Legacy is all around us. Innovation and insights suffer greatly

Can we continue to battle with legacy? When you think we are on a roll, we are making that transformation in technology, systems, new organizational designs, you are suddenly stopped in your tracks. Legacy fights back, it holds you up, it stops you from advancing. You fail to connect as you wanted to, towards a complete transformation. The future eludes you as you hold onto those old ways.

You can surround legacy but it diverts so much “spent energy”, it becomes the critical impediment to making that real change you so urgently require to compete in today’s’ world. We still struggle with resolving legacy in our systems, processes, factories so we lose the ability to really advance and gain true connectivity.

Why do I worry so much about legacy?  The more we hang on to legacies within our companies, the more we hold up the vital changes we need to manage in the 21st century.

Can you imagine how hard legacy systems are hard to replace? They make up vital business processes that were designed years ago but not for the technology onslaught  we are witnessing today or see in the future. They were designed on outdated technologies, designed in a world where data was recorded perhaps but not stored nor mined 24 x 7. Continue reading

Innovating in the digital age- a terrific report

The report from Arthur D Little “Innovating in the digital age- a cross-industry exploration” has to be the one report that really stands out for me from this year. I highly recommend it. They take a look at how digital technology will transform the way innovation will be managed in the future.

This report was produced by Dr. Michael Kolk, a partner, Digital  Innovation Lead in Arthur D Little and Heike Woerner, a principal, technology and innovation management.

Now that is music to my ears, a report that provides extra “jest” to my own arguments that digital innovation is going to take over in very significant ways the innovation management process from discovery to delivery.

So many of the current suppliers of software are asleep at the wheel still working the old tired model of how to set about innovation. That will change, it will change and I predict we will see significant movement into having digital solutions specifically for innovation management in 2019. As I know the continuing deepening of insights will eventually compel companies to change their innovation management thinking. Continue reading

Overwhelmed, underwhelmed at the Web Summit, Lisbon

I am taking the opportunity to review the Web Summit, held in Lisbon last week of 5th (evening) to 8th November 2018. The Web Summit, originally Dublin Web Summit, is a technology conference held annually since 2009. The company was founded by Paddy Cosgrave, David Kelly, and Daire Hickey. The topic of the conference is centered on internet technology and I went looking for multiple innovation angles and left actually disappointed.

I do have to admit I did head to the Web Summit a little biased. Everything “smacked” of commercialization on a big scale. I never really got past this judgment. I had been invited so should I be so cynical or ungrateful, perhaps not but it is hard not to get past this “sheer” commercialization and randomness. I’ll explain randomness later.

When you are told “Forbes has said we run “the best technology conference on the planet”;  or The Atlantic that Web Summit is “where the future goes to be born”;  The New York Times that we assemble “a grand conclave of the tech industry’s high priests.”

These overhyped claims roll on “Bloomberg calls it “Davos for geeks”, Politico “the Olympics of tech”, and the Guardian “Glastonbury for geeks”. My eyes are rolling on these. Overhype is an understatement.

The publicity blurb adds “At a time of great uncertainty for industry upon industry and the world itself, we gather the founders and CEOs of technology companies, fast-growing startups, policymakers and heads of state to ask a simple question: where to next?”

This year over 70,000 people were heading to Lisbon for this Web Summit. Continue reading

Why Are We Making Innovation So Complex?

It always amazes me how we limit growth by not investing fully in innovation. While most large companies want to become more agile and innovative, many of them fail to turn this wish into a reality.

There is this consistent need or pressure to grow, yet that specific needle stays stubbornly stuck in low growth numbers, even with all this innovation talk and desire. Why is that? We know you simply grow a business by choosing a mix of investing in innovation, merger, and acquisitions or releasing your resources into more profitable activities. Innovation as a dedicated activity still sits uncomfortably within many organizations.

To try and catalyze growth, companies undergo perennial reorganizations, often to revitalize themselves. According to a Deloitte report, 50 percent of companies are undergoing an organizational transformation, yet only 11 percent think they will succeed. What’s worse, 70 percent of transformation programs do fail. In these failures, we only seem to continue to layer on complexity as a further stop-gap measure.

It is no wonder we’re growing increasingly pessimistic about making a positive change to a different transforming model within organizations. Without innovation taking a more leading transforming role, most of our established companies will continue to struggle to break out of their existing approach to business. Far too many are mired in a past business mindset. 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

What do we expect from Innovation? Mostly disappointment

Good innovation is notoriously hard to achieve. There are so many obstacles and uncertainties as you take an idea or concept through to eventual release. Often, we are dealing in the unknowns and uncertainties. We continually lack facts, we keep seeking validation. We are pressured for results. Others looking at the innovation progress keep demanding tangible evidence and quantifiable guarantees that the outcome provides clear returns.

Much of the innovation discovery journey is a disappointing one. A hunch or insight becomes a dead end. A promising idea did not foresee a roadblock that cannot be resolved. Resources constantly “churn” and get depleted, waiting for others to be brought up to speed. Those not involved directly within the innovation project constantly remain skeptical or require more proof. The status quo of the existing places an increasing drag on the forces of change.

Then we have that often-delusional aspect; where the organization has this total belief they are well ahead of their competitors and simply point to their financial performance as the justification that their innovation is superior when it is so many other factors that have determined that. Superior is often so transitory.

When they are constantly scanning reports on the “state of innovation” it can often lull them, to give some that warm glow, others quickly being dismissive, disregarding many of the key messages as “not applicable to me”. 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