Seeing Your Innovating Future Across Different Horizons

The three horizons offer us much to frame our innovating future

IFD Mountain ViewFollowing a couple of recent posts on reflecting on the three horizons methodology, firstly here and then here, I wanted to come back to where I see real value, in managing innovation into the future.

The 3H methodology enables us to look out into the future, across three different horizons that can manage the transition between short, medium and long term in our innovation activities, something often badly lacking in most organizations thinking.

It allows us to gauge  the challenges, adding aspects we are beginning to gain a sense of, transitioning from one position to another. It allows us to deepen our evaluation of the innovation portfolio of activities, resources and skill sets across different delivery frames of short, medium and longer-term.

It is one that requires us to reflect and possibly make change, then we can move forward to meet the new challenges, within this emerging vision of the possible futures.

So 3H is a way of working with change, it offers us a foresight and framing tool for drawing out our often conflicting discussions and views of what all this potential change might mean, from our established patterns or approaches and those that are possibly emerging. The 3H supports innovation’s management very well.

Accepting everything has a finite life-cycle

From my perspective we see businesses littered with not wanting to make change, rejecting the changes going on all around them. These are happening in changing technology, different business models, threats from competitors coming into the market with different and often low-cost models.

Source: Adapted from Sharpe / Hodgson

Sometimes a concept or product has ‘run its course’ is seen as yesterday solution, or industry segments separated in the past are suddenly ‘fused’ together in new ways due to new technologies, or being purposefully designed, they begin to disrupt the existing.

We can’t afford to ignore the ‘call of change’, it places our business at significant risk. Recognizing the challenges life-cycle management can bring, does need careful managing within our innovation management.

We do need to recognize changing conditions and begin to plan out our responses, both short and longer-term through a well crafted transformation road map. The 3H can underpin this.

So where are you viewing the world from?

Why expand the Innovation Horizon visualMany of our organizations are viewing the world from where they are.This is often in the safety of their offices. They feel comfortable to stay with what they know.

They only see change when something suddenly triggers their perception and the world alters, and it then gives way to a new horizon of sight. Often these can come far too late.

What needs to challenge this place of “the world of where we are” and prompt fresh thinking so we can allow one of emerging knowledge and insight to enter into. One where perhaps we are blending our imaginations, with some envisioned destination, where change will likely alter today’s dominant position. We need to prepare for it as these insights can radically alters our present position. We become open to change, to think differently.

We need to see the clues all around us

We need to reflect and see how we can forge those new innovation patterns. A methodology that helps raises our future consciousness and moves us to building new competencies for future competitive advantage is surely valuable?

We cannot stay trapped in our offices, our constant need is to find all possible means to be fully engaged and well-connected into the changes taking place within and across the world.

Managing the present, moving towards the future

wave tension painitingIn any future thinking there are numerous uncertainties, yet we also need to address the familiar “the way we (presently) do things around here”.

We need to grapple with “how can we ‘keep the lights on” but equally move towards a different horizon without “betting the shop” and totally disrupting all we have built up? This requires even deeper thinking.

Something that requires us to re-equip, challenge existing and entrenched ways of working, bring in and fuse new skills and capabilities, push experimentation and exploration far more, tolerate failures in new ways, keep shareholders happy, recognizing the need to make change for a potential sustaining future. Possibilities of changes in our ways of working and approach begin to unlock and open up to different thinking.

The unlocking of the future is partly recognizing the future patterns, yet is is equally releasing us from the dominance of old ways of working, systems and structures – ways we have been increasingly sensing are no longer truly work well for us.

We need to shape our future intentions

Different Futures VisualIt is the second horizon; you can read a further post specifically on this 2nd horizon, “entering the zone of uncertainty”  within this framework, that is the hardest one to work through.

This is the transitory horizon, balancing today’s business with the investigations and new possibilities to lead towards a future.

Our abilities to manage this transitory zone (the 2h) is vital for our innovation management, it holds the key to staying locked in the present or moving towards a sustaining future built on different views and perspectives

For me the value of the 3H is in its use within innovation’s management.

Three Horizon Challenge 4The three horizon framework offers a map of transformational potential which allows us to move towards finding new skills, degrees of new freedoms and creativity, we are striving for a balance between existing and preferred, based on present day understanding.

Scoping out the future needs for innovation to address needs different thinking. It needs foresight and exploration. It needs to allocate resources across the three different horizons and each of their respective challenges of the future needed from innovation.

This is why the 3H is, for me, a very valuable approach to managing innovation in the present and for the future.

The 3H framework prompts the need for transformational capacity.

I believe there is great value in exploring innovation possibilities through a framework that can support the often diverse management thinking, one that is far more strategic in its focus on exploring the options, working through different scenarios and mindsets, then adjusting the resources accordingly, or identifying required new ones.

A framework that ‘sketches out’ that future promise can significantly improves strategic and innovation alignment, help set organizational direction and defining and allocating resources appropriately.

It frames discussions, it is a navigational guide to allow for framing challenges and seeing perspectives in different frames, so as they can be addressed. The 3H helps scope out the pathway of change from today’s existing innovation approaches. It takes you through the key milestones to the future envisaged and allows you to distinguish different horizon challenges.

Working with the 3H approach can be a very powerful tool for managing our innovation future.

Any framework that draws out concerns, differences of opinions and prompts transformational discussions, can be a very powerful management tool. If it provides the platform for framing and recognizing what needs to change.

If it can help to begin to flesh any capability gaps, stepping-stones to cross and if it can ‘point’ toward the action and activities that need to put into place, so the organization can make their moves towards that different innovation future, then it has great value within any organization wanting to manage and structure its innovation activity.

I believe the three horizons approach can contribute significantly to this aim of managing innovation and giving organizations a sustaining future. I certainly recommend it.

 

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Three Horizons – fields of future, full of foresight.

Three Horizon Book Bill SharpeI’d like to relate to parts of a book that came out in late 2013 from Bill Sharpe. His book, or actually more a booklet, called “Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope”, published by Triarchy Press, has some really helpful insights.

In this book, Bill outlines his distinct ways of creatively working through many of the unknowns, by framing and connecting though the Three Horizons, (3H) as his contribution to the patterning of hope for all our futures.

I draw out a lot within his thinking, experiences and approaches within the book. Some of these initial thoughts outlined here, re-affirm my own thinking and focus on the 3H, specifically for innovation and its management.

Here are some of the ‘triggers’ I connected with strongly from his book:

The three horizons does offer us much to frame the future

Firstly, the 3H is actually a simple framework, see my original opening post in 2010,on a quick explanation if you need it. The 3H allows us all to work with what we know, about today, and a method that allows us to engage creatively with what we don’t know. To look beyond the existing.

The 3H methodology enables us to look out into the future, across different horizons. It allows us to gauge  the challenges, adding aspects we are beginning to gain a sense of, transitioning from one position to another. It is one that requires us to reflect and possibly make change, then we can move forward to meet the new challenges, within this emerging vision of the possible futures.

Tackling uncertain futures for transformational change

Bill asks the question in his book “How can people work together to create transformational change in the face of the uncertain future?”

He suggests we have choices, we continue the pattern of how we have been doing things today or we start a new pattern. What can be abandoned and let go, what can be adopted as new and how do we manage the transition.

Bill’s view is that transformation change comes about when we see that the way things are getting done now has its limits; we cannot get much beyond these limits however much we try to improve the existing system and we must face the reality create to create this new pattern for the future we need.

So it becomes clear the 3H is a way of working with change

The 3H offers us a foresight and framing tool for drawing out our often conflicting discussions and views of what all this potential change might mean, from our established patterns or approaches and those that are possibly emerging.

It provides for a transitory step in its second horizon, full of the challenges of wrestling with change, letting go of the present, holding onto essential aspects for the future, embracing often totally new concepts, skills or thinking through positions. You are intentionally drawing out diversity of opinion to improve the dialogue, narrow differences through pattern recognition. It can be tough work.

As Bill states “a lot of dynamics of change come into view quite naturally, and we are lead to explore them in terms of patterns of behavior of those (involved) who are maintaining or creating them”

We can explore the  possibilities found across the three different horizons

The intent of the 3H is to offer a way to look at the process of change, to view possibilities across three different horizons, that encourages us to look and question a little deeper, we make the future more accessible and relevant to us operating in the present, for future intent and action.

It brings out all the differences, often conflicting ‘voices’ and patterns, to challenge continuity. Then we need to figure out what needs to come into ‘play’ to help us understand those future patterns through these dialogues, so we can begin to determine what resources and emphasis to we place on them.

The 3H can help tackle complex problems or from my own focus, the future intent on innovation; in its planning, resource allocations and skill gap identification to build capabilities and capacities to be ‘future’ ready. We need to map innovation across the three horizons.

The three voices that are to be hopefully found in the same room

The different voices involved can be highly engaged, as Bill suggests, you have the voice of today, more concerned with managing the existing, maximizing returns and keeping the organization going efficiently and effectively. Then you have the second voice, the voice of the entrepreneur, the one eager to experiment, try out new things, explore and extend, accepting some aspects will not work and the third voice,  of the aspirant, who is looking to build a different vision, believing in different, more pioneering ways and visualizes things in their ‘mind’s eye’, far more aspirational, that can seemingly on first ‘take’ look to be totally incompatible to the reality of today.

The ability to draw out tensions, seeing emerging patterns and growing awareness

That tension between “our present circumstances and positioning” is full of possible future consequences and those patterns and indications that are stirring the ‘future consciousness.’ For some this seems to be a little wacky, flaky, far too aspirational, surely inconceivable, incongruous and unthinkable.

The value of the 3H framing is to begin to make the connection’s, shifting individual thinking into team actions and decisions. The 3H connects the future for bringing strategy, vision and innovation into greater alignment of thinking through diverging and then converging.

Bridging often highly divergent differences that are causing a growing and deep set of tensions are in fact, in Bills words “different perspectives on the future potential of the present moment”.

We are actually facing three different perspectives; those immersed in the dominant system of the present, with those that ‘sense’ the scope for new thinking and try something different, to those in the third domain of arguing for radical change or seeing things very differently.

The question for all too answer is “how the present might play out in the future?” The job of the 3H is to raise this in all the three opening and different thinking positions, to achieve a more united ‘future consciousness’.

The Three Horizons approach works well with complex issues

The value within Bill’s book is how he describes the three horizons in his experiences often working within complex societal areas:

“It offers a way to find and shape our own intentions more clearly, as we look over the first horizon of the known, towards the second and third horizons of innovation and transformation towards the future.

It transforms the potential of the present moment by revealing each horizon as a different quality of the future in the present, reflecting how we act differently to maintain the familiar or pioneer the new”.

I have found this book offered me a fresh perspective of the power of the 3H framework.

Bill Sharpe’s book does add some fresh and helpful thinking to working with the three horizon framework. It offers real, insightful ‘nuggets’ of an experienced practitioner, working constantly in futures work, taking on problems that need fresh approaches and new concepts, rather than application of routine methods.

Finally as Bill suggests “to shift from our simple, one-dimensional view of time stretching into the future and instead adopt a three-dimensional point of view in which we become aware of each horizon as a distinct quality of relationship between the future and the present. We call the move into this multi-dimensional view, and the skill to work with it, the step into future consciousness”

Through this book Bill provides his personal perspectives that have added real value to my own focus and understandings on how to apply the 3H to innovation.

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We seem to pass over distinctive innovation, why?

paul4innovating:

* I decided to re-post a group of my previous thoughts that I believe offer some value.
* Please see these as a collection to ‘dip in and out of’. Just scroll down the home page.
* Normal service will return as of tomorrow 1st September, just enjoy these older posts, I did!

Would you want to be associated with something distinctive, I would?

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

I see so many suggestions on the types of innovation, actually I’ve offered a few myself, just go and take a look athttp://cirf.pbworks.com for a different slant on this . For me, one ‘type’ of innovation that seems always to be often passed over is distinctive innovation in discussions. Why is that?

Most people work away in the trenches of incremental improvements and these outputs make up the vast substance of innovation activity.  Many working in these trenches of innovation on a daily basis would love to be part of a breakthrough but tend to find this is always ring-fenced for a few others to work upon. All they can often do is gaze over the fence or quietly accept this divide simply goes on.

I believe many who work within innovation simply do not share in this delineation of innovation activity, as it divides talent into separate teams…

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Forming the unified view on innovation design

paul4innovating:

Driving outcomes often required separate innovation functions.

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

Although we are seeing a number of cases where innovation in its structures, functions and design are evolving, we still have not achieved the mainstream recognition of innovations importance within the boardroom. In many organizations it still lacks a clearly separated ‘voice.’ Its present voice tends to be fragmented within its parts represented by the separate functions providing their narrower view of innovation.

You still have marketing, research, financial, strategic development all offering their unique views of what and where innovation can contribute. This often ‘fragmented’ approach reduces the promising breakthrough effect of innovations potential contribution. By not having this comprehensive and cohesive viewpoint articulated at board level by a fully accountable person, the Chief Innovation Officer, innovation often stays locked up in one position or another. No one is stepping in and unlocking its full potential from a holistic viewpoint, totally responsible for innovation by structuring it, for adding…

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The Hidden Human Dimension of Innovation

paul4innovating:

People are innovation’s active ingredient

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

Why do so many of us get fixated on new technologies, discoveries, inventions, the process, the structures, even the art of creativity within innovation? Certainly each of these have their important contributing part to play in building a coherency for innovation, but the ingredient that tops them all and often forgotten or assigned as the afterthought is people. People making innovation work, all the rest are the enablers to help them.

The Australian Business Foundation published a report last year- the Hidden Human Dimensions of Innovation (http://www.abfoundation.com.au/research_knowledge) and in part of a speech given by its Chief Executive, Narelle Kennedy at an Innovation 2009 conference she spoke of this people factor.

Let me quote as her comments are really powerful and help encourage people to conceive that innovation is more of a social process first, and not a technical one so often a misconception of many.

– 

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The Accelerating Innovation Tide Across Asia.

paul4innovating:

Innovation in Asia is quite different; here are some of the dynamics.

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

Asia is moving towards the remaking of the innovation landscape, I have no doubt about that. Over the next ten years or so, along with a number of other wealth generating activities, the centre of gravity for innovation will shift increasingly towards the East.

I have been lucky to see part of this taking shape in my 15 odd years being based in Asia until recently. For twelve years I was based in Singapore and it is still, like all of Asia, on my advisory radar. Innovation in Asia is quite different; here are some of the dynamics. Others will follow.

The combinations abound are ‘rich and heady’.

With the attraction of fast growing markets, rapidly growing middle classes, rising education standards with millions of graduates emerging across Asia and plentiful state funding you have a powerful cocktail to ‘kick start’ innovation. For many countries in Asia they are well…

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Establish a different global thinking for your innovation.

paul4innovating:

global scale will simply not happen if organizations can’t leverage the people on the ground

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

When you read through a paper on transformative innovation by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) at www.executiveboard.com that offers in its conclusion: “Innovation teams have been reorganized, de-layered, downsized, and (increasingly) dispersed, weakening the underlying structure of many companies ’innovation efforts” you do stop and reflect.

Then you read in one of the latest McKinsey Quarterly’s articles about “the global company’s challenge” (http://tinyurl.com/8yvwsrv) suggesting many issues are needed to be faced within large global organizations, you get even more of a confirmation that all is not well for innovation.

Innovation’s future seems to need some wholesale changes to take place and those innovation leaders are facing multiple dilemmas and choices that can’t be ignored for much longer.

The issue is “are the leaders of these organizations up to the challenges?”

According to McKinsey, through a fairly extensive survey overall, global organizations are struggling to adapt in many areas…

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