Thinking about scalable engagement

paul4innovating:

scalability allows for greater engagement and plenty more

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

I wrote a piece sometime back on “people don’t buy product they buy meaning” and was prompted on this again fairly recently. See http://tinyurl.com/chvu2la for this. It is funny how this triggered a series of different thoughts which I’m going to try to explain here as I struggle with some disconnects on where we are going on engagement.

I first start out with engagement

There is an awful lot of disruption occurring all around us. Old behaviours, many well established ones that we were somehow seemingly comfortable with, are being suddenly replaced. We are being pushed far more today to search for achieving a greater personal meaning through a different set of connections, more remote, arguably more empowering and get offered in this deal the technology to make this happen, with ease and convenience in its place. What are we losing in this grand deal?

These shifts are changing our…

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Preparing the secret sauce for innovation delivery.

paul4innovating:

The secret is in the sauce

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

The secret sauce required for innovation delivery sometimes can be hard to itemize but knowing the ingredients and constantly improving on them wil make your ‘sauce’ stand out from others.  For many it seems, execution or final delivery of the innovation is simply not given enough attention inside many organizations and that needs to certainly change and not just left to chance or delegated out as the less important stage.

For me, clarifying and committing resources on the innovation delivery part is a critical task to get right. I’ve discussed that elsewhere, but if your final delivery is wrong then all your preparation and effort simply ‘goes out the window.’

It is like a restaurant kitchin- correct delivery of the item makes or breaks all the hard work beforehand and if the final garnish or sauces are wrongly executed, the meal itself fails and it leaves the customer dissatisfied, irrespective…

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Building for the Innovation Business Case

Originally posted on Paul4innovating's Blog:

One of the toughest aspects within Innovation is making the Business Case. Much of the information is imperfect, the returns are often fuzzy and unclear in the early stages and the doubters line up ready to block and deter new ideas from entering the commercialization process. Justifying new innovation can be often really hard too make to others.

How can you reduce down many of these uncertainties?

Often what is missing is ensuring the innovation business case takes a clear methodical approach and builds the arguments up in a sound structured way. Far to many cases are based on emotion and gut feel. Some of these clearly work but an awful lot get lost along the way, especially in the more structured organization. So often good ideas are ‘killed’ because the Business Case was not as well thought through as possible. It simply became the necessary chore at the end of…

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Reflecting on the Value of the Three Horizon Model for our Innovating Future

Business as usualThere is that prevailing sense that we are just managing for ‘business as usual’, leaving many increasingly uncomfortable and feeling exposed. Why?

Our businesses are not adapting fast enough to changing conditions in the market, often lagging in the competitive race to update and keep relevant.

Businesses are struggling with conflicting knowledge flows and incoming intelligence, just simply managing their talent to keep them relevant, engaged and outwardly orientated.

They need to constantly adjust and adapt to the demands and challenges within the societal conditions, environments and markets, grappling with constant shifts in consumer demand and coping with the declining natural resources and of what all of this might mean.

We are often short on foresight and certainly struggling with growing complexity.

Bill Sharpe and Tony Hodgson, along with Andrew Curry and Graham Leicester, have been working to bring the Three Horizons framework into a more widespread use . Once I had ‘found them’ through the International Futures Forum they became the catalyst for my own perspective of exploring this framework and applying it specifically for innovation

Bill and Tony have recently provide a wonderfully descriptive view of valuing the Three Horizon Framework within a 3H slideshare deck I’d encourage you to work through. It frames and captures much that reflects the tensions and approaches to overcome these.

I’d also encourage you to go back and explore my different thoughts in this site by entering in the search box: “three horizons”. My trilogy of blogs starting with “the Value of Managing Innovation Across the Three Horizons” I’d suggest is equally not a bad place to start for a clear background to this methodology.

Reflecting on a framework to that can help frame those future discussions?

Three Horizons IFFLet me reflect on some of the thinking around the 3H framework as I relate to it from my more dedicated focus, the innovation management perspective.

Why I so much like this 3H framework is in its value where you can construct distinctly different horizon focuses, based on the present, that allow a ‘growing future consciousness’

Our need is that we all must find ways to embrace the future, to not get simply caught up and washed away, because we were ‘just’ unable to move beyond the present, or simply stayed stuck in the past. I think this 3H framework is very powerful to allow us to move beyond our existing framing, to map across different horizons

Often we are caught be surprise, ignoring many warning signs

With our lack of foresight and lack of actions we lose something that begins us to ‘walk the path towards decay.’ If we ignore ‘taking action’ long enough for a host of seemingly reasonable reasons, when something occurs that simply confirms what we inwardly had felt for some time might possibly happen, it has already grown into a real problem.

By using our ability of using foresight; of seeing this possible set of events, different signals and warnings we have two choices. We could have chosen to continued to ignore it, or we start to make  ‘investments’ into building new defenses, new capabilities, new stepping-stones to the future.

There is this powerful need to look towards the future

Based on what we know today and what we can set about building and exploring does hold the exciting promise of the future. Look out of ourselves offers a more rewarding prospect.

A future held in our own hands then we can help shape it and integrate it into our daily lives or of course, we can simply ignore it and keep hunkered down in what we do, feeling we are comfortable and secure. I would argue we all need to embrace change, not avoid it, it never goes away, it is constantly tapping you on the shoulder.

We need to keep reflecting upon what is dominant, prevalent and pattern-changing, as these positions are constantly shifting. Scanning the horizons and what is simply all around ‘us’ offers those ‘pockets of the future’ to invest in, explore and experiment, to be open to change.

Initially these pockets of the future may seem a long way off, often just really weak signals, but are indicating different, perhaps far more radical and perhaps disruptive changes and our organizations need to constantly re-equip for these by building different capabilities and competencies. Technology clearly comes to mind with wave upon wave of change, crashing against the established rocks, beginning to weaken the existing structures and form new ones.

Just remember the present is already in decline

It is the constant renewing, the transforming and capturing of these weak signals, today clearly seen as marginal to our business, that can ‘permit us’ to explore and begin to re-equip ourselves for the changes that might happen. Small investments anticipating potential changes are highly valuable to consider.

We can choose to ignore these signals or poorly under fund them as they are often seemingly vague, often unrelated to our existing practices. They are unsure in what they bring, mostly experimental in the early investigations,that ‘seemingly’ conflict, even drawing resources away from our existing model but at what risk to the future?

The ongoing dilemma we need to also revolve, is around multiple cross over points, between blending the existing with these possible futures, allowing time and resources to figure out and explore the options these might present as future options to the business.

Not enough time really does constraint and dominate

We never can find enough time to manage all that we would like to. We are forced to (eventually) make many rushed choices, often ill-judged or last-minute, reacting to changes being forced on us .

Our interests, values, mindset all ‘kick in’ and when it comes to discussing the future, well often initial discussions begin to move into conflict, based on established positions, types of personality, vested interests or opinions.

Attitudes and judgement are either grounded in the present, with many executives fairly dismissive of the future, or those that are more future related become increasingly impatient in wanting to challenge and change the present.

We need to manage the tensions between the different views on managing the present and the future.

The rising way of change comes from different experiments and innovations

It is partly through the treatment of innovation, feeding into the system a rising wave of future innovations that alter positions. Staying stuck in ‘just’ incremental to serve the existing conditions in the market seriously constrains you for the future, you stop growing, exploring, being curious and experimental.

Encouraging separate and focused discussions on the future are increasingly essential

Managing future discussionsDiscussions within the boardroom, within our R&D centres on the breadth and depth of the future portfolio and the allocation of resources for innovation, needs to have different mindsets within the 3H approach.

There needs to be a framework to surface different assumptions, often conflicting and entrenched views to surface the potential ‘pockets of the future’ as seen through different eyes.

If we can avoid those initial, often highly personal definitive judgements of the future, we can begin to map these conflicting thoughts back to our existing, to see different emerging patterns that meet many of these seemingly ‘conflicting voices’ and each begin to appreciate and see their role of moving the existing into these futures as they make sense to their lens or orientation.

You evaluate what initiatives are already under-way, that have a more future orientation and which seemed to be more sustaining the present. We are looking to find ways for transformational change grounded partly in the present, partly based on clear movement detected.

We are moving the ‘grounded knowledge’ and assumptions into the potentials that are thought to be emerging, we see the role of the present in the future, we can see much can be ‘let go’ and allowed to be opened up and explored differently. We are beginning to adapt to the new environment. The future might be getting clearer.

We need to take care within any future’s discussion.

The three horizon methodology and how you frame each of the dialogue sessions does need care. You are not only dealing with present complexity, but seeing future scope through emerging patterns and many weak signals; equally, we are often dealing with entrenched positions, insecurity and impatience.

It is the ability to step back, to travel in ambiguous territory, challenge the safe bet of extending the old system, to release these deep tensions these conversations will reveal.

I would encourage adopting the three horizon methodology to innovation

We need to encourage a transformation in our capacities by developing a collective awareness of our ‘future consciousness’ that opens up a greater freedom to act and move forward.

I believe the three horizon methodology becomes an essential framework within any organization wanting to determine their resources and evaluate their innovation pathways.

Exploring the field of futures and foresight as an emerging practice

In a future post I’d planning to discuss part of a book that came out in late 2013 from Bill Sharpe. His book, or actually more a booklet, is called “Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope”, published by Triarchy Press.

In this book, Bill is outlining his distinct and even highly sensitive way of creatively working through many of the unknowns, by framing and connecting though the Three Horizons, offering his contribution to the patterning of hope for all our futures.

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Asset Orchestration is Required for more Dynamic Innovation

to orchestrate 5We all should recognize the incredible power of “orchestration” that is needed in innovation to bring the initial idea into a final successful commercial concept.

We have an ongoing need to create, extend and modify resources constantly and to achieve this we need to orchestrate and enable those resources to exploit and execute on our innovations.

We need to ‘asset orchestrate’.

One of our blind spots is perhaps the focus on pursuing and organizing around innovation just within an organization and not to be as aware of all that is externally going on around us.

There are continued and rapid shifts taking place outside the walls of our organizations, constantly occurring and changing, often it becomes a ‘race’ between spotting an opportunity and executing on it, before your competitors do, or the market further moves on and it becomes a lost opportunity to have exploited.

There is an awful lot of dynamics to consider and are we not just capturing the dynamics of the constant changes but ‘fit’ enough within our organizations to read and react to these in more dynamic ways. Much of what an organization does is simply perform through its established routines, managing the passages that lead from one ‘event’ to the next. These form much of the activities, yet these should never be seen as the end, only the prelude.

We need to fully appreciate the complexities of all the interactions needed to make innovation more dynamic. That’s constantly changing and evolving and like a piece of music it needs this conducting to be thoughtfully manage through the whole piece, the routines and the new understandings and interpretations.

To manage and orchestrate means to lead, to frame, conduct and set the tempo.

The clear intent of any orchestration is the need to extract the underlying value. The person responsible, our conductor, is responsible for managing and searching for new innovation and they need to determine the path. They need to coordinate and integrate all the activities, they need to draw out new learning, new interpretations of the knowledge collectively gathered and reconfigure it all, to deliver something different, fresh and new to the world.

When we begin to want to orchestrate across external innovation networks we not only need to know ourselves extremely well, we also need to know what others can bring and what is missing. Networks and relationships, interactions and knowledge flow needs to be dynamic, they need to be somehow captured and translated, transformed and often reconfigured

Picking up the baton we need to pull together the different fragments

to orchestrate 6Asset orchestration has potentially a real value to appreciate and manage.

There is limited academic research into this but it becomes significantly richer in its importance when you tie it into dynamic capabilities.

Also as we increasing need to understand the value creation in building our networks and relationships, the need for asset orchestration increases so as to build a pathway through gathering knowledge and what you can learn that leads you towards new innovation.

As our organizations become increasingly dependent on specialization the coordination task becomes far more complex and difficult. We constantly need to search, select and configure our resources and capabilities.

Work undertaken to frame this asset orchestration was in different research by Sirmon et al during 2007 and 2008 that focused on the different actions of the manager, or asset orchestrator. They suggest there are three primary stages of structuring, bundling and leveraging resources for the purpose of creating new value for customers and gaining competitive advantages, however temporary in today’s world. It is why this needs to be dynamic, ever evolving, to keep orchestrating your assets continually. These three primary stages can be broken down:

  • Structuring involves acquiring, accumulating and divesting resources to form the organizations resource portfolio.
  • Bundling of integrating resources to form capabilities, that can stabilize or provide incremental improvements to existing capabilities, or that enrich and extend existing current capabilities and thirdly, pioneer, which creates new capabilities.
  • Leveraging involves a sequence of processes to exploit the organizations capabilities to take advantage of specific market opportunities. This includes mobilizing, offering a clear plan or vision of needed capabilities, coordinating for ways to integrate these necessary capabilities and finally, deploying to achieve a resource advantage (or gain) that promotes market opportunities and instils more entrepreneurial strategies to exploit new resource configurations

We are all facing these needs for greater asset synchronization or orchestration.

We need to learn also that innovation needs this growing orchestration, due to this increasing move from firm-centric to network-centric innovation. In my understanding of an orchestrator they needs to manage the tempo, knowing where and when to cue in the different players (learning) and to inject the intensity into the performance.

We are dealing with managing the tempo, interpreting the different passages and movements as interactions become distinct, providing fresh value to build upon.

We need to learn to identify, assimilate and exploit far more than ever, the value of knowing your innovation fitness, your dynamics and the terrain you wish to traverse in new innovation activity becomes even more critical. To create and to extract does clearly need to understand the what, why, where, when and how it needs to go about this.

The orchestrator needs to orchestrate.

Asset OrchestratorTo do this you must orchestrate the capabilities, to purposefully build what is needed to deliver the final result. I have reconfigured my thinking around what will influence the evolution leading from internal innovation capabilities to a whole ‘network’ of these.

It still relies in how you purposefully build and conduct these capabilities and competencies. Orchestration is fundamentally dynamic, full of uncertainties but the need is still to connect the parts to deliver the right result.

Definitely the dynamic view of orchestrating our assets is needed

Finally, orchestration has for me become very important to my ongoing work on the dynamic innovation capabilities for recognizing your innovation fitness landscape and the gaps. These become even more of a challenge when different perspectives and competencies enter the mix, where we urgently need to understand the ‘dynamics of innovation’ even more.

We need to not just know the appropriate resources; we need to work on the skills, processes, routines, organizational structure and disciplines that enable firms to build, employ and orchestrate mostly our intangible assets relevant to satisfying customer needs and which cannot be replicated by competitors.

Assets that deliver the new innovation needed, through attracting in collaboration efforts and integrating these into you own evolving resources and turning into being dynamic in nature.

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Are you dependent on other’s best practices?

best-practices

I often wonder if “best practice” is actually a hidden drug within our organizations that everyone simply craves to be taking.

Why do so many advisory organizations promote best practice? Simply because those in the organization constantly feel under pressure to demonstrate why they are falling behind or keeping ahead of their competitors.

They crave knowing best practices, but tell me what really is the best practice of others really achieving?

If you are behind, best practice informs you and you go into a frantic mode to try and catch up. By the time you have achieved the best practice, it is simply out of date as those practising this have most likely moved even further on.

If you are the ones attributed with a best practice it can usually create a level of complacency, while you sit back and bask in the afterglow, or you rack your brains to extend this ‘leadership’ position in even better ways, determined not to relinquish this recognition and start to ‘mess’ with these practices.

Often the result is you can lose sight of why you were a best practice as you upgrade to the next level of automation through technology, forgetting that part of the best practice might have been the personal touch and engagements you had with your customers, dealing individually with their specific problems, as you race to automate these, so you can keep ahead in practice.

I argue you have to be very careful with best practice

Firstly organizations need to move well beyond their lazy reliance on best practice comparison and they need to find better ways to explore emerging practices. But that takes many into the realm of increasing uncertainties, and most people and organizations are not trained for this exploration and experimentation, yet it is the place for gaining leading practice.

quote-other-organizations-best-practices-are-not-yoursIt is just so easy to copy, yet how often do we fail to recognize all the contextual factors that went into making a specific set of (best) practices in one organization as those another organization simply believes it can blindly copy?

Other organizations good practice is their practice, in their circumstances and in adapting the practices to suit their market conditions and I guarantee these are not yours!

Your practices are all that matter to your customer, so keep focusing there

Of course best practice has its comparative use to gather intelligence, to gain competitive understanding of where they are in their development. But these are their practices and to simply set about to adopt these as your way forward is just a huge, expensive mistake in many cases.

I believe if you are focusing on the good and emerging practices within your own organization as the area to focus upon, to leverage and understand. Then to measure these with what your customer expects, your market is telling you or your ability to engineer real growth or not. Those become your practices for learning and wanting to improve into those that make your organization really work effectively in its context.

Then applying, experimenting and learning from novel practices that provide growing confidence in creative thinking.

Also give some thought for next practice, those practices that prompt reinvention. They start such totally fresh thinking; they challenge existing paradigms and move you towards considering new business models.

The Cynefin Framework

One framework I strongly relate too is provided by www.cognitive-edge.com with their Cynefin framework. It places ‘practices’ in its appropriate domain. 

Cynefin Revised 1The Cynefin framework has five major domains

The first four domains are our most relevant for seeking out the appropriate practice:

Simple, recently renamed the Obvious space, in which the relationship between cause and effect is obvious to all, the approach is to Sense – Categorise – Respond and we can apply best practice as it is more for incremental, the space where you are working with more of the ‘established’ routines, extracting the efficiencies and repeating established practice.

Complicated, in which the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or some other form of investigation and/or the application of expert knowledge, the approach is to Sense – Analyze – Respond and we can apply good practice.

Complex, this is the domain, in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect, but not in advance, the approach is to Probe – Sense – Respond and we can sense emergent practice.

Chaotic, in which there is no relationship between cause and effect at systems level, the approach is to Act – Sense – Respond and we can discover novel practice.

The fifth domain- The fifth domain is Disorder, which is the state of not knowing what type of causality exists, simply unaware of what you need to do and in which state you should apply. Often people will revert to their own comfort zone in making a decision adding more complexity to the disorder.

In full use, the Cynefin framework has sub-domains, and the boundary between simple and chaotic is seen as a catastrophic one: complacency leads to failure and tumbles into chaos.

Dealing with different types of innovation really works in this framework

For incremental innovation, constant reoccurring stuff, the ‘simple’ domain applies and best practice pushes down on efficiencies and effectiveness, on being consistent with standard processes and clear structures. Always be conscious of the limitations within best practice.

For a more distinctive innovation you tend to move more towards the complicated domain, where experts ‘kick-in’ to help and offer plausible outcomes based on known experiences. You need to listen to conflicting advice and watch out for entrenched thinking so it can be challenged.

quote-this-type-of-innovationIf you are pushing for more radical innovation then it has a higher complexity and risk and falls into the complex domain. The range of options sometimes seems infinite where we explore more through the lens of perspectives and judgement. The outcomes are never easy to predict upfront and you need to keep looking for patterns to emerge and ‘inform’ your decisions. The use of experimentation, gamification, allowing greater interactions and a place you encourage dissent and finally be patient and allow time for reflection. This type of innovation can change the game.

Then we have the chaotic domain, where disruptive innovation tends to sit. You lack any clear ‘cause and effect’ as it is entering more of the unknowns. The key is deciding to act, not from knowing the practice but recognizing it is novel, as you search for what will work, attempt to take back control and provide clear and direct interventions to firstly stabilize, understand and learn from and then further respond to bring it back into some order that allows you to participate.

The appropriate framework of practices and approach are really valuable

This framework offers a perspective that has enormous value as it offers managers a guide in placing different thoughts with different actions. The Cynefin framework offers a typology of contexts to help you sort out a variety of situations in which you might need to make different decisions and then provide what actions to take from the recognition.

The framework looks to place the appropriate actions and decisions into the right context. The framework emerged from complexity theory and innovation falls into this.

I would suggest focusing and developing your own practices is so much better that attempting to ‘adopt’ others best practices.

When you next think of best practice as your answer, come back and reflect on this first, to place the appropriate innovation into the right practice that meets your needs, not someone else’s.

Publishing note:  This blog post was originally written on behalf of Hype and with their permission I have republished it on my own site. I recommend you should visit the Hype blog site where they have a range of contributors writing about a wide-ranging mix of ideas and thoughts around innovation, its well worth the visit.

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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.

Resources are often in conflict when it comes to innovation

Middle managers are being stretched as much or even more than the majority. They fight to keep their people, argue endlessly about what and how they can manage the constant flow of change that is coming from all directions.  They are pressured for time, to think, to fully engage and these mounting pressures are simply squashing out the opportunity to explore, it is actually squeezing the middle managers ability to build a more flexible, responsive organization. Innovation is in direct ‘tension’ with much that is being undertaken at middle management level.

quote-missing-radical-changeThis does result in sacrificing ‘creative time’ by working purposefully towards a well-tuned and efficient operating system, where it seems innovation is not capable to move from a collection of ad hoc activities into one that builds progressively that more sustaining innovation structure, establishing a deepening set of capabilities that this requires. We are missing the radical change in designing our middle within organizations when it comes to innovation becoming more our core.

The conflict of sustaining performance and allowing freedom to be creative

Although organizations claim to be innovative, often the very people that we are expecting to manage the ‘dynamics of innovation’ within organizations, the Middle Managers, are seeking the very opposite, doing everything possible to keep the environment as stable and consistent as it can be.

They are taking away the ‘vital essences’ that innovation needs – a fluid, agile, open, diverse and flexible environment and putting consistent constraints and barriers in the way in their pursuit of efficiency and predictable effectiveness. It often can’t be helped; they are expected to keep the system as effective and efficient as possible to sustain performance.

How can we move the needle and tilt it more towards innovation becoming more central without inflicting a more radical overhaul, one that is unlikely to happen in most existing organizations.

Let’s turn the existing core competencies needed for middle managers on their head and offer a new mix of primary, critical and core capabilities that are the measuring point for the MM’s new core competency set that provides for a clearer innovation focus as essential to master.

Let’s flip the thinking and set new requirements

We all recognize that the dedicated middle manager holds the organization together. They are often the glue that connects the organization with the leadership and enable the ‘forces’ to flow, yet do they allow this for innovation?  In traditional Chinese culture qì (also chi or ch’i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi is frequently translated as “life energy”, “life force”, or the energy flow “and innovation is the same vital need within organizations.

The problem we often have to face todays is to resolve that the middle manager is tending to block the creative flows. The layers below and the layers above are disconnected and it is this essential middle that needs to allow this dynamic flow up and down organizations, to allow innovation to become more aligned and consistently being in-tune with its needs, as seen by the top of the organization.

Changing the focus can provide a different mentality and energy force

Flipping the thinking on capabilities around for the Middle Manager

Flipping the thinking on capabilities around for the Middle Manager

Flipping the thinking on capabilities around for the Middle Manager

  • Primary becomes the base not the pinnacle. What they do in efficiency and effectiveness remains as their primary capability – you don’t alter this, it is too engrained. This can only change over time and through their inner awareness and recognition that innovation needs to be embedded, alongside the existing ‘fixation’ on efficiency and effectiveness. Don’t try to radically change, make progressive step changes. Efficiency and effectiveness clearly remains the inventory repertoire of solid capabilities so as you set about to build a new platform, based on innovation, it layers and interlocks
  • You target selected critical capabilities to learn and explore. You provide the MM new clarity of the emerging critical capabilities they need to build up for innovation to become more sustaining, more in-built core. These are the capabilities that will provide the greatest impact for sustaining competitive advantage, not internal in focus but external in all its orientation to become closer to the real customer’s needs.
  • At the top of the pyramid is the core capabilities they need to possess. This cluster of capabilities is centred on the critical capabilities to make innovation main stream, to become a daily part of their thinking, their make-up, their intent to ensure innovation happens and flows throughout the organization. These differ according to the role, area of focus and contribution but are ones connected to innovation – design thinking, networking, motivating creative activity, encouraging experimentation, offering a more safe-to-fail environment, seeking better and more rewarding outputs and outcomes from the activity generated.

The middle manager carries through connection and identification as facilitators

Middle managers tasks should increasingly become more about performing the role of connectors and facilitators, not the guardians and gatekeepers for the decision makers. Their work should include the encouragement that everyone is engaged in innovation work.

Making sure everyone has a ‘sight-line’ and identification into their contribution for any organizational innovation framework so they stay well-connected and engaged. The art of communicating and looking to build new relationships constantly becomes the key.

We need to find that new high ground for middle managers to be seen as the real connectors and enablers and not the current view as more often than not the blockers on innovation in gaining access to the knowledge to help us do a better job.

We all need to all think about flipping our thinking of what is needed in the middle of our organizations and it does need to recognize the middle manager’s position, one that is more under threat than ever, needs fresh thinking, it needs new core capabilities.

Publishing note:  This blog post was originally written on behalf of Hype and with their permission I have republished it on my own site. I recommend you should visit the Hype blog site where they have a range of contributors writing about a wide-ranging mix of ideas and thoughts around innovation, its well worth the visit.

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