Disruption, Destruction, Digital – Our Way of Future Life?

disrupt gaping voidI wanted to depart from just focusing on extolling innovation within this post – a sort of sound off, of sorts.

It seems in all I keep reading that we are being extorted to disrupt our enterprises before someone else does.

The constant threat of both those known to us and those unknown competitors who can simply raise money based on a disruptive concept, provide a different business model and then attack tomorrow. It is not a comfortable feeling is it?

We are told It is in our ‘complacency’ that we are losing our competitive advantages, even face extinction from these that attack and tear down, replacing it with something different and supposedly better. Did we really need it?

Can we learn to adapt as fast as all that is seemingly coming towards us?

There is so much disruptive power being harnessed that we are all facing an exponentially more complex and challenging environment. Why is there seemingly this determination to tear down many parts of the fabric of our society by challenging institutions, businesses and government structures?

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Eight possible pitfalls or sinkholes around innovation

Sinkholes or potholesWhy is it we always seem to fail back into the same traps or pitfalls? Bad habits seem to always reoccur even when we work on trying to eradicate them. Or we ignore the warning signs that were ‘signaling’ the problem until it is too late?

For me, innovation has eight possible pitfalls or sink holes that we need to consciously try to avoid. Some are in our hands, others are clearly out of our hands but all we can do is try to be aware of them so we can avoid them the as best we can. We sometimes need to be more prepared for these traps based on our judgement and experience.

1. Failing to make innovation explicit

If we don’t set the appropriate context, provide the background understanding or provide what we know up to now, we leave our ideas, innovation or intents far too open. We end up with thousands of ideas, with 95% useless as the context was not explained. Meeting agenda’s that have no structure do the same thing, we end up rambling and in a worse outcome than when we started. Making innovation explicit and aligned to the organizations vision, its objectives, its strategy and knowing what is core and what is not, makes innovators activities far more explicit.

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Tuning out, a need for simplification and better value

tuning out 2I have been totally struck by the overwhelming number of webinars being offered to me on a daily basis, all related to innovation and all free. Am I the only one getting overwhelmed in choice, underwhelmed in content value?

This is a bit of a long rant, so turn away now those who love all the free choices you currently have, don’t waste your time reading on.

Those a little more curious, as my friend Michael Fruhling always says in his useful blog “then read on, dear friends….”

What do you get of real value when it is offered free?

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Redesigning the organizations middle for a new innovation shape.

managers-choice

Let’s admit it; our middle management needs a radical makeover, a new fitness regime to make us far more ‘innovation fit’.

Most organizations do need to change their middle management structures as they are far from that necessary ‘fitness for 21st century purpose’ in a constantly changing, challenging, more open innovating world.

The general argument goes and I relate to this, that the middle manager is so pressured to focus on the delivery of short-term results that all their efforts are centered far more on delivering ‘just’ an effective organization.

An organization that focuses on driving out any excess or leeway, reduce the variations, constantly dampening down potential risk and uncertainty. Today much of this being ‘efficient and effective’ is in direct conflict with what innovation requires. A space for ‘cutting’ some slack, seeking differences, exploring what variances can provide, encouraging a certain risk and uncertainty to allow for fresh thinking to emerge that leads to better things within the organization.

Yet the middle managers obsession with constantly chasing efficiencies alone, there is little ‘slack’ for innovation and new learning. Their measurement is often based on this efficiency and effectiveness emphasis and not on generating innovation.

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Risk: Understanding Your Scope of Reach from Your Grasp.

Mans reach and grasp.We were not born as risk-takers but we can develop it through our own growing self-actualization, creativity, a pursuit for growth and enjoying that feeling of being stretched.

Well some of us do, but sadly most tend to become risk-avoiding because of the environment they are in or been associated with for long periods, where avoidance rubs off, it seeps into the soul.

Many enjoy being simply ‘passive’, avoiding anything that smacks of being ‘proactive’; it is safer to be ‘reactive’. Innovation and heaven can equally wait.

Putting it simply most people and organizations are just afraid to take risks and this fear takes over and drives their choices. Innovation is certainly something that suffers from this fear of risk. Organizations miss critical opportunities, individuals fail to speak out and argue for a given change or innovative idea. We can simply stop growing, to want to become something more, we take the easy option, we avoid risk.

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So what is holding innovation back? A new GE report

GE Global Innovation Barometer 2014I always look forward to the GE Global Barometer and the 2014 report is no exception, actually it really has moved the needle on what is presently holding innovation back. The Barometer has explored the actions or constraints that senior business executives are worrying over in their pursuit of innovation.

The fieldwork was undertaken in April and May, 2014 and covered 3,200 phone interviews to people directly involved in the innovation strategy or process. It covered 26 countries and was conducted by Edelman Berland on GE’s behalf.

The supporting website provides the GE view of how this report reflects and provides an overview, an interactive, resources and key point headings sections to explore.

I  personally think GE have actually been a little too low-key on this report and frankly far too conservative on the potential takeaways in reading their ‘take’ in the overview. It has significant implications for our organizations to grapple with but each is certainly not alone, it is a collective need to move innovation forward or you place much at risk if you don’t find solutions to the issues raised in this report.

This year the Barometer broke out of its past and steamed ahead.

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I wonder who is withering on the innovation vine?

Dying on the grape vine 1This week I tuned into the Pipeline virtual conference for product development practitioners and gained an encouraging feeling that innovation is progressing along nicely. Packed all within a day there was plenty of material ‘fodder’ to feed off of and learn from.

A really good conference but what quickly followed was a strong dose of that withering on the innovation vine.

I read two consulting surveys around innovation

I’ve been suddenly pulled out of my virtual bubble back into the harsh realities of where innovation really is. Just simply how innovation is struggling and that lies far more at the top of our organizations than below, those below who are simply trying to ‘get on with the job’ but with at least one hand (or even two) tied behind their backs.

I have been reading two sets of observations, one from Fahrenheit 212, the other from Innosight and my mood began to change. I’m suddenly back in reality where we have this huge gap between those ‘working’ innovation and those at the top simply not engaging with innovation or still failing to understand it or even failing to connect the dots.

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