Shifting to Ultimate Outcomes

OutcomesMany organizations are struggling with their metrics and ways to measure the progress and success of their business. From this writer’s point of view their innovation activity gets caught up in plenty of unintended consequences, to put it mildly, in wasted debate, discussion & bad decisions through wrong measurement criteria.

Firstly, we are still locked in the old paradigm of thinking this is an industrial economy where we set about measuring inputs to innovation (R&D expenditure, capital investment) and then focused on the intermediate step of throughput and then outputs (publications, production units, patent filing, end products).

We also perceive innovation far too much still as an activity within just one company – viewed as linear, with considerations for services more of an after thought (like ‘bolt-ons’). Production systems still remain far too often the driving force of performance judgement.

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Walkabouts are needed for learning and testing ourselves

Walkabout picture

photo credit: Walkabout (1971) film by Nicolas Roeg

How often do you pause for thought, even simply for ‘just those few minutes,’  to allow yourself to openly question where you are and what you are attempting to do? We keep relentlessly moving on, like a wandering herd of buffalo, always looking for fresh pasture, those new feeding grounds. It’s not good.

Of course I often get caught up in this restless pursuit of gathering more, when I spend a growing amount of my time researching across innovation. I keep coming across so many things that ‘trigger’ the thinking, pushing me on.

Do you let them go, ignore them, quickly pass over them, or attempt to capture the issue as something well worth investigating further at a later stage, or just get them simply behind you in the here and now.

I think I must be reverting back more into a hunter-gatherer, in my case of of innovation insights; collecting the raw material that I am looking to eventually translate and distribute as this growing knowledge stock. The outcome  I trust is moving me slowly towards becoming an innovation curator, hopefully valued by others. Well its a goal.

I also regularly need what I call my ‘walkabout’ moments to chill out and regroup.

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What makes up your innovation capital?

A new core Innovation CapitalIf someone came to you and asked the question: “tell me what makes up your financial capital?” I expect you could answer this fairly comfortably. It might need a little added help from your finance department but you could produce and show significant details that we are all ‘schooled’ to understand and generally have accepted, as under common definitions and standard practice.

Our businesses are measured constantly on their financials, we produce a constant flow of reporting documents that provide useful insight and allow for a more informed judgement by present and future investors on the health of the company. We are ‘wedded’ to our financials and ignore the real value within our organizations of all the other critical capitals that generate and strengthen the business.

What if that same person came to you and asked instead: “what makes up the innovation capital of the company?’” could you answer this as clearly as the financial one – I would suggest most probably not. (By the way, if you feel you can then please let me know I would be more than interested). We are focusing more on past performance and not future generating potential by staying fixated on just the financials within all that makes up our organizational  capital

So what makes up our innovation capital and why is it important to know?

Should we care, does it matter? I would argue it does, increasingly so. Within the innovation capital lies the future of the organization and holds one of the real golden keys to the sustaining performance of the company, or not.

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Building Innovation Capability Through Three Interlocking Platforms

Interlocking rings BorremanA little while back I was reading somewhere an academic paper and it triggered a thought, so I set about capturing it for this post, then it somehow got filed away.

So this is the reworked opening thought to record the idea to ‘capture’ it, so I can reflect later on, about how I should build on this further. I show a number of hyperlinks to help in pulling this together…..well for me anyway!

So this is a work-in-progress and should be taken as a thinking out loud at this stage.

Linking capability through interlocking platforms

We are in need of a different “sustaining” capacity build around innovation as its continuous core, constantly evolving, adapting, learning and adjusting, in perpetual motion.

How? Innovation has many ‘touch points’, a myriad of dimensions that need to be aligned and integrated. How can we achieve this more holistic view, so innovation management can make a significant advancement on where we are today? Continue reading

Are you engaging with all the different voices around you?

How do we manage future discussions

Having different perspectives and voices will enhance your innovation activities, they provide diversity, stimulus and greater options for you to consider the future innovation journey. How do we set about engaging with all these different voices surrounding innovation?

Have you ever worked with the three horizon framework?

It is really useful for managing your innovation activities, drawing out the often conflicting voices within the organization on how to take innovation forward. The approach can unlock you from just being caught in the present, to one of envisaging a future that then allows you to begin to build different capabilities, competencies and capacities.

Find out more here and here and here on the three horizons or within this blog site put “three horizon approach ” into the search box. You will find  I have provided a considerable overview in different posts thoughts on the 3H thinking and why I place such value in it for innovation’s evolution.

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Seeking strategic and innovation alignment conversations

Alignment of Strategic Innovation ConversationsInnovation stands in service to the strategic goals of our organization, or it certainly should!

The first thing is you need to have a solid, thoughtful conversation around the type of strategic emphasis you wish to achieve from your innovation activity, how will it support the organizations strategic direction..

These can be aligned to general strategic needs such as growing market share, differentiation and disrupting adjacent markets, serving the consistent changing and demanding customer needs, or by honing the delivery process, by spotting those and then exploiting them rapidly and effectively. All these become alignment conversations.

Creating clear goals and linking / aligning innovation to those, gives a more agile top-level strategy dialogue as a vital step before you get into the actual innovation concept – delivery stage. Senior executives must establish the manner in which innovation fits within the strategic context established by goals, vision and strategies.

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Is all investment about the future?

Buy back questionI was reading an article by Doug Collins on the “three wishes for the innovation practitioner for 2015” where he points out “2014 was the year for share buybacks and dividends“.

An article from Bloomberg reports that companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index are “poised to spend $914 billion on share buybacks and dividends this year, or about 95 percent of earnings.”

95% of earnings – Doug rightly says “wow” and offers a thoughtful set of observations

“Every organization that enjoys free cash flow makes a decision on where to allocate that resource. If the opportunity available to the organization meets or exceeds the hurdle rate—the desired, expected rate of return—then, in theory, they invest in that opportunity. If not, then no: the organization returns the cash to the investors. Of course, earnings come after investments the organization makes in innovation—research & development expenses, for example. Many do invest a lot in R&D”

He then remarks “And yet…..and yet” ….

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