuitive about the BMC approach.  We all must simply empower everyone, to go out and seek increased value from new BM’s, often seen but not captured in its interpretation. We need to simply communicate this quickly, on one page and well that’s the real power of the Business Model Canvas, for any organization, large or small.

Business Model Canvas will become adopted as a main stream need, it will explode (or implode) in our thinking- one way or another in 2012- as we deal with so much change about to occur.

For whom the bell tolls

I read two short articles over this weekend. One was entitled “Avoiding Innovation’s Terrible Toll” written by Spencer E Ante, published in the Wall Street Journal (http://on.wsj.com/zJ9IIT ) and the other by Jeffrey Phillips “When executives talk about innovation, watch out” in his innovate on purpose blog here (http://bit.ly/wpaqWu)

I felt the heavy sound of the bells tolling away coming through both articles and it reminded me of For Whom the Bell Tolls a famous novel by Ernest Hemingway.

The first was the sad demises of Kodak

If you have not seen the day of Revolution in a small town where all know all in the town and always have known all, you have seen nothing.- For Whom the Bell Tolls

Rochester may not be the ideal place to live, the headquarters for Kodak but it was the place that thousands of people earned their living by being associated with Kodak. They worked there, they supported it in the community, and they mostly benefitted from it. What saddens me of course is that they at Kodak did not have that ability to react to such dramatic changes within their industry.

“There isn’t any need to deny everything there’s been just because you are going to lose it.”
– Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ch. 38

What really saddens me more, is the real loss for so many, that put their hearts and souls into making Kodak what is was, it must be crushing to see where this previous giant has been heading in these past few years. I knew a number of Kodak executives, full of pride, full of belief yet all this has been crumbling in this force of creative destruction. It is a heavy sound for me. Perhaps they were powerless to stop this, even in different circumstances and even if they had made some different decisions. Innovation can be a destructive force but it is the person involved who often pays. Spare a thought for those within the Kodak community also, their lives are being changed dramatically.

The second was Yahoo to do more innovation and disruption.

To make war all you need is intelligence. But to win you need talent and material.
For Whom the Bell Tolls

Scott Thompson in becoming the new CEO at Yahoo explained in a recent interview he believes Yahoo as a technology company has both “disruption” and “innovation” at its core.

Jeffrey quiet rightly questions Yahoo and its recent record. They led as innovators for some time then they lost it, or so it seemed. They are more disrupted than disruptor today. Regaining its prominence will be a really hard road to travel.  In another article (http://read.bi/ytCR3E ) the writer starts by asking this set of ‘reasonable‘ opening questions- “how a guy who has zero media, content or advertising experience is expected to turn around a company that makes ALL of its money through media, content, and advertising”.

How little we know of what there is to know.
For Whom the Bell Tolls

I stood up and cheered on what Jeffrey stated at the end of his article.

“What I’d like to hear from Thompson, and other executives is a clearly delineated strategy, which emphasizes growth, or differentiation, or operational excellence, or customer intimacy, and then hear them talk about how innovation is going to help them achieve these strategies and retain leadership in these strategies.  Right now we are putting too much emphasis on innovation – a tool which should be used in service of strategy, rather than putting the emphasis where it belongs first – on the strategy”.

I definitely could not say that better Jeffrey.

It reminded me of another line from for Whom the Bell Tolls

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. It’s been that way all this year. It’s been that way so many times. All of war is that way – For Whom the Bell Tolls

We face today events that will call for destruction, for disruption but lets remember the two things here, the hard work put in by many people that often get ‘short changed’ due to leaders making bold statements that might be a touch unrealistic, or just simply playing to the audience that cries out for these things in the name of innovation.

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”?

Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never sends to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”. . . .from Meditation 17 by John Donne

The act of innovation demands much from us all but we all do need to take care- it can excite, it can deliver new promise but it can also destroy those that do not fully appreciate its powerful effects and leave many simply wondering.

Spare a thought for those who work in the trenches when you claim “innovation” will lead us to that ‘Promised Land,’ it usually means climbing over others who were simply caught up in this destruction going on around them, to powerless to do anything. We should all pause for the demise of one and question the belief of others, about to take us into fresh battles.

We should demand more from our leaders and can feel let down when they are not capable to deliver for often their real blind spots, dogma or given mindsets. We can all become more cautious and that is not so good for innovation’s health but it should be based on a deeper understanding of the power of innovation’s forces, both good and not so good.

Oh, now, now, now, the only now, and above all now, and there is no other now but thou now and now is thy prophet.” ― Ernest Hemingway

Open Innovation, Technology Platforms and a New Business Model- All-in-One Biggie!

Recently I was reminded about one of the most ambitious open innovation projects around- the Innovation Medicines Initiative- set up here in Europe. I think you will find this interesting to pick up upon.

Without doubt this is one of the most highly ambitious and bold initiative I’ve come across.

I think anyone seriously interested in the combination of open innovation, the use of a collaborative technology platform built around a novel new business model within such a highly competitive industry of Pharmaceuticals should watch this initiative with growing interest. It can point to significant changes in the impact and contribution of innovation management.

From its initial concept inception in 2004 and 2005, with the IMI established in 2007 as a Joint Undertaking, it has operated as an autonomous body for approximately a little over two years as I understand it.

Here I provide a fairly concise outline of its evolution and what challenges it is currently facing. It still is too long but it provides the essentials (I hope) on an amazing and bold initative here in Europe and worth reading until the end-really!

Background to the Innovation Medicines Initiative (IMI)

The Innovative Medicines Initiative is the largest public-private partnership aiming to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe and to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry association EFPIA. www.imi.europa.eu

With a €2 billion euro budget, IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in Europe that will boost innovation in healthcare. Acting as a neutral third party in creating innovative partnerships, IMI aims to build a more collaborative ecosystem for pharmaceutical research and development (R&D). IMI will provide socio-economic benefits to European citizens, increase Europe’s competitiveness globally, and establish Europe as the most attractive place for pharmaceutical R&D.

The European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme contributes €1 billion to the IMI research programme. That amount will be matched by mainly in kind contributions (consisting mostly of research activities) worth at least another €1 billion euro from member companies of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

IMI supports research projects in the areas of safety and efficacy, knowledge management and education and training. Projects are selected through open call proposals; the favoured way in EU funded projects
The research consortia participating in IMI projects consist of:

  • large biopharmaceutical companies that are members of EFPIA, and a variety of other partners, such as:
  • small- and medium-sized enterprises,
  • patients’ organisations,
  • universities and other research organisations,
  • hospitals,
  • Regulatory agencies, and finally any other industrial partners.

IMI’s overarching objectives

IMI’s overall goal is to build a more collaborative ecosystem for pharmaceutical R&D in Europe and to speed up the development of more effective and safer medicines for patients.

To reach this objective, IMI is creating unique, large-scale networks of innovation in pharmaceutical research. Joining forces in the IMI research and training projects, competing pharmaceutical companies collaborate with each other and with academia, regulatory agencies and patients’ organisations in order to tackle the major challenges in drug development.

The IMI Research Agenda

This builds on the recommendations in the earlier Strategic Research Agenda to overcome the principle causes of delay in pharmaceutical R&D by focusing on four areas:

  • Predicting safety: more accurately evaluating the safety of a compound during the pre-clinical phase of the development process and the later phases in clinical development.
  • Predicting efficacy: improving the ability to predict how a drug will interact in humans and how it may produce a change in function.
  • Knowledge management: more effective utilisation of information and data for predicting safety and efficacy.
  • Education and training: closing existing training gaps in the drug development process.

To address the main challenges identified, IMI will harness the know-how and expertise available across Europe’s biopharmaceutical sector, by pooling competencies and resources from the public and the private domain.

Expected effects

IMI will make Europe more attractive for pharmaceutical R&D investments and boost the competitiveness of European life science R&D. By directly addressing the challenges facing the pharmaceutical sector in Europe, IMI has the potential to:

  • Modernise the development of medicines.
  • Expand European expertise and know-how in new technologies to attract bio-medical R&D investment to Europe.
  • Anchor R&D jobs in Europe and reverse the ‘brain drain’.
  • Enhance Europe’s economy by strengthening the competitive position of smaller companies, enabling them to collaborate with a multitude of stakeholders.

The strategic imperative for this scale and scope of collaboration was the driving force.

A platform for better coordination, co-operation and collaboration among all the stakeholders involved in developing innovative medicines in Europe was seen as sorely needed. To change the present situation, there was a real need to form stronger links between the stakeholders, more efficient use of modern predictive methodologies and techniques, improved management and sharing of existing knowledge – not yet fully utilised – better exploitation of promising strengths and assets, and upgraded education and training.

Equally the pharmaceutical industry is undergoing sharply worsening working conditions and many challenges. Escalating development costs, patent expiry on major products, increased competition including R&D activities on the global market, the perception of greater risk-aversion among regulators and worsening public image are conspiring to cripple the European pharmaceutical industry. This has been seen as a negative spiral that would become highly detrimental to the European economy as well as to patients seeking relief from disease and illness.

The initial analysis relating to the benefits of a platform approach were expressed as:

  • Exploiting existing strengths and assets in Europe and building on existing structures
  • Ensuring the active involvement of member states of a community of 27 countries across the EU
  • The platform can become as a brilliant vehicle for assembling the stakeholders
  • Improve the necessity of communication for better understanding and collaboration
  • Proper networking as a key to success can break down existing barriers
  • Exploiting the platform to develop common standards and an ongoing innovative culture
  • Ensuring the transparency of all steps and procedures in the platform had real value
  • Better training and education of scientists to do the job in more open, collaborative ways
  • Ensuring balance in selecting disease targets would have a potential greater impact
  • Establish common standards for bench marking would give all equal opportunity to improve.

Recently in 2011 a first interim evaluation report was made by a panel.

At the time of the first interim evaluation, the IMI had operated as an autonomous body for approximately one year, had launched its first two calls and was about to launch the third call. Fifteen projects from the first call had kicked-off and were ongoing, and a further 8 projects from the second call were under negotiation. These projects have been launched in the first few months of 2011.

The in-kind contribution from the EFPIA companies to projects in the first two calls is € 198 million and the financial contribution from the EU budget, disbursed by the IMI JU is € 190 million. This is slightly lower than what was foreseen at the launch of IMI (€ 199.5 million).

The IMI interim reports objective was to is to address the bottlenecks currently limiting the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of the drug development activities needed to bring innovative medicines to the market and provide a clarification of the positive progress made. My extra note here -Just take a look at what they are attempting to address.

  • Through the IMI JU, Europe has succeeded in establishing a new business model between public and private sectors, which unites research strengths across European pharmaceutical industry, academia and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • The consortia formed carry out focussed research addressing problems of immediate relevance to industry and future public health. To have formed and embedded this new, applied, research environment is a significant achievement for Europe.
  • The IMI development has been meaningfully enhanced by its engagement with the regulatory authorities and patients organisations. To have succeeded here is rare, and taken together with the scale of interest of research organisations, is a tremendous illustration of Europe’s strengths in creating consensus and collaboration.
  • By facilitating enhanced cooperation between academic, SMEs, patients organisations, regulatory authorities and the pharmaceutical industry, the IMI enables mutual learning and the opportunity to build understanding of respective rationales and approaches, with benefits to all parties. This is powerful. Although at a relatively early stage, the dialogue now underway across the participating groups aligns well with the IMI  intent.
  • The scientific scope of the initiative is well targeted, embodied in the IMIResearch Agenda, and the IMI JU has had the foresight to ensure that the Research Agenda is updated regularly. The first such review and update was on-going at the time of the Panel’s review.
  • The financial resources available to the IMI JU, totalling €2Bn, make this the largest public private partnership in health research in the world. Yet the research challenges to be addressed with this sum are significant.
  • The Panel was satisfied that the funding is being distributed adequately to help reach the objectives set and also saw appropriate consideration being given to the scope and scale of future projects to best achieve impact from the finite research funding.
  • IMI constitutes a novel model for implementing the concept of “open innovation”. No other European programme has enabled cross-company collaboration within the pharmaceutical sector on the scale that has been achieved with IMI. This step is very important in developing open innovation in the health sector as it has enabled an unprecedented pooling of industrial research assets allowing scientific challenges to be tackled in a manner that could not be done otherwise.
  • In many respects the IMI is an incubator for changing minds on how parties can work together across traditional boundaries and is therefore likely to have an important structuring effect in Europe, fully in line with the Innovation Union objectives

The panel also identified certain weaknesses for the Joint Undertaking bodies to address

  • Internal governance structures are not yet working optimally: e.g. pace of decision making, clarity on responsibilities for key actions, crispness in assignment of accountability for tasks;
  • Proactive communication activities have been lacking, as exemplified by the diffuse and varied understanding various stakeholders have of the purpose of IMI;
  • The advisory potential of several stakeholders, such the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is not exploited fully by the IMI.
  • The lack of identified and used key performance indicators by the IMI JU risks making the output of the whole initiative diffuse.

The Panel therefore came up with seven recommendations summarised below. Each is associated with a precise set of actions detailed in the report but not provided here.

  1. Continuously improve stakeholder involvement in IMI-supported research projects
  2. Continuously ensure EFPIA and Commission commitment to IMI’s success and sustainability
  3. Ensure excellence and exploit new ways to support IMI scientific objectives.
  4. Improve IMI communication
  5. Reinforce and streamline decision making and well functioning processes
  6. Ensure best use of IMI results and IMI sustainability
  7. Develop monitoring and evaluation processes

The EU Commission has issued its response to this report- in summary:

The Commission welcomes the interim evaluation report about IMI. It takes note of the recommendation of the evaluation panel. The Commission is committed to working with EFPIA to implement the recommendations addressed to the IMI Governing Board, where the two founding members work together to give strategic direction and oversight to the IMI.

The Commission is committed to implementing the recommendations addressed to it and is open to collaborating with EFPIA and the IMI Executive Director implementing the recommendations addressed to them. Most of the recommendations can be implemented in the short to medium term and indeed many are already being addressed through actions from the Governing Board and the Executive Office.

Both the Commission and EFPIA are recommended to dedicate enough staff to IMI. The Commission considers that both founding members have shown extraordinary commitment towards the successful setting up of IMI, including the launch of the IMI JU as an autonomous entity.

Considering the number of processes that had to be established, the Commission considers that overall this has succeeded well, while recognising that some delays have occurred. It is inherent in a partnership between partners as different as EFPIA and the European Commission that it takes some time to agree on certain points, especially at the beginning. With the IMI JU Executive Office now almost fully staffed, all operational responsibility has moved to it. Indeed, the Commission is committed to giving the Executive Director full autonomy for this responsibility

My conclusions

Without doubt this Innovation Medicines Initiative is something to be watched. There is enormous learning to be gained as it evolves. It is tackling some incredible and well discussed barriers to innovation on a grand scale. Will it be successful, time will tell but recently the CEO of Glaxo Smith Kline, Mr Andrew Witty was very upbeat.

The industry is reeling from much in disruptive winds blowing and battering at its door. Taking this one imaginative approach on its own will not solve all the ‘ills’ but can provide a catalyst of real change. It can also provide us all with some significant rethinking of what is possible, when something is in crisis, as the Pharmaceutical industry certainly is.

This is a seismic undertaking that could have a profound impact on how we view collaborative innovation and what it attempts to tackle on the scale needed for many challenges we face. We can learn an awful lot from studying this initiative.

The value of having an innovation coach.

Behavioural coaching is big business. Having your personal coach alongside you when you are making a significant change in your role has been invaluable to many executives. Equally in having external support when someone is  either stepping up in the organization or making a significant change in their responsibilities has recognised value to that person and to the organization to manage the transition. There is significant value in employing an innovation coach in my opinion, let me explain why here.

The growth of the innovation coach

I predict innovation coaching will grow in its recognition, value and importance in 2012. Why? There is a growing sense of urgency around the need for innovation to solve our growth problems. This quest for seeking out growth and new opportunities continues to raise innovation consciousness. We all are aware part of the barriers to better innovation adoption come from our existing and constrained mental models, so when you introduce the need for greater innovation you introduce multiplicity- you get challenged more, your current framework of ‘business as usual’ gets disturbed significantly.

What is called for increasingly is a far more open mind that allows for opening up and gaining greater connectivity on a host of different levels. The more we connect, the more we see innovation potential.

Having available an experienced innovation coach can be supportive, informative and provide a greater understanding of how innovation ‘all fits together’ and where it can fit (or not) within what you currently do. The end result is shifting the thinking, merging what you have with what you have been introduced too so as to deepen the essential understanding of all that makes up innovation.

Any innovation approach I suggest does follow ‘classic’ coaching steps or phases.

Coaching for behavioural change needs to be brought down to the personal level- the recipient needs to relate, to let new information pass through his knowledge lens and see the new fits for himself. What simply does not work is if this was seen to be imposed- they will eventually discarded and then a person simply reverts back. The person needs to go through four stages of personal awareness.

You go through four stages

  1. Unconscious Incompetence- this is often a self reflection stage where the coach and the person receiving the coaching simply reflect and draw out areas of incomplete knowledge. You raise them from being unconsciously there.
  2. Conscious Incompetence- From these reflections you gain insights, you begin to explore tested tools and techniques, you begin to frame new references that are relevant, you begin to explore and experiment. You are looking for growing confirmation that it has value.
  3. Conscious Competence- As you begin to ‘grasp’ differences this enables the exchanges between coach and person being coached to look at the alternatives with a growing confidence and some ‘matching’ begins to occur. These new conscious understandings begin to become relevant and within the discussions you can see an emerging path for action beginning to emerge.
  4. Unconscious competence- the final part where the impact of what has been learnt, understood, investigated and explored has a real personal impact. It seeps into the make-up of the person and changes there ‘going forward’ behaviour. These see different patterns, they comprehend innovation meaning differently than their original perspective and these ‘new’ competences enter and become more automatic, unconsciously simply occurring, as the way to manage innovation going forward as the value ‘gels’.

The whole process can take time

This is partly the time available not just for the one-on-one sessions but the work that does need to occur in the in-between meetings. It could also take a few sessions, focused on specific areas before you pass from one state to another. It needs significant investigation and work from both the coach and the recipient but increasingly more from the recipient as the understanding expands.

Current roadblocks can be deep

Innovation is sometimes just ‘skin deep’ but as you peel away that top layer you get revealed many aspects of personal bias or general ‘accepted’ perceptions. These could include an often surprising (to the individual) lack of their openness, how he or his organization is so risk adverse. As you explore the way innovation is currently conducted it never surprises me of talk of ‘just’ a top down culture imposing innovation on the company and its employees and why this has never been effectively challenged.

Often you draw out that level of conservatism within innovation activity that is so often tucked under the coat of incremental only and the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ can change has never been fully considered. Sometimes certain individuals can feel suddenly being ‘empowered’ as the innovation champion can be seen by others that they are simply showing off and resist any advances, believing that persons knowledge is no different from their own, so they quietly resist- that needs addressing. Then you can come across that ‘superior’ person who has become the ‘stage gate’ decider irrespective of knowledge.

Each of these all can come through to others as lacking reputation and not as respected for their innovation knowledge as they need to be. Coaching can change all in awareness.

A structured approach is valuable

Going through a structured coaching programme for innovation can offset often these hidden barriers as well as bridge countless other unknowns. Working in a safe environment with a knowledgeable innovation coach can clearly help.

Sometimes the individual involved that ‘rush’ of offloads, all their concerns may come out in a rush. Or often and more than likely, each layer of enquiry needs to be peeled away in gentle probing or sometimes by exploring different challenges of ‘what if?’. That is determined by the skill of the coach as well as the willingness of the recipient to exploring sometimes aspects that are at a real personal level of thinking. Each needs to trust the other.

Getting into a comfortable relationship between coach and the person ‘looking for change’ takes time and chemistry. The higher up an organization, the more the managing of often sensitive discussions can become tricky.

Innovation Coaching has real value

Although this seems to be expensive to undertake, one-on-one coaching offers a lasting value to connect innovation far more deeply in the way a person and their organization ‘sees it’.

The importance, like all behavioral change coaching, is to create a safe but challenging environment so the recipient can take risks and learn. You as the coach find the balance between challenging through enquiry and supporting different thinking to draw out possibilities to gain new understanding from.

All the work is usually based on the recipient’s agenda, through a set of opening discussions you need to balance both personal learning with organizational needs. These need consistent clarification and recalibrating as you go.

The coach’s role is to facilitate and collaborate.

You need to take care not to act like ‘the expert’ imposing a given view but you can explore options that the recipient draws their own conclusions and value from. Avoid imposing and provide different thinking and perspectives so it becomes a facilitated debate that the recipient draws into.

Coaching is made up of a series of interactions

The ability to create meaningful interactions that connect people with ideas allows them to clarify and connect on the more important principles and critical issues surrounding innovation. Having a real passion and depth of innovation knowledge becomes critical to navigate this often tricky road to discovery.

The value of a coach is he/she is both a catalyst and facilitator of individual development. The value is in looking to improve innovation performance within that persons understanding so there is a distinct ROII (return on innovation investment).

Pause, learn and then move on with new innovation purpose and knowledge

By helping executives to firstly  pause, then take stock of the significance of various innovation transitions, and help them determine the best way to proceed is invaluable. Of course this support is determined by the commitment, engagement, the given skills and scope as well as the person’s real interests in wanting to have a greater understanding of innovation. It all requires available time.

Innovation coaching has a valuable contribution to make, in the right hands and with the  right person. It has a significant personal investment on all sides involved to achieve clarity, insight and returns for innovation to flourish so others can equally benefit from this more intensive approach and emerging internal expertise that will eventually come from within.