Extending innovations value- appreciating the whole system.

There is always a time to reflect. It is when you have those spaces within your daily work you must take a view, a break, consider something that builds your energy up some more, to make it more resilient.

Do you stop and reflect, do you “veg” out, do you seek alternative points of stimulus or find something completely different to go and do, read a book, listen to music, take a walk, climb a mountain or simply tune-out. We need a time out for reflection.

Well, I had a reflective moment on some points I consider within innovation that need re-emphasizing.

So my reflective points were these as we always should consider the whole connected system of innovation.

Extending innovations value – appreciating the whole system.

For me, innovation needs to be treated more like a complete interlinked value chain. We must step back and see the whole value chain system for innovation. It constantly loops back and feeds back-in to add increasing value and experience.  It has many connected parts that need to work together to deliver effectively and efficiently the new ideas and concepts being discovered through to final commercialization.

The innovation value chain needs the following, seemingly obvious but often missed points to consider:

  1. An established system that is clearly repeatable to ‘push’ innovation through constantly
  2. It needs to be able to scale, scope and quickly adjust according to the concepts being pushed or even pulled through, often by spotting unmet customer needs.
  3. It needs flexibility, resilience, and adaptability that constantly adjusts and shaped accordingly and cannot be ‘fixed’, rigid and overly managed or controlled as many seem to try.
  4. It needs to have breakpoints for considering the innovation options- carry on, kill off, spin out, send back to rethink, to allow to grow at a different pace, to accelerate more.
  5. It needs to ‘capture’ the collective learning and experiences constantly gained from the past and build those into improving the process for future activities
  6. The people who have ‘oversight’ need to have some form of option resolution built in for deciding resources, directions, allocations and investments. They need that responsibility.
  7. All innovation ideas and concepts entering the extended tunnel need to align to the strategic direction, compliment or extend onto the platforms you are providing (core, adjacent or new) and feed the portfolio’s that drive the businesses growth aspirations.
  8. They must have a clear ‘fit’ within the strategy needs and be resourced well.

Designing the innovation pathway- this, for me, is so important to visualize and conceptualize

To achieve increasing value in this, there is an innovation pathway you have to design and be ready to travel. It is highly dynamic and you, as the leader of the innovation activities, are required to constantly add the active innovation yeast by promoting the ‘fermentation’ needed for innovation to succeed, including:

  1. Establishing and encouraging a robust set of innovation processes and technologies to support that constantly adapts and adjusts to the needs of the innovation concept, not the other way around.
  2. The ability, energy, and commitment to drive maturing ideas and concepts to realization.
  3. Create a powerful desire and motivation to innovate by encouraging the environment of what you do makes a contribution to our future.
  4. As ideas and concepts mature, you constantly build and restate the business case, again and again, so it remains clear why this concept remains important.
  5. You actively seek out the different and often diverse points of connectivity with all the stakeholders so they can engage, contribute and lend their support and commitment.
  6. Constantly look for ways to empower individuals and groups to explore, challenge and improve constantly on what they know with what they need to find out and discover.
  7. You have to work actively (hard) at clarifying constantly the links of the idea and concepts across the innovation process for all involved to stay committed to the ‘long run’ between idea to commercialization in times of uncertainty and flux.
  8. Ensure you are actively working those networking, encouraging collaborating and building on the collective wisdom of many so that you are constantly exploring all the (emerging) options and expanding on the alternatives to extract maximum value.
  9. Seek ways to always measure, evaluate and see return through progress and impact so everyone involved or viewing the efforts can constantly ‘see’ the value and where their contribution is helping, not simply once a year in those organized ways and events that fit the calendar or bean counter needs.
  10. Strive for execution that builds from the best of the past by knowing what that is; remain open to what is all around you today in the wider world beyond your often more narrow confines and imagine what is really possible with that extra touch of imagination to ‘push’ by seeing beyond the known’s and traditionally accepted.

The concept-to-customer approach is an innovation pathway that constantly narrows down.

We do need a concept-to-customer approach across innovation. My 5C’s of capture, connect, convert, confirm and conclude shown in the extended innovation funnel can move this along.

Innovation is extremely strategic in what it contributes. We often to stop and consider its importance, we strip it of resources, we relegate it down the organization, we let it be subservient to our daily obsessions on efficiency and effectiveness, it should not, it should be constantly challenging and pushing these into new ways and thinking, we forget its value and purpose.

Innovation requires a more thoughtful understanding and we have to accommodate it within organizations by stating that it is often unpredictable, sometimes a chaotic process, it cannot be legislated or totally subscribed, thankfully certain significant parts can. It is by having this complete understanding of the entire innovation process so we can differentiate between the parts that can be made predictable and those that can’t.

We can also constantly work at making innovation more predictable, in managing its many parts by making them more efficient and effective wherever possible. The more the deeper in innovation insight and understanding, the more we are adding to the internal knowledge. By often allowing for as much flexibility and adaptability for ideas and concepts as possible to ‘travel down’ and consistently improve the narrowing innovation path, the more it is likely to emerge as the right end-result.

As we progress from discovery to execution we need to offer more guidance and encouragement than prescriptive methods, currently prescribed and handed out in ad hoc doses. We DO need to understand innovation well. We then can manage our core well, expand into any adjacent spaces that strategically fit more comfortably and organize the associated activities to push the right innovation through a pipeline towards a positive commercial outcome., i.e., improves on the existing

We will often have to go a lot nearer to the edge of uncertainty as we build this innovation path but knowing where these edges are is better than being constantly surprised. Innovation expertise inside an organization makes sound sense, it pushes the edges, it questions the core. Please see a previous post on some thoughts on this, for we still fail to connect everyone up to the same innovation cause http://bit.ly/fQW6Jq

One last thing here, we must also rather surprisingly, reduce the many existing tools and processes we try to fit around innovation that ‘stress’ the existing core infrastructure and are confusing us. This is the opposite of their intention, to make our lives easy, they often do the counter, they add more stress points within innovation. I think a further blog on this layering and its negative effect might be better, so that’s for another day.

Well, I just felt like having one of my reflective moments.

Keep innovating please in all you do!

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