Visualizing the innovating future through narrative reporting

The push for narrative reporting

How do we capture all the activities that have the potential to generate wealth within organizations?  Most remain hidden as they lie within out knowledge-based capital. This the second part of two posts (part one here) discussing our need to capture and report on ALL our assets, both the tangible and intangibles.

Knowledge-based capital today is more important to understand in its make up than often the reported financial numbers. One generates the other and investors need to see what goes into an organizations knowledge capital to provide them with continued confidence or not.

Recently the OECD provided an extensive report on “Supporting Investment in Knowledge Capital, Growth and Innovation

I spent a fair amount of my time this last Saturday working through this document from the OECD. No, it was not because I had nothing better to do, it was simply because it ‘points’ towards one area I totally believe needs resolving, capturing knowledge and where it resides and how it works. Then we can begin to place increased focus upon improving the capabilities and capacities we all need for innovation to do its necessary work, that of regaining our growth and vitality in many markets. The problem is we often do not know which are the most valuable or critical to focus upon.

Also if we can capture this understanding well, the recognition, once and for all, that people and what they do is vital and often completely undervalued. The recognition of the importance of our intellectual capital we might begin to create more of the environments necessary to nourish it. To allow this ‘creating’ to take place more effectively than today and value it for what it truly provides.

The present impasse in grappling with this knowledge generating side within our business organizations has been a lack of regulatory requirement to disclose that much around any knowledge generating activity for fear of ‘revealing’ the competitive advantages. What is discussed is only what management chose to provide for giving a ‘certain gloss’ to their reporting or unyielding probing by interested parties.

Certain countries, especially in Northern Europe have been able to make far more headway on getting intellectual capital statements recognized and part of a annual reporting but these are still not easy to align and compare. Knowledge-based capital is far too important not to understand today. Yet we avoid embracing the idea, we prefer to reject this type of asset and capital reporting with cries of “too difficult”

The movement today is towards narrative formats

How can we move forward? The suggestion is narrative reporting. Generally speaking, narrative disclosure can take several forms: companies can publish an Intellectual Capital Statement or include a description of their intangible assets in the Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) section or the report on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and sustainability.

What is recognized is that narrative reporting need not be purely qualitative. It can include some form of valuation. There is on-going argument this might be based on KPI’s tailored to an industry but realistically very few report on recognized KPI’s, comparable with others in their industry or field. Also how would you tackle differences in national approaches. Standardising our reporting has never been easy and when you contemplate ‘capturing’ more intangible aspects, it gets significantly harder. Yet we must try.

There is a movement towards sustainability reporting as the basis for these narrative reports. For instance the Global Reporting Initiative. (GRI). This is seeking a broader acceptance of what can make up a more integrated reporting framework. Discussions have a long way to go to bring in the harder, less tangible aspects though.

Narrative formats have both risk and benefit to report upon.

Investors chase for a better understanding of what is actually going on within organizations. Organizations push back, yet attracting fresh and on-going investment is the life blood, so some form of ‘uneasy dance’ takes place while you have no regulatory guidelines or enforcement.

Information gaps are increasing, sometimes for both the investor and the manager fail to be identified and recognized, as serious warning signals. Many get caught in this inability to identify ‘what makes up’ the organizational capital and lose their investments or jobs from this lack of appropriate understanding.

Strategic and operational weaknesses need to be ‘jumped upon’ very quickly, if spotted, yet the more intangible ones often remain hidden to investors and even management and what effect this might have. High profile people, when they leave create these tensions and performance concerns. Can you imagine if you have a real drift of your talent walking out of the door, what that does to future performance?

Achieving a greater transparency

We need to have a more transparent understanding of the value of people, of the systems, dependencies, relationships and these make up intellectual capital. The push for achieving better board governance and effectiveness does push the board to question more and more, in the depth and breadth of information they receive and act upon.

The arguments for putting in place more effective narratives of performance that connect across the business in more coherent and effective ways, surely reputations are enhanced? By thinking about ways to align reporting and communication strategy, the ‘being forced’ to collate a coherent set of narratives and contextual information has market attractiveness advantage. It gives growing confidence. So where should the unit of assessment take place?

Stating value creation and business models has the narrative potential

One view I particularly favour has been outlined by Vivien Beattie and Sarah Jane Smith in their academic paper “Value Creation and Business Models: Refocusing the Intellectual Debate” We should focus on the business model, even for our intangibles or by extension our knowledge-based capital. I think this is absolutely right.

The business model and how we can describe it has become more ‘top of mind’ and significantly improved in its place through visual tools like the Business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur- Equally a number of other visualizing techniques, caught up in this canvas modelling movement, such as the culture mapping canvas, business opportunity canvas or the different value proposition discovery methods, have the incredible potential for the most powerful way for narrative reporting to make a business come alive.

Today the people side, or the articulating of the value of the intangibles, is not adequately addressed in these canvases we have. We need to bring them into telling the business model value story far more.

We need to tell the value creation story

The business model should be articulating how the company will convert resources and capabilities into economic value. It is the ‘transformation’ of resources into future potential value that tells us the “why and how,” in their potential, to decide to  invest or not, to believe in or not.Venture capital always looks extremely hard at the team within any start up or needing new capital. They seek to go under the bonnet and know what is making this ‘opportunity’ tick or not.

Financial statements are totally inadequate to evaluate today’s business

By not capturing the intellectual assets or all the knowledge-based capitals we are left with a totally out of date, inadequate set of financial statements. These today  totally fail to inform those on the outside as well as often those inside at the top of organizations, where the real wealth creation aspects lie.

We live far more in a knowledge based world that is generating more today than our physical assets yet we lack the ability to clarify this. We need measures, frameworks and clarity on where the knowledge lies and its make up in ways that capture these and can describe them effectively focusing upon the vale creation points that will exploit future opportunities.

The Business Model can be the crucial focal point, even more than today

We need to push for at least obtaining a narrative description of the knowledge-based assets and there is nowhere better than how organization’s management perceive their business models, what and where are the drivers and value propositions and how they are communicating on their strategies and value creation and the essential enablers of this.

Incidentally with effect from 1 October 2013 in the United Kingdom, organizations will also have to prepare a strategic report as a result of changes to the narrative reporting framework in the UK, intended to increase the quality of narrative reporting and introduce a clearer reporting structure. Can this go further?

We do need to refocus many of the fragmented debates around knowledge, our intangibles and intellectual assets and for me there is no better place than lifting this up to where the business model tells the compelling story or not.

 If not, then don’t expect future investments, you will not deserve them.

Part one – the background. Pushing towards a new frontier- visualizing the future

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Pushing towards a new frontier – visualizing the future.

We all know that innovation is hard to measure. Assessing innovation capabilities can be particularly hard as they are made up of so many intangibles. We need to frame these capabilities in much better ways, as they mostly remain shrouded in mysteries to render it difficult to know what each business actually needs to  invest in, to achieve their goals. Knowing what and where they need to improve their innovation capabilities becomes a critical need to know point for gaining unique competitive advantages.

So much of innovation activity is left to chance and it leaves all involved as vulnerable, open to being beaten to the next ‘big’ innovation breakthrough. I would strongly argue that organizations should build their innovation capabilities in systematic ways, yet few do, let alone understand what this truly means. We simply need too.

Understanding the ‘beating heart’ of organizations

One of the biggest gaps is trying to put a finger on the pulse of what makes up innovation. So much of the capabilities are intangible, locked up in those intellectual capitals of the organizations. Those that center on  people, their networks and relationships, the make-up of the structures that support their activities or restrict them, the ability of applying good or bad practices, the every day routines of each of the individuals that work within the organization.

These touch the very nerve center of organizations; you are striking at the very core of organizations, those intellectual combinations they make up so much that determines organizational performance. They expose or they enhance organization performance.

To some degree management wants to be able to measure these intangibles but it also can provide some ‘chilling and damning’ evidence of inefficiencies and managements lack of ability to really improve internal performance, let alone market performance. It is usually the external factor, of poor market performance, kicking in that galvanize the need for internal change. This then becomes reactionary, often too late and market advantages can quickly dissolve.

Knowledge-based capital needs fully capturing.

The critical need today is to capture the rise in the importance of all the knowledge-based capital aspects. Business organizations are recognizing knowledge-based capital.

Knowledged based capital

Knowledge-based capital is critical. As shown above it is becoming more important than the product. Organizations are recognizing the value of knowledge.

Were you aware that the value of many of the world’s most successful companies resides almost entirely in their KBC. In 2011, for example, physical assets accounted for only about 13% of the value of Nestlé, the world’s largest food company. (source OECD)

What is knowledge-based capital?

OECD describes it as such: Knowledge-based capital comprises a variety of assets. These assets create future benefits for firms but, unlike machines, equipment, vehicles and structures, they are not physical. This non-tangible form of capital is, increasingly, the largest form of business investment and a key contributor to growth in advanced economies.

One widely accepted classification groups KBC into three types: computerised information (software and databases); innovative property (patents, copyrights, designs, trademarks); and economic competencies (including brand equity, firm-specific human capital, networks of people and institutions, and organisational know-how that increases enterprise efficiency) (Corrado, Hulten and Sichel, 2005).

Knowledge-intensive is the new wealth creator

As products are becoming more knowledge-intensive, educations have produced knowledge aware and savvy employees. We are pushing outside our one organization into growing networks to collaborate where this is this consistent acceleration of new information and use of communication technologies all intensifying the need to manage knowledge. Knowledge is today’s valuable commodity, yet we poorly measure it.

Equally, knowledge-based capital is essential to investment decisions and where the potential for growth can lie. The use of data analytics, external networks, outsourced R&D and our changing management practices are reinforcing that organization change is needed, yet we are not sure on where to invest or how to structure these. We are poking around a little bit too much. More like searching for the needle in the haystack, rather than controlled experimentation and exploration.

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, suggested within his speech at a conference on the New Sources of Growth project in 2012 : “As someone who spends a lot of time monitoring the economy, let me put in a plug for more work on finding better ways to measure innovation, R&D activity, and intangible capital. We will be more likely to promote innovative activity if we are able to measure it more effectively and document its role in economic growth”

Are we advancing our understanding of knowledge-based capital?

The good news today, is we are seeing some advances on capturing and measuring knowledge-based capital. Recently the OECD produced one of its usual 300 page plus reports – so few read them – on “Supporting Investment in Knowledge Capital, Growth and Innovation

This report summarizes OECD’s attempt to provide the evidence of the economic value of knowledge-based capital and to help meet the policy challenges it raises. These are across the areas of innovation, taxation, entrepreneurship, competition, corporate reporting and intellectual property. Something that is not easy to summarize at all, as all have simmered away under different ‘doctrines’ and ‘churches’ of denomination, pursuit and faiths.

Learning to communicate our understanding of our real internal value

We do need to find better ways to unite and describe the value creation that knowledge-based capital brings. In particular our intellectual and organization capital and the importance this has to have sustaining investment put into it for future wealth creation

Part two discusses the suggested way forward, through narrative reporting. I believe this should also be through the broader narrative of the business model as the medium for this as we slowly open up in our (long await) acceptance about the importance of our intangibles and the contributions made through these knowledge-based contributions.

Part two– a way forward. Visualizing the innovating future through narrative reporting concludes.

 

Entering the zone of innovation uncertainty

“The future never stays the same as it is in the present”. 

Today we grapple with more uncertainty than ever before. For many of us this is the time of year when planning out the future becomes more ‘top of mind’. These are moments where we have to stop chasing the daily numbers, pushing the immediate projects that are in the pipeline and turn our attention to laying out our future plans. Sadly we often make a poor ‘stab’ at this thinking through process; we don’t get our thinking into the right mental frames.

The problem for management is anything discussing the future enters the ‘zone of uncertainty’ and this ability to often ‘read the tea leaves’ can very much determine the future health and direction of the organization. Ignore these shifts or signals and you are on the path to your own ‘destruction’.

Three Horizons Future never stays the same

Not only should we search for possibilities that extend and strengthen our existing core offerings but we should search out on a wider basis.

Often we make a complete mess of this planning out of our future.

Continue reading

Innovation being served up with a growing angst, anxiety and Kiasu

fighting the clockTime, we are told, can be our best friend or equally our worst enemy. This week time showed its bad side to me, actually it might have been doing this for some weeks when I stop and think about it.

When you feel the pressures of time, you seem like you are “fighting the clock”, it just seems to heap more pressure on you and that need to break out, that spark of creativity, seems to have been buried under an avalanche of what keeps coming into you. The acceleration of what keeps landing on your desk, crying out to be read, answered or translated into something more.

Of course, most of us are that rational type and we tell ourselves most of this is self-imposed or is it? I think most of this is externally-imposed. I blame the advancement of our social tools and all the multitudes of opinions, thoughts, suggestions that are ‘spewing’ forth in streams and becoming so overwhelming you begin to go ‘stir’ crazy. I equally blame myself for getting so hooked.

Addressing the problem

This is not simply a time problem, it is deeper than this. It is actually tickling away at fear, it is giving a growing intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety and inner turmoil. I think I’ve been suffering this for some time. I’ve got FoMO thanks to all these social platforms I feel I need to connect into.

Each day is getting into a growing dangerous routine. I arrive into the office my early routine- check my emails, check twitter, check the blog, check facebook, it is eating into my time but I need it. Do I really? This is social anxiety with a big kicker. FoMo – that fear of missing out.

Then we have the staggering array of social networks constantly prompting us to check out our Klout status or your Kred score or the latest articles in our designated areas of interest. Then you go in search of the scoops of the day. You must feed the hungry beast, baying for your time.

Then the daily snippets, LinkedIn reminders, slideshare updates, headline notifications and then the drip of the dailies from paper.li capturing all the breaking stories you subscribed too, needed you felt for your work. Were they?

This is angst, an acute anxiety type, I am dreading where this is all going. So do we really need all these ‘social’ interactions, are they profitable investments or just simply satisfying events and quick fixes. No, we just want to all feel loved, special, in the loop and by giving something back into this, achieve a little respect. What are we really getting out of them? We reply, we contribute and we feel productive but are we, are we economically productive?

Now if this economic productivity is happening then great. That is defined as increasing the economic value or are social platforms just simply sucking the economic life out of us all?

It just dulls our creative process so we are getting more defocused aberrations

The reality is it is dulling our own creative processes. Is it spurring us to do more within our own work? Is it not undermining the precise kind of creative thinking for us to do our own creative work? It is blurring us, it is surely this constant ‘mass’ of contribution that chips away at making us less individually distinct, perhaps a new form of defocused aberration.  The higher the intensity of this social ‘interaction’ the more we get defocused, not actually more focused, I feel.

Then we come to Kiasu.

Anyone who has ever lived in Singapore will recognise this word. They even have a Mr. Kiasu. This really is a wonderful word for that “fear of missing out”. I think it applies to me more and more. I’ve caught the dreaded Kiasu fever.

Kiasu is a mental attitude, it is always looking for a sense of opportunity. This has its positive sides but it shows itself far more in its less attractive ones. It makes you feel if you don’t do something now it will be missed opportunity and where it adds a real pressure on you, is you have this fear that it will not be simply lost, it will go to someone else.

So  you experience with Kiasu a sense of lost opportunity and a growing disadvantage in relation to other people who are ‘working’ the social scene. This feeds compulsion that I equally have to do something now, it is my own sense of obligation kicking in as I owe it to myself and so I have to do it. This nicely links into a pressure to compete with others and I can’t lose out, can I?

Understanding Kiasu

Anna Wierzbicka wrote on Kiasu “Singapore English- a semantic and cultural perspective” that does an excellent job of describing much around Kiasu. Also David Chan Wah offered a essay some time back on “Kiasuism and the withering away of Singaporean creativity” with the wonderful maxim of “better grab first, later no more”.

In Singapore, Kiasu manifests itself in queue jumping or others barging in front of you, with perhaps, if you are lucky, only a simply “sorry lah”, it also is seen on the roads when no one likes to give way when lanes are merging. Kiasu is deeply ingrained into Singapore ‘s psyche, it has its good and bad points.

Growing up with Kiasu and its pressures often makes for ambitious business people; you become ‘big’ on working towards number one. The problem is always double edged, winning is never totally sweet as it carries the dread of ceasing to win, to get ahead, to ‘grab’ the opportunity.

There is even a A to Z of Kiasu I came across sometime back, although I’m not sure of its source on the sometimes amusing side of Kiasu in Singapore. I think we should compile one for our growing social anxieties of that FoMO.

Kiasu Philosophy

We are all increasingly in an information maze

We of course, do need to devote time to reaching out, reading, responding, to gathering in and absorbing but we do need our own plans of what amount of time we should spend on this and its ultimate purpose.

We need to certainly find time, to make available time as others offering their thinking and experiences does help us relate and often make sense of our world. It does stimulate our creative process but it is the ‘act’ of filtering but this can’t be imposed by a simple click of a delete button, it has to be more than this.

The pressure today is externally- imposed but we need to regain the upper hand by making this flow of social interactions coming to us, like a social tsunami, by taking back control to make it far more self-imposed. My anxieties, my FoMO needs redirecting into greater economic worth. Recognizing the symptoms is a start.

We all I feel, need to be more selective, more discerning to make our own insights more personally creative and not becoming even more elusive, growing reliant just on our ‘feeds’ being beamed in daily to dull our creative brain, by simply adding to them. We need to ‘carve’ out our own time to allow our ‘creative juices’ to flow more, I forgot to get this jab shot recently, where is that creative needle?

Becoming more selective- is that my answer?

So I need to come to grips with all this. I’m not sure if all this inflow is helping as much as it should be, it is not generating what I think it should be, certainly from the time I seemingly put into it. I need to break into this with a different perspective, it is sucking up far to much of my time.

But as Mr Kiasu says in Singapore English “I’ve got to get my money’s worth lah!” I’ve got to “everything also I want” and “everything must grab”  with “everything also want extra” but with more of “everything also sure win“. Work that out!

Insomnia or a Wakeup Call – Which?

Wake Up or InsomniaYou find yourself slipping into a conference hall unexpectedly. You are confronted by 1,000 participants listening to the conclusions of six very wise looking people at a table, explaining the outcomes of the summit. They are talking about a summit declaration by providing 5 calls for action for a Wake up. Sounds more than interesting, even important.

Now you quickly settle down into your seat, trying to ignore a few turned heads frowning at this sudden interruption after spending their three days working through this Wakeup Call and are quite rightly listening intently. This seems critical, you settle down to listen also.

So, without the drum roll or often accompanied with the appropriate dramatic music the 5 calls are announced:

  • Deliver on the widely accepted and appreciated new instruments and policies (2014-2020) in support of innovation.
  • Build a culture of ‘fail fast’, ‘risk tolerance’, and ‘fast capital’ to cross the valley of death.
  • Create a predictable policy environment and embed innovation as a principle in all measures and decisions.
  • Engage in joint thinking and acting across sectors and along the value chain.
  • Change what you do: a deep mindset change is needed at all levels: companies, administrations, and citizens.

So you have guessed where you are yet?

No, well you are at the winding up of a three day innovation summit held by Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) as the 5th European Innovation meeting that took place in the European Parliament from 30th September until 2nd October 2013.

Apart from 1,000 participants attending, there was in also in attendance three EU Commissioners, 30 members of the European Parliament and 150 speakers contributing their thoughts. According to the press release the conference summit was the largest ever, comprising of 25 events, including the opening and closing ceremonies, a series of conference sessions, workshops, breakfast, lunch and dinner debates organized by summit partners, as well as an exhibition and two press breakfasts.

Am you as overwhelmed by these 5 calls for action to Wake Up Europe?

Yes, these five calls are the suggested action calls to wake up Europe to go and innovate. Now I’ll be honest here, I’m struggling with these. Without the benefit of attending any of the 25 events, listened to the varies debates, taken a pulse of the mood within the conference all I’ve got to go on is these five actions to Wake Up Europe. Actually I didn’t even slip into the hall, I did not attend, I just got sent the press release from the event and from all my investigations and reading I’m a little lost here.

I’m sorry, no really sorry but is this really the best set of outcomes we can do in Europe?

Europe is facing unprecedented challenges; Europe’s very existence is being threatened. Competitiveness is eroding, standards of living are falling, economic forecasts still part offer some dark scenarios of economic decline, ageing populations, social capital and labour force shortage, increased food, energy and water constraints and a changing role of the EU on the global stage. Let alone the rosy picture of complete integration is caught up in a leadership impasse. We are simply failing to rise up to the challenges we have confronting us here in the EU. So we have ‘arrived’ at 5 calls to wake up Europe on the innovation front! These five?

So yes Europe does need to wake up to become really effective on innovation especially execution.  Yes, it must give innovation a primary role for its paramount importance within the growth requirements across each region within the EU. It must drive innovation down  and across all its members countries in better collaborative ways, as each is competing increasingly within a tough global battleground and needs the ‘power’ of combining on finding both radical and innovation breakthroughs. It needs to innovate to get out of numerous sets of crisis.

Dr Burton Lee one of the speakers at this summit, a lecturer, European Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Stanford School of Engineering asserted: “Europe’s core crisis is a crisis of innovation and not a debt crisis. It is a crisis of chronic poor performance in creating disruptive products, new companies, new university models and new jobs”

The intent of this 5th European Innovation Summit had as its original aims:

to identify what needs to be done to bridge the innovation gaps, to overcome the Innovation barriers, which renders an innovation friendly climate impossible, or indeed, less possible than in the leading Innovation strong economies and focus on the key drivers

So let me ask you, do you think the 5 calls for action will waken up innovation  in Europe?

In my opinion, I think Europe is utterly sleep walking even delusional. So yes, it does need seriously waking up for innovation, I totally agree but with these 5 calls to action? No, Really? Seriously? Am I missing something here?

I think we are suffering from all the symptoms of sleep disorder in Europe

Here is Europe we are dealing with all three types of sleep disorder, we are in a very disturbed sleep deprivation, we are or it seems exhausted, incapable of changing our position. It has all got simply to big, too complicated and far too difficult. We lack much and can’t even a more powerful call to innovation action than these five…. actions.

So this must be actually innovation insomnia – sleeplessness as nothing we seem to do is refreshing us, facing us all it seems is a ‘prolonged sleep onset latency disorder’. We are trapped, and as Jürgen Habermas nicely puts it “Dozing on a volcano”

He also suggests in Europe: “there are extraordinary situations in which cognitive sensitivity, imagination; courage and willingness to take responsibility (by) those in charge have an impact on the progression of things“.

I don’t see this rising to the significant challenges confronting Europe by our present leadership. Surely in any ‘universal’ call for action we do really require from innovation, then we need to find statements that will resonate with all within Europe.

That is: EVERYONE  go out and make a significant impact on growth through innovation within the EU and we all will support you in every possible way – cutting down the obstacles, removing the barriers, solving the red tape, pushing in every way all the enablers to help you innovate successfully.

I simply don’t sense this from this 5 calls, they are just going through the motions of existing (entrenched) positions. There is no wake up call here.

We are actually suffering different levels of innovation insomnia

The three levels of innovation EU insomnia I suggest are:

Transient insomnia– this lasts for about a week or so after a conference like this one that I’ve been trying to figure out. You suffer conference deprivation but you soon forget about it as you quickly pass onto another disorder that keeps you in your depression and stressed environment. You do not have time to piece it all together.

Acute insomnia – You feel restlessness for some time after one of these conferences as you really can’t get any new momentum going. Even not as a direct result of the meeting you attended for three days, listening to some incredible, well qualified speakers. You are suffering this acute disorder where nothing really changed to allow you to render any change in your own environment. You still face the same factors of innovation disorder when dealing within innovation inside the EU, can you wait for ever, even in times of crisis?

Finally, Chronic insomnia  and the most serious. This really does last for a long time. This is our primary disorder, the very reason for our insomnia.  Perhaps that is the 2020 real target. We not just suffer continued (innovation) fatigue, we really have got totally caught up in the hallucinations and mental issues that those deeply affected see things happening in slow motion, where moving objects just seem to blend together but really are deeper symptoms of impaired vision that causes double vision – we double our efforts but don’t solve the primary disorder.

We are all caught up in this chronic insomnia when it comes to innovation within Europe. We even begin to use the innovation mantra of “fail fast, risk tolerance and fast capital” to cross from this valley of death.

I’d like to believe we will become fully engaged but it has to be far more radical for innovation to really deliver.

It really does not matter if we agree or not that we have to Wake Up Europe, or we are all caught up in different levels of insomnia? I really can’t believe the 5 calls of action that concluded this meeting over three days of 1,000 participants deals with the fundamental crisis we face here in Europe for growth and igniting innovation. We simply are not really addressing our deep underlying EU symptoms within innovation with these 5 calls for action. Do you agree?

If you would like to read more on this 5th European Innovation Summit held through the organization Knowledge4Innovation then here are some links

Initial Release: http://www.knowledge4innovation.eu/5th-european-innovation-summit-2013

5th EIS Guide Booklet: http://www.knowledge4innovation.eu/sites/default/files/5th_EIS_Guide_Booklet_1.pdf

Programme: www.knowledge4innovation.eu/5th-eis-programme-and-speakers

List of all speakers: www.knowledge4innovation.eu/5th-eis-speaker-bios

Final press release: http://www.knowledge4innovation.eu/press-release-5th-european-innovation-summit-europe-needs-wake-5-calls-action?

Beyond the previous boundaries of innovation

Innovation is increasingly moving beyond the previous boundaries of just being left to each organizations scientists or marketing departments, those days are seemingly long gone. Today and in the future, innovation is about open, inclusive, full of exploration and harmonization to extract the best results.

We seem to have really grasped and recognized the combination-effect that comes from the myriad of different linkages that is propelling innovation activity and bringing increasing confidence within the boardroom.

According to a recent PwC report, optimism has dramatically been raised around innovation, so much so the vast majority within the survey of 1,757 c-suite or executives respondents believe their aggressive growth plans will be driven by organic growth (93%) and not by previous means of M&A activity. They are talking more radical and breakthrough innovation. BCG in its 2013 report on most innovative companies is equally far more bullish on innovation.

My only wish is this all this optimism is grounded in reality and recognition of what significant changes are required in structures, processes and supporting mechanisms that this increased innovation focus will really require.  They will have to address the existing organizations constraints as well as rework the emphasis away from the efficient and effectiveness focus that has become engrained. This will require a very dedicated focus on understanding innovation management and what it really means, to translate this organic ‘wish’ into reality over the next five years.

The good news is, we have seen innovation maturing

We are certainly seeing innovation has moved well beyond just products. It is exploring the value of combining or even separating services, changing value propositions on a more consistent basis and exploring new business models far more openly. All these approaches to innovation are challenging and demanding far more constant reorganization around changing the innovation activities to meet the ‘breaking’ opportunities.

One innovation struggle is around ‘rigidity’ within the organizations.

Innovation requires a more fluid, adaptive and agile environment. This will require some significant changes within the approaches within managing within these structures and this takes a significant and dedicated approach to achieve. The end result is changing the way people are managed and valued. There is a need to draw in, to engage, more open to diversity in opinion and thinking and increased emphasis on fluid teams tackling issues and challenges in unique ways, not through standard processes and approaches.

Research led or technology – based standing alone is not enough in pursuing greater functionality or breakthroughs, we need to cooperate with all the relevant people and partners that can bring the innovation idea or concept to fruition. The opening up to greater networks, exploring relationships and allowing them to deepen becomes vital. Allowing time for these to work and build the essential trust needed equally will take time.

The shifts in innovation activity, seeking simplification

We are also seeing increasingly the disruptive era of simplification, which captures far more of the imagination and where the increased movement of future wealth generating opportunities lie by meeting targeted customer need. These are not ‘layering’ on features that have been the approach of the past, this is stripping away and rapidly breaking these back down into targeted applications that do the job, we the consumer or client wants, often willing to pay a premium upon.

Complexity is also changing, taking out the pain

Complexity should not be about customers having to work out how to understand something; it is using the smart complexity that sits behind the solution to allow us to focus on what we need to achieve, to then help us significantly deliver on our required needs. Smarter searches, algorithms, designing your own options all are giving us the complexity we need. Simpler, interactive interfaces to do the job we wish to do, not forced to spend time learning and doing.

Exploring the effects of reverse innovation and lean approaches.

Reverse innovation, jugaad or frugal innovation is where there is  a huge potential – still largely untapped in developed countries offering new avenues to real targeted growth. What about the strong underlying movement in start-ups that is far more ‘needs related’ or serving ‘unmet needs’ through lean approaches and customer development techniques. These are so much better understood than the approaches in the past, of simply cruising along for opportunity with a vague business concept.

Sharpening the minds, changing the mindsets.

Everything has become so much sharper in why we have to focus our minds down, it is far more on what and where innovation can give us the next growth opportunity and that comes from all the diversity we can muster. Managing in the global innovation space is no different; we can get far more quickly at answers on a global basis than at any time in the past. We are learning to tap into this global knowledge in different ways, it needs a dedicated focus and understanding, to find the unique mix that suits your needs and knowledge accessing and translating and then we are closer to the solutions that have the global unlocking key.

We are using the ability to engage, to explore and exchange through a variety of social mediums, we can collect and interpret larger amounts of data than ever before.

As growth comes increasingly back on the agenda for most organizations, it will come far more from exploiting through this organic growth approach. Yet to achieve the ambitious growth targets that many organizations are seemingly talking about, there needs to be a radical overhaul of internal innovation understanding and structures.

Revisiting past practices

All of what has gone on previously needs to be revisited and in many cases reworked through new practices, new systems and new measures. Organizations are coming rapidly to the point of needing to be innovation re-engineered to make the sizeable changes they must achieve to ‘allow’ organic growth to deliver.

Innovation challenges much that is presently established within organizations, there is potential higher risks, significant changes required to be enacted within the organizations, with a whole raft of different competencies and capabilities to be learnt to extract the ‘promise and value’ from the innovation needed.

We are forced to look harder for attracting growth into our business and innovation can provide the force if there is the commitment backing the rhetoric of needing organic growth to be the primary driver of over the next five years.

Innovation needs positive translation in its management

I am sensing a really positive shift in innovation practice. It does seem to have gone up a notch or two in its maturity and adoption within our organizations in recent months. Can you feel the changes or are we still at the intent stage? Are organizations fully commitment to what shifting to an innovation emphasis will mean? Or are we only at a recognition stage?

There are significant sets of issues needed to be addressed to really allow innovation to drive growth. Organizations need to consider very radical shifts in approaching innovation and its management to gain any momentum, so intent can meet these organic growth ambitions as suggested? For me, in the next twelve months it will be the level of activity to  begin to re-equip organizations will determine if this is a reality or just C-level rhetoric, worried over the alternatives of low or no growth prospects but staying risk adverse.