There are Knowns and Unknowns in Innovation: Let’s Manage Them Differently

quote from donald rumsfeld about the knowns and unknowns

This quote is from the former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Henry Rumsfeld, who mentioned: “unknown unknowns” (Rumsfeld, 2002). Since then, people have started using quadrants of knowledge, i.e., known known, known unknown, unknown known, and unknown unknown, to understand and explain the nature of risk but also of leading to an opportunity.

For innovators so much of innovation is hard to detect, it needs discovery and working through these quadrants of knowledge as well. We need to treat ideas the same on how anything needs assessing but it needs to pass through a different thinking about knowledge understanding, as there are ‘known knowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ and we need to prepare for both within our innovation activities.

Our pursuit in life is often the same as our innovation efforts, it is in the search for discovery. Often it happens, that we already feel better equipped for exploring and observing by just getting out of our usual everyday working environment.

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A new paradigm: focusing on Work to be Done

Much of what we read about with artificial intelligence, deep learning and robots can present a fear that our jobs are simply going, vanishing fairly soon. Technology, machines and information solutions will take over in this new world of accelerating technology with the concern of “so then, what do we do?

Well, I believe we have a real chance to, at last, celebrate. Yes celebrate, we can finally be liberated! Ever since the industrial revolution, we have been caught up in the productivity and efficiency trap, in the monotony of repeating work.

Today we are on the cusp of changing that.  Can you imagine all those boring, repetitive jobs we are faced with today can be simply handed over to machine intelligence, just happy to do the task at hand? Surely, if we manage this correctly it can release us up, it can enable our ingenuity to thrive. Continue reading

A New Integrated Innovation Engagement System

I have written extensively, certainly over the past eighteen months, about our need to take innovation into a new era, designed for today and tomorrow’s “fit for purpose”. Below you will see my view of how I see this sketched out, as my suggested concept outline. Does it make sense?

We have this compelling need to have a new cycle of innovation design. A more integrated solution that takes our understanding of innovation and how to manage it, into the realms of ecosystems and platforms in its design and thinking.

I wrote a piece “Jumping to a fresh cycle of innovation design” that stated much of what I saw as any design intent.

” We need to increasingly rely on problem-solving techniques that we generate through greater automated discovery and inquiry, those that emerge from analysis and data mining. So, we seek out greater applied science knowledge we will use it to support and develop practical applications based on technology and innovation. Utilitarian in its principles, seeking real-world use and implementation through a more creative, collaborative environment, leading to more discoveries that distinctly ‘blend’ the lab application with the customer discovery of unmet need. Through a blend of pattern recognition, predictive analytics and exploring cognitive computing we can change much with innovation”

“We have been steadily learning to adapt what we knew inside an organization with what we should increasingly listen to outside it. There has been an increasing emphasis on linking concepts in new and novel products and services, increasingly closer to these customer needs and desires.

We need to consider how big data and analytics, technology and a far more creative thinking needs to be applied collectively but in greater constellations of partners. We need to get far more comfortable with working in ecosystems, managed in platform designs to work more collaboratively. Continue reading

Shifting our thinking within the Fourth Industrial Revolution

I always enjoy selected parts of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and in this year’s #WEF18 agenda, it certainly had its good points. I don’t attend, I listened and read.

Overhaul though, I was a little disappointed, as it lacked the real leadership insights you come to expect, strong personalities did not seem to shine through this year from the speakers and panelists. They gave fragmented insights for the future, mostly seemed to be retrospective, caught in the present, or simply trying to catch up.

I certainly felt the WEF theme for this meeting, of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” showed through, actually more re-affirmed as fractured. We seem all to be still working on what the future will look like, as it is in danger of being fractured even more before it coalesces around new directions and order.

Some suggest we should allow the future to just simply unfold but I don’t share this view, our future does need to be shaped in so many ways but in what ways and what to allow to “simply evolve” is a very complex question and we are not getting many cohesive answers. So, it continues where it continues, based on individual perspective. The future is never easy to map out but you would expect more answers than questions

Yet what this forum provided, was in its bringing me back to refocus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It helped deliver a far sharper focus on its impact, potential, and scope beyond just manufacturing. Now, this was the major ‘bright spot’ of future collaborative potential for us all. Also the growing concensus around the skills and future of work Continue reading

Creating the Industrial Ecosystem

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the Siemens Innovation Day. I really appreciated it, yet it took me time to absorb all that was provided, over these past two weeks.

One outcome is this post. I am grateful to have had the time to translate this in my mind. We all move on far too quickly and not have the time to sufficiently reflect, and that can be a huge mistake.

The day before the main event I was included in the Industry Analysts visit to the Siemens Technology Center, at Neuperlach in Munich. We were provided a variety of insights in different presentations and demonstrations, of the technology they are working upon.

The time spent in the Siemens Technology Centre was far too short, in getting the depth I would have liked. Yet, by accessing and re-evaluating all the presentations I have collected over the recent years, I pieced much of it together, into the clarity that I wanted, well actually needed, to understand where Siemens was positioned and going.

I came away from my visit to Siemens greatly impressed, now I am busy filling in the blanks.

The opportunity to attend has certainly triggered a lot of thoughts and connected me into Siemens, a whole lot more. They do seem to be are on a good path for growth but to make it a path that fully connects to exploit all the opportunities it can explore, Siemens needs to exploit Ecosystem thinking a little more. Surprisingly, I felt they lacked a more holistic view of innovation; a clear innovation process, and dedicated focus on this, which is required. Innovation is certainly central to the future of Siemens but it seems to me not to have the core positioning it should have.

Often you come across a dominating mindset of engineers, scientists, and technicians, who often have the mistaken view that they know innovation well when actually they only have a terrific depth on a given subject, not the breadth or broader comprehension. This comprehension is often missing by not having both fully connected and available, or consciously built in.

If you take a more holistic view of the all the connected parts of innovation that value-add, built on customer need, etc., that a structured innovation process offers, the result is more than likely to be more radical in final design and end-result. More radical in design and outcome The whole process to capture and translate options, to minimise the gaps, and leverage the critical opportunities, fully needs a system, a connected system.

I can’t prove it, in a very limited visit I had at Siemens but I certainly felt, they might value a more detailed review of their innovation environment, some more, it might potentially benefit them. 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

Digital technology is changing the innovation ‘game’

Digital technologies are beginning to have a real impact on the methods, approaches, and rates of our innovation outputs. Social technologies are giving us real-time understanding.

We continually learn nthat intuition and ‘gut feel’ on research set up and gathered weeks or more often months ago, has a hidden cost as it rapidly goes out of date. This ‘knowledge’ is becoming out of date before we can gain from it and sometimes highly dangerous to follow, or believe in in the more volitile market conditions of today’s, those that are rapidly changing. We need to get closer to ‘real-time.’

This reliance on rapidly out-of-date understanding cannot be the basis for any justifications for high-stake bets when it comes to innovation. We need to change our thinking and design in the digital insight part more specifically within and along the innovation process. Technology in all its forms is altering the innovation game but are we adapting to this radical change potential? We need to embrace it. Continue reading