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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The limitations, criticisms and new pathways for Design Thinking – Part One

Let me summarize where we are today in design thinking. In the past couple of weeks, I have been spending a fair amount of time on investigating design thinking.

This is part one of my thoughts that came out of investigating and researching design thinking

In these two posts, I want to provide my outcomes, bridging the present and pointing towards a better design thinking future, in my opinion urgently needed.

The ‘product of my work’ itself is presently being worked through to be available as an e-book in the coming weeks.

The intent of the e-book is to offer a practical, direct takeaway of design thinking, the present practices and where it is possibly heading. I tried to go linear, gone circular, gone holistic and at times ballistic and sought out tactical and strategic design, recognizing how its orientation has moved through product, service, experience, business model and lifting design into new ways of orientation at tactical and strategic levels.

As I found out from my research, there is an awful amount of “noise and hype” to work through to find the past, present and future positions of design thinking. In summary, I think design thinking is undergoing a revolution, a certain maturing but it is littered with a very messy, highly competitive present.

I am suggesting that perhaps design thinking is a current ‘burning platform’ and the term ‘design thinking’ is so loaded it might need to be reworked under different banners to allow it to evolve as it equally needs to be restated and deepened in its skills, practices, uses, and methodologies. Continue reading

Reducing the friction around innovation

I was reading a report by the IBM Institute for Business Value’s “Fast Forward: Rethinking enterprises, ecosystems, and economies with blockchains”. In IBM’s thinking, they have clearly taken friction as part of the need to be broken down within any rebuilding of the supply chain. Well, I also believe these apply equally as innovation frictions. Reducing any frictions that get in the way is good, right?

So I decided to builds out of their friction analysis, building on the thoughts offered in the report, adding the innovation perspective.

So here I am suggesting constraints that need tackling in reducing the innovation friction points, theirs was for blockchain. I did like a comment in the report stated: “Friction, in theory, could be digitized away” (page 3) and partly why I looked at the report in this digital perspective for future facing innovation solutions. The frictions hold true for innovators to resolve. Continue reading

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

The innovation value lies within the new system

Image credit: the film “the Core”

Core capabilities have upsides and downsides. As many of our business organizations seek to optimize their processes across the company, they are constantly reaching more outside to gain growing partnerships and greater innovation interactions. They are looking to complement and reinforce existing capabilities through more open innovation thinking and approaches but is that enough?

One focus area is on value chain optimization, another on customer engagement, yet the one that has the potential to really transform the innovation process lies in the partnerships emerging from reaching back into established suppliers, but also by tapping into the broader network of knowledge that can be found in reaching out to the innovation community of start-ups, venture capitalists, research institutions and other key players, capable of fostering and delivering innovation in unique and diverse collaborations. The collaborating edges are becoming our new core.

The core is far more found at the edge, in the collaborating capability and networks we form and this needs very different organizational design. Continue reading