Today we face unprecedented change; organizations are being hit on multiple sides, often by a bewildering set of forces to make them feel the immediate need is to go back into themselves, to be more inward than looking out and being open. There is this feeling today of being battered. Organizations are feeling the full force of the winds of business and global change.
Innovation cannot exist without all the capitals that contribute to its make-up. Yet we simply fail to appreciate all the capitals that innovation requires. It is a real pity as they are truly nested.
Equally many innovators are simply not prepared to put in the necessary work to achieve this understanding and the organization’s innovation looses out, stuck in perpetual incremental mode, lacking in anything really new or radical.
All the capitals ‘fire’ innovation. They make innovation combustible.
More often than not when we talk within business of capital we tend to default to the financial kind. Of course providing the financial capital into innovation is vital; it provides the potential ‘burn’ but what is often understated and certainly under-appreciated is the other capitals. These have been ‘tagged’ under intellectual capital or are often ‘lumped’ into our intangible assets.
What we need is to recognize the real “nesting effect” all our capitals.
We have all got used to the statement it is all about “location, location, location” for real-estate. So what should the mantra be for innovation? I think “context, context and context”. Context is a king.
Innovation happens all around us, same as with our places where we live- it is determined by many factors but given a choice we want to live somewhere nice, safe and hopefully going up in value! The same with innovation we want it to be good, attractive, useful and valued by many, hopefully willing to part with their money because it fulfils their need.
Innovation should always start of by being placed in its appropriate context otherwise it will lose its initial connection, dilute in the eventual value and arrive as less desirable because we somehow and somewhere went off track We lost the context because we never really established the real ‘sense of purpose’ for that specific innovation or given direction to explore.
Why do I believe context is the king when it comes to innovation?
Forget the flowery words; there is a time to deliver. I am trying to take a cold hard look at what and how we report in our organizations. Does it give us the level of detailed understanding to feel confident?
Let me outline some different thoughts, coming from some detailed research that is swirling around in my mind today. It’s a little complicated, but lets try.
I apologize this is a little longer than ideal so maybe take it in bite seized chunks.
Seeing an organizations business model but through whose eyes?
Is the business model important? Of course it is but how we see its value all depends on who are you, what you are looking for, knowing what provides the real value creation within that specific organization becomes important to appreciate their business model. Understanding the business model of organizations is important, it can tell us much, if it is well designed and explained.
Let’s start with some defining statements. Innovation is totally dependent on becoming aware of external ideas and the knowledge that is needed and then translated for it to become new innovation.
We can ‘fall over these ideas’ or we can find ideas or concepts through explicit search. Then to translate these and turn them into something new and different we need to have established some sort of diffusion and dissemination processes.
Having this established as a sustaining system provides an essential source to building organizations capabilities and competencies.
The more we work external knowledge the more we potentially enhance and multiply its value from a single idea into the potentials for multiple innovations. Having a systematic framework can be dramatic for generating new knowledge and gathering ideas for new innovation potential.
Throughout this post I’ll link into previous posts that you might like to explore but this is not necessary.
The issue is how we set about adopting and adapting new knowledge.
Alignment of Innovation to Organization’s Strategic Goals
Working in most organizations you spend a disproportional amount of time on looking to achieve alignment. This can range from aligning your meeting schedules to the bigger strategic issues by gaining agreement on the way forward.
I would bet you that working on alignment is certainly one of the main tasks that is sucking up a large part of your working day. Interesting enough the higher up in the organization you go, the more you have to seek alignment. Gaining alignment is actually very hard.
In corporate life we are constantly attempting to also link organizational goals with our own personal goals. To make this alignment, it requires the difficult aspect of achieving common understanding of all the parties for the specific purpose you are requiring, so as to achieve a consistency between ‘agreed’ objectives and the implementation of these across those involved.
I always enjoy Steve Denning and his writing. He has been discussing the fundamental changes taking place within the management of our organizations. Just go over to the Forbes site for Steve’s articles http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/
Also just take a read of “Why Is Corporate American Eating Itself Alive?” about how Corporate America is practising self-cannibalism, triggered by Dennis Berman in an article in the Wall Street Journal with a message that resonates more and more today “isn’t it time we stop according extraordinary compensation to Corporate America’s leaders for meeting their quarterly numbers through the short-sighted tactic of self-cannibalism, and instead focus business on its true goal of adding value to customers with investments and innovation in real products and services?” More destruction as against enlightenment or simply exposing themselves to a very thin core, leaving themselves totally vulnerable?
Steve preaches radicalism simply because he sees the fundamental changes taking place, setting in train a new set of social and economic changes. He points out we are creatures of habit but being delivered more and more is his “better, faster, cheaper, smaller, lighter, more convenient and more personalized,” and we tend to say, “Hey! Yes! I want that! And not only do I want it. I want it now! In fact, not only do I want it now. “I’ve got to have it now!”
When you look at all the (broken) parts within innovation it takes some time to figure out how you can piece it all together to make it a better whole. Innovation and its management is just this place this needs to be pieced together. It often cries out for it.
Most people that work in our business organizations are spending their increasing time in piecing their part of the innovation equation together to make innovation work and trying to improve on the existing conditions to deliver new products and services. They have to work on fixing the system and its many faulty parts, let lone work on their new concept. Is it not about time we stepped back and really thought through the design of innovation and its managing? Why is this so hard to do?