Putting the “R” into Innovation

Shellfish poisoning, have you ever suffered from it? There is rule that when there is not a “R” in the month you should be more careful on eating clams, oysters, mussels or scallops. Today with more commercial harvesting that risk or rule has been greatly reduced. I gather in the months of May, June, July and August- the northern hemospheres (usually) warmer months- there is higher potential where algal blooms and also in European climate, some shellfish are less palatable as oysters, for example, are spawning at this time. This raises the risk that can spread toxins and lead to a possible poisoning.

Now you might be wondering what this has got to do with innovation? Well, I’m off to Singapore for ten days in early May and I certainly will be ‘hitting’ the shell-fish buffet but really innovation is top of my agenda for this visit and one thing that I will remind people about is to focus on the “R” in innovation.

What do I mean by focusing on the “R” in innovation?

My three “R’s” are Revitalise, Renovate and Regenerate, all often ignored within innovation. How often do we push on regardless, ignoring a number of warning signs and don’t take the time to stop and take stock to see what we can shed and simply get rid of.

I wrote a piece early last year (http://bit.ly/eOuO82) about “Writing off legacy within your innovation systems” as we tend to layer on to existing systems and processes instead of taking the chance to step back and see things from the current or future perspective, we stay locked in our past learning and approaches. Well I certainly feel we all need to re-think that for shedding legacy. We also need to find those three “R’s” hidden within innovation.


Firstly you need to challenge your vision and where innovation is required to fit. Often by simply resetting the vision and how innovation fits within your (evolving) strategy does make a difference to everyone’s understanding of the purpose and direct from their innovation efforts. We do need to constantly change, to challenge and to revitalise on a regular basis. We need to redefine what we are wanting out of innovation and then take that fresh look at systems, processes, cultures and capabilities. We need to produce a revitalisation ‘action plan’ that restores and refreshes the ‘impact’ points that innovation can offer. Restoring the value of innovation needs to be constantly rethought at corporate and operational level.


Organizations are constantly searching for continuous improvement; it often comes in many different guises. Innovation should equally have a clear renovation programme, no different from all the other organization activities that need improving. Putting in place a consistent industry or even cross-industry benchmarking programme, or focusing on more material enhancement, knowledge learning and seeking out changes makes significant difference in your performance, should all be part of this. We often get ‘stuck’ in our own ways of doing things and often it is only when a crisis ‘hits’ we suddenly seek difference positions but that can often be too little, too late. I think there is a need to be constant on improving innovation, we need to renovate innovation continually or we risk the case of often missing out or letting our competitors slip away and move ahead in the lead.

The other part of renovation is to review the ‘content and context’ of innovation. We need to update, modify, change, drop and merge these and that is an essential part of the renovation programme, to evaluate the content and the context constantly.


There are always design considerations within innovation. We need to constantly seek simplicity, motivation, involvement and improving the existing culture. We need to regenerate ourselves. Our people need to constantly upgrade their competencies and skills, they need to engage within teams, seek out diversity of opinion to stretch their own thinking and they need to form or generate new connections and deepen external relationships to learn more of what is going on in the world.

Those that stop learning are the losers and those around them feel the frustration of this. To regenerate constantly makes for a learning organization. We need to undergo spiritual, moral and physical renewal for improving our culture and climate to innovation so much more than we do, we often leave this to chance and not thoughtful design.

Innovation and Impunity

Each of the above “R’s” is vital to build into your innovation plans. So you need to make sure there is always an “R” in your innovation, not only will it be ensuring innovation remains fresher but it will also help rid you of those harmful toxins that can poison your best efforts if you did chose to ignore the “R” in innovation.

I loved one comment about eating shellfish “whether it is January or June, you can eat these plump beauties with impunity”. So let’s hope the combination of (hopefully) fresh seafood in Singapore and my worries that so many organizations  may  have forgotten to heed the “R” in innovation, does get heard by everybody who cares to listen, and I don’t suffer any punishment or unpleasant set of consequences from this.

Believe me your innovation efforts do benefit by recognizing that these three “R’s” do need to be constantly at the forefront of your innovation eating thinking. By the way, innovation with impunity sounds very intriguing.

2 thoughts on “Putting the “R” into Innovation

  1. Paul: A nice reminder to those of us in the innovation biz to “keep it fresh”. Have a pleasant, safe and productive visit in Singapore.



  2. Pingback: Top 10 Internet Links of the Week 27th April 2012 |

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