Exploring frameworks and methods you need to know as an Innovator

Recently, well actually, over the past twelve or eighteen months, I was asked to explore and explain different frameworks that the innovator might need to know, or at least have an opinion upon.

These were for HYPE and posted on their blogs, mostly under their “Methods & Frameworks” tag.

Some of these investigations or explanations were fairly long so I decided to not reproduce them here but to have an opening summary and then set up the links onto their site for you to read the ones that are of interest or curiosity to you.

So far I have covered ones that were asked for, there are a few more that need covering or even deepening out in explanations in my mind, lets see.

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Relating to the New Innovation Era

I firmly believe we are on the cusp of a new innovation era. When you step back and recognize all the different advancements we have been making in designing tools and frameworks, in understanding innovation, it holds promise.

Yet it is this recognition that the present is not working anymore with existing innovation systems, you do need to search for a real lasting change that does transform and connect all the parts into a new innovation designed ‘whole’. There are a number of intersections and driving forces that are coming together and what is emerging is this new innovation era. Now we have to weave them together.

Of course, much of what we have will still remain. We are still in need of finding innovations that provide new products, services or business models. These outcomes remain constant, it is the way we approach these that is in need of being seen as dramatically different. We require a more evolutionary, fresh perspective.

The sad part is that many of our existing consulting firms offer solutions that are unfit for todays need, or ill-equipped for offering advice on tomorrow’s purpose and the designs necessary. Equally, nearly all our larger business organizations are still locked in the past, or attempting to catch up to the present but in random ways. This does need a real change but can we achieve it?

Innovation is advancing but most of it has been designed for a different time, the old era of stable markets, predictable solutions and having a clear sense of your competition. All that has changed dramatically. We have all been trying (very hard) to stay relevant in an ever-increasing uncertain world, applying solutions left over from a past era. Something has had to suffer and I believe this is our innovation outcomes, that are not shifting the growth needle as we keep our innovation systems and thinking trapped in the 20th-century mindset. Continue reading

The Essential Connection Between Strategy and Innovation

Most organizations are seeking solutions to the necessary connections between Strategy and Innovation. The connection between the two are often broken.

Often it is within the strategies that should be outlined, lies the potential new spaces to play for innovation’s design. Yet how often do we fail to connect the innovation’s we design and execute specifically aligned to the strategic need?

We somehow seem to stay locked in the ‘here and now’ constantly repeating and refining the known and established within our domain of responsibility. Is this because innovation is not at the core of the business as it should be? Often we are inherently resisting to exploring change as it becomes risky and far more demanding. A good strategy, well outlined should encourage innovation and gain engagement but it can equally determine how we break down our imposed boundaries by its strategic intent, to encourage exploring and extending on what we know into the what we need to know. Strategic intent informs innovation.

If you have a clear strategic understanding of the needs of the business you are getting more of the understanding of where-to-play and how-to-win in your innovation activities and market investment. It is making these strategic connections that is giving innovators a better chance to deliver back concepts that offer alignment to this strategic need. Investing in this understanding and alignment should never be understated. The time invested, allows for the innovation investments to do their part in supporting the business and feeding it with the growth options required, or highlighting where the possible gaps might be, for additional investment or M&A activity, to accelerate this and bring-in fresh innovating momentum.

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We are in need of a common language for innovation

German Late Medieval (c. the 1370s) depiction of the construction of the tower.

Any innovation common language needs working upon. It firstly needs recognition it is in our best interests to find a common point. It needs to be relevant to each of us, it must be current, appropriate, accurate and highly visible throughout the entire organization. It also needs to be allowed to grow and flourish, to evolve and become the lingua franca of all our innovation work. It needs building and constructing in conscious ways and design.

Let’s step back just for one minute, these ‘sentiments’ are fine, yet we actually do, seriously lack a common language for innovation and we should find the ways and the means to change this. It holds innovation back significantly. It can’t continue in a world of greater networking and collaboration.

Languages unites us or keeps dividing us

Language can have the power to unite us or potentially divide us. Developing a language to unite us in our innovation efforts goes some way to reduce disagreements and egos, to qualify individual interpretation or bias, often a key inhibitor that can block a team’s success. It lays in a common foundation. It builds confidence and understanding.

Once we have a common language, we can set about building and creating a more robust innovation management system. One that builds on this framework so it can relate to the relevant context, conditions, and environment for innovation, to offer within this building block, the common identity.

These identifiers can build into better understanding how to structure governance, process, and functional structures, to build a culture that is responsive as ‘they’ can identify a need for a common cause of understanding. It is in this central innovation language that becomes our clear unifying context, the enabler, and sense of personal identity with the purpose of what we are wishing to achieve.

In any common language, we need to master the understanding, the nuances and how it all fits together. We need to exploit it and extract what it can offer to enhance all the work we do in innovation. We need to appreciate always its terms, its definitions (and limitations) and the related performance values that can help to improve our performance and in our achievements of working increasingly with others.  A common understanding of our meaning to ‘innovate’ becomes an imperative. Continue reading

Needing To Think Applied Innovation Services

We can simply go on and on in the many ways we have evolved our problem-solving techniques or methodologies, as those help the innovation and discovery process; incremental, piecemeal and experimentally.

Yet we still get caught out by not resolving or addressing the essential building blocks of innovation (culture, environment, climate, governance, alignment). We have never ‘cracked’ the full innovation management system. Perhaps we can today. We should try at least.

Many of those innovation tools that have been emerging in recent years have now built up a powerful body of validation, and they become necessary to know and practice yet often miss the basic building block needs of innovation. We need to do better, we need to design a completely new innovation process that takes into account all that has evolved in our understanding and experiment in recent years. Some thoughts:

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Covering Innovation My Way

I set out to engage 100% in innovation work, it has been quite a journey of discovery, relating and then translating the parts into solutions. I still get overwhelmed by the sheer information overload or advice that seems to be offered.

Just trying to stay your own course is tough enough but with all the diversity of views, it must be even more overwhelming for others, those who are asked to take on a role within innovation. Where and who do you turn too must be a real dilemma?

In recent years I have found I need to diversify away from one given ‘voice’ on innovation and channel this out into specialized and more focused areas of innovation activity. At present, I have SIX channels open on innovation advice or advisory service that has made my life partly more complicated but more importantly, able to separate my thinking into these parts, as they deserve a ‘deeper’ dive and/or broader exposure.

I thought I’d outline the six here in this post as the sum of the parts that  contributes to the whole Continue reading

We are pushing away from the old innovating core

I continue to investigate and explore as much of the thought leadership on innovation as I can, it continually points to a change in how we approach innovation. Delivering this changing message becomes simply a cause in itself as so many are failing to recognize it as radically different from their past innovation management.

I have written about the new innovation era in 2017 made up of higher levels of needed collaboration, where platforms, ecosystems and customer experience understanding become increasingly central.

I felt I needed to provide a more dedicated perspective on these in a collaboration with my established sparing partner Jeffrey Phillips over at Ovo Innovation in our website of Ecosystems4innovators.

We do stand at the cusp of a new innovation era but where do you stand?

We need to push well beyond our existing core of (existing) innovation understanding, we actually need a new innovation institutional design that recognizes the “core” lies at the edges of discovery. Continue reading