Recognizing your type of innovation leader

Two personalities 1

Often innovation succeeds or fails by the personal involvement and engagement of a ‘selected’ few- they make it happen as they are the heavyweights that have the final say.

We all need to recognize the type of innovation leadership personality within our organization, the ones we are working for, as this might help you manage the innovation work a whole lot better and attract in the resources you need.

So can you recognize the traits of your innovation leader?

Are they a front-end or back-end innovation leader? Here’s how you can begin to spot the difference.

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Innovation is like a tropical rainforest

Innovation is like a tropical rainforest

Innovation is like a tropical rainforest

Recently I have been asked about my innovation activity ‘going forward’ and I described it like a forest needing some fresh attention. There is my need to cut down certain trees, clear away a lot of the floor covering to allow the sunlight in and permit those ‘selected innovation tree’s’ to be allowed to grow stronger.

We all have those times where we need to choose, to pursue clearer pathways we believe are better for us. To be more selective in what we do, to be more focused and hopefully achieve a better, lasting result that hopefully offers a more satisfying set of outcomes, to both clients and to ourselves.

Within this comparison I am presently making of innovation being like a forest, I really began to see so much more of a connection in what is happening around in innovation that it can be compared to understanding a tropical rainforest. There are many comparisons, let me outline some of these here.

The ecosystem within the rainforest is also needed for innovation to work effectively  

Firstly I would argue that innovation, to be managed well, needs to operate like an ecosystem, the same as a tropical rainforest. Ecosystems to flourish need to experience critical feeds, in the rainforest this is high average temperatures and significant rainfall. Well innovation to thrive needs equal attention; it needs a real focus, above average and significant attention to be well maintained.

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Leaders need to engage and drive innovation

It continues to amaze me; actually it is depressing that although our business leaders constantly confirm that innovation is in their top three priorities yet they stay stubbornly disengaged in facilitating this across their organizations, especially the larger ones. Of course I am not suggesting this is all our business leaders but I would argue innovation and its ‘make up’ remains a mystery to nearly all our leaders. They are more than willing to allocate responsibility down the organization, failing to recognize their pivotal role in managing or orchestrating innovation engagement themselves, or even ensuring the mechanisms are fully in place. Why is this?

Time and time again you read one report after another, about the leadership gap in innovation or issues relating to innovation disconnecting from the top of the organization. You can read reports from Booz, Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting, the Conference Board, Harvard Business Review, IBM, A T Kearney, A D Little and many others all reporting issues and gaps in connecting innovation at the top of our organizations. Can they all be wrong, if not then why aren’t our CEO’s listening? Why are we not resolving this and only just keep reporting it?

In March of this year Capgemini Consulting and IESE issued their report called the “Innovation leadership study” and this went deeper than most into the problems.

The study revealed that “the absence of a well-articulated innovation strategy is by far the most important constraint for companies to reach their innovation targets.”

In the report they mentioned not just the lack of many formal mechanisms were missing but the total environment for innovation was missing this explicit innovation strategy. That is a serious failure at the top of organizations in my opinion. How can leaders expect innovation if they remain unclear of their role and function in facilitating and encouraging it? Can this change?

A collaborative effort

Jeffrey Phillips of Ovo Innovation and myself have collaborated on a number of different innovation frameworks over the last twenty-four months or so. These have been  to offer concepts or frameworks that we felt were missing or needed explaining. We have set about the offering up of possible solutions to reduce much of this ‘mystery’  that seems to still surround innovation.

As we shared and exchanged views, we have mutually recognized our personal frustrations on this continued leadership gap towards innovation. This has been triggered even more by this Capgemini report and so we decided on a way forward as our ‘tipping point’ to set about studying this and seeing if we could find a solution to this innovation leadership issue.  Or at the very least, advance this recognition, beyond debates from this constant recognition of a problem, into offering an emerging framing on the ways to begin to resolve this.

A soft launch will happen offering our integrated innovation ‘framing’ as a solution.

We think we have now arrived at a further tipping point and will ‘soft’ launch the integrated innovation framework this coming weekend, starting Sunday 9th September 2012. We will build within a series of seven articles, one per day over a week, which we believe make up the component parts. We will attempt to explain what we see as an integrated executive innovation framework that will be delivered through a work mat methodology approach. These articles will be published initially through www.innovationexcellence.com to gain an audience of innovators and then will be taken out further by our two respective organizations in further field work, validation and consultation.

I recently wrote a series of articles in August and one is perhaps worth reading again, this is “From a buzzword to the imperative.” In this I discuss this need for a framework and then go on and explore different components within a series of subsequent articles, that I felt needed leadership attention.

The present argument needs moving on and resolving

There is no argument surely that we need to break into this leadership gap around innovation? We need to offer suggestions towards their role, to address this lack of engagement or awareness? We need to provide an organizing framework that achieves alignment into the organizations goals and provides the structure across innovation that can ‘cascade’ down and across an organization. The end aim is that so all those involved within the organization, or closely associated with it, can relate too and ‘gather’ around an overarching framework, articulated and constructed from the top, that guides innovation.

We want to narrow this leadership gap and organization understanding so as to achieve a specific connection between leaders and their role in how they can facilitate and bridge this clear divide and present seen ‘impediment’ for innovation. The leaders of organizations are no different from all the employees working within the company, they are all looking to secure a sustaining future and participate in a vibrant one that primarily comes from the innovation engine needed for all businesses and economic growth. The contribution of the leaders within organizations falls mainly on defining their role, laying out its parts in a coherent way for all to relate too. We believe this framework approach can be one of the primary organizing ways for that engagement and identification so much needed.

Tune in please and we certainly hope you can relate to what we are offering

We believe this integrated framework will require some real leadership engagement but we believe the outcome can offer four significant benefits:

  1. The framework can create cohesion and consistency of innovation purpose that will reduce many existing barriers and uncertainties around innovation
  2. As the leadership does become engaged this will demonstrate a significant commitment and promise that will certainly increases the visibility of innovation, lowers risks, encourages more involvement and generation of better ideas.
  3. The framework itself will generate work flows that connect, become more dynamic to explore and promote the innovation skills, capabilities and competencies needed. They become more cohesive, coordinated and focused
  4. As the framework connects, in its understanding and as its impact grows, we certainly believe confidence builds. Both formal and informal areas are addressed in parallel, growing all-round identification and alignment.

A challenging road to travel

To get to this tantalizing promise needs a lot of recognition, engagement, investment and commitment. You don’t suddenly arrive at enacting such a change without some ‘hard yards’ to cover and tough issues to resolve.

We are only at the starting point by offering this integrated innovation framework. We have confidence it will help, what we need is the right audience to listen and simply say “I get it.” For the leaders, to hopefully see its organizing value and fit and their critical role to play in supporting innovation through this organizing and integrated framework so the organization initiates and delivers what is expected, better than today.

Do we see bumps on the way, of course, do we feel they can be navigated, again of course; otherwise you don’t start the journey. We are equipping ourselves for some demanding challenges.

We continue to invest in this framework as we see it does offer real potential

We feel this period of research, investment and consistently exchanging between us both has certainly increased in intensity over the last six months. We have built a structure; a methodology and a guiding set of approaches that help facilitate and provide the CEO and his leadership team with a way to radically reduce that innovation leadership gap.

We can offer a clear ‘way forward’ for engagement and alignment that can help, perhaps radically, the organization to establish innovation firmly into the minds of the boardroom and their vital role to play within this real need for all to engage in.

We seek to bridge the innovation leadership gap

All I can do at this stage is ask you to please explore this series of articles, don’t rush to judge and dismiss, take the more explore and reflect, approach. We simply want you to have a similar identification and equally ‘I get it, maybe we need it’ at this stage. We hopefully begin to bridge the innovation leadership gap and the role they need to play and we feel we offer a way to address the lack of innovation leadership that is clearly ‘out there missing’ in nearly all organizations.

In organizations this needs internal discussions to recognize this ‘gap’ and then gain the leaderships attention to how this can be addressed. The proposed integrated innovation framework might be the place to start and our arguments might be the catalyst.

We launch our “emerging thoughts” in this series of articles on the different innovation domains needed to be explored at the leadership level, this coming weekend 9th September 2012, and each day, during that week. We outline these through the frameworks different domains themselves. Do take a look and I hope you agree, we offer a way forward and are wanting to engage and deploy this framework to the leadership of innovation.

The long and winding road we travel in the name of innovation

Innovation is a long hard and tough journey. Regretfully we do ourselves no favours in not having a common language, a repository of proven techniques and methodologies. We often continue to layer on to the existing often failing to consolidate and validate. I get frustrated as you look around there are most of the answers but not the ‘attention span’ or the real incentive to go and properly learn it, to master it. We lack discipline in innovation although that might sound counter to the way innovation is often presented. The art of innovation needs to be broken out of the science that needs to be applied………

This was how I started in a reply to an email sent by Ralph-Christian Ohr (@ralph_ohr). He was commenting on my recent series on the Three Horizon framework, I had collated and sent this to him and Tim Kastelle (@timkastelle) to comment upon. This had been updated recently and published in the site of www.innovationexcellence.com over five days recently. Ralph clearly caught me in a reflective mood when I replied.

We travel a long pathway called innovation

Paul McCartney originally wrote the song “the Long and Winding Road” at his farm in Scotland, and this was inspired by the growing tension among the Beatles at the time

The opening lyrics to the song copyright to Lennon/McCartney

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door

Innovation equally has to deal with different tensions and I often feel we need to keep coming back and banging on your door. We do need to constantly repeat ourselves, to remind ourselves of where we are and the long road we still seem to have to travel for innovation.

Ralph was pointing out a recent article written by Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff, partners at the Monitor Group in a recent article “Managing Your Innovation Portfolio”, published by HBR. Initially I was not so impressed by the article, actually a bit dismissive, but this time around something caught my eye that made me even more reflective and made me appreciate its final message – I did strongly identify with it, so sometimes being ‘dismissive’ you can miss some valuable messages.

I want to share part of the closing remarks under their paragraph heading of “Moving Forward”. This rings loud and clear for me, I hope equally for you:

“Managing total innovation will require a significant shift for most companies, which are used to a less orderly approach. But the pathway to such discipline is clear. The first step is to develop a shared sense of the role innovation plays in driving the organization’s growth and competitiveness. Managers should agree on an appropriate ambition level for innovation and find common language to describe it.”

Then they further add some further sound advice and suggestions that I let you go and read but the final end part struck me and made me think of the song “the long and winding road”:

For many companies, innovation will remain a sprawling collection of activities, energetic but uncoordinated. And for many managers, it will remain a source of frustration. For the best managers, however, it represents the most exciting and important challenge of all. By figuring out how to manage innovation as an integrated system within overall portfolio goals, they can harness its energy and make it a reliable driver of growth”

Sometimes we all need to renew our faith

I stay committed too, and determined to support in different ways, this “figuring out” about innovation. It is why I focus 100% on innovation. It equally remains a source of frustration that we are unable to find that ‘tipping point’ where we can finally unite in “crossing the chasm” (in Geoffrey Moore parlance) as his book and much of his subsequent work has been looking to achieve, “to overcome the pull of the past and reorient their organizations toward a new era of competition”

Making the case for investing in innovation

Innovation is without doubt a different mind-set than usual. Successful business innovation is the result of the deliberate assessment of what the market needs, evaluating conflicting demands and aligning your internal strengths with the real world around us.

Today we struggle as much as ever to obtain a sustaining innovation capacity. The role of leadership or the lack of it, for innovation in many organizations holds us all ‘collectively’ back. For some reason we are failing to make the case for why innovation should be “front and center and not somewhere in the pack”.

Leadership still is lacking to embrace innovation fully

I share a view that unfortunately, the clarity of the leader’s role in innovation has still not been well-defined, so they rarely achieve well thought-through and well-executed innovation that is devolved down the organization that is seen as essential as breathing.

Jeffrey Phillips and I are working on different ways to demand more innovation understanding from the senior executives as they must demonstrate links between corporate strategy and the work of innovation. Between their vision and the activities necessary to create new products and services, and also between their expectations and the actual culture of the organization. They have the power to enable innovation.

Today, Executives continue to fail in this vital role, so in the words of the song “the long and winding road”: “I’ve seen that road before, It always leads me here, Lead me to your door”

Are you listening –  is anyone really there?

We do need to keep banging away on your door, I make no apology for that but the perennial worry I often have is, “are you really caring enough to listen?” Innovation really thrives when we are in crisis and for many we are perhaps moving that way to get the many needed to actually sit up and embrace innovation fully.

We really do need to fully figure out how to manage innovation, because we are even more in need of harnessing this to give us some much-needed growth across our world economies.

The art of innovation needs to be broken out of the science that needs to be applied, and then knowing all its component parts then recombined in sustaining, thoughtful ways. We do need to harness the energy of innovation and we are not yet fully achieving that.

A new raison d’être for HRM through Innovation

Innovation is in need of a significant transformation on how it is designed, developed and executed in most organizations. Traditional approaches to managing this simply need ripping up and redesigning to allow innovation to become more the central core.

In most organizations the Human Resource Management (HRM) function seems to have been far too often side-lined on shaping and influencing how innovation should be designed as a critical part of the future for the company. Many of the existing traditional HRM solutions might actually be in conflict and working against innovation actually.

If we look at the broad areas that HRM has to cover and master in organizational development today, it can, perhaps, leave little time for adding in innovation into this array of demands. You can understand that HRM has little time to master a ‘decent’ understanding of what makes up innovation, when they are grappling with so much already but they should. It might simplify or promote a rationalizing of some of the existing practices built up over considerable time as the expedient option but this is still creating a ‘lagging’ set of effects and not offering the ‘leading’ ones that innovation demands.

Today’s HRM role is demanding and complex, no question.

Let’s firstly remind ourselves what does make up a current HRM role in leading or participating in many crucial areas needing constant attention. These include planning and designing and the executing of change management, seeking out potential leaders, participating in career development and recruitment, managing organization capability and effectiveness in all its different demands called for across a diverse demanding organization.

This goes along with seeking out different designs to team building, organization transformation, building knowledge and talent capacity, let alone the classic payroll, reviews and turnover questions brought on by volatile markets, change of directions or global expansion.

I could add more but organizational development is an extremely tough, challenging and pivotal role, often under-appreciated and struggling to gain their rightful seat at the top table.

Adding innovation as a simple add-on will not work

So adding onto this veritable list of tasks we are appealing for a different approach and more focus on innovation, maybe a little unfair because it is unlikely to work.  I believe HRM should have a new raison d’être making innovation the central, repeating theme running through of all the activities currently being undertaken and mentioned above.

Presently HRM is little involved in the current innovation process where innovation is focused on developing and designing new products, services and often even excluded from the design of new innovation business models to find the best ways to break these out from existing organization design so they thrive and not just survive due to patronage alone.

The management of human resource needs to be replaced with the management of human creativity and ingenuity, as this is the triggering point to innovation success. The critical role of innovation is without question needed for the future growth, wealth creation and organizations potential survival. Who is to drive the human change required here?  I believe HRM should have a lasting design impact and central engagement role in this.

HRM has a crucial role to play in the needs to facilitate and underpin top-line growth through innovation design and bottom-line impact through risk balance and control as people are the essence of innovation. Individuals gain (new) insights, they offer idea generation and the capabilities to implement these through the designed innovation process as new introductions into the world that improve on the existing. HRM needs to make sure this is well supports and happens by ensuring the people factor is well designed into the organization, in every activity for making innovation the ‘way of life’ and well understood as corporately vital to be well support and consistently enhance in capabilities and capacities.

Reversing the current organization design

Over the past few decades, even the past century it has been the organization ‘knows best’ and decides and passes down, the teams are then resourced and empowered and the structure is put in place for the individual to deliver. Today that is not working well.

Going forward this top down approach will simply not work. In the case of innovation the reverse actually applies. The germ of an idea or insight starts with the individual connecting different strands of knowledge and combining these in new and often novel ways. Then they must go and convince others of its value, so they will support this and turn it into a project. This then needs to move up the organization for others to come on board to offer the necessary means, resources and support to achieve the eventual outcome.

Failure to move potentially exciting but ‘raw’ ideas into projects, then into reality by attracting required resource is becoming crucial to be managed. Recognizing this essential shift of bottom up is crucial in organizational design for skill development and approaches throughout the organization.

If we take just one example, the failure to take ideas forward as one area that needs to be treated differently than the current traditional judgement or measurement metric of valuing only ideas just going through the pipeline. If we value experimentation, prototyping and piloting of innovation ideas that did not fully work out or got combined or re-scoped, we can begin to see experiences gained, challenges resolved, obstacles overcome as learning points. This gives a different measuring approach that can reverse current design and reward and show the increasing value of exposure, practice and understanding as accomplishments that build deepening capabilities and highly valued in experiences.

We should be looking for the knowledge and insights gained as part of the robustness of the pipeline. This is one area where HRM can design innovation differently and intervene so as establish the impact of learning as one of the factors to enhance innovation capability. There are many of these intervention points that have a catalytic effect.

Those that attempt innovation gain valuable experience

If HR took innovation into the core of organizational design, the mandate for each person is to get involved in innovation activity to gain valuable experience that enhances the desired capabilities for the future. If innovation is seen as core, you begin to break down the present barriers and mindsets that restrict innovation today by current behaviours, blocking innovating activity or placing constraints in allocating the required resources to ‘allow’ innovation to flourish.

HRM plays the critical role in breaking down the existing barriers (cultural, environmental, structural) and determines the need for information and knowledge sharing to actively lower one of innovations greatest barriers today, the not invented here, that existing within organizations both in themselves and in opening up to external new sources of stimulus. HRM can find clear ways to foster innovation in more open ways.

Moving beyond today’s traditional competencies

In many organisations HRM are adapt at, or certainly working hard at the assembling, managing and deploying of resources to support the work-to-be-done. They pride themselves on managing labour costs, evaluating workforce performance, enhancing productivity and focusing on retaining valued talent. These are well within themselves but are simply not enough in such changing market conditions. They are reinforcing effectiveness and efficiency and these alone are simply not enough for securing the future, it is through innovation and creativity that is urgently needed to be added.

Future leaders need to emerge not from managing existing assets well but in managing in increased uncertainties, being more adaptive, agile and responsive to changing needs. CEO’s are demanding creativity, flexibility and speed to size up, quickly seize and grab breaking opportunity. These newer demanded skills come from knowing how and where to go, to be well-connected across platforms of knowledge, having close client connectivity and being able to extract all the essentials, resources and commitments to enable execution. Adaptability to constant change has a very different mindset to be developed in our future leaders.

The changing role of organization design

There is a consistent need to sustain and secure a steady top-line and bottom-line growth, CEO’s tenure is mostly based on this. What is increasingly needed is to go beyond this expected ‘state’ and deliver the ‘wow’ factor, which comes mostly through innovation. Here top managers have to seek out speed, flexibility and adaptability as outlined earlier in this article but they also need to go beyond this.

Managers need to find the right ways to stimulate innovation in creative and systematic ways and encourage entrepreneurship, more reciprocating in the transfer of knowledge, ideas and practices for pushing across boundaries for value creation opportunities. We come back to the ability to extract new value is in the individuals identifying, assimilating and exploiting knowledge and it is in recognizing this reverse flow, is where the HRM role needs to focus on a different organizational design.

For me building absorptive capacity is crucial and HRM needs to focus far more on understanding the value of this. I loved one suggested description on the absorptive capacity model.  Absorptive capacity is like the alternating current, whereas development capacity is the direct current. Combining this into a AC/DC innovation model then Innovation becomes the ‘power provider’ to growth requiring both currents, with one, a direct current flowing one constant way, whereas alternative current flows one way, then the other, continually reversing direction for knowledge generation that acquires, assimilates, transforms through exploitative learning. HRM needs to leverage ‘exploitation learning’ as a real need for building the power into innovation capability.

HRM needs to be on the cutting edge of innovation

HRM does need to step up and define a new mandate for innovation. If innovation is ever going to achieve a core place within organizations it has to be deliberately designed in for skill definitions, leadership development and knowledge and experiences gained. HRM needs to cultivate, mobilize and capitalize innovation.

To do this it needs to redesign its existing practices and approaches so at least four critical aspects become established as the starting point and way forward while a deeper understanding of innovation is gained:

  1. Recruiting always people for the potential to innovate and knowing what this means in inputs, outputs and expected organizational outcomes.
  2. Nurturing individuals and teams constantly in innovation capabilities and skills and setting about designing a comprehensive programme for this to take hold and stick.
  3. Recognizing and discussing in formal ‘learning ways’ the critical factors needed for success and equally acknowledging and recognizing the learning value of the failures. Valuing both in experiences and organization outcomes.
  4. Build on going diversity into teams, resourced across the organization, augmented with external resources as and when needed, so the teams are varied, distinctive and constantly changing and exchanging experience and are delivering innovation that makes a real difference to the future of the organization.

If this means employing external mentors, coaches and innovation expertise to bring HRM up to speed, then it is well worth it. Having a dedicated external resource to work with you in HRM has the same ‘outsourced value’  as many other activities deemed to be handled by specialists, receiving the support and inputs to your needs that makes sound economical and knowledge intensive sense.

Care of course, is in finding those that have the depth and breadth of required experience to work alongside you, to build up and transfer the appropriate understanding of those innovation needs, until it has been ‘embedded’ within HRM so it becomes fully absorbed and part of the daily fabric of the organization as a new core, well supported and constructed to deliver sustaining innovation.

HRM has a stark choice

HRM needs to take on a more pivotal role for innovation. They can become central for a lasting place to plan and significantly contribute to building innovation capability and capacity or stay more passive and operate always in the outer periphery of today’s and the future corporate relevance that innovation needs to play.

I believe HRM needs a new raison d’être, one that comes from grabbing hold of innovation and making this core to the organizations future design. Building capabilities and capacities for innovation are essential to our organizations future well-being and HRM needs to step up and become far more engaged.

The essential innovation vision

In a recent leadership study on innovation by Capgemini Consulting, one of the studies top line concerns was the lack of a well-articulated innovation strategy, and then beyond this, a lack of organizational understanding of the linkages required.

It is amazing how many organizations lack a clear innovation vision and an explicit set of statements from the Chief Executive or their designated C-Level Officer on innovation.

One great visual paints a thousand words

This visual I came across some years back, and for me, it is outstanding in providing the feedback loops that go into developing the right innovation vision. To get to a definitive end point of having an innovation vision you are faced with some complex challenges. These are well shown here. Each influences the other and constantly loop back, making hopefully an improving vision success.

The critical feedback needs for constructing an innovation vision

The different challenges seen in this terrific depiction, provide the sort of dialogue and efforts that needs to go into ‘crafting’ the innovation vision. It is hard, thoughtful work. Lets look at each of these a little more.

The Time Challenge

We get caught in annual planning cycles that often leave little time for ‘considered’ opinion and debate. The annual plans all come in a deluge and this is plainly wrong. Creating a vision needs a lot of time to consider all the aspects. The ‘time gap’ seriously impacts the visions success and clarity of purpose

The Diversity Challenge

Not only within the same board room do you have a diversity of opinion, you have that up and down any organization. Getting the views first out in the open, then managing the conflicting aspects and dealing with the ‘polarization effects’ all is difficult. This is where a dedicated focus, a Chief Innovation Officer, can really make a difference. To get people to talk about the vision, what it should stand for, what needs to happen leads eventually to a greater clarity.

The Relationship Challenge

Managing the relationships both within and outside the organization when it comes to the right thinking on innovation is hard, converting doubters, drawing out differences, improving the quality of any conversations around innovation (ideally with facts not conjecture) and raising the enthusiasm to engage is crucial to moving towards the right vision

The Vision Cap Challenge

There is a reality to what and where you are and the perceived gap that need addressing honestly. This  is something we tend to be very poor at, is, holding a ‘creative’ tension that can stimulate and create a vibrant and exciting innovation vision. We try to dampen the divergence in opinions far too early so we can (quickly) got to convergence. This ‘keenness’ to take away the ‘creative’ tension tends to replace it with potential set of ‘destructive’ ones and this often creates much of the beginnings of the barriers to innovation. People resent not being well listened too or allowed time to develop their arguments.

The Vision and its Success

If you get people to ‘freely’ talk about innovation, its importance, its impact and can ‘paint’ the future in broad brush strokes, they achieve a growing clarity and enthusiasm and that often missing critical component a sense of shared identity.

Innovation is complex; it deals with formal and informal mechanisms. There is an awful lot to constructing a solid innovation vision but believe me, it is even harder to understand the right components that make up the innovation strategy, so it does eventually become a well-articulated innovation strategy. More on this to come at a later date.

Linking innovation context to the process

Time passes extremely quickly, particularly when you enjoy yourself, or so it seems for me. I was surprised, going through some of my past blogs, the time between related entries on the need for having in place a sustaining competitive advantage framework on innovation, has been longer than they it should have been. This blog is the third entry on this subject.

Always, always and always do I see organizations struggle to align themselves for their innovation activity, why is this? Either alignment of innovation into the strategy they are (assumedly) following or shaping innovation into the context of where and how innovation can fit.

I’ve written on this often enough actually, and argued the need for building a more sustaining innovation framework.  I have been working for some time within one of my formulas on this with its given framework of II + EE + MLC + OC + RNE build towards = SCA. I somehow suspect you need nudging on what this means

Required past reading possibly needed here.

Without duplicating more than necessary you need to go back and read two previous blogs on this

The first was written in August 2010 and entitled “A formula for Sustaining Competitive Advantage through Innovation”. The link is here:  http://bit.ly/95kCI1

The second was written in June 2011 and entitled “Sustaining is Pivotal to Making Innovation Progress”. The link is here: http://bit.ly/lPLssm

Both offer a helpful introduction to the framework and formula.

The next part of the equation

This blog ‘advances’ this framework by attempting to link the context of innovation into a process to think through. I say attempting because we need to accept each building process is different, and unique to the organization and the circumstances of what they want innovation to achieve, besides the standard reply “growth and profit”. Doesn’t this always sounds like the famous question asked at beauty pageants: “So what’s the most important issue for you?” asks the compare with the reply “world peace”. Oh, I wish it was so simple.

Those leaders that talk of “growth and profit” from innovation seem to reduce it to just a sound bite, I just wish it was so simple. I do wish the majority of our business leaders would get ‘into’ innovation understanding a lot more. Innovation breaks down always outside the CEO’s executive door and it really does need them to step outside and get more fully involved as it is a major area to succeed at if a longer tenure is in their minds.

Still, I digress. Here I outline how I see a typical linking through of a context to innovation in a ‘flow through’ process that is shaped along the II + EE + MLC + OC + RNE build towards = SCA, framework.

Innovation Alignment, Context & Process

Innovation Alignment to the Corporate Strategy does need working through. It needs linking to business goals and strategy, to the role innovation plays within this, the type of innovation portfolio you wish to design and work upon and the delivery and adoption needed so the organization ‘aligns’ itself. You need a thinking-through process to align context into activity.

This takes time, it needs sustaining effort but it needs leadership to understand the critical connecting parts to do this. It needs a defining framework that I see as separate to what I’m offering here. On my present rate of outlining this it does seems sometime next year for that – not good news for those interested.

Watch this space

Actually let me share a little secret between us,  I’m working on a more radical, visually appealing and exciting way to approach this now but within a joint collaboration around this critical issue. So, who knows this might be discussed earlier than my past track record of once a year to move from one aspect to another. It needs to be and I’m sure my collaborating partner on this will be pushing me a lot harder going forward.