Dealing with Your Darwin Effect through Innovation

IFD 4

I have been working away, as my labour of love, frustration and sheer determination, on my thinking through the ‘harnessing’ of the dynamics within innovation, to offer organizations their innovation fitness and future landscape design, so as to radically alter their present capabilities and capacity to innovate.

The aim is to relate these to where your organization is in their existing capabilities, where they need to go, in identifying and clarifying the necessary capabilities they need to have, so as to achieve certain strategic goals and then, “we”, together, collectively prioritize the critical ones as ‘must have’ and then set about filling the gaps. This is the innovation fitness journey needed to be travelled.

The building of those more ‘dynamic’ capabilities and competencies are the ones you need so as to provide for a more dynamic innovation environment and deliver unique capacity for your ongoing strategic goals.

This work is covered off partly on this web site but does have its own dedicated site where the articles, post and thinking have been building up over a fairly lengthy period. Go and visit it at www.innovationfitnessdynamics.com.

So let me tell you what this is all about and I will describe this with heavy referencing from Geoffrey Moore’s book “Dealing with Darwin”. Without doubt one of my favourite books in how it helped me piece together a large part of my dynamic innovation fitness puzzle.

First you have the internal view.

Critically, you need to take a fresh look at your internal dynamics, at what happens when core competencies cease to differentiate, how resources must be shifted to new areas, how deeply threatening such changes can be, how a protective inertia emerges as the enemy of destabilizing innovation, and finally, what kinds of management responses can best deal with inertia and redirect its energy towards fresh innovation. This is the inward facing dilemma that needs to be addressed.

Then you have the External viewpoint

It is about creating competitive advantage in an increasingly commoditizing world. To lead that effort, you must continually reappraise what role your company is playing in the market ecosystem, how the market landscape of competition is changing and understand where your competitive advantage has come from in the past and where it is likely to come from in the future and with what kinds of differentiation will be most rewarded, and what kinds of innovation are most required. This is the outward facing portion of the story.

Then you have that growing sense of observations

Innovation and inertia: we often get stuck in particular types of innovation, promote given skills to the detriment of others, equally necessary but ignored or not understood fully.
We fail to adapt to market changes, we fund to much of one type of innovation to the exclusion of others and in the process create internal traffic jams of sorts, frustrations and tempers to match.

We squander our scarce resources of time, talent and management attention on initiatives that fail to give us competitive advantage and get constantly impeded by these forces of inertia all around us. Indeed, the more successful we have been in the past, the stronger the resistance to any subsequent change in the innovation course.

Then you have those real world worries

So what does keep management up at night about their performance on innovation? The rising anxieties stem from that worry that perhaps we are losing our ability to innovate, can our people still compete? Do we really get it? And even if we do, can we still get it to the market place at the right time and feed that need? Can we actually see the light of day?

Then Evolutions can happen

Evolution proceeds more gradually but in times of crisis we are forced to make choices that enable you to step back and reflect. I would argue we are all increasingly facing our own types of crisis in today’s volatile world.

If you were able to achieve an understanding that is based on more informed choice, so you can extract yourself from one path that makes you increasingly vulnerable and provides support to commit to a new core focus, one that offers you a more sustaining competitive position on which to compete through innovation. Would you take this different pathway?

Your task, challenges and keys to unlock your dilemma lie here.

1. The task is to develop a suite of core innovation competencies with proven capability to create (unique) competitive advantage.
2. The challenge for management teams is to choose the type of innovation appropriate to their situation and to exploit it deeply enough to create definitive separation from their direct competitors. This can be completed in different ways but through a thorough analysis is recommended
3. The key is to identify and then to extract (scarce) resource from (existing) context and re-channel this into the new core that will differentiate you through the new emerging innovation competencies and systemic approach.
4. A real need is to reposition resources and provide focus on the ‘right’ capabilities to meet new challenges knowing your “Innovation Fitness & the Dynamics in the Landscape”

The sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to extract yourself from the commitments that make you vulnerable and establish those commitments that will strengthen your new position“- Geoffrey A. Moore

Survival of the fittest dominates irrespective.

  • We are all caught in this Darwinian race- all of us it seems.
  • So where do you want to focus your limited resources? The ‘natural selection’ choice to increase your abilities to innovate linked to your needs.
  • Start by mapping out your innovation direction to the tasks and capabilities on hand and those needed or required to get you to certain predefined goals.
  • Chose the path that will leverage and expand your knowledge, capabilities and capacities and start the journey.
  • Start recognizing the opportunity spaces and gaps when you think you should be heading but feel you might have constraints in moving towards.
  • The greater you can identify the need for improving your ‘innovation fitness’ allows you to get closer to accelerating towards the seen and yet unseen opportunities.
  • The greater ‘innovation fitness’ equates to more value creation potential.
  • As you learn to recognize the difference between managing the existing routines and building the new capabilities, the quicker you can absorb these new learnings within the organization, so they can become the new dynamic routines that are needed.
  • You then begin to reduce uncertainties and strengthen the true innovation capabilities you need to thrive and survive in this Darwinian world.

Interested to learn more?

Then simply contact me. I am happy to discuss this and how this can be applied to your organization and what it means in engagement and commitments.

You build progressively the Innovation capabilities and competencies levels to become dynamic and fitter to compete and succeed.

Journeying across the darker side of the innovation moon

When you decide to make any trip, you need to have some sort of roadmap to navigate yourself by. The difficulty is when you decide to step into the other side of the often known, into the lesser known or completely unknown sides of innovation, where there seems to be no decent roadmap, the enjoyment is partly in setting about it and trying to create it, to piece it together.

I wrote about the dark side of the innovation moon in mid-2012 and why it should always make us curious. Within my blogs that I’ve written here on this site I have kept coming back to its initial stated aim of “building the DNA of innovation” This has become a real journey of ‘stated intent’.

My journey of the past 18 months

For me, in the past eighteen months or so, I have achieved much of what I wanted in ‘advancing’ awareness of innovation, mine as well as others, for those that cared to read my ‘wanderings’. I wanted to wander and explore innovation, go where it takes me, sometimes follow a whim , pursue an avenue of enquiry or rely on the known facts and see if they ‘stand up’ to examination, to analysis, to actual practical application.

While I’ve also travelled on this investigative journey I have equally had to stay ‘grounded’ in the work that allows me to make these ventures. This grounding is the work I do with clients in advising, coaching, mentoring or consulting on innovation. It often is from my exploring comes the very source or triggering points, that many need to have explained, to help them in overcoming their problems or roadblocks.

Often these conversations determine where my next foray will take me in my explorations. I am just always uncomfortable when there are open issues left over from these engagements, that I felt I did not have the best answers when asked. It makes me want to go and find better answers. It is in all honesty, a never-ending quest if you have an enquiring mind. Innovation is always restless and constantly evolving, so we also need to be. So I have to certainly be.

So much within innovation is hidden, it is implicit not explicit, it relies on the people element for its generation and that is so often reliant on gathering a set of experiences to translate this dispersed knowledge into all the necessary connections to make something different, something new, something that is needed in the market place.

Exploring the lesser known regions of innovation, amplifying the known

In my travels I’ve explored much of the less understood sides of innovation. I have set about to try to explain them. I’ve tried to relate them to the aspects of everyday innovation, give those novel and logical frameworks or some method and structures to approach them, so they can be integrated into this work. Some have worked better than others.

When you arrive back to a certain point, you take stock, you reflect, you judge what has made a contribution or not, what still needs explaining more. Don’t get me wrong this is not a one man quest to explain innovation but it is borne from a real belief we do need to push the boundaries of innovation.

We do need innovation to enter the mainstream of our everyday thinking, to be something we feel naturally comfortable undertaking, as part of our make-up for our growth or prosperity. I often feel those that ‘see’ innovation that listen and engage, still make up the minority. It is those that don’t understand innovation, and I feel this is the majority, including most of our leaders, who simply pass over it, these are the ones we must find ways to draw into our circle of influence.

Presently those that are not fully picking up on the value of innovation are happily assuming others are fully active and totally switched on to all that makes up innovation potential. We need to get them involved. They have not fully realized they are as essential to contribute to a sustaining future, based on innovation solutions, so we can collectively tackle growing societal problems. We need to move ‘many’ from being the problem to being ‘engaged’ in mapping out the innovating future so innovation can fulfil its latent potential .

Drawing in the vast majority so we all become innovation savvy

The sad truth is, until we bring innovation up in each person’s thinking, we stumble along. The joy of any investigative journey that you undertake, is that you meet fellow travellers along the way. I am blown away at all the creative and thoughtful innovation thinking going on but sadly, still have to ‘put up’  with that not so imaginative thinking that goes equally under the guise of innovation writing.

I’m not just talking about those tired old lists of handy, instant solutions to follow that conveying that promise that this will help you to master innovation, but the many trivial comments that are just beyond twitter length. These often do not serve innovation well, or for the person grabbing at them feeling that if they clamber on board, they can float along quite safely. How wrong they are, they are simply drifting along, most probably moving further away from their real objective.

We all need some form of roadmap or blueprint I feel for innovation and life

We do need our roadmaps, our blueprints of innovation. They are essential when we decide to undertake a journey. If you don’t have the essential of a compass, spare food and drink, warm clothing, good walking or mountain shoes then you should not venture out into the mountains. I am more than fortunate, to live in an area surrounding by mountains and you give them a certain respect, I think innovation deserves that as well.

So I have taken stock of this journey I’ve been making in the name of innovation. I’ve written about 120 articles (blogs) in this time, applied the learning wherever possible. Some of the results have been highly satisfying, even gratifying, others upon reflection simply did not work out as well as they should have done, I felt they did not get the ‘resonance’ I had desired or intended.

Clearly I set out in my search and have ended up eighteen months later, very clear on one absolutely basic point for innovation. If we do not come together and gain a common language for innovation, not as a throw away buzz point, but as a unifying point, we will never be able to teach and transfer innovation to all the others that have not bothered to pick up on understanding the innovation language.

Why is a common language for innovation important?

Innovation has so many pockets of confusion and traps to fall into for adding to our inefficiencies. We still see so much fragmented energy, plenty of differences of approach and potential misunderstandings. It often saps the very juice of innovation. Organizations have plenty of unproductive capital, even when they hack away at all the undergrowth. Resource allocation required for good innovation remains patchy, under-served and often starved. We all become increasing busy at fixing what we have, trying to understand those hidden costs, spent energies and lost opportunities.

Until we arrive at a more uniformed approach to innovation, improve the management of innovation and its development within our systems, structures and processes we stay stuck in constant re-invention and duplication. Seeking a common language allows us to form ‘stickiness’ in value, it becomes the glue to align the parts that make up innovation and forms the whole we seek.

Reflecting on a journey, translating it into clear outcomes

I think I should stop journeying and focus down in the future just a little more. There are real focal points of need that will be required for us all to live through in 2013. Having available possible solutions, providing some objective advice (hopefully) so as to discuss and demonstrate these for clear points of impact can be more beneficial at this time. My journey needs to become more based on an ‘expedition’ to deliver even more tangible benefits and outcomes to all that care to engage.

Moving into 2013

So 2013 will be for me, one that becomes a ‘converting and driving’ of many of the areas I have been investigating in the recent past. Exploiting and extending, experimenting and exploring.  It allows me to extend further in that constant sense of renewal I always feel we need to have when one year closes and another one beckons.

Any ’journeyman’ always welcomes those moments of recuperation before that need to go back out and ‘push out’ on the next adventure. Certainly for me innovation is certainly that, full of excitement where you can be enterprising and intrepid, thoughtful and determined.

I just need a ‘touch more’ of the enterprising to come out in 2013 as my stated intent and be more focused on those impact points we are all in search of. Tackling the issues, challenges and problems where I hopefully can contribute clear solutions too, one way or another.

So my goal is to be “the innovation translation point” for providing the needed impact and focus by supporting and delivering different solutions to the challenges we will be facing in the year ahead. Simple huh! Why not set a challenging target?

Please enjoy your Christmas and New Year celebrations, I certainly will.  Thank you for all your time that you have invested in reading my thoughts, its highly valued and greatly appreciated.