Strike! Innovation is on strike!

Many years back to sell newspapers, sensational headlines were conceived to get immediate attention so people would buy the paper. It went like this “Strike! Innovation is on strike! Read all about it”  Today innovation is actually on strike! Just take a look at this:

We are in the middle of an Innovation Strike -source Nesta.org.uk

We are in the middle of an Innovation Strike – source Nesta.org.uk

A strike of declining investment, of a lack of confidence, of not sharing in the belief innovation offers a solution to our continued problems of wealth creation, of economic growth, of galvanizing society.

So for many, innovation is actually on strike, we are not investing as we should according to a series of reports and analysis, focusing specifically on the UK economy, sponsored by Nesta. Nesta is the UK’s innovation foundation and they help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. They do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. They operate independently but are very central in shaping innovation thinking.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Innovation is on Strike!

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Innovation on Strike!

You can “read all about it” through these links offered, firstly an Executive Summary and the downloading the full report from their site. Continue reading

Determining our culture governs the greatness within our innovation efforts.

Managing a fluid, rapidly changing culture that promotes innovation is complex. So often it is left to chance, left to individual experiment and interpretation, far too ad hoc in its design and progress.

We certainly need to find better ways to encourage and obtain a higher commit to our approaches into building ‘culture’ and all it covers into our thinking, if we want to really have innovation deliver on its potential. Unless the values, norms and beliefs are not clearly thought-through and consistently reinforced daily through a consistent flow of initiatives to change, to explore, to learn from, any movement can simply wither and die from this lack of ‘total’ dedication.

The question we need to ask of our management is this: “if you are wanting innovation then we all need to work through the determinants that encourage innovation together” and then set about communicating these that are highly valued and expected throughout the organization, so as to encourage them to support and make innovation happen. Continue reading

Why we often can’t self-disrupt

In the past few days I enjoyed listening to a webinar by Clayton Christensen and Max Wessel for the Forum for Growth and Innovation, a Harvard Business School research centre initiative.  The Forum for Growth and Innovation seeks to develop “breakthrough theories to help businesses become more successful innovators and create new, robust sources of growth”.  The webinar was all around surviving disruption but discussed also “looking beyond the horizons”.

The Theory of Disruptive Innovation

To offer a quote from the Forums own website (www.thefgi.net.):  “Disruptive innovation describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market’, eventually displacing established competitors”.

“An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill. Characteristics of disruptive businesses, at least in their initial stages, can include: lower gross margins, smaller target markets, and simpler products and services that may not appear as attractive as existing solutions when compared against traditional performance metrics”.

The webinar raised in my mind many unanswered questions. Continue reading

Reorganized, delayered and downsized – goodbye trust.

So who has not faced one of those moments when it is announced that there is a reorganization about to take place. It often has the habit of freezing what you are doing; you begin to put things on hold, waiting to understand what this latest reorganization has in store for you. The questions build up in your mind, it starts to block you. Creativity begins to be lost. Certainty suddenly gets replaced by growing degrees of uncertainty, as rumours begin to feed rumours.

Management have simply stopped innovation in its tracks, until they unfreeze it with the new organization, as long as it makes sense. If it is clear and logical then its effect is not as disruptional as it might have been initially feared, innovation can return quickly. If not and when it is badly described, planned for, executed then its a different story. Equally when reorganizations are allowed to extend over those sometimes intractable time periods, dreamed up to ease the pain, you can say goodbye to innovation for weeks, months, even years. You actually might even never get your ‘innovation mojo’ back again.

We suffer continuously from the effects of reorganizations, of new policies, of redefining a business that suddenly wakes up to a reality most within the organization spotted ages ago. It gets even tougher when it has a delayering or downsizing effect. Then innovation simply goes into the deep freezer.

Structured changes when they come ‘out of the blue’ or talked about in whispered conversations for months totally weaken the underlying structure of one of essential tenets of innovation, that of trust. Continue reading

Exploring and amplifying innovation

In my innovation travels I’ve always liked to explore 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. I believe we do need to constantly push the boundaries of innovation, experiment and explore to advance the management of innovation and its understanding.

Getting innovation into the organization mainstream

We do need innovation to enter the mainstream of our everyday thinking, to be something we all feel naturally comfortable undertaking, as part of our make-up for our growth or prosperity. 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. Continue reading

New report: Improving returns on your innovation investment

I highly value the studies that are undertaken by the larger consulting firms. They have the C-level access and geographical reach to give us some critical insights into the progress of innovation.

Recently Arthur D Little provided their latest innovation excellence study, its 8th Global Innovation Excellence Study, into what companies can do to achieve a better return on their investment in innovation management. The report can be downloaded or viewed here and outlines in their opinion what really works in terms of managing the innovation process.

They offer some good pointers and understanding of what differentiates top innovators within and across industries. It also suggests that it provides new insights into what companies can do to achieve a better return on their investment in innovation management. I think it does fall a little short on a depth to support and validate these claims in my opinion, but it does still provides sound insight.

They specifically attempt to focus on understanding what differentiates top innovators from other companies in different industries. Drawing on over 650 responses, the study sheds new light on the basic key question: what innovation management techniques are most important in achieving a better return on innovation investment? The results they suggest are important for any company that wishes to stay competitive. Continue reading

Thinking about scalable engagement

I wrote a piece sometime back on “people don’t buy product they buy meaning” and was prompted on this again fairly recently. See http://tinyurl.com/chvu2la for this. It is funny how this triggered a series of different thoughts which I’m going to try to explain here as I struggle with some disconnects on where we are going on engagement.

I first start out with engagement

There is an awful lot of disruption occurring all around us. Old behaviours, many well established ones that we were somehow seemingly comfortable with, are being suddenly replaced. We are being pushed far more today to search for achieving a greater personal meaning through a different set of connections, more remote, arguably more empowering and get offered in this deal the technology to make this happen, with ease and convenience in its place. What are we losing in this grand deal?

These shifts are changing our behaviours, they  are seriously challenging many of our (past) accepted practices, because as we suddenly feel more in charge, to do the things we want to do, simply when we want to do them, we depend less on others. We suddenly adopt new habits because they are better for us as individuals; they fit within our changing lifestyle. They “enable us to do”- they actually transform the way we work, think and interact. Old habits don’t die hard any more, they seem are replaced fairly quickly once you see the change in the value, and technology simply keeps prodding us down this changing road faster and faster. Continue reading