Patterns of Growth- how innovation spreads and grows

Patterns of growth- how innovation spreads and grows is taken from a report by Nesta, called “In & Out of Sync”. I like this very much for all innovation understanding but here the emphasis is placed on social innovation.

Although patterns of growth vary in detail, they highlight four necessary conditions for putting innovative products, services and (different) models into practice sustainably and on a large scale: Continue reading

Understanding innovation – the W L Gore way.

Once in a while you have to stop and reflect. Why do I keep banging away at innovation, along with countless others? Often I feel we are preaching to the converted, or the ones forced to listen just in case they miss something and are suddenly banished to hell, a non-innovating organization. A place where no one will ever listen to them and this would have been the message to free the shackles and bring them back to innovation salvation.

So here I am standing in the innovation pulpit giving the weekly sermon on innovation beliefs and principles, offering this weekly reading on the (next) ten steps to avoid in that particular sin which we all know you are certainly committing! Sometimes at the end of the sermon (or article), someone comes up and leaves an offering (comment) that sustains us a little more during the week, as we go about our business, in my case consulting, advising and researching on innovation. What a hard life we seemingly lead!

So it is one of those rare occasions you recall something truly inspirational and this is what happened to me in going back to one of the best examples of true innovation practiced and preached, the “W L Gore way”

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Innovation as the means for Economic Evolution

It is suggested that economic growth is an outcome of the innovation trajectory we set. Today managing innovation is complex; often success is measured and valued by the creative destruction of others. The ability to ‘evolve’ is very determinant on the knowledge base, either within a given economy or within a ‘federation’ to bring together as something new, offering more value than what is on offer today.

The combining of the dynamics within innovations parts

Innovation is highly dynamic in its constant change but also in its needs of constant co-ordination of its parts.

I’ve been writing a lot recently on different issues that need thinking through for regaining a more sustaining innovation growth engine. Here I wanted to think out loud, about National issues that become more drags and not accelerators to innovation,  and then try to identify some of the reasons, and then finish with a personal reflection on the US versus European and some suggested actions needed for improving their innovation activity.

Often we forget to put our own innovation efforts into context, so I’d like to go up to the helicopter view here, maybe it helps us to relate better to some of the external barriers that need equal resolution, as we do often come up against these as we try to innovate within borders. Innovation cannot be contained, it needs harnessing but allowed to ‘move’ where it needs to go. Continue reading

Hard times need a plan, based on what-survival?

I was looking through some ‘sage’ advice from McKinsey on managing in a crisis, in really hard times, and one really got me thinking, so I thought I’d share this.

“Use the hard times to concentrate on and strengthen your competitive advantage. If you are confused about this concept, hard times will clarify it.

Competitive advantage has two branches, both growing from the same root. You have a competitive advantage when you take business away from another company at a profit and when your cash costs of doing business are low enough that you survive in hard times.”

This challenged my thinking of competitive advantage but then again hard times certainly do questions all our thinking. I always felt it was the uniqueness within, in what you offered, that separates you from your competition. This alters that perspecitve. Continue reading

Making the first crucial steps towards innovation renewal

Firstly you have to start out with why you feel a freshening up should be required, should this be radical, distinctive or incremental. What do you actually want to achieve that takes you closer to your aspirations, not just immediate goals? Can the way you conduct innovation today meet that strategic challenge? Does it ‘advance’ on your current position?

There are a host of reasons ‘renewal’ might be needed. Today, when markets are especially tough, looking long and hard at what you have and jettisoning what you don’t need becomes essential to reposition yourself as leaner and more flexible. There are many pressing needs why you have to ‘shape up’. Don’t ignore the need for renewal.

Meeting competition in today’s market or positioning for the ‘forces’ swirling around global competition as it constantly changes the fortune for many does not simply arrive announced. You need to be prepared, to be alert, and to be agile and fit. We have to create our right environment and now is the time to question many of the ‘established’ approaches. We need to challenge them with fresher, more up-to-date thinking based on the multiple changes taking place around us constantly as much in our markets is certainly becoming more ‘fluid’, so renewal needs to be thought through irrespective. Continue reading

Seeking Innovation Productivity through Creative Destruction.

The whole issue of innovation productivity is getting more and more one of the key arguments for re-gaining economic growth. The problem becomes the real impact of ‘creative destruction’ that can often go with this.

I recently wrote in a blog (http://bit.ly/mXZjC3 ) called ‘the Risks of Dampening down Innovation Productivity” that with contracting economic performance, innovation performance suffers as well. I’d like to look at a few of the hidden or even darker sides to this, not because it is simply a Monday blues sort of thing, but there are growing implications if we don’t clarify why ongoing innovation investment is really needed and what it can often cost on society.

The tough economic times we are presently facing

We are faced with some tough times; markets are contracting, business performance is struggling to maintain its previous levels, there is increasing argument we are heading for a double dip recession, although I feel we are already in this. Jobs are tough to hold onto and even harder to find. Continue reading

The rugged final frontier of innovation – Execution.

I always smile when people talk about the ‘fuzzy’ front end of innovation, ‘fuzzy’ tells a story. I think we should name the back end of innovation as ‘rugged’ to tell an equally important story. This is the end where the ‘last five yards’ separate the winners from the losers. The race before then has been made up of often huge quantities of stamina, fortitude, planning, exploration and getting into that necessary innovation rhythm to get yourself within sight of the finishing line, the point when the product, service or business model has one final gasp and passes over that internal finishing line.

The critical passing-through and launch phase where the finished concept goes through that clear defining moment, out into judgement day, where we enter that hostile environment, the market place, sometimes to loud cheers, sometimes to defining silence.

Welcome to the real world of judgement where those experienced enough in frontier-ship  knows the terrain they are passing over, certainly not for the first time and can manage this again to have a further final successful outcome- better sales!

Hitching your wagons and moving out for the first time. Continue reading