Putting some dynamic tension back into the innovation system

I have been having some writers block recently and I was not sure how to unlock some random thoughts I was having in the past weeks, then in a great conversation I had today, with a fellow innovation colleague, it started to “reveal itself” in where I needed to go to give a new sense of repurpose.

A collaboration is being mooted between us but until there is a point of common understanding much stays under partial wraps until we both get to a more comfortable point, where we feel it can go for us but it certainly triggered this post as a starter.

The thinking hinges around the state of innovation today, how it is fragmenting in  a myraid of parts, all seemingly contributing; yet it seems learning has been replaced by personalized experience and the chase for individual knowledge. Mostly this does not get embedded back in the company, the ones who are paying for this exposure.

I was wondering if there was a decent ‘return on investment’ being made by the company or was it just being front-loaded on the individual, so they gain and then can take that understanding elsewhere, or simply set up their own shop of ‘innovation expertise’. The ROI and the Return on Learning seemed to be mostly heading out of the door, leaving the organization that made the investment, devoid of a return.

My feeling is this should change and we firstly establish a “System of Record” for innovation that brings the individual learning into a collective one, a “system of collective engagement” that enables all within the system to gain from and design innovation solutions, from a more ‘whole’ system thinking perspective, that gives innovation sustaining power connecting the individual to the organizations needs. Continue reading

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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.
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

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