Building the Core Competencies for Innovation

Building capabilities 4For my final post of the year, I went back to some of my thinking through, those around the building blocks needed in developing the core competencies for innovation that we need to have in place for realizing its true potential.

For me, the bedrock of innovation is built upon competencies, capabilities, and capacities and all these involve people as well as technology. They go hand in hand in our connected world.

Building these is the core of my own innovation offering in consulting, in advising, mentoring and coaching. My work constantly “maps” back to this essential three “C” of competencies, capabilities, and capacities.

Let me offer some thoughts that build around a framework I work through.

I often break my explanations down on this building core competency into eight parts.

We have two levels to it. The first (or higher level) is the need for a 1) Unifying framework, 2) to gain alignment and this needs two essential aspects to be well-clarified. We need to establish 3) a working blueprint and a clear understanding of 4) the business focus orientation for innovation to reside in.

The outcomes of this top-tier framing then we can begin to construct the underlying level of 5) well-designed competencies that need to be pursued, we need to move the organization or the innovation activities into ones that are seeking out this constant alignment and this needs building 6) critical behaviours, a seeking out of 7) motivators and finally, 8) the dependencies we must have to map back and advance our core and build our innovation competencies upon.

Let me explain these a little more, they tie together. Continue reading

So how do you manage exploiting and exploring for Innovation?

Innovation Exploit and Explore to TransformSo how do businesses organise their structures to be able to simultaneously manage the needs to exploit and explore innovation?

In this post I wanted to explain my thinking through on this ability to be ‘ambidextrous’, knowing the difference of when to exploit and when to explore as essential to leveraging innovation, in all its forms and watching out for some of the traps in not managing this well.

Managing this, in all honesty, though, is hard to get the balance right but highly valuable if you do achieve it, it can transform the business. Many of our organisations struggle to manage both successfully as they tend to focus more on separation mostly in organisational structures alone as their attempt to become ambidextrous. It is far more than ‘just’ this.  Get the balance right across the organisation’s design and in its leadership management, it becomes a very powerful mechanism for accelerating performances by delivering significantly new innovation and equally sustaining and leveraging the core business you have today.

Recently I contributed a blog post over on the Hype Innovation Blog ” Balancing Exploitation & Exploration for Changing Performance” that opens up the subject but then extensively dives into three examples of Apple, GE and Google that are working in highly ambidextrous ways, pursuing exploiting and exploring in their own unique ways.

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Dealing with the innovation legacy lying within your business.

Dealing with LegacyI know the feeling, there has been such a considerable investment that has gone into previous innovation processes to get them established but much of this is actually out of date, it has become today a real ‘legacy’ issue but there is, of course, a real reluctance to challenge it. Well you should!

Often this reluctance to dispose of these old systems, processes and inadequate frameworks is holding innovation back.

I would argue that perhaps many of our current innovation practices are ‘frozen’ in past times and they significantly slow us down, in a world that is becoming one built increasing on speed, flexibility and adaptability.

We lose precious time as we should be forward looking. constantly learning and experimenting with new concepts and approaches to innovation and what and where these can bring in new growth, sustainability and value to our organisations.

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Striving for the innovation balance: between exploring and exploiting.

Exploit and ExploreWe never seem capable of adapting as well as we should do. Adapting always seems a work-in-progress, or it is often something where we are simply making little or no progress!

We often stay ‘stuck’ in the way we do ‘things’ around here, never seemingly able to break out into something new or different.

To adapt we need to open ourselves up to learning and adjusting our organizational ‘form’ in new ways.

In business there should be a constant battle to reconfigure the assets and extend the existing capabilities. Yet often these stay ‘static’ not learning or improving.  In our innovation activities there is an even greater pressing need to build into our thinking the ability to find more dynamic capabilities. It is a constant innovator’s dilemma to think through and get right.

What might help? Continue reading

Building the new dynamics into our capacity to innovate

Exploit and ExploreDo we know what are the dependencies and requirements for building and sustaining your organizations innovation success? How do you sustain innovation, is it more through the structuring of everyday work, by creating a particular set of social rules and resources that foster specific routines? Or something different?

We work really hard at maintaining these re-occurring processes, never willing to extend and push them in different and new ways. We have actually become very static in our approaches and learning, we are not learning anew. We often simply end up with incremental innovation that might just ‘nudge’ the growth needle but does little more than sustain us in the present and can be ‘contained’ in a tidy process that makes many, including the ‘bean counters,’ very happy until someone changes the game.

Then we need to think differently but this is usually far too late.. As demand is more volatile today we need to experiment, explore, learn and adjust. What becomes more important is the ‘work to be done, and how we go about tackling this and not the work done’ where we often simply ‘default too. Surprisingly Adam Smith identified this important difference in work way back in 1776.

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Deeper read or quick summary? Depends on the time we have.

researching_innovation

I recently wrote a post “Finding knowledge and research to help you learn and adapt. On reflection I should have replaced the word “research” with “time”……time to help you learn and adapt.

Finding time is a real struggle and going that extra mile to read thought leadership views, long often drawn out reports or academic papers can be a step too far, I know but I can’t help myself, it is part of my job and certainly for me, many are really worth the read in a positive end result of new learning..

In that post mentioned above, I was recommending Deloitte and their thought leadership as a good place to visit. Now I’m not sure how many of you actually did so I thought in this blog, to pick out a couple of ‘choice pieces’ and make a posting summary of these, as ones that might be useful.

So I’ve chosen two that challenge and break ground.

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Finding knowledge and research to help you learn and adapt

Learning and Knowleodge Sharing“The world has never been as complex, dynamic and uncertain as it is today and the pace of change will only increase.”

We hear this consistently, our continual problem is trying to make sense of it.

So much is coming towards us and to assimilate it and turn it into value, usable value, so we can adapt and respond to it in new ways of opportunity by adding further to the knowledge by turning this into new innovation potential.

Seeking out knowledge, being proactive, partly helps as being consistently caught by surprise makes your world even more insecure.

To attempt to keep up to date we all need to invest increasing time in acquiring a better understanding, a deeper knowledge of all the interconnected parts. Even if we are “time starved” we simply must try and keep moving along in this understanding.

As part of my job, advising others on all things swirling around innovation, I invest significant time in researching, learning and applying what I feel is important to others, so as to understand or at least to raise their awareness to changing practices, thinking or approaches. At times it all seems to come literally flooding in, overwhelming the senses, that I just have to wait and let it settle in my mind, before I can attempt to process it and translate it into something of value to me, then eventually to my clients or readers.
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