Innovation cannot expand without the 4th Industrial Revolution

We are a long way away from fully capturing the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in an inclusive and holistic way. To do this, technology adoption and diffusion across the ecosystem needs to improve dramatically.

In a recent report, jointly from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey called the “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the factories of the future” they made a number of observations

“After a decade of flat productivity, the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value to global manufacturing. A few years back, experts noted that the changes associated with the 4IR would come at an unprecedented rate yielding incredible results for those who truly embraced them.

Still, the hockey stick of benefits has not kicked in yet – while all companies are making efforts to adopt technology, most of the production industry (~70%) remains in pilot purgatory (where technology pilots last for extended periods of time, and companies do not take the final step of scaling up viable technologies). Less than 30% of manufacturing companies are actively rolling out Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies at scale”

No wonder we presently have trouble attracting many businesses onto platforms when they are still very much behind in deciding or deploying a strategically thought-through IIoT digital design, that is connecting everything up.

It is equally holding a new form of innovation back, one that is highly collaborative where partners come together to work on more complex problems. Collaborators can achieve solutions only by being “fully” connected up, comfortable with their data, understanding and contribution, both within their knowledge and insights.

The power of multiple-connected ecosystems gives innovation a completely different momentum but it needs this 4th industrial revolution to be fully operative, for a digitally connected world in manufacturing and beyond. Continue reading

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The legend of the Gordian Knot and today’s organizations “knotty” problems

Cutting the Gordian Knot

If you are not aware, it is worth reading about the Gordian Knot. “For people the world over, the Gordian Knot represents the difficult, the intractable and often the insolvable problem. Today’s systemic business problems are the modern-day equivalent of this seemingly impossible challenge, our Gordian Knots to untie or cut through.

According to Greek mythology, the huge, ball-like Turkish knot with no ends exposed was impossible to untie. An oracle had predicted that the first person to do so would become the ruler of all Asia. Thousands of people had tried, without success, to unlock its complex riddles. Alexander of Macedonia, son of King Philip II of Macedon, solved this puzzle simply and very creatively – by cutting it in half with his sword, exposing its ends and making it possible to untie. Alexander the Great went on to conquer all of Asia, just as the oracle predicted”.

So are Organizations Cutting their Gordian Knots?

So how can we cut the intractable knot inside organizations and thrive from it? Continue reading

A feast of opportunities for Siemens?


I decided to invest a decent amount of time into the Siemens 3rd Quarter Announcements and it has been worth it.

I really don’t understand the reporters and analysts attending this event as they seem to continue to stay stuck in their recurring opinions and stances, constant looking in the rear-view mirror. It has its reference points perhaps but it is understanding “the road ahead and its conditions” that provide shareholder value.

We need to become more forward-looking based on strategic outlook, innovation potential and market opportunities.

The analysts seek to always look constantly to the immediate, often not looking beyond their own noses. They seem not to want to go under the bonnet through investigation, just rely on ‘given’ handouts or myopic views, rooted in the short-term. The sound of future innovation potential was in most of the event as very evident but lost in the focus on immediate numbers and results. Why? Continue reading

The chance to think differently about Ecosystems for Innovation

Thinking about ecosystems certainly allows us to go out of our normal scope of invention, innovation and being creative.

The ability to tackle those larger societal problems within an ecosystem, or combine unique resources to overcome a complex challenge you are incapable of solving alone, does have greater potential in a collaborative adaptive system.

Ecosystem co-operations can allow you to align with others, totally outside your existing relationships, so you can enter new markets, explore new concepts and design, that would have been impossible as an individual organization.

Applying ecosystem thinking offers you the collaborative ability to extend beyond more traditional channels of delivery, or restricted to only utilizing your existing infrastructure. It allows you to search and build on others specialization that “greater” innovation.

We are all making greater connections within ourselves, as we find and connect, not just into our own “tribes” that all the different social platforms are providing, so as to establish our own personal identity. Crowdsourcing is another example that is offering huge potential to exploit new frontiers, as it can encourage us to forge, and connect, so as to serve and grow whole new communities from ‘simple’ beginning, building on real-time knowledge, collaborations and resolving challenges and problems we know are “out there” but we, alone, did not have the means to solve.

The future of collaborations can increasingly share previously idle or under-utilized assets, it can extend the life, it can extract that ideal knowledge, often locked in one organization. We are seeing the most valuable companies that are emerging today are largely based on sophisticated platform business models where ecosystems are vital to their health and global ambitions (Apple, Amazon, Car Manufacturers are all examples).

Ecosystems built around specific platform designs are the future of innovation that takes designs and solutions into a new realm of opportunity, built on collaborative engagement and common missions. As we learn we adapt, as we share we grow.

But be aware – the challenges are difficult to work through

Continue reading

Ring Fencing Constrains Innovation

It is the very act of ‘ring-fencing’ we have constrained innovation. We then can limit risk, as well as we are constantly separating it from the center of the company, even though many of us try to push it back towards the core.

Innovation remains separate for the clear majority of our companies even today as it is full of unknowns and question marks. Top executives just do not like the sound of this, so they seek to ring-fence innovation. One where they want to contain it, to try to tame it, so it can mirror their (mistaken) believe that our world is one of order, control, and stability.

Instead of embracing that the real world is actually an innovating world, full of opportunity, for those prepared to take a greater risk, will have much to gain. Regretfully we still see many companies operating with a 20th-century mindset. Thankfully the pressure upon companies to innovate, to get their growth back, is getting a very tough place to operate in today without tangible demonstration of innovation being realized. There is this need to “embrace” innovation. If not, rapid extinction is occurring for many that choose to ignore the sweeping changes we are witnessing in the business world, where more open and technology-driven innovators are connecting and collaborating. Those companies that only halve-heartedly attempting change are fearful and still want to “box” innovation in. A transformation where innovation and technology go hand-in-hand does have to be utterly full on to succeed! Continue reading

Cynefin: A framework that grows for me all the time, in its value and worth.

The Cynefin Framework by David Snowden, through Cognitive Edge

A good framework seems to grow, it becomes integrated into your thinking and application. You see increasing possibilities to apply it. One of these for me has been Dave Snowden’s Cynefin.

I also increasing apply the Three Horizons framework as well.

Both allow me to organize my thinking and provide options within any multiple evaluations to begin or shape thinking going forward. Both attempt to break down a growing complexity we all find in our word today.

One, the three horizons, attempts to sketch out our thinking about today’s world, of where we are and what we need to do to keep it going in a hopefully orderly state, and then looks to forecast out the changes we need to move towards, in a projected future and then identify the needs to get there. It passes through three horizons of today (H1), the near term (H2) and the longer term (H3).

You will find much of what I have written about on the three horizons story, within my insights and thinking tab (shown above) and look for the applicable section. Equally, you can put into the search box “three horizons” and many posts will come up to explore this, if you are curious on its value, position and our need, to use this on a more consistent basis.

The Cynefin framework provides a wonderful way to sort the range of issues faced by leaders and us all, into five contexts, defined by the nature of the relationships between cause and effect. Dave Snowden has been explaining these consistently for years. Four of these five are; obvious (formerly simple), complicated, complex and chaotic states and requires us to diagnose situations and then to act in contextually appropriate ways. The fifth one is disorder, often overlooked or not fully appreciated. It is when something is unclear, it is in a disorderly, highly transitory state and needs to be rapidly stabilized into one of the other four to give it a more orderly state going forward.

So why do I see this Cynefin framework as growing in importance? Continue reading

A really worthwhile report on Innovation not to be missed from Innovation Leader.

There has just been a highly useful benchmarking report released by Innovation Leader  with KPMG LLP sponsoring this and providing some of their collective insights into the different aspects of Benchmarking Innovation Impact 2018″

At present, you can download the report before it might slip behind a paywall at some later stage. I would take advantage while you can. The report provides insights from 270 innovation, R&D and strategy executives and considerable work on structuring the conclusions in highly thoughtful and valuable ways to the reader.

If you are not familiar with Innovation Leader, they were created to be a growing and essential resource for innovation, especially in the bigger organizations. It has a more specific focus on the US scene but much of what it has found is universal in my opinion. It’s editor and Co-Founder Scott Kirsner (editor@innovationleader.com) and his team are building a great point of reference and meeting point for innovators to exchange and learn from each other. Maybe you should join?

Why do I think the report is well worth you investing time to read? The report provides an excellent document that enables good discussions to be drawn from the benchmarking of many organization, to compare with your own organization. The report is laid out into four parts: 1. Creating Strategic Alignment, 2.Funding Innovation, 3 Delivering Impact and 4 Moving forward.

It offers up great suggestions on tactics, relationships and obstacles you can face in any sort of innovation program, be it an early forming one or at a more mature stage. It can allow you to communicate and suggest the needs for a new innovation approach where you need others involved but they would expect to see a validation. This report helps in all these and much more.

I am going to just focus on three parts that really caught my eye Continue reading