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of innovation today, how it is fragmenting in  a myraid of parts, all seemingly contributing; yet it seems learning has been replaced by personalized experience and the chase for individual knowledge.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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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

The Pressures Placed on the Innovator

There are multiple “stretching and straining points” that make the life of the innovator increasingly uncomfortable. These build into increasing frictions where the eventual performance of innovation seemingly disappoints the leadership of organizations. So why is that?

It is only when we can truly understand the constraints innovation works under, can we provide more robust solutions to reduced all these frictions and pain points that innovators are struggling with. There are many.

We often can’t seem to break down the rigidity win the organization’s system, to allow innovation to speed up, connect and deliver on its promise. Organizations continue to struggle with obtaining that higher level of agility and flexibility required for innovation speed of response and delivery.

The culture within organizations still is rather more closed-up into the silo mindset and not encouraged to be more open, engaging across functions in collaborating ways. We attempt co-creation to test ideas and try to deploy these but they come against institutional resistance to change. We continue to rely on emotional and gut decision-making and still have not fully embraced the data-driven cultures to make more informed decisions. All these constraints create that pressure to perform. So much around innovation is not optimal.

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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

A light-bulb moment in Innovation Learning

Over the past few weeks, or is it months or is it even years, I have been constantly thinking through how we are learning in our innovation understanding. I have been struggling over this for a long time, looking to create a more compelling narrative and have only realized part of my ongoing difficulties was that I was coming at this the wrong way.

Firstly a narrative should be open-ended, there is no finite resolution yet to innovation understanding and secondly, it is for the intended audience to determine and relate, not the person presenting the narrative. For me, one light bulb went on.

The second light bulb moment came earlier this week. I was reading an article by Josh Bersin, called “the disruption of digital learning: ten things we have learned”. Josh is the founder of Bersin by Deloitte and this article was on one of his LinkedIn Pulse views. It actually stopped me in my tracks, it made me really think and recognize some of my recent shifts in my innovation focus was making real sense. The article alarmed me but it also ‘re-armed’ me. Continue reading

Innovations Degree’s of Connectivity, Interactivity and Sharing

We often forget it is our people that really make innovation work. They determine the ideas, drive these forward to deliver them as new innovation concepts into the world. People connect the fragmented pieces or dots within innovation from being random and intangible, into being explicit and tangible.

In the past we have often believed it is the genius laboring away in his lab that has made the discovery that has led to real breakthroughs in innovation.

So often in the past this lack of making the invention connection has often held many of us back to become engaged in discovery, ideas or contributions as we felt discouraged, as we had felt innovation can only happen in these ‘special’ places.

Most of us became disconnected with the early part of the discovery for innovation, we simply became just the implementors, pushing the innovation through the pipeline into its final execution. That can change if we are willing and able to challenge our past assumptions. Continue reading

Is innovation really important to you?

How can we establish Innovation as the vital link to a process of change and strategic direction options? One that lifts the debates of managing today’s business by linking it into the future and then turning this thinking into a series of plausible and coherent set of activities?

Innovation can drive change, change is required.  Without innovation, we progressively die, as we provide no option for change, no prospects of new, different growth. So why does it continually fail to happen?

We innovators certainly need a new model of change, for at least eight important reasons I can think of, that render what we have practiced in the past as obsolete: Continue reading