Heading for 2014, will innovation change?

2014 visualSo we are heading into 2014.We are in the final month’s countdown before it arrives and it is that time to think about what 2014 is going to do and be, for us working within the innovation space.

Is Innovation finally moving beyond the previous constraints and boundaries we have been recently applying? As organizations really start to ‘ramp up’ their efforts for growth what will this mean?

Today and in the future we certainly know that innovation is about open, inclusive, full of exploration and harmonization to extract the best results across all that are engaged within their organizations. Getting engagement up in organizations is going to be top of the agenda and innovation can be a significant contributor.

We seem to have really grasped and recognized the combination-effect that comes from the myriad of different linkages that is propelling innovation activity and bringing increasing confidence within the boardroom. Innovation is within all our grasps, if we really want to grab hold of it.

Let’s look at some of the possible top-level trends I think we might see in 2014

The good news is, we are finally seeing innovation maturing.

We are certainly seeing innovation has moved well beyond just products. It is exploring the value of combining or even separating services, changing value propositions on a more consistent basis and exploring new business models far more openly. Organizations are far more open to the search for their future growth than before. Each avenue for innovation to be traveled will be explored far more in our innovation activities in 2014.

As growth comes increasingly back on the agenda for most organizations, it will come far more from exploiting through a greater organic growth approach. Yet to achieve the ambitious growth targets that many organizations are seemingly talking about, there needs to be a radical overhaul of internal innovation understanding and structures.

Mindsets are ripe to make significant change, we can’t stay fixed in our ways in a far more agile and adaptive world, we are all facing. Cost cutting can only take us so far, being cautious and risk averse has longer term consequences. Organizations will finally make those efforts to established innovation as a competence all must learn and understand.

One innovation struggle is around ‘rigidity’ within the organizations.

Innovation requires a more fluid, adaptive and agile environment. This will require some significant changes within the approaches within managing within these structures and this takes a significant and dedicated approach to achieve. The end result is changing the way people are managed and valued. There is a need to draw in, to engage, more open to diversity in opinion and thinking and increased emphasis on fluid teams tackling issues and challenges in unique ways, not through standard processes and approaches.

The shifts in innovation activity, seeking simplification

We are also seeing increasingly the disruptive era of simplification, which captures far more of the imagination and where the increased movement of future wealth generating opportunities lie by meeting targeted customer need. These are not ‘layering’ on features that have been the approach of the past, this is stripping away and rapidly breaking these back down into targeted applications that do the job, we the consumer or client wants, often willing to pay a premium upon.

Complexity is also changing, taking out the pain for customers

Complexity should not be about customers having to work out how to understand something; it is using the smart complexity that sits behind the solution to allow us to focus on what we need to achieve, to then help us significantly deliver on our required needs. Smarter searches, algorithms, designing your own options all are giving us the complexity we need. Simpler, interactive interfaces to do the job we wish to do, not forced to spend time learning and doing.

The continued exploring of the effects of reverse innovation and lean approaches.

Reverse innovation, jugaad or frugal innovation is where there is  a huge potential – still largely untapped in developed countries offering new avenues to real targeted growth. What about the strong underlying movement in start-ups that is far more ‘needs related’ or serving ‘unmet needs’ through lean approaches and customer development techniques. These are so much better understood than the approaches in the past, of simply cruising along for opportunity with a vague business concept.

Sharpening the minds, changing the mindsets.

Everything has become so much sharper in why we have to focus our minds down, it is far more on what and where innovation can give us the next growth opportunity and that comes from all the diversity we can muster. Managing in the global innovation space is no different; we can get far more quickly at answers on a global basis than at any time in the past. We are learning to tap into this global knowledge in different ways, it needs a dedicated focus and understanding, to find the unique mix that suits your needs and knowledge accessing and translating and then we are closer to the solutions that have the global unlocking key.

The increasing value of data – its collection and understanding

We are using the ability to engage, to explore and exchange through a variety of social mediums, we can collect and interpret larger amounts of data than ever before. Collecting this data is the easier part, interpreting what it all means is a lot harder. We will continue to improve our abilities to find the patterns, the trends, the underlying meaning of what this data is telling us. Then we get into decisions from this new understanding. We will need to have far more adaptive, agile, responsive organizations that can quickly pivot to seize on these opportunities. The skill sets for managing data will become more established, discussed and quickly adopted as emerging practice.

Revisiting past practices

All of what has gone on previously needs to be revisited and in many cases reworked through new practices, new systems and new measures. Organizations are coming rapidly to the point of needing to be innovation re-engineered to make the sizable changes they must achieve to ‘allow’ organic growth to deliver.

We are forced to look harder for attracting growth into our business and innovation can provide this force if there is the commitment backing the rhetoric; the one of needing organic growth to be the primary driver of over the next five years. Re-engineering the existing innovation is not a bad place to start, maybe in 2014 the innovation renovation movement might come more into force.

Innovation needs positive translation in its management practice

I am sensing a really positive shift in innovation practice. It does seem to have gone up a notch or two in its maturity and adoption within our organizations in recent months. Can you feel the changes or are we still at the intent stage? Are organizations fully commitment to what shifting to an innovation emphasis will mean? Or are we only at a recognition stage?

Of course, there are significant sets of issues needed to be addressed to really allow innovation to drive growth. Organizations need to consider very radical shifts in approaching innovation and its management to gain any momentum, so intent can meet these organic growth ambitions as suggested?

Innovation needs to become fully integrated into organizations

 Innovation challenges much that is presently established within organizations, there is potential higher risks, significant changes required to be enacted within the organizations, with a whole raft of different competencies and capabilities are to be learned to extract the ‘promise and value’ from the innovation needed.

I predict the next twelve months will advance innovation understanding significantly

For me, in the next twelve months will be seeing an increased level of activity around innovation. The difference will be it will be at a much higher, strategic level to begin to re-equip organizations differently. What will decide if this is a reality or just C-level rhetoric? C-level management is deeply worried over the alternatives of facing further low or no growth prospects, staying risk averse or recognizing finally that the operating conditions need to change to search for real growth and that comes through more radical innovation.

Organizational innovation will have to change fairly dramatically to regain the momentum most organizations need and have lost for far too long. I think the focus on strategic innovation thinking will emerge strongly as we enter 2014 to give innovation that dramatic push, the ‘magic’ tipping point.

A collection of thoughts from recent observations and research.

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3 thoughts on “Heading for 2014, will innovation change?

  1. Paul – enjoyable canter through the issues as you see them. I see an alignment of the planets where more leaders are getting the core purpose of innovation in renewing their orgs.. Rob

  2. Pingback: The Coming Age of Innovation in 2014 and beyond | Paul4innovating's Blog

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