We need the engagement platform for translating big data learning

Knowledge BuildingBig Data is knocking very loudly on our door, how are you going to let it in and manage it?

How can we liberate that creative energy we have within our organizations, how can we achieve higher engagement?

How can we learn, share and transform the knowledge that is all around us, simply flooding in? How can we translate the data flowing in with the knowledge insights and innovation outcomes expected? How are we going to unleash the creativity that goes with new knowledge?

We need to actively encourage connected minds for value creating opportunities and knowledge sharing for innovation to flow right across all the organization. All the raw data needs connected and engaged minds.

“For this we need to think about installing a modern engagement platforms that has knowledge and learning as its beating heart”

Continue reading

Building Collective Agility for Innovation

Collective Agility PostAgility is important to me. For me, agility and innovation have needed to always go together. I named my company Agility Innovation Specialists and at its core, we state that the value of this focus can offer a real “intensity in innovation” that we believe reflects today’s world of need.

We encourage you to disrupt the accepted, to constantly challenge the current ways and push into uncomfortable territory. We suggest you seek out customer’s unmet needs, unexplored opportunities to give a new diversity to any thinking, and then we set about accelerating these ideas to fruition. Those all need abundant and constant agility.

Continue reading

Exploring the Value Of Your Innovation Capital

Innovation Capital

 

 

 

Following on from my last post of “Place your future bets- invest in Innovation Capital” which outlined the significant contribution innovation capital plays in our economic growth, let me offer some further thoughts on its value to really capture and understand, so we can measure it within our organizations.

We have the three components; of physical capital, knowledge capital and human capital that are the innovation-related assets, these make-up Innovation Capital.

I have been arguing that innovation capital draws from the core of intellectual capital and its suggested (and broadly recognized) components of human, structural and relational capitals or social capital. I have previously discussed this converging up, as the ‘nesting effect’

Innovation capital needs assessing and measuring so we can understand the relationship between this innovation capitals (and its present and future potential) and organization performance. We need to know the innovation capital ‘stock’.

Why, well ‘stock’ can be ‘static’ and we need to make this more ‘dynamic’ so innovation can ‘flow’ from this constant renewing of our capitals and be transformed into new value.

Let me explain the innovation capital stock in (my) five parts

• It is a bundle of the firm’s resources and assets that renders complementary services in the process of new knowledge (innovation) creation and commercialization
• Innovation capital as renewal capabilities of our organizations in the form of producing intellectual properties that offer value and extracting from our intangible assets
• Innovation capital possesses attributes that make it a ‘strategic’ asset with the key lies in specifying the nature and application of these assets in relation to the new knowledge ‘flowing’ into the organization, for generating and commercializing concepts and ideas, into new forms of innovation
• The innovation capital is made up of the ‘dynamic interactions’ between the intangibles employed and ongoing development of these intangible assets.
• It is the ‘effective use’ of all the different kinds of intangibles that contribute the activity into innovation capital.

For me it is these tangible and many intangible assets that fire innovation, they make innovation combustible, to ‘spark’ new value creation.

Innovation will continue to struggle if we don’t understand its capital make-up.

Intellectual CapitalIf we don’t understand where the innovation value resides, we will certainly struggle to continue to build innovation’s position in the organization. Today innovation is still regarded as ‘expendable’, sacrificed on the altar of short-termism.

This creates a growing uncertainty, often reducing innovation down as that no real ‘sense of urgency’ and becomes ‘contained’ in discrete projects, failing to offer that real, substantial, ongoing value for the enterprise.

We simply don’t ‘unlock’ the real value of innovation. If we lack the understanding and abilities to build this sustaining operational capacity for innovation we have ongoing problems.

There is the need as its longer term goal, to be simply fully embedded inside the organization that it ‘resides’ and simply becomes indistinguishable, it becomes the operating core, constantly aligned to the strategic needs and goals. Innovation’s benefits must be outstanding and well understood.

Innovation will remain tentative, always stuttering along, lacking this absolutely organization innovation rhythm if it is not fully understood in where it generates it capital from and what new capital and stock it provides.

Actually most of our innovation capital is learning capital.

grow through learningThe more we strengthen our knowledge and value our people, the more we can generate new knowledge, build greater narratives, deepen discussions, make better connections and build our interactions out across growing communities.

The more we discover, the more knowledge we gain does leads up to determine a potentially better decision-making and value creating potential.

This should, in theory, give greater confidence, both internally and externally, that our invested financial capital is in ‘good hands’.

The power lies in the linkages we can forge, in acquisition, in assimilation and then into eventual transformation, that allows known knowledge to become new wealth-generating innovation.

Our learning capital needs to emerge and dominate future discussions in improving its quality and value contribution. We need to increase incentives for organizations and their people to learn new things or update their existing knowledge.

We need to learn how to articulate knowledge in its acquisition, assimilation and transformation and that comes back to understanding absorptive capacity.

Managing organizational learning and innovation, more ICT is needed.

ICT InfrastructureTo successfully manage innovation capital and understand the make-up of the intellectual assets, the new main role of ICT is pulling together Web 2.0/3.0, collaborative technologies, social networking tools, wikis, internal blogging and knowledge capture, so as to help people share this growing body of knowledge through common platforms and electronic storage.

As our social networks expand they become the vital source for intellectual capital and innovation understanding. These relationships and networks need to be fostered, constantly measured in their value and contribution, structured in ways to communicate and interpret outcomes for ‘directing’ future value creation.

The whole promising ‘wave’ of collective intelligence, social networking and building real useful communities of knowledge is a real challenge today to pull together. It is becoming a crucial factor and investing in the physical capital this needs, does allow for people to share knowledge through common platforms and strengthen the knowledge, with the human capital that innovation requires, to drive real growth.

For instance, EU investments in ICT’s are due to increase by about 25% under Horizon 2020 compared to FP7. This EU investment will support the whole chain from basic research to innovation that can deliver new business breakthroughs, often on the basis of emerging technologies.

We also need to recognize the work-to-be-done, not work already done!

Work to be done is the need for our future growth and well-being to be derived through innovation activities. These so much made up of intangible parts will provide the new wealth of organizations in the knowledge sharing economy of today and the near future.

We need new forms of evaluation to measure the real asset wealth of the organization to understand the points of intensity, their connected dynamics and what is required to reconfigure the changing capabilities and capacities needed to grow in the future. There is a lot of work to be done out there.

Shifting our investments into today’s more valued capital- Innovation

It is how much we are able to adapt to fast moving changes will determine our success. It is the combination of all the sum of our capitals and knowing what factors and assets contribute into making our innovation capital will determine the ‘health’ of our future.

I think it is essential going forward that we need to significantly increase our innovation capital focus, so it can be fully unlocked, so as to release the true dynamics within the system and structures of our organizations to realize innovation’s potential.

For me, Innovation Capital and its make-up is where we need to focus, to understand and invest into. It drives our ability to create and sustain value creation.

Place Your Future Bets – Invest In Innovation Capital

Value of Innovation CapitalRecognizing the value of our innovation-related assets is where the ‘smart money’ should go. To gain growth and to improve productivity is through innovation. We need to translate knowledge into new values.

When you pause and consider the make-up of Innovation Capital you realize it makes such an economic contribution and  in a report from McKinsey & Co, they have set about identifying this to produce the above summary, covering 16 countries, to understand the real value of this Innovation Capital.

These numbers are big and still don’t fully capture everything associated with innovation as much remains ‘hidden’ or ‘attached’ to other activities as well.

We need to shift our thinking on what makes up Innovation Capital

The shift taking place in recognizing that our capital is well beyond ‘just’ financial is rapidly altering organization investment decisions. The McKinsey approach has set about capturing a broader understanding about innovation than R&D alone.

Innovation and its value creation goes well beyond just R&D, it is made up of a broad range of intangible assets that are firm-specific and due to this, they are being recognized as hard to replicate, providing the growing edge over competitors if they are identified and invested in correctly.

In this report they considered the broader aspects of Innovation Capital capturing software, design, market research, training and new business processes as well as spending by governments and through tertiary education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

The value of this inclusive approach

By taking this inclusive approach to innovation spending they were suggesting allowed them to document better the investments underlying innovation, to see the greater “innovation infrastructure”

We are clearly seeing the continued increase in the valuations given to certain organizations, up to 80% of the value is coming from the intangibles, with the vast majority of our business organizations are really slow in getting to grips with identifying what is making up this value in their premium.

The urgency for us all, each organization, is to identify the investments and the returns as the innovation impact offered by McKinsey’s report is delivering a significant business case for understanding and recognizing the strategic importance of identifying and developing all your innovation capital.

Just go back and re-look at the graphic above for investing in Innovation Capital for its impact and implications for each of us.

Recognizing Innovation Capital is really important

So the make-up of innovation capital is big, I mean really big, this might help generate a greater innovation wake-up call. In a report from McKinsey and Co, called “Innovation matters: Reviving the growth engine” and first presented at the G8 leaders Innovation Conference, in London on 14 June 2013. This report quantifies the importance of innovation in driving productivity growth and sets out the actions that governments and societies can take to build “Innovation Capital.”

The paper offered is stimulating the need for building the “innovation infrastructure” for our growth and as a key capability for our organizations and countries.

Where to start in specifically identifying Innovation Capital?

Within the McKinsey report they break down Innovation Capital into three components. These are:

Physical Capital is formed by investments in information and communication equipment (ICT) and across the countries analysed it represents 16 per cent of the Innovation Capital.

Knowledge Capital is formed by investments that build firms’ intellectual property and brand equity, including investments in computerized information, R&D and marketing investments, as well as relevant research in universities. It represents 60 per cent of Innovation Capital across the countries McKinsey analyzed.

Human Capital is formed by investments in building individual or organizational skills that drive productivity growth. This includes public and private investments in tertiary STEM education, employee-based training programmes and investments to develop organizational efficiencies (e.g., redesign of business processes or review of business models more broadly). Across countries analysed it represents 24 per cent of Innovation Capital.

It is important to recognize that McKinsey has captured and measured these to produce the impressive impact that innovation capital has. Is your organization identifying these for assessing their innovation capital? Most probably not.

Finding our innovation uniqueness

The make-up of our Innovation Capital are unique to each organization and highly valuable, I’d argue the report by McKinsey on its contribution is still significantly understated but a terrific step forward in attempting to quantify it.

It is the pivotal role of people as innovation carriers – their networks, collaborations, knowledge flows, interactions and tacit knowledge – and how innovation itself is a potent competitive force that drives productivity. All this is often ‘hidden in plain sight’ as our people are innovation’s active ingredient, the catalyst that turns novelty into real benefits.

Innovation capital is the big win if we can harness it well.

 

Building upon four key wealth creating pillars

Wealth creation 1Most rooms we enter have four sides; they provide the structure to build upon. Presently in many of our economies, particularly in the West, we are struggling to find real growth; we are limited on our wealth-creating possibilities. Why is that? Our structures seem to be weak not strong.

We are certainly relying far too much on ‘selected’ pockets of economic activity to keep us going. Technology is clearly one of these. Yet our longer term forces for sustaining growth remain ‘fragile’, our structures remain wickedly  ‘out of kilter’ and we need to find stronger connecting frameworks that reinforce each other, so we can build further upon these to manage our business activities in new ways.

In most of our economic activities technology is playing a significant part in altering our habits, routines and thinking but it alone, is not enough. For technology to really give benefit it needs to be driven by our ability to generate wealth creating activity and that comes from integrating knowledge, gaining experience and being able to articulate this in better ways.

To achieve this, our business structures that we have in the past relied upon are in need of changing. They need different pillars to build upon.

Welcome to my four pillar room……..with a view

One such room I see has four pillars; firstly a value creation one, then one that prompts a change in our thinking around the value and creation of constantly evolving business models, a third one based on understanding our intellectual capital base, where our knowledge resides and can be harnessed, and then the final pillar of the innovation capital that can be generated from this to create wealth generating opportunities.

Why are these four pillars important as our structure within our ‘wealth-creating’ room?

Pillar one – For me we lack the ability to articulate the value creation narrative.

We need always the wealth generating perspective to get behind. We want to feel this is ‘dynamic’ and can offer all those involved that feeling of identification, so we can find individual ways to apply them, where there are the combining and transforming possibilities for us to, investigate, explore and exploit. We are searching to manifest fresh, new outcomes to create new wealth creating potential.

To have the ability to articulate the value, what potentials can make up the possibilities to develop and deliver the future promise? Developing a good value creation narrative is essential, it requires critical components and for us all to identify through a common language.

Value creation and its potential can be created through the Business Model. It is identifying the inputs from the different capitals and the ways we can transform these through business activities and interactions. Our ability to articulate where the value creation potential lies requires our ‘narrative’ to be broken down, often called the value proposition.

Pillar two – The Business model is becoming even more critical today

The whole movement towards creating the business model through a canvas approach allows us to articulate our ‘potential’ value generating story. As we learn to work with all the components that make up a business model we are responding, capturing, creating and delivering a constant flow of new value generating opportunities.

The more we can express ourselves through narratives and the emerging business model canvas we are offering disclosures, we are setting in train discussions so others can contribute and add to these emerging business model concepts.

To sketch out our business model canvas, we do need to constantly work the BM canvas for the integrated design. What we must try to develop within our narrative and canvas is the underlying dynamics that capture the process of change and why this combination provides the value creation.

Underlying any Business Model is knowledge, experiences and insight. These come from combing all our capitals and the ones often described under our ‘intellectual capital assets’ become essential.

Pillar three – Re-framing the debate around our intellectual capital assets

It seems today our business environment is highly diverse, far more dynamic and subject to rapid change. We need to constantly survey the landscape to adapt and adjust, acquiring what is needed. The increasing value is to know all the potentials within the ‘interactions’ of the parts and how to renew and recombine them on a constant basis.

Often intellectual capital is grouped into three or sometimes more categories. The capitals commonly used to describe ICA are human, structural and relationship capitals. In summary:

a) human capital have at its core the competences we build, our intellectual agility and attitudes to form potential synergies for new value creation. Our outcomes are governed by our motivations to want to produce fresh knowledge creation or simply absorb what is ‘out’ there.

b) The structural capital provides ‘the skeleton and glue’ of the organization in its philosophies, processes, routines, infrastructures, culture etc., for permitting and building knowledge. It builds the mechanisms and architecture.

c) Our relationship capital, is our third ICA, which represents our abilities to make connections, to network so as to absorb, exploit and explore new knowledge, it is this new understanding that feeds and influences organizations life, to renew, to rejuvenate, and to offer longevity.

We need to move beyond often just that academic debate around intellectual capital and their asset value, moving well beyond simply infer the value of our intellectual capital, we need to really understand its make-up. It is the interactions of these intellectual capitals that is becoming essential to understand, they make up our innovation capital. Knowledge alone has limited value, it is the knowing how to apply it through innovation that will offer us the potential for wealth generation.

Pillar four – Innovation capital is the essential strategic asset to strive for.

Innovation is made up of a collection of ‘stock’ and our abilities to allow this stock to ‘flow’. We mostly acknowledge and recognize innovation is essential for business growth and our future wealth generation potential. Innovation is for me a real wealth generating capital, it is future orientated; it needs consistent learning, experimentation, exploration and reconfiguring. The innovation capital is the ‘core sum’ of the abilities we can combine from our intellectual capitals.

I believe we need a new innovation capital valuation model. It needs to capture the dynamic interactions of our capitals contributing and ‘render’ these into different productive outcomes. This model needs to find and then separate the ‘dynamic’ from the ‘static’ innovation capabilities, the ones that offer new potential not ones simply repeating the process.

To achieve this we need to unbundle resources, assets, renewables, competencies and capabilities and describe these outcomes in , in my view, a fitness landscape that provides a visual of what you have, what you might need and highlight where the critical gaps lie.

We are needing to understand how our organizations can integrate, reconfigure, renew and recreate its resources and capabilities to build different value creation propositions and business models.

Recognizing the combining effect of the four pillars

For me, it is recognizing the ‘combining effects’ of these four pillars; of value creation (vc), business models (bm), intellectual capital assets (ica) and innovation capital (ic). It is the dynamics within the multiple combinations that will generate the future wealth creation we need.

We are in need of having a better understanding of the integrated value focal points of these four pillars combining, they need connecting so we can build the supporting structures and place the roof of need, our wealth creating one, to give us a new potential of harnessing our innate abilities to be creative. These four pillars offer perhaps a new core, a new transforming power, they make our activities connected and dynamic.

Unlocking all our potential is the job needing to be delivered upon

Our job today is to unlock the potentials from knowledge, harnessing our capitals to focus more on releasing our resources to work on their dynamic capabilities that combine vc + bm + ica + ic to make this a ‘room’ that gives us the potential to reside and generate new wealth potential.

A transforming one, where the make-up of value creation, articulated through business model designs by knowing the capitals that ‘feed into’ and build our stocks and flows for new innovation that does have the greater potential for wealth creation to occur.

Absorptive Capacity, Knowledge Management and Innovation

Source : Haas Leadership Initiative

Let’s start with some defining statements. Innovation is totally dependent on becoming aware of external ideas and the knowledge that is need and translated. We can ‘fall over these ideas’ or we can find ideas or concepts through explicit search. Then to translate these and turn them into something new and different we need to have established some sort of diffusion and dissemination processes. Having this established as a sustaining system provides an essential source to building organizations capabilities and competencies.

The more we work external knowledge the more we potentially enhance and multiply its value from a single idea into the potentials for multiple innovations. Having a systematic framework can be dramatic for generating new knowledge and gathering ideas for new innovation potential.

Throughout this post I’ll link into previous posts that you might like to explore but this is not necessary.

The issue is how we set about adopting and adapting new knowledge.

Each organization we work within collects its knowledge in different ways. Each has special characteristics, systems and ways to set about doing this. Often finding the knowledge is highly random. Many cases the knowledge we are searching for already resides in the organization, sometimes when we go outside we find one of the paths of this knowledge actually leads back inside our own organization. When this happens it leaves us puzzled on how and why this happens.

A long time back two researcher, Cohen and Levinthal (1990) pioneered the concept of absorptive capacity, further defined as the ability of an organization to identify, value, assimilate, and apply new knowledge. Since their 1990 publication, the concept has been further developed and given rise to many thousands of published papers around this subject.

Adoptive Capoacity Steps 1 The value of absorptive capacity is that when organizations have some prior knowledge they are more receptive to adding new understandings and new ideas.

Organizations that encourage and set about learning consciously set about the search for new ideas and by having this already established ‘learning’ are far better at recognizing new ideas that might lead to innovation.

These organizations develop deeper understanding of integrating and experimenting this new knowledge and set about placing it in a new setting, concept or hypothesis, to push this knowledge forward into new innovation. They are consciously advancing learning.

This gaining of continuous knowledge encourages constant learning and this has a positive feedback cycle as it builds the capacities and capabilities for future innovation activity. Absorptive capacity, once recognized and established as a system promotes the search for new knowledge that greatly increases the capacity to make the necessary new connections for new innovation to happen.

For this to happen, it does need continuous focus. If organizations take the alternative route of wanting to squeeze every last drop out of the existing innovation activity or research department, organizations over time develop as bad learners, they begin to ignore, to assume they have the knowledge and get fixed in their mind sets. They fail to absorb, they tend to reject and take on increasingly that “not invented here” syndrome. That can only last for a limited time before ‘innovation decay’ sets in, people leave and the knowledge often goes with them also.

The problem also can lie in too much knowledge

The other vital part of understanding absorptive capacity is its terrific benefits for diffusion and dissemination of ideas. As the knowledge we glean from outside comes inside it can confront, it can challenge the “what we know”. It is at these times we must stop the initial reaction of “let’s reject this” and allow time for a deeper evaluation, making sense from this different perspective. Looking through alternative lenses helps here.

Organizations are always in a hurry. They design innovation pipelines to get narrower and narrower. They want to quickly dismiss ideas that don’t fit in their norm, the system is poorly equipped to handle different, more challenging thinking, yet this is the very place radical, breakthrough and disruptive innovation ‘sits’. Organizations must find better ways to resist allowing knowledge pathways to become narrower before the knowledge, insights and potential connections have been well absorbed.

Allowing a greater access to new sources of knowledge, discussing emerging innovation concepts by diffusing the understanding does allows for increasing those ‘real’ connections where something really different beyond the existing can be shared as emerging.

It is allowing the absorptive capacities to fully work through the knowledge gained, to improve your capacities. Providing innovation and your ideas and concepts extended time, you can provide for different connection points for exploiting innovation impact even more. If you allow for this additional time to explore and discuss specifically in the search for those more radical connections and outcomes, you have the potential for far more.

We do need to allow knowledge inside our organizations to flow more openly

Allowing innovation inWe need to stop the ‘cognitive blinders’ that constraints the diversity of opinion by allowing concepts or knowledge to be more broadly seen and worked upon, shared more openly. Make innovation far more open inside the organization as well as outside. Practice a more ‘holistic’ open innovation is highly valuable for pushing beyond the current incremental approaches, simply because knowledge is only residing with a few chosen people. We do need to avoid all the cognitive traps around.

Let’s really adopt open innovation, internally as well as externally. It is allowing not just new knowledge in but to allow this new knowledge to flow and be absorbed and then can be better translated into new application or worth. There are significant roadblocks within open innovation today that need resolution.

The art of harnessing knowledge lies in our intellectual capital

When we are chasing after new growth we do need to employ all our capitals. Today the dominant capital is financial, it rules the others and that stifles knowledge, innovation and the potential for being different. Financial capital tends to be based on past numbers or immediate concerns, it struggles with the future. It wants to reduce time, risk, inefficiencies and replace this with always improving the rate of return on the financial capital.

We need to think about a better way to judge ‘rate of return’ and that should be on recognizing the critical importance of the other capitals, those that make up the intellectual capitals. Broadly these fall into human, structural and relationships. They are the capitals that make up the value and provide the new generating value that are embedded in the personnel, organizational routines, and network relationships. They provide fresh capital through innovation and strategic renewal.

There is an incredible set of connections between all the parts of intellectual capital, absorptive capacity and knowledge that make for new innovation and give us the real chance of value creation. I’ll discuss this set of connections further in a subsequent post.

Thankfully some organizations are becoming enlightened

Knowledge and Innovation are engaged at the ‘hip’, they are inseparable. To separate them both would die, one feeds the other. It is through the application of approaching them through a system like absorptive capacity you can generate the flows needed to keep our search for new ideas stimulated, our innovations pushing forward and allowing others to benefit and build on this knowledge further.

If you have not considered the place for absorptive capacity and its value, it is high time you did. It might be your missing link.

Approaching innovation through fitness dynamics needs a structured approach.

This post follows on from my recent one of “the Innovation Journeyman.”  We do have a real journey still to travel to understand the dynamics within innovation. Here, I want to lay out a possible path that might advance us towards achieving this. This includes a fairly ‘intensive’ nine step approach outlined below.

The innovation fitness dynamics

The innovation fitness dynamics

What we do need to do is constantly evolve our innovation capabilities to perform in more dynamic and flexible ways. We need to acquire that consistent aim of achieving a more adaptable and adjusting approach to innovation in all its parts. We need to meet the changing circumstances and challenges  we are all facing to regain the real growth needed from our economies and organizations, making what we do at the same time, more sustainable. Delivering better innovation outcomes is central to this task.

Are we in a more Darwinian world perhaps?

I’d suggest that today innovation is caught up in the survival race, where the bolder ones are more innovation fit. We need many more organizations to get out of this survival trap and exploiting innovation in bolder ways.

So much of what we do is ‘static’ work, activities that are simply repeating what we have done time and again and gaining us little new knowledge. These activities on their own keeps us happily ‘treading water’ and does the job of locking us comfortably into the efficient and effectiveness clan mindset that most business organizations like to be constantly working in.

The harsh reality is this is becoming a very crowded, increasing uncomfortable place to be, as we reduce our capabilities to take risk, too invest, to take those decisions that create more radical innovation. The more we play ‘safe’ the more we run the risk of being disrupted. We are failing to leverage much of the liberating power within innovation. Is our business world today is it so predictable?  No, it is well and truly ‘dynamic’ and evolving.

There is an awful lot of creative destruction going on and I’ve also written previously about the Innovation Era: Creative Destruction or Destructive Creation where the replacement rate is constantly speeding up, we are facing more uncertainly and incoherence than ever.

We need to place the emphasis back on the “creative” innovation part and not the ‘destructive’ nature we have been moving towards recently. To achieve this we need to understand innovation far better than we currently do. This is partly where my exploring the dynamics of innovation through fitness landscapes comes in.

Knowing your innovation ‘stock’ and  ‘capital’ potential

We need to know our ‘innovation stock’, a large part of our wealth generating capital and where it can be best put to use. We are valuing the knowledge perspective far more and with this we are increasingly recognizing the importance of the intellectual capital that makes up the organization.

We certainly need to re-think many of the old world value delivery systems to assess organizations and make much more of a concerted effort to make innovation that renders different, unique value outcomes, that keep pushing the boundaries of strategic advantage within any business.

We need to ‘master’ our understanding of the skills, processes, routines, organizational structure and disciplines that enable firms to build, employ and orchestrate innovation as this is increasingly needed for participating in more complex open collaboration efforts. To achieve this, we first need to know ourselves and our capability to innovate, both the strengths and weaknesses.

So I’ve been busy mapping out a pathway to Innovation Fitness

Knowing your innovation fitness capabilities does provide a good understanding of your existing position and can, through a structured approach and programme, ‘point’ you towards the ones that you need to have that put you into that place of leveraging unique strengths, that clearly improve your innovation capability. These are the ones that are far more valuable and potentially dynamic.

The issue is today, do we know what are the critical capabilities to focus upon to improve the chances of greater innovation success? Each organization has limited resources to offer and it is becoming increasingly important to know where and with what these resources to maximise the capability to deliver a better set of innovation outcomes.

So within my own innovation ‘walkabout’ I made a significant step forward.

Sometime ago in one of my research phases, exploring around this subject, I came across a book written by Kim Warren on “Competitive Strategic Dynamics.”  Although I struggled on much within the content of the book, I did find the chapter headers as a useful ‘engagement approach’ for what I wanted to describe in my approach to identifying and working through the dynamics of innovation.

So after some adjustments and reworking of the activities within my ‘engagement approach,’  I came to nine steps within this process. These might change as I progress and learn but do lay out a process towards explaining, engaging and exploring how an organization can achieve an innovation fitness.

Included is a working through of the methodology to navigate and focus upon the appropriate capability points needed within each specific organization. This step process I believe gets you to the point of understanding what innovation capabilities  are a better ‘fit’ for purpose, to deliver on your innovation needs on a consistent, repeatable and evolving basis.

The Nine Steps needed for developing an understanding of your innovation capabilities to make them more dynamic.

1. Getting Started – Understanding the Needs & Imperatives of Innovation Fitness

  • Why we must travel this critical path for Innovation.
  • The meaning of dynamic capabilities and innovation fitness landscapes
  • Merging  the theory with practical reality to produce new outcomes and positive results.
  • Focusing on resources and performance – why is this important
  • The problem is knowing what we have and what we really need

2. The Fuel of Innovation Performance – the dynamics of innovation

  • A sharper, clearer focus on innovation resources to meet strategic need
  • What is known about resources to sustain, enhance performance
  • Knowing and aligning  your strategic criteria – for sound innovation approaches
  • Getting innovation within the right context of your business
  • Moving your resources in the right direction

3. Getting even more specific – quantification and qualification

  • Recognizing the building of scale, change rates and dynamics that happen over time and why we need to constantly build our innovation capabilities.
  • Developing the resources to meet the need – structured, focused, clarified by bringing out the necessary discussion.
  • An illustrative scenario for a directional innovation fitness landscape map
  • Recognizing resources can come beyond the firm and bringing these in successfully. Managing within a more open environment.
  • Achieving  mutual dependencies to support; recognizing the hindering ones
  • Being aware of  the impact of different scenarios in the management of innovation

4. Building the Innovation Fitness Machine – reinforcing feedback, identifying needs

  • Recognizing the current status, spotting emerging patterns, seeing spaces and gaps and identifying solutions.
  • Beginning the ‘adaptive walk’ to get to higher fitness points needed to compete.
  • Clarifying the complementary resources, looking to embed new routines quickly and set up follow through approaches.
  • Introducing natural tensions into the system to trigger ‘step change’
  • Resource dependence climate, culture, diversity, intensity and uniqueness
  • Reinforcing feedback – watching for dangers, managing the machine capacity, removing the brakes selectively
  • Shifting your resources need not deplete or force other people to compete for them – working through the tensions within teams and silos.
  • Matching resource dynamics with the innovation value chain & life cycle stages
  • Simulation modelling the ‘what ifs’ and ‘why’

5. The Strategic Architecture – designing the system to perform as needed

  • The step process for designing and executing the architecture design
  • Diagnosing performance challenges and road blocks – resolving, moving on
  • Lining up the solutions is not a linear process and needs careful management
  • Addressing the effects of intangibles in the Strategic Architecture.

6. The Hard Face of Soft(er) factors – the hidden power of intangible resources

  • Clarifying the impact of the intangibles and recognizing time, climate and conditions are significant contributors to innovation activities.
  • The different rivalry types: internal and external, inter department, inter projects and working through resolutions to these.
  • Reflecting feelings and expectations, addressing all the different needs
  • Measuring the tougher parts of intellectual capital
  • The real value of your intangible resources
  • Recognizing the value of hidden innovation and spotting its occurrence

7. Entering into Competitive Battle – the Dynamics of Rivalry, the Uniqueness of You

  • Recognizing, developing, capturing, transforming, avoiding and out – manoeuvring
  • Your point of choosing what, where, how and when to compete.
  • Building capabilities that are unique to you and hard to replicate
  • Building sustainability into the innovation equation as ongoing
  • Extending the turf, exploiting the situation, pushing beyond, seeking partners.

8. Building and Testing Capabilities to Perform

  • Measuring capabilities through different fitness levels and scale.
  • Learning to build capabilities as ‘ongoing’ and evolving for changing needs
  • Re-Structuring the process for dealing with the dynamics of change
  • Knowing the points of impact on performance to enable recognition and reality
  • Managing innovation performance progressively across the spectrum of business need through testing and extending capability learning.
  • Building from personal to team to organizational learning in measured steps
  • Recognizing the role of leadership, achieving strategic alignment and working on broadening out innovation competence at different organizational levels.

9. Keeping the innovation fitness wheels turning, keeping your eyes on the road

  • Resolution of conflicting goals, control and structure
  • Dissecting conflicting positions, resolving impasse
  • Knowing the limits of human engagement
  • Goals, controls and measurements can dominate and strangle
  • Keeping the measurements simple and clear
  • Managing innovation as a critical strategic resource
  • Merging the results into a greater alignment to Strategy and Approaches

The end result is looking to generate your fitness landscape

As you can see this is applying a very comprehensive approach, a fairly ‘intensive’ one. The parts within the structure might change, depending on circumstances and experiences. It is one that is more than likely an organizational wide applicable one. This might alter after some clear piloting, learning and experimentation.  Building innovation capabilities takes time; they are complex, highly structured and multi-dimensional. Any structured approach to tackling innovation takes time and considerable commitment.

Any learning involves sensing, seizing and then transforming. This is for me, still a work-in-progress, and what I outline here is not the ‘done’ deal but more a “beta” framework approach. What we do need to do certainly is to push innovation beyond the existing as innovation is today, as it is falling to live up to its promise. Knowing the critical dependencies for establishing a sustaining, successful innovation performance is somewhere we should strive towards in its understanding. I’m certainly moving down a decent pathway here I feel.

Each organization does needs to know its innovation fitness to thrive in the future

We are searching for what makes up the present system and what needs to be part of the future to create a ‘best’ innovation capability environment that is sustaining into the longer-term. Those that can be continually ‘orchestrated’ and constantly adapted to meet the strategic need.

We are striving towards a true ‘innovation coherency premium’ in design, knowing what makes up your core dynamic components. The outcomes are to know where to invest, what to dampen down and what aspects can evolve naturally and be ‘taken along’ as you focus upon the ones that are more dynamic and relevant to your innovation needs.

No journey is without pitfalls.

Finding the dynamic capabilities of innovation that ‘fit’ with the strategic needs of each organization will be different based on their own respective challenges and position. We need to stop simply copying others and create our own ‘dynamics’ to strengthen our own unique advantage points for sustaining our future. Do you want to become innovation fit?