Balancing Our Innovation Understanding

Balancing the equationRecently I have been hearing of a lot about different innovation equations that will deliver the value on the efforts you put in.

I think the activity behind all of this is actually very encouraging, it shows the current dissatisfaction with what we have and the quest for providing a formula for overcoming this ‘present state’.

I think they are all contributing to a promising future. Yet we need to consider the balance within any innovation understanding or equation to derive its real value.

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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 needed and then translated for it to become new innovation.

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 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.