Setting yourself apart through Innovation

the-path-to-successBreaking News: “Over the past 15 years, a portfolio of stocks based on the Innovation Leaders analysis has repeatedly outperformed all major indexes. Average return has been 14.5% CAGR and in 2016, growth was 18.9% – significantly higher than S&P500, NASDAQ and FTSE 100.

Year after year, this analysis has proven that those firms identified as being the most effective innovators consistently outperform their peers and the market.”

Now is that surprising?

It should not be but sadly for the vast majority of companies that do not treat innovation as seriously as they should, as the growth enabler, it keeps them in a constantly lagging position. It tells a very powerful message, one of investing in innovation seriously and in sustaining levels, you can grow well above others.

Points from this research

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We are transcending traditional industry and product boundaries

Global connectionsIt seems this is the era of the digitally savvy entrepreneur. With the dizzy array of choices, combined with technology prowess and ‘plugging’ these into ‘seen’ customer needs, they are setting about disrupting existing businesses and establishing new ones, on an ever-increasing global scale.

So what and how is the incumbent meant to react if it is an existing market? What should they do when they realize the traditional markets where they have safely operated for years has suddenly been overtaken by a new market creation, one that has gone outside old borders in industry and product.

Markets that are in the hands of the technically savvy entrepreneur are to be sliced, diced and recombined, are providing totally disruptive approaches to existing business models. If they get the factors right, hit the needs of customers in their design, understanding, agility in responding to learning and adapting, ability to be fast to market and capable of scaling up really fast, then they transform spaces, leaving the established players desperately struggling to find answers and catch up.

The whole world of business is changing radically.

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Opening up our innovation to stay relevant

Staying RelevantOur whole understanding of innovation is changing; there are numerous shifts occurring. We are opening up our thinking in where and with whom, to collaborate.

We are evaluating and changing our existing focus from closed (internal orientation) into ones that are having a far more open stance. We are searching for more collaborative innovation (external orientation) combining external partners into more ‘collective thinking’.

The shifts taking place are offering us the promise of “extra acceleration” that is needed to improve our innovation performances from concept to market delivery. Or, we hope it is!

Collaborative innovation is also leading us to higher chances of achieving greater impact and success, as nearly all novel ideas lay are mostly outside the organization’s domain of understanding. We need to always bring the knowledge inside and build from it.

As we increasingly include the customer and their more exacting needs within our understanding, these multiple collaborations and dialogues are building this better internal understanding to align our innovation with specific opportunity, relevancy and need.

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Redesigning the organizations middle for a new innovation shape.

managers-choice

Let’s admit it; our middle management needs a radical makeover, a new fitness regime to make us far more ‘innovation fit’.

Most organizations do need to change their middle management structures as they are far from that necessary ‘fitness for 21st century purpose’ in a constantly changing, challenging, more open innovating world.

The general argument goes and I relate to this, that the middle manager is so pressured to focus on the delivery of short-term results that all their efforts are centered far more on delivering ‘just’ an effective organization.

An organization that focuses on driving out any excess or leeway, reduce the variations, constantly dampening down potential risk and uncertainty. Today much of this being ‘efficient and effective’ is in direct conflict with what innovation requires. A space for ‘cutting’ some slack, seeking differences, exploring what variances can provide, encouraging a certain risk and uncertainty to allow for fresh thinking to emerge that leads to better things within the organization.

Yet the middle managers obsession with constantly chasing efficiencies alone, there is little ‘slack’ for innovation and new learning. Their measurement is often based on this efficiency and effectiveness emphasis and not on generating innovation.

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Are our organizations ossifying their innovation?

Innovate or dieThe balance between risk mitigation and being equipped for risk readiness is still an ongoing struggle to balance for most organizations.

There is still a continued reluctance for exploring new radical innovation opportunities and although organizations ‘talk’ growth, they continue to struggle in achieving it through new innovation.

The incremental commitments to innovation still rule the day to move growth along. Until a new sustaining confidence returns to our economies, risk mitigation dominates as markets continue to be more volatile and unreliable in predictive data and executive sentiment remains cautious.

Our organizations are looking for a higher certainty of return and seek sometimes endless validation and justification before they commit, even to small incremental changes. It is no wonder incremental innovation dominates in our innovation decisions; it is where reality sits for many. Are we heading off in a bad innovation direction?

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How are you evolving the function and design for innovation?

Organizations are struggling to forge a new path that captures opportunities fast and also exploiting that increasing need of being adaptive and flexible.

They are looking at structures for their innovation activity that are taking a more agile and focused approach, wanting to push for constantly accelerating the process. New practices are emerging.

This is demanding more radical redesigns of the function, processes and structures around innovation. Innovators are being more challenged.

Against this need for new, more radical designs there still lies that underlying concern, often at the top of our organizations, on how to manage innovation risk without significant organization disruption. There is this lingering fear that pushing for more radical innovation can create significant upheaval within the organization. Innovation is being challenged by the view of “we want predictable innovation but radical enough to make sure we grow.

Innovation has to manage within this conflicting message. It is through the well-designed system, processes and function that this can happen but this needs redesigning fairly radically to adjust to today’s world of wanting innovation faster than ever.

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Agility and Innovation in an Increasingly Open World

Can we reset the clock? Or do we look afresh? Knowing the answer to ‘evolving’ is never easy, can you draw down selected parts from the past or do you need to step back and see emerging patterns in different ways? Can you make new connections but recognizing the value of past learning but combining these differently? I think yes.

I’ve been taking some time out of the daily innovation business to look towards where I’d like my future direction for innovation to head. These are early days and as I learn, I sure I’ll pivot to emerging market needs within the innovation advisory market place.

I feel there are nine primary components that are making up my shift in my innovation focus for my future focal points. These are not, at present “written in stone” but I feel can move my innovating work towards a higher maximization of value for my advice to clients. Perhaps this will also allow me to have a sharper focus.

Let me share these:

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