Fitness Landscape Dynamics for Innovation

Fitness Landscape Dynamics

Innovation is not so easy, there are so many dependencies that you need to work through.The importance of recognizing innovation needs a systematic approach becomes clear when you begin to work through all the needs and issues to understand and translate. Here are some thoughts:

By exploring and modeling the mutual dependencies you get to see how the existing and alternative future innovation system will behave as you begin to map out and recognize the different emphasis points that make up your innovation system.

You can begin to identify what are the more important dynamic ones that require a more dedicated focus and placing more of your resources behind, while others can evolve at their own pace or simply improve as they are far more dependent on the dynamic ones than you realized initially. These can get simply get ‘pulled along’ and rise equally in their performance.

The real need is to pass through different stages of understanding what makes up a dynamic fitness innovation landscape.

There is a complementary set of forces; improving one often triggers improvement in another. What you have to guard against is possibly ignoring one might equally impact negatively on others. Recognizing dependencies is critical and their triggering effect makes innovation evolution even more dynamic.

The combination effect to gain a greater innovation fitness effect comes from managing this over four stages of the journey of innovation fitness towards the dynamic capabilities stage and fitness landscape outcomes.

The four stages within each part of this journey are briefly:

  1. The goal within these stage is to identify the key dependencies relevant for improved innovation within your organization to discover
  2. What are the mutual dependencies that will have a more dynamic impact on your innovation system so you understand
  3. What consequences come from this and how the changing environment will behave so as to consider the effect, that then leads to
  4. What recognition and implications this has so as to put in place an ongoing, evolving set of innovation dynamics that keep you fit to perform innovation on a sustaining higher performance basis.

Again I want to emphasis here, this is an evolving journey but the critical recognition here is, for innovation to continue to be the driver of future growth and wealth, it clearly does need to have a greater understanding and recognition of its management potential within organizations.

This site I’ve made as a dedicated one to the innovation journey. Go to www.innovationfitnessdynamics.com if you are determined to push beyond today’s accepted, often ‘lagging’ performance from innovation activity, and raise the innovation performance engine up within your organization’s efforts.

I believe we do have this critical need to have in place a growing clarity of the factors needed to consistently deliver a more ‘leading’ position of knowing what does actually have a real dynamic impact, both on an organizations innovation performance and the individual contributions that contribute towards the required strategic goals and objectives.

This I feel states any journey and how we are planning this out to traverse across the terrain towards better innovation solutions, that make up the dynamics of innovation and provide a ‘fitness’ solution that is unique to your needs.

Care to share and join the journey? We can discuss how I can join you on your own innovation journey and enable that greater innovation fitness we all need to achieve, as innovation is a hard road to travel without the appropriate recognition of all it entails.

The crucial role Innovation must play in the Energy system

Innovation is vital to the energy system’s integration and operation design, and we need to further recognize its crucial role. I believe we undertake a radical transformation in the way we supply, transform, and use energy. This requires a profound transformation in technologies, systems, and infrastructure.

Innovation is made up of many enabling technologies that support energy. This complexity requires innovative approaches to be built in highly systematic ways. Its ultimate result is to offer innovation that can continually look for re-imagining new market designs and business models to stimulate the changes and solutions for our future energy transformation.

Innovation needs to be transformational, offer greater value than what it is replacing, show the real advantage, set out to achieve competitive gains and offer a higher level of sustainability, value and impact.

We need an innovating mantra for energy.

Energy is a vital part of any country’s ability to be competitive. Today half the world’s capital is invested in energy and its related infrastructure as it is the backbone of any industrial and urbanization strategy.

Our need is to keep pushing for discoveries, for experimentation, for demonstrating. We must nurture innovation, and we must continuously look for ways to facilitate its pathway.

Our economic prosperity will be determined by transforming the energy sector, and it is through innovation we will achieve this. To avoid the predicted consequences of climate change, the global energy system must rapidly reduce its emissions.

The vast majority of global CO2 emissions come from the energy production sector, from our buildings or transportation systems. They all need a purposeful design of a new, cleaner energy system.

Innovation needs to be at the top of its game, to be accelerated and scaled.

The energy transition that the world is undertaking is one of the most critical areas where innovation needs to be at its absolute best, top of the game, to make the level of change necessary. We need to deploy every innovative tool to leverage ideas and discoveries and then accelerate the validation into a commercialization path sooner than later.

Innovation needs to get out of the laboratories, moved from theory to application, and off the desk of those executives who fail to see the urgency of change we need to achieve the energy transition.

Innovation has risk always associated with it, but that imperative to push the boundaries does need always to be constantly in our minds; global warming, pollution, and resource finite are our “burning platform.”

We need to ramp up our need for solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, redesign energy generation, transmission, and distribution and bring a balance back into our environments.

Pushing our present understanding, looking beyond the knowns.

  • Today the solutions are centred on decarbonization, applying digitalization, and switching to an energy system that is more decentralized than at present. It is finding imaginative, innovating solutions that become essential to achieve this climate change through the energy transition we are undertaking.
  • Each organization within the energy transition looks at its own position and applies any changes to advance its competitive position. Quite rightly, but in focusing on one specific perspective, you can lose the bigger opportunity.
  • We need to extend the reach of electricity; we need to focus on Hydrogen, validate carbon capture and storage (CCUS) as well as bioenergy and take them out of the lab, out of the realms of theory and validate the innovation concepts into scalable ones that deliver the gaps we have in our energy transition.
  • We must find innovative solutions to reduce local air pollution, strengthen energy security, and develop a more significant energy system that is resilient to minimize the shutdowns and power outs. We need to find solutions to reliable and sustainable energy solutions that deal with heating, lighting, cooking, and cooling. Any change needs to find a way to create local economic value and jobs, as others in any change of this magnitude will be displaced.
  • As we search for enabling technologies, we need to constantly facilitate the integration of renewable energy, accelerate storage, explore sector coupling, introduce new ways to operate within the electricity system, seek out new power generation, design the grids for increased flexibility and digitalize solutions to provide further services, tools and distributed generation deployment knowing how to diffuse innovation in these general five approaches becomes valuable.
  • We need to continue to de-carbonize challenging industry sectors like steel, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, or our transportation systems if we wish to achieve any positive outlook of curbing carbon emissions and moving onto a pathway towards a zero-carbon future.

Innovation and showing progression give market confidence and encouragement that the innovation story is designed to take decisions through this innovation adoption approach.

Everything we are looking at in energy solutions faces a scalability challenge. 

It will be the ability to harness the existing with the new, and this is the role of innovation to deliver the changes by being the bridge and being the catalyst of change with new technology and innovative solutions.

Innovation adoption in the technology lifecycle for Energy Translation

Technological innovation has a central role to play in the Energy Transition currently being undertaken throughout the world. The shifts need to take the different parts of the energy system through a lifecycle approach to any future energy system.

The six critical focal points of the energy transition.

The six main thrusts for technological innovation within the Energy Systems for today’s energy transition are:

  1.  To accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies throughout the system.
  2. There is a real need to find innovative solutions that focus on the end-user sectors of transport, industry, and buildings.
  3. The technological and digital innovative solution needs to focus on the overall system design and the operation needs.
  4. Innovation needs to increase electrification through emerging solutions on the grids’ digitalisation and provide grid-scale energy storage for resolving variable renewable power and building out further energy storage.
  5. To push, nurture, and facilitate different energy sources to provide solutions to scale them up. These include solar power, geothermal, biopower, hydropower, onshore and offshore wind and finally tidal power.
  6. Lastly, innovation needs to achieve an affordably decarbonize industrial transition.

Many new innovation solutions need to continually unlock the system’s flexibility.

Besides technological innovation, there is growing potential for redesigning operational systems through new services, tools, and distributed generation deployment. There are opportunities to find fresh market designs that have demand-response models central to then provide new, more tailored services and then the exciting potential of designing new business models that look to greater co-creation, more flexible power purchase agreements and bring the consumer into the system as contributors, aggregators and highly energy aware.

My focus is on innovating energy.

Innovation must be at the forefront of the energy change; otherwise, we will fail to deliver on the 2050 commitments and goals, and that will have consequences for our very existence as we know it.

Besides writing about innovation and energy on two dedicated blogs of innovating4energy.com and digital4energy, I recently launched a complimentary website of innovating4energy.website, one that is laying out my business positioning and offerings to help in accelerating innovation within the energy system. That “open for business” sign.

I set out to offer the external perspective to those busy inside organizations focusing on mapping out the future of energy and where they fit to support, compliment, and provide different value points to this thinking and eventual work. I see this as more advisory to complement their insights, more feeding into and complimenting their expertise with different points of value.

** published simultaneously here and on my innovating4energy.com site relating to “all things” in the Energy Transition.

Designing Unique Workshops is hard work

Finding opportunities for Innovation and Growth is hard work. It is the value of having good, interactive, highly particpative workshops breaks much of those initial barriers to allow the hard work to begin in a more cohesive and collaborative way.

I believe any design of workshops must meet your needs, to push the thinking and to generate new returns in innovation understanding.

Boilerplate designs might look initially attractive but knowing your needs, limitations, concerns, and ambitions can transform a workshop into one that lasts in the participant’s minds as they felt it was “clearly” designed for them

Which end of the innovation spectrum do we need to go?

  • Workshops can mean different things to different people. Find ones that are 100% focused on engaging with and accelerating innovation. They need a couple of simple rules
  • Conducting ‘open’ dialogues or focused conversations should always have a sound context so the contributions slowly build-out and hold real promise
  • Discoveries can start with different ‘fields of enquiry’ to achieve different connections and deepen our perspectives

A great book, written by Bill Sharpe, explaining the Three Horizons often comes to mind. I wrote about it here “Three Horizons- fields of future, full of foresight”

Then I find the Divergent / Convergent approach in thinking as highly valuable

We need to always challenge ourselves and taking you through a set of lenses of discovery that go from ‘divergent to convergent‘ is important.

You need both to explore and exploit the multiple possible solutions. Divergent thinking is the ability and opportunity to offer different, unique or variant ideas adherent to one theme, while convergent thinking is the (eventual) ability to find the ‘correct’ solution to the given problem.

You encourage and ideate many solutions, both possible and impossible, and then use convergent thinking to move towards a realizable resolution or solution.

I use this ‘divergent and convergent’ structure for many of my workshops, it allows for broader engagement and involvement and that eventual drawing together from this process. Once or twice you have to be nimble on your feet to move from one to the other but the discipline comes from timing these as shared spaces but giving each a clear discipline of dedicated time as you do need a very different mindset to think openly then begin to narrow the options down.

Creativity makes use of divergent thinking, which is solving problems with many possible solutions, as opposed to convergent thinking, which is solving problems

The process of figuring out a concrete solution to any problem is called Convergent Thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of thinking that explores multiple possible solutions in order to generate creative ideas. It’s a straight forward process that focuses on figuring out the most effective answer to a problem.

Divergent thinking” is the process of coming up with new ideas and possibilities. We are more in a creative and intuitive mindset. We explore lots of possibilities and stay more at this point on the conceptual abstractions.

We work this through then we go more into  “Convergent thinking”, this is associated with analysis, judgment, and decision-making. We become more analytical, rational, sequential and objective. We begin to explore constraint driven issues. It is the process of taking a lot of ideas and sorting them, evaluating them, analyzing the pros and cons, and making decisions, and exploring options that reveal, over time and discussion emerging value

These journeys are personal ones as well as team forming opportunities and form the backbone of good workshops.

 Understanding innovation requires a deep awareness- through a variety of tailored or purpose-designed workshops, dialogues or discovery trips you can rapidly enhance your awareness and grasp of what ‘makes up’ innovation. 

Innovation is our 100% of our focus and we can, without question, advance your knowledge and insights across all of its complexities to be simplified through our workshops, dialogues and discovery approaches.

Building the workshop it is deliberately designed to help you need to think through many areas of productive innovation opportunity. For example:

1. Understand the trends and drivers in your industry as well as explore alternative perspectives allows you to look at not just ‘best practice’ but leading and emerging practice.

2. Look constantly outside your organization to ‘see’ and collaborate from the values of applying open innovation principles and techniques

3. Fostering the culture and climate for Innovation to workinside your organization can create the environment you are looking for but it takes a real understanding.

4. We all need to be aware of the way we earn our profit and where and why and it becomes absolutely vital that our innovation activity fully aligns to the strategic needs

5. Complete differently in the value chain- what it gives from new Business Models and discovering new opportunities to energize your business in different ways

6. When we stop and look at customers in different ways so as to listen to their needs we can discover new innovation opportunities and then how do you discover those unarticulated ones?

7. Expand into new markets and customers thoughtfully using the core within your business, in exploring the adjacency spaces and probing those ‘white spaces’ needs careful consideration.

8. Develop new product, services, structures and processes needs debate and understanding

9. Pursue a range of degrees of novelty to generate a greater sense of innovation possibility

10. Being able to sustain your momentum and make innovation repeatable does needs a broad identification and set of discussions to raise awareness, and build those capabilities and capacities well.

These journeys are personal ones as well as team forming opportunities.

 Understanding innovation requires a deep awareness- through a variety of tailored or purpose designed workshops, dialogues or discovery trips you can rapidly enhance your awareness and grasp of what ‘makes up’ innovation. 

Innovation is our 100% focus and we can, without question, advance your knowledge and insights across all of its complexities to be simplified through our workshops, dialogues and discovery approaches.

Building Capability and Capacity to Expand Capabilities for Innovation

A new equation

For innovation to be successful, the bottom line is the commitment and focus made for the building the capabilities and competencies in innovation as people make us the real value and ARE the innovation success equation in my opinion,

So we must simply invest in them by focusing on the 3 C’s of developing peoples Capability, Competency and Capability.

As we set about to build and expand capabilities we need to consider:

  • How we can accelerate uptake of innovation activity around the conditions provided through investing in them
  • The need to trigger engagement and achieve a growing attainment of knowledge acquisition and dispersion skills- essential for collaborative innovation
  • Setting about building practices for greater synergies, relationships and networking conditions, for ongoing learning and absorptive capacity
  • Extracting the right cultural, design, climate and environmental conditions,
  • Placing increasing value on evolving the structures, processes and technology application
  • Investing in lessons learnt, in validation and resolutions to challenges to build an ongoing adaptive capacity.
  • Recognizing people solve the critical bottlenecks and find solutions to overcome the constraints, they become increasingly motivated to find solutions and resolve gaps through their ability to be creative and inquisitive.
  • The ongoing building of capabilities and competencies clearly leads to a more sustaining and determined innovation future.

Increasing capacity through coaching

There are many benefits from having an intense course of one-on-one coaching, irrespective of the level of responsibility you have for innovation within your organization.

It is very similar to management behavioural coaching to change perceptions, to reorientate your thinking and approach, to open up to different thinking to build out your innovation understanding. Coaching yields a clear return but the hard work lies with the one being coached, wanting to see the alternatives and add these into their daily actions and lives.

Increasingly your innovation knowledge through coaching, you can accelerate different insights that can form a vital part of any innovation comprehension that can reduce uncertainties, encourage experimentation and draw others towards a changing relationship of trust, increasing productivity and engagement.


Through working with us through some fairly intensive and context specific sessions you quickly deepen personal knowledge and accelerate your critical business awareness and contribution.

Our innovation coaching approach provides ideal safe environments to enable innovation to quickly take hold and be translated.

Leaders, champions, sponsors and teams can gain from this coaching as well as the individual.

The Real Tipping Point in your understanding comes through ‘tailored’ Innovation Coaching where you see real benefits by discussing why and this, in my opinion always is framed around content and context:

•Context matters a great deal

•Content needs to offer a total solution

•Success takes time & effort

•Finding a release of working time to focus on adding new value to the Business (hard-wiring) becomes essential to achive this shift

I wrote this sometime back “Learning the Mantra of Innovation Context”It has value to read.

I take th approach in coaching innovation in multiple ways:

•Our approach is a mix of questioning, listening and re-skilling techniques and why this makes sense

•We recommend coaching is normally on a 1to1 basis as ideal but this can be in team situations as well, although this has a different approach

•This coaching is always innovation centric in everything we do in these 1on1 sessions

•Ownership lies with the person being coached and we seek to transfer the necessary insight and knowledge quickly and effectively

•We facilitate the unscrambling of many random thoughts and provide the clarity of piecing the innovation puzzle all together

It is yours alone to finally assimilate and use this new knowledge gained; we will help you in achieving your personal goals and provide the fresh dimension and place innovation understanding into the context necessary.

Why not contact me to find out more about a number of unique ways we approach innovation through coaching. Many of these become ‘deep dives’ to provide the necessary breakthroughs.

Then we have Peer-to-Peer Mentoring

There are certainly growing benefits in using external advisor’s and innovation mentors

To find someone who is empathetic and experienced in business innovation is growing harder so as to avoid many typical, sometimes unseen ‘pitfalls’ on innovation.

Someone who has a depth gained from their own business experiences; working in large organizations, managing complexity, projects and starting up fresh initiatives or taking them over to turn them around.

Someone who can empathize with the managing of innovation; in learning and leading significant activities.

A mentor or advisor can certainly provide:

* The opportunity and environment for you to step back from the day-to-day detail to take fresh stock, to re-engage in the bigger picture of what innovation can provide. They can help you to refocus and re-energize innovation activities. They can be timely.

* They can be a great sounding board as they listen they can prompt and stimulate your thinking. They can challenge it and help in arriving at new ideas towards solutions to your challenges. They can offer a series of directions and courses of actions to be considered.

* Growth or the needs for Renewal needed are often tough areas to manage and deliver through innovation activities. Timely advice can instil a growing confidence, the chance to debate and explore alternatives, and explore emerging options. A mentoring approach can help in avoiding ‘classic’ mistakes made by others.

* Today, we need to leverage the connections within our networks more and more. Knowing who, where and why becomes increasingly of value so as to avoid loss of time, energy and basic mistakes.

A mentor who has a wide network to tap into can seek out the best advice to support assumptions or offer even more clarification.

Each mentoring or advisory engagement will be different

Discussing constantly changing business challenges often values external evaluation. Often you can forget one issue as another one ‘pops up’ into the crowded agenda.

A mentor can remind, prompt and connect issues and bring a fresh perspective to these. Having the opportunity to revisit the different complexities within innovation so you have available a knowledge resource to share and reflect on constant changes since the last conversation or meeting can provide a catalyst to taking the appropriate action.

Having the opportunity to engage around different topics of discussions that surface around innovation can become a powerful motivational force for you to recalibrate, stay motivated, and have added incentives to think through these again.

In our view an innovation advisor or mentor needs to offer:

A good innovation mentor or trusted advisor should offer a different perspective based on a combination of their own practical business experiences along with a real depth of innovation understanding to provide a real return to your needs from innovation.

So to build the 3 C’s of Capabilities, Capacities and Competencies we can follow a peoples equation and invest in coaching and mentoring to really accelerate these.

Building the Innovation Business Case

The building always the Innovation Business Case offers a unique approach to tackle one of the real problem areas within innovation- making the case compelling.

One of the toughest aspects within Innovation is making the Business Case. Much of the information is imperfect, the returns are often fuzzy and the doubters ready to block and deter new ideas from entering the commercialization process.

Knowing the issues, reducing often the ‘noise and distractions’ and making the professional case is what we need to do to attract commitment to the projects we are working upon.

How can you reduce down uncertainty? By ensuring the innovation business case takes a clear methodical approach to this and builds the arguments up in a sound structured way, that shows the areas of clear discussion and conclusion and reduces down the more ’emotive parts, so as to allow the ‘idea or concept’ to firm up and be seen for its real merits.

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Why do we have difficulties to self-disrupt?

“Why do we always seem to have internal difficulties to self-disrupt?”

Now that is an interesting question. My quick and simple answer is to look at all the internal constraints you can see, or ask those around you what they can see as constraints for them. You will be surprised at all the constraints that stop the individual or the organization to make changes.

It is also being constrained when you look outside your organization and not recognizing the (perpetual) changes going on, often until it is too late or a fast, nimble entrepreneur has nipped in and set about building a new alternative to your existing offering that has, perhaps for some time shown signs of business model decay. Continue reading

The art of “Back Casting” needs care

Backcasting is a planning method that starts with defining a desirable future and then works backwards to identify policies and programs that will connect that specified “future to the present”. The fundamentals of the method were outlined by John. B. Robinson from the University of Waterloo in 1990. The fundamental question of backcasting asks: “if we want to attain a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?”

While forecasting involves predicting the future based on current trend analysis, backcasting approaches the challenge of discussing the future from the opposite direction; it is “a method in which the future desired conditions are envisioned, and steps are then defined to attain those conditions, rather than taking steps that are merely a continuation of present methods extrapolated into the future”

I have collected different views on “Backcasting”.

Those are from assorted references like Wikipedia, from past work on water and energy systems, from Natural Step, from Innosight, discussed and promoted in Mark Johnson’s book “Lead for the Future” and a really recent one from Roxi Nicolussi and her Backcasting; Creating a Strategic Roadmap for the Future” or finally here, this one “All Roads Lead From The Future Back — A Vision and Spoke Model” by Aidan McCullen. I am looking to further explore the applications applied in water, energy and climate work.

So exploring backcasting as a method

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No thinking time left- help

Today most executives seem to be time-starved. They are constantly reacting to daily events, to fix upon the focusing and fixing of short-term performance. This applies to the top executive down to the most junior. The sheer difficulty of having most, if not all of your colleagues working remotely is making it so much harder. Keeping the business simply going is hard, demanding work. What time is there left to think beyond the present?

How can you keep the engagement, how can you find an environment that is creative, stimulating and allows for innovation? Juggling so many crisis events in different ways is exhausting.

Who is encouraging your pause button to go on as we lose more of those relaxing moments to top up our stimulations, as we all continue to isolate, with our lack of socializing, travelling, being in each others company continues to leaves us so devoid of real human interactions, apart from countless Zoom, Skype, or Team meetings? We need to replace this “void” with better thinking time to re-stimulate our curiosity and logic senses.

It just seems to me they simply don’t have this luxury to think.

Technology is rapidly taking over this thinking role, we increasingly rely on searches to at least begin our thinking. Humans are becoming the 2nd class citizen for thinking. Continue reading