The problem of scaling can confuse those innovating.

The problem of scaling can confuse those innovating and can this be changed?

I have been often returning to scaling, struggling with finding the best answers. Many organizations struggle with scaling. This can be scaling their organization, their capabilities or more often, taking an idea into a fully scaled delivery.

Maybe I have been looking at it all wrong?

The complexities of scaling can’t be lightly dismissed. You need very often, size to scale. This could be in a new plant, in where production should be situated, so it can be allowed to scale at a later date, in resources able to achieve scale or more importantly you scale according to the type of goods or demand so they can be readily available, closer to the market they are needed.

When you work in a global organization, scale takes on even a greater set of dimensions; one that needs coordinating and managing.

So I was thinking through some points on scaling a little differently. They are partly ‘open questions’ or some thinking out loud. You can say they are “half-baked”, perhaps in more than one way! Continue reading

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Adopting a Rapid Digital Innovation Process

As we start to think about the next year, (is it here already?) it is a time of reflection and some forward thinking. We do need to make some real changes.

From my standpoint, I am simply amazed at how the world seems to be spinning faster and faster. I am convinced my working days are shorter or the clock is moving faster or worse still, I am being “deflected” even more by everything “digital”.

I never seem to finish what I had intended to complete by the end of a day or week. I then get caught up in the spillover effect. Something always gets in the way, something has to give. So we make a resolution to change something to improve on this constant catch up state we find ourselves in. We all seem to be spinning faster but equally slowing down. Often our innovation activities face the same dilemma.

Innovation needs time, it needs evolution and resolution but also speeding up

Here are some thoughts for our future. The need for innovation results has sped up considerably. The belief that lean management principles will get the innovation out of the door quicker, has been one of those management adoptions that often trick us into believing we are achieving more than we actually are. Reality is, we have only been tackling part of the innovation process and the end results often remain the same – a slow process of innovation follows as lean hits organization reality, it gets caught up in internal roadblocks, countless discussions, and debates.

Certainly, in the majority of cases we have found nothing wrong at all with applying lean management, as it tends to lead to improvements in a final outcome, but does it actually speed up the process? I’m not sure it does. Leans slows down and becomes increasingly burdened by fat being layered on, further down the innovation execution process.

For me, I think the real need is in speeding up of the whole innovation process, approaching the whole innovation in a systematic way, as the only path to tread in the years ahead. We need to broaden out the whole process of rapid innovation application beyond the two current favorites of lean and design thinking. That requires it to be fully connected up and that means making the innovation process one that is fully digital, on a platform and accessible by all, those that can bring value and meaning to the process to deliver greater innovation outcomes. We need a greater innovation rapid prototype approach to the whole innovation process- test, learn, adapt, adjust, iterate, refine at speed and rapid scaling.

Continue reading

Can We Have One of These? A Product Innovation Platform

Recently I was exploring the world of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and read an excellent Whitepaper from Aras Corp, one of the leading PLM solution providers.

The Whitepaper called “Product Complexity, Digital Transformation, and the Innovation Imperative- The race to reinvent how complex products are developed is here“.

This made me a little jealous and a little wishing that ‘we’, across the whole of innovation management, could not have one of these platforms available today. Some claim that they do this already but seriously they do not.

I have argued we do need to change the way we undertake innovation and its development. I am really frustrated by the legacy we have in our processes, systems and the ways we approach innovation, and its development lifecycle. We still break it up into separate parts, dealing with the pre-ideas stage, collecting insights, the idea management, then into a pipeline or portfolio system, that all has so such manual and siloed approaches built into this. These are tue legacy systems.We do need to bring innovation management into the 21st century where everything is transformed through a platform that allows total integration.

So as I read about the solution that Aras provides to the designers within Manufacturing to manage PLM complex systems and products, you have to wonder why this cannot be extended into all innovation’s management. Of course what “sits” on the platform will be different but it has much that can adapted and aligned in the principles of any design. Continue reading

Optimism in Innovation, Thinking About Risk Differently

For me, there is never enough talked about innovation risk. Innovation is held back so often because the quantification of it’s risk cannot fit into an organization’s current assessment and measurements of risk.

Innovation is often too intangible, full of unknowns as the very nature of anything new and different. Innovation risk leaves many executives very uncomfortable.

Organizations get uncomfortable when the words “radical” “intangible”, “unknowns” and other words like these when they form part of the conversation. It often starts to induce that “risk twitch” where that careful management for short-term performance might become threatened, or the manager feels any decision is ‘going out on a limb’ and possibly career threatening.

That growing uncomfortable feeling that innovation places their bonus at “risk” so they like to ring-fence innovation as much as possible. Now some of that ring-fencing is fine, you contain a risk to keep it manageable but most innovation does not constitute organization risk, yet it gets caught up in that risky fear that innovation seems to induce. Actually, if we were managing innovation at the core, our risk management for it would be very heightened and managed differently, but how many of our companies’ have innovation as their core?

So I always welcome discussion on risk and innovation. The more we talk about it the better for what is coming towards us. Continue reading

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

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

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