Innovation is swimming in uncertain waters

Innovation is very often swimming in uncertain waters that rise and fall just like the waves in a sea: they are choppy, demanding and exhausting to fight against. As uncertainty constantly arises as we discover more, expend more energy, the very nature of our original starting point set down in a well-thought-out, well crafted strategy actually begins to suddenly drop. Then we are left with more ‘open-ended’ questions than answers. Welcome to real innovation where faith and belief play an important part .

There often seems to be constantly arising critical unknowns and sometimes all you are left with as your innovation emerges is just actually and simply a new starting point. A new starting point as the concept is so different to cause you to rethink dramatically. Innovation and its journey of discovery takes you into so many new areas you never expected, when you first thought of the idea or concept. What do you do? Do you abandon this or press on? What helps us maintain a commitment and a course?

The increasing demands made by innovation

Innovation demands increasingly from us.  So you have to be far more ready to adapt, to be agile, and to be ready to experiment, explore and learn. This makes innovation even harder to get right. You are often caught in a fog of possibilities. Everything simply hangs off a given hypothesis and needs to be proven in its delivery.

When innovation is at the heart of your strategy, you need to zero in to the best possible execution strategy, a clear business model and constantly review this as the innovation iteration is taking place to align the idea/ concept to what you understand the market needs, not what you do, what they want. This is a constant re-iteration process that needs to take place, unrelenting. Seek clarification and validation becomes a mantra.

The ability to move an idea to implementation- with increasing agility– is what will distinguish the successful organization from the less successful. The ability to execute well remains a critical gap of performance. Innovation requires a deeply embedded set of capabilities. Innovation is high maintenance but also offers high reward so are we equipping ourselves to extract the best from the best?

With the increasing complexity within markets, the global pressures of greater breakthrough or disruptive innovation, and the increased emphasis on business models, are causing increased problems that we need to grapple with. Complexity at every stage of the innovation process calls for a higher level of getting organized, keeping discipline and executing effectively than ever before but also staying real agile.

Consistent questioning is required

You have to question constantly on the best way to deliver your innovation. This is why constantly evaluating your existing business model is becoming more critical today than ever. You need to evaluate the best approaches to market not rely just on the existing ones if you want to maximise your innovation returns. If you compromise anywhere along the innovation value building chain you need to be absolutely sure you know why.

Embedded innovation capabilities are essential- no question

Innovation today requires a deeply embedded set of capabilities. It needs to rise above the something we presently have, into a key organizational capability. The mindset for many executives today is wedded to an outmoded view of innovation that it is synonymous with everything ‘creative’, in other words invention. It is not, it is applying those ideas on a sustaining basis. This is where many seem to fall down time and time again. Successful implementation across the whole innovation process demands institutional capability- leadership, infrastructure and processes- that need to be sustained constantly in a encouraging climate of trust.

High maintenance but high rewards

Today innovation needs to be recognised as something that is high maintenance but also offers high reward to the ones that get this right. The ability to move an idea to implementation- with real agility and constant adaptation – is what will distinguish the successful organization from the less successful. The ability to execute innovation across the whole innovation process remains a critical gap of performance and we need to move beyond this failure within organizations.

We have to recognize that innovation is mission critical. Your innovation promise needs to be highly ‘tuned’ in the best possible ways to extract the value. Innovation cannot be devolved down the organization and expected to work; it has to be well orchestrated. It needs more than a life jacket thrown over the side, we need to develop and hone the skills needed to swim in these rougher times.

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