There are Knowns and Unknowns in Innovation: Let’s Manage Them Differently

quote from donald rumsfeld about the knowns and unknowns

This quote is from the former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Henry Rumsfeld, who mentioned: “unknown unknowns” (Rumsfeld, 2002). Since then, people have started using quadrants of knowledge, i.e., known known, known unknown, unknown known, and unknown unknown, to understand and explain the nature of risk but also of leading to an opportunity.

For innovators so much of innovation is hard to detect, it needs discovery and working through these quadrants of knowledge as well. We need to treat ideas the same on how anything needs assessing but it needs to pass through a different thinking about knowledge understanding, as there are ‘known knowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ and we need to prepare for both within our innovation activities.

Our pursuit in life is often the same as our innovation efforts, it is in the search for discovery. Often it happens, that we already feel better equipped for exploring and observing by just getting out of our usual everyday working environment.

Continue reading


The new ROI for digital innovation

Innovation has had a bigger brother moving into the house next door; Digital Technology and between them, they have been busily knocking the walls down, to share the future going forward. The two have become interlinked, you seem to always need the one to respond to the other. Maybe it is a “digital – innovation twin” that shapes the physical world with digital understanding- think about the current Industrial Digital Twins for IIoT solutions.

Seriously, have you not noticed the more we work in the innovation space, digital and technology have become inseparable and part of any innovation solution. The innovation funds are increasingly being switched to digital or technology solutions and the output of the discoveries from this digital technology need innovation to then be applied. A virtuous loop.

Managing in this shift has become more intense and committing.

The reliance on deeper insights, more data, greater communications is changing the way we undertake innovation. Speed, scale, and scope are greater within the mix than ever before. We are testing uncertainty constantly, validating a part, pivoting more, experimenting and prototyping to work through this deciphering. Data specific, technology-driven, innovation invigorating.

Organizations are spotting opportunities faster than ever. We are cutting across borders, teaming up with start-up’s, past competitors to seize these opportunities. Continue reading

A new paradigm: focusing on Work to be Done

Much of what we read about with artificial intelligence, deep learning and robots can present a fear that our jobs are simply going, vanishing fairly soon. Technology, machines and information solutions will take over in this new world of accelerating technology with the concern of “so then, what do we do?

Well, I believe we have a real chance to, at last, celebrate. Yes celebrate, we can finally be liberated! Ever since the industrial revolution, we have been caught up in the productivity and efficiency trap, in the monotony of repeating work.

Today we are on the cusp of changing that.  Can you imagine all those boring, repetitive jobs we are faced with today can be simply handed over to machine intelligence, just happy to do the task at hand? Surely, if we manage this correctly it can release us up, it can enable our ingenuity to thrive. Continue reading

A New Integrated Innovation Engagement System

I have written extensively, certainly over the past eighteen months, about our need to take innovation into a new era, designed for today and tomorrow’s “fit for purpose”. Below you will see my view of how I see this sketched out, as my suggested concept outline. Does it make sense?

We have this compelling need to have a new cycle of innovation design. A more integrated solution that takes our understanding of innovation and how to manage it, into the realms of ecosystems and platforms in its design and thinking.

I wrote a piece “Jumping to a fresh cycle of innovation design” that stated much of what I saw as any design intent.

” We need to increasingly rely on problem-solving techniques that we generate through greater automated discovery and inquiry, those that emerge from analysis and data mining. So, we seek out greater applied science knowledge we will use it to support and develop practical applications based on technology and innovation. Utilitarian in its principles, seeking real-world use and implementation through a more creative, collaborative environment, leading to more discoveries that distinctly ‘blend’ the lab application with the customer discovery of unmet need. Through a blend of pattern recognition, predictive analytics and exploring cognitive computing we can change much with innovation”

“We have been steadily learning to adapt what we knew inside an organization with what we should increasingly listen to outside it. There has been an increasing emphasis on linking concepts in new and novel products and services, increasingly closer to these customer needs and desires.

We need to consider how big data and analytics, technology and a far more creative thinking needs to be applied collectively but in greater constellations of partners. We need to get far more comfortable with working in ecosystems, managed in platform designs to work more collaboratively. Continue reading

Shifting our thinking within the Fourth Industrial Revolution

I always enjoy selected parts of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and in this year’s #WEF18 agenda, it certainly had its good points. I don’t attend, I listen and read.

Overhaul though, I was a little disappointed, as it lacked the real leadership insights you come to expect, strong personalities did not seem to shine through this year from the speakers and panelists. They gave fragmented insights for the future, mostly seemed to be retrospective, caught in the present, or simply trying to catch up.

I certainly felt the WEF theme for this meeting, of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” showed through, actually more re-affirmed as fractured. We seem all to be still working on what the future will look like, as it is in danger of being fractured even more before it coalesces around new directions and order.

Some suggest we should allow the future to just simply unfold but I don’t share this view, our future does need to be shaped in so many ways but in what ways and what to allow to “simply evolve” is a very complex question and we are not getting many cohesive answers. So, it continues where it continues, based on individual perspective. The future is never easy to map out but you would expect more answers than questions

Yet what this forum provided, was in its bringing me back to refocus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It helped deliver a far sharper focus on its impact, potential, and scope beyond just manufacturing. Now, this was the major ‘bright spot’ of future collaborative potential for us all. Also the growing concensus around the skills and future of work Continue reading

Munich Re offers a real clarity to their innovating future

The most impressive presentation I reviewed in 2017 was the one from Munich Re, held on 21st November 2017 under their investor day link

This, for me, was so well structured and offered such a high level of clarity on the pathway they are pursuing, combining innovation and digital, with the outcomes emerging, of building a new suite of Business Models.

I can only simply touch on it here, I suggest you do your own drawing of conclusions.

The Insurance industry has been struggling to adjust and adapt to the rapid changes occurring yet so many are hanging onto the traditional way of doing things. It is so refreshing to see how Munich Re are venturing out, exploring and exploiting, in multiple ways to learn a new innovation pathway.

I follow the two big Re-Insurers, Swiss Re and Munich Re specifically and the innovative differences are quite significant. Swiss Re seems locked far more into traditions and I am still to be convinced they have yet to embrace innovation, certainly from an external perspective, in the same way as Munich Re is undertaking. I struggle with Swiss Re’s messages on where they are exploring the future of Insurance. The way I view, it seems far more unclear, even random, they seem far more closed down with isolated attempts to explore opportunities.  Whereas Munich Re is constantly opening up to change, exploring and seems far more comprehensive and holistic. It seems one is undertaking “words are simply spoken” the other “actions underscored”. Maybe I am wrong. Continue reading

As we enter 2018 we will need Knowledge Graphs

I received an early New Year present, actually, it came from Siemens. They had invited me to their Siemens Innovation Day in mid-December 2017. I really appreciated it, yet it took me time to absorb all that was provided, over these past two weeks.

My early present, well actually an idea, came the day before the event. I was included in the Industry Analysts visit to the Siemens Technology Center, at Neuperlach in Munich. We were provided a variety of insights in different presentations and demonstrations, of the technology they are working upon but one stood out for me, being introduced to Knowledge Graphs.

This one ‘thing’ really caught my attention. It was showcased in the technology center, briefly, as part of a broader set of presentations. It immediately struck me as having the potential to be very vital for the connected innovation I see, as our future.  These few insights set me off on a new train of thought and I scribbled down some hasty notes while listening to this concept. I then was able to review this a little more after the brief presentation. I then started to research on (Industrial) Knowledge Graphs for the initial depth of understanding I was seeking. Continue reading