Choosing your direction of travel

In the past week or so, I have been looking a little harder at the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry relating to innovation, it left me a little frustrated.

I felt that warm and fuzzy feeling, as I read all too often those comforting words or platitudes of how “innovation is vital to us” and one of the “highest areas of focus.” Yet as you then listen to the voices of the very leaders within these industries in interviews, or read on blogs, or in discussing what are the challenges they face, it does seem somewhat hollow.

You know they are nowhere at the point of really understanding the potential of the changes that could take place within adopting a broader view on all aspects of innovation.

Nearly all in these current companies making up the Chemical and Pharmaceuticals sectors are well past their prolific era, the discovery part is bogged down in slow growth, expensive development costs and regulatory conditions. Blockbusters seem a thing of the past but perhaps they don’t need to be with a very different innovative approach.

You do get tired of hearing “we are looking to become a value-creating solution provider”, yet the willingness to really create collaborative networks is still stuck in the “us and them” mentality. The thinking through on the contribution around innovation needs to be changed.

The two industries are struggling in finding new operating models to adapt to a different, changing world. They are not yet tuned into those more integrated systems of collaboration, where platforms and ecosystems are critical to making improved progress, advanced by multiple contributions to the discovery and exploration stages, where there is a new potential force of collaborative breakthroughs. So from what I can see so far, change is highly constrained:

Evolution is slow, revolution is seemingly non-existent due to narrow vested interests.
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Jumping to a fresh cycle of innovation design

I have argued in the past that innovation management needs to radically adjust, it requires being designed differently, it needs to be highly adaptive, technology driven.

In my opinion, it needs to be based on the thinking around the shift from products to solutions, from transactions to building far more value-adding ongoing relationships, from a supplier of product services into highly valued network partnerships, exploring innovation across all options.

instead of delivering on discrete elements; this requires managing the whole ecosystem of the innovation design differently through technology where platforms dominate and transformation becomes an ongoing process to evolve the business model, so as to seek out constantly changing market opportunities, in agile, adaptive and fluid ways, for successful innovation outcomes, that meet those real customer needs.

I’d like to offer some views, partly looking out to the future, partly considering what is potentially within our grasp, if we step back and rethink innovation design. So here I offer some parts of this design, my thinking out loud, somewhat in random order and some of the reasons why:

For me, I have a picture floating around in my head. It is emergent and not yet in full view Continue reading

Innovation has a hard job to align

We need to recognize that innovation is one of the hardest things to align to strategy. It’s inherently messy, fairly unpredictable and its team-orientated approach sometimes cuts across borders, challenges different established positions and seemingly conflicting priorities.

It often challenges the status quo and can on certain occasions, potentially challenge the stated strategic goals as those ‘disruptive forces’ have not been addressed radically enough. Innovation often “asks” difficult questions of ourselves.

We keep asking a lot of innovators but consistently restrain them or starve them of essential resources, at the critical times they need them. We seem to get in the way of blocking innovation so it can’t be seen to align with the goals or vision of the organization. Continue reading