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”

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Exploring the criteria for collaborative innovation

Collaboration discussionsThe shape of our collaboration activities has been radically changing in recent years. The combination of technology, the internet, resource constraints and opening up of innovation to the outside world has changed the shape and content of conversations.

Shaping conversations can be either intentional or through serendipity. Ideas are usually never fully formed but emerge over these conversations, from fragments that need nurturing, encouraging, aligning and developing through ongoing conversations. Often the fragments need a wider network to come together and form around.

sharpen-ideas-quicklyThe push today is the ability to sharpen the ideas quickly and move into some early testing and validation, ideally with the final customer somehow engaged and then from this ‘interaction’ the idea shapes and its final understanding deepens onto a concrete delivery. There is a growing need for more radical, out of the existing box innovation to tap into. Collaborators help here.

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The Ability to Move from the Existing to the Preferred

The Innovation PathOne of those defining extracts I came across many years back, as it is one that has shaped much of where I believe innovation needed to go, let alone where I believe it still does.

It is a pathway I want to continue to travel along and will constantly try to encourage others to equally take the walk.

I was working through a set of presentation files today and came across this extract again and thought I must share this. It ‘rings’ true as much as it did those years back.

Strategy is useless without innovation; innovation is directionless without strategy”.

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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.

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Lining up the fundamentals in leadership and innovation

A week can feel like a long time, actually this present week has got condensed from six months of investigating, exploring and debating but even now it is only the beginning, that public ‘coming out’ of a new framework for innovation. It is what happens after this first exposure, that we will this find its value and contribution and that does depends on a lot of factors, mostly in other people’s hands. Those that will recognize a clear value to help them and their organizations should welcome this, we hope.

So what am I talking about?

The development of an emerging framework, which we call the Executive Innovation Work Mat, is where we are suggesting, lies the responsibility of the CEO or senior executive, to construct and enact. Executives need to fill a leadership gap found in innovation, and define a robust innovation framework.  They can deliver the missing innovation alignment part by engaging and providing this leadership required in innovation that is often missing. What these contain are outlined in our framework that we have exposed this week in a series of seven blogs. Just click on the link above for the foundation article.

There is a movement detected in the innovation air!

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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.

Are we all upside down?

This is one of those ‘rants’ occasionally I feel a real need to express. Forgive me, normal service will be resumed after this ‘break’.

Coffee in hand, soap box set up, let me begin.

Today, we are all struggling to transform ourselves in our businesses, even just within ourselves, to adjust to the current economic difficulties we all seem presently to be facing. We are not only confronted with the toughest downturn in modern times but with all the pressures with the speed of decision-making, technological advances that seem to just simply ‘suck up’ more of our daily lives instead of helping to resolve it. We have the pressures of global competitiveness and calls that constantly are urging us to never stand still because others aren’t.

We often become overwhelmed by the merging, acquiring, rethinking that is going on constantly around us, the changes in processes, new alliances and the sudden emergence of a ‘new kid on the block’ who sees a weakness and rapidly fills that gap overnight. Oh yes, and we still are not very good at being more innovative!

Lots more hot fixes or a more radical redesign?

These pressures compel us to focus on a host of ‘quick fixes’ but what we are failing to recognize is where all these changes fit within our longer term plans. Just finding the opportunity to take out precious ‘thinking’ time to synthesise and reorganize ourselves seems impossible, we are just getting caught up in the flotsam of live, just bobbing along.

We need to not only re-imagine but we need actually breakthroughs in our thinking, some of that bunker busting stuff to give us all a ‘concentrated’ focus on what is important to our business, to our lives and what is important to us as individuals. Where do we grow, where do we go and how do we achieve this? We can’t continue down towards the rapids that lie ahead of us, just around the next ‘economic crisis’ corner.

Where innovation and invention needs to combine

Innovation has an important part to play in this future, far more than in the past. We must try to reflect on the effect of too much cost cutting that is going on at the very fabric of our lives, the communities we live in. Nothing is replacing it, we just seem intent on knocking down what we have presently got and not offer alternative solutions, accept more ‘self-sufficiency’. This will eventually have the very opposite effect of destroying more than creating, it will extract more out of it than we will be able to replace.

Today the rush to cut budgets, to have ‘fiscal consolidation’ will not give a more flexible environment, actually it will be the very opposite. The expediency of the measures to slash and burn is not healthy. Our world has been turned upside down on us, but we must strike the balance between cutting back and building up.

Who is going to allow us the necessary time for rebalancing this mood for cost cutting and provide the leadership and eventually the stimulus for the necessary innovative thinking, so as to enable us to think about how we can rebuild, regroup. We need to seek out new opportunities, we need growth but I think it needs to be from a very different type of economic model. Politicians and mainstream economists all advocate a return to ‘normal’, which I certainly feel is doomed as ‘normal’ can’t be based on the past economic approaches or ways we have organized ourselves.

The task ahead is to do the opposite of what we used to do: we do need to save resources, improve the environment, create jobs, shift to another model for consumption, and restore confidence in the economic system – all at the same time.

Use innovation for resource saving.

Now the time has come for resource saving innovation. to extend what we already have. We need a clear political shift to the new courses that will gear us to to do that. Instead of market economy pricing favouring individuals and corporations we have to shift to ones based more on society. As painful as it is for some, we need to increase the premium onto those short-sighted people who are still insisting and  managing our economies and businesses for the short-term extracting costs. They simply cannot ignoring the need to invest, build and promote more onto the longer term potential for containing consumption as we know it today, and finding new ways of adding different lasting value. We need to invest in the future, we just can’t keep cutting and reducing.

We do need to shift our thinking onto a new type of consumption model; we must practice a more frugal type of innovation that still offers plenty of opportunity if we can break the ‘throw away’ attitudes of society and business design. We need to go back to repairing not just throwing stuff away. To do this the redundancy deliberately built to our products so one part that always seems to break before others and you can’t obtain a replacement, or you find it far more expensive to have repaired than replacing it has to be designed out from the existing product design.

Current material consumption actually is not fulfilling

Did you know that the current material consumption actually is not as fulfilling as we expected, according to work that has been undertaken by researchers, psychologists, and anthropologists. They conclude that less materialistic consumption gives a better and longer lasting feeling of ‘happiness’ than material consumption. They also are suggesting that we have hard-wired into us, that basically human beings still are inclined to want to work together, help each other, and do something for others and with others.

So the good news is that this nagging fear I’ve had that we are just shifting to islands of individuals just connected through our computers remotely seems like we really don’t want that, I do hope so. If we don’t think society really wants this then it can’t afford these billions of islands of individuals, it needs to find new ways to deepen the emerging global connecting model that works more for societies good, than the individual as it seems at present. We lose far too much of that deeper happiness factor it might seem, we become increasingly disconnected, inward and remote and that surely is not healthy for us as human beings that thrive on ‘human’ interactions.

Interestingly this is where the emerging of new connected communities gets exciting. What we have to do, is redesign these dispersed ‘connected’ societies into better economic blocks and find different ways to work together that will give us back a new economic value plus lasting pleasure, satisfaction and identification. We need to reverse where we are seemingly heading and that requires some radical redesign of how we want to collaborate for economic value within these new communities.

Collecting money and taxes becomes a growing problem

I’m just not sure where it leaves national boundaries or who will pay for the entire infrastructure if there is no attribution and way to make sure this happens. Presently we learnt from a recent report that the major banks and the financial global elite, as well as a number of developing nations are now confirmed to have as much as $20 plus trillion in hidden assets stashed away in offshore accounts that are subject to little or no taxation. As a result, around $280 billion is estimated to be lost in tax revenues.

In other words, the multi-trillion dollar banks and wealthy elites are combining in novel ways for avoiding any taxation, while forcing the vast majority of tax paying citizens to foot their tax avoidance bill. Amazingly, the $20-odd trillion stashed away it is suggested represents the overall GDP of the United States and Japan combined. The “scale” of the numbers is staggering and are these huge sums actually being employed for different innovation or just accumulating more the present model of consumptive. So much off shore wealth and financial mischief is ‘killing us’ all off.

I also wrote a blog on this destructive creation http://paul4innovating.com/2012/03/01/the-innovating-era-creative-destruction-or-destructive-creation/ and along with this latest report on hidden assets that is actually putting some hard numbers on this tax avoidance just adds more to this growing concern of a really messed up world that is closing its moral compass.

The time has come to restructure and rebalance production, consumption, and corporate governance and how they work together, in short in a more connected global world is the overwhelming need to invent a new economic model.

So where does innovation fit in any new model?

It sounds actually a little bit of “more of the same but better” as our starting point. We understand that innovation grows our businesses, it can certainly grow our equity, it shows it does grows our economies.  It is one of the best platforms around that can provide you greater economic returns (growth, utilization, new activity) if you set about doing this thoughtfully and right. Innovation should always replace something we have with something better (often today that is not the case) but in different ways than encouraging us to not throw away what we have but to utilize it in better, lasting ways. We can begin to change that right away with some ‘ground swell of push back if we wanted too.

Of course the complexity we are facing today does need a far greater recognition of its ‘multiple’ parts that must somehow fit together in new innovative and novel ways. We still need to offer and entice people to change their existing ways and habits. We need to find better models that will give real new returns that provides more lasting value and identification than what is on present as offered.

Innovation has to be central to our future, it needs a more systematic and integrated approach that has a ‘heart’ that beats on a continuous repeating basis. One that scales accordingly to the challenges we are facing and these are growing in challenges, not declining at present.

It needs a ‘fitness’ that knows where it has to focus and why so you can meet these constant challenges in a flexible, coordinated, well-balanced way with speed and combined strength…..the art of building  increasing agility into your innovation thinking and approaches.

We all need to work on the answers to fixing our current problems; otherwise we face a protracted, maybe bleak future. We certainly do have to turn everything upside down. Innovation and invention need to combine in new powerful ways and we need to search for different business and economic models that put together human ingenuity for changing the consumptive model and perhaps put to use some of the trillions stashed away needing to be put to better use than just sitting in offshore funds.

I wish I had some decent answers but my first need was to write about my increasing concerns here. I hope this ‘rant’ prompts your thinking to stop and think a little more.  There are answers; we just need to find them faster than you think, I feel. There are enough burning platforms already around us.

Well let me get off my soap box, my coffee is cold and I need to warm it up, certainly I’m not going to throw it away!