Constructing Innovation as Value Management

Innovation and ValueInnovation needs to create value, both short-term and progressively over time. It fuels the growth and fires the imagination.

Yet our innovation activities are constantly coming up short for the leaders within our organizations, who continue to remain disappointed in its final outcome to stimulate and drive the growth they want to see.

It is actually the classic “chicken and egg”. Aristotle (384–322 BC) was puzzled by the idea that there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed. Leaders need to lead and are they the chicken, they are the resource for how can the people charged with innovation can lay the ‘golden eggs’ needed, if they are incapable of laying? Or should the innovation egg come first for our leaders to become more confident and build further, believing in innovation far more?

There should be no dilemma we can’t treat innovation lightly anymore, it needs to develop its uniqueness for each of our organizations to evolve. We need both the egg and the chicken to be ‘producing’.

What I’m driving towards here is that innovation is evolving is my 1st point

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Risk and Innovation frustrate me

Managing risk and innovation managementI have been really struggling in the past few weeks. Partly a niggling health issue finally got resolved with a ‘delightful’ week in hospital, a couple of operations later, with a reasonably speedy recovery now thankfully under way.

The plan of course was for me to really use this confinement period as one of those opportunities to catch up on an awful lot of reading around innovation, planning out some areas to focus upon in the coming months and year ahead.

My logic was at the time, well this is similar to a long train journey or flight, you use this time and climb into a number of areas that have been quietly ‘festering’ away in the back of my mind, sitting on on my desk or tucked away in my computer.

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Building the new dynamics into our capacity to innovate

Exploit and ExploreDo we know what are the dependencies and requirements for building and sustaining your organizations innovation success? How do you sustain innovation, is it more through the structuring of everyday work, by creating a particular set of social rules and resources that foster specific routines? Or something different?

We work really hard at maintaining these re-occurring processes, never willing to extend and push them in different and new ways. We have actually become very static in our approaches and learning, we are not learning anew. We often simply end up with incremental innovation that might just ‘nudge’ the growth needle but does little more than sustain us in the present and can be ‘contained’ in a tidy process that makes many, including the ‘bean counters,’ very happy until someone changes the game.

Then we need to think differently but this is usually far too late.. As demand is more volatile today we need to experiment, explore, learn and adjust. What becomes more important is the ‘work to be done, and how we go about tackling this and not the work done’ where we often simply ‘default too. Surprisingly Adam Smith identified this important difference in work way back in 1776.

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Opening up our innovation to stay relevant

Staying RelevantOur whole understanding of innovation is changing; there are numerous shifts occurring. We are opening up our thinking in where and with whom, to collaborate.

We are evaluating and changing our existing focus from closed (internal orientation) into ones that are having a far more open stance. We are searching for more collaborative innovation (external orientation) combining external partners into more ‘collective thinking’.

The shifts taking place are offering us the promise of “extra acceleration” that is needed to improve our innovation performances from concept to market delivery. Or, we hope it is!

Collaborative innovation is also leading us to higher chances of achieving greater impact and success, as nearly all novel ideas lay are mostly outside the organization’s domain of understanding. We need to always bring the knowledge inside and build from it.

As we increasingly include the customer and their more exacting needs within our understanding, these multiple collaborations and dialogues are building this better internal understanding to align our innovation with specific opportunity, relevancy and need.

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The sharks that prey are arriving a lot earlier now

The Sharks are CirclingChange is all around us, it is accelerating not abating. Do you feel you are trapped, encircled and just a little concerned. You often hear of volatile trading conditions, a more complex market and situations changing constantly and moving faster than ever. ‘Much’ seems to be closing in on us.

We do know we need to re-equip ourselves for constant disruption; we are really beginning to see a shift from the classic bell curve into more of a shark fin for adopting change.

One that is characterized by sudden, even violent success or an event, some moments of brilliant dominance, followed by a dramatic change in conditions as others have spotted the same opportunity and you hit a rapid decline, the race to the bottom of competition constantly negating one another.

Market are segmenting, the life cycle is shortening or having an even longer tail of dealing with slow decline and constant erosion of any competitive position. The sharks are arriving even earlier and in a greater need to show their dominance.


It does seem “creative destruction” is a central force in many of our activities. Activities where innovation is continually replacing not just in products and new services but in designing radically different business models, searching to replace less adaptive competitors in the marketplace at faster rates.

Adoption is far earlier, the pace of change is quickening and from this the competition is responding in new ways, often surrounding the new innovation with their version, built on often a really ‘fast follower’ principle to keep in step, and throttle off any different adoption, knowing what it costs to have to win this back over time, if it can at all when it switches. The life cycle is becoming even more important to manage in all of its stages, as its traditional shape I feel, is radically altering. It is coming faster and fading away quicker unless you manage its parts very specifically.

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Making an impact on an organization’s innovation environment

Our Innovation EnvironmentWhere do you set about to intervene and begin to change the organizations ability to innovate? There are seemingly so many intervention points it can get bewildering.

The innovation environment can be made-up of how well you collaborate and network, the level of group and individual interactions, the presence and commitment of leadership towards innovation, as well as the organizational set-up and structures.

You can explore the make-up of the innovation environment in so many ways.

So what makes up the environment to innovation?

It is the culture, management and its people who have a mutual dependency. Culture can enhance or inhibit the tendencies to innovate, it certainly has a profound influence on the innovative capacity and provides the rich nutrients to nurture innovation or kill it. Culture has always been regarded as a primary determinant of innovation.

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Tackling the Internal Jobs-to-be-done for Improving Innovation


We are constantly nudged towards understanding the needs of customers through the jobs to be done approach. So why do we still seem to not achieve this ‘higher purpose’ of providing solutions to customers’ needs?

Predictable growth has run its course as we live in unpredictable times; we need a better way to identify ALL those unmet needs that our customers have. That need comes from knowing the “job which needs to be done”. We need to sharp shoot to hit clear targets, we need to become a lot more explicit in our knowledge of a customer’s unmet needs, and they need to make the connection of that need with our product (or service).

Mapping the hierarchy of customer needs

We need to map the jobs and generate desired outcome statements that are specific and of real interest to the customer, not our list of multiple ideas generated based on where we are or what we think we know. We need to build the hierarchy of customer needs.

By even attempting to follow a ‘needs first’ approach we are often left to figure out the unmet needs. The flaw lies in not having these fully understood. All needs can be captured but this requires combining a more rigorous, controlled approach, coupled with astute observations.

The key still requires us to accurately quantify the degree to which a proposed solution will increase customer satisfaction – and that means knowing the job’s they want to complete.

We need to segment by jobs and to do this we need to capture this in clear, precise job outcome given statements. We need to become clearer on the product, service or business model ‘job’ it is intended to perform, measured by a customer’s desired outcome.

I really believe our internal processes are letting us down.

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