Advancing My Applied Innovation Thinking

I wrote a post “Needing to Think Applied Innovation Services” recently, it was extending my view that innovation needs to change. We need to think of managing innovation in different ways, we need to automate it and in addition, augment it. I suggested in that post “we need to pull down what is needed” and design a totally ‘adaptive’ innovation process to fit a specific need.

I argued we need to think differently about how we manage innovation. It needs to be more radical in design, actually, it needs to be far more up to date and in tune with the technology progress we recommend so much to others! Innovation systems are lagging, they should be leading in their design and connectivity.

What I mean by this is it needs to begin to ‘account’ for cognitive solutions that can augment and help automate our present highly manual innovation systems. I know we have some good software for different parts of the innovation process but none of these are integrated, fully connected up in their design. We still work in piecing them together. We lose significant collaborative opportunities and speed due to this mostly disjointed innovation approach. Surely this has to change?

We need to bring innovation and its process up to date. With cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, cloud-based solutions, purposefully designed apps and specific tools and frameworks, we do need to begin to stretch our imaginations further and flex our technology and app solutions more towards providing a better, more connected innovation process. I want to see a new innovation era happen.

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Needing To Think Applied Innovation Services

We can simply go on and on in the many ways we have evolved our problem-solving techniques or methodologies, as those help the innovation and discovery process; incremental, piecemeal and experimentally.

Yet we still get caught out by not resolving or addressing the essential building blocks of innovation (culture, environment, climate, governance, alignment). We have never ‘cracked’ the full innovation management system. Perhaps we can today. We should try at least.

Many of those innovation tools that have been emerging in recent years have now built up a powerful body of validation, and they become necessary to know and practice yet often miss the basic building block needs of innovation. We need to do better, we need to design a completely new innovation process that takes into account all that has evolved in our understanding and experiment in recent years. Some thoughts:

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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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Walkabouts are needed for learning and testing ourselves

Walkabout picture

photo credit: Walkabout (1971) film by Nicolas Roeg

How often do you pause for thought, even simply for ‘just those few minutes,’  to allow yourself to openly question where you are and what you are attempting to do? We keep relentlessly moving on, like a wandering herd of buffalo, always looking for fresh pasture, those new feeding grounds. It’s not good.

Of course I often get caught up in this restless pursuit of gathering more, when I spend a growing amount of my time researching across innovation. I keep coming across so many things that ‘trigger’ the thinking, pushing me on.

Do you let them go, ignore them, quickly pass over them, or attempt to capture the issue as something well worth investigating further at a later stage, or just get them simply behind you in the here and now.

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Understanding Challenges Within Innovation Complexity

Complex adaptive system 1

Termite colonies are a complex adaptive system

We need to think differently about innovation and why it needs complexity and adaptive thinking as part of its design.

Complexity within systems challenge us to think differently, it pushes us to think outside often our normal experiences, to confront and understand and then restructure, often the unordered, into a new ordered.

Organizations are in need of understanding the complexities within their systems far more.

Complexity within innovation is always adaptive.

The challenge with managing complexity is that it is made up of many shifting and connected parts, that form much around interactions and relationships. These new ‘connections’ are shifting and challenging much of our previous understanding, built often on past practice and entrenched thinking.

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The Use of the Cynefin Model for Innovation

Cynefin Revised 1

The Cynefin Framework is a sense-making one and is registered copyright to Cognitive Edge

Firstly a very brief explanation of the Cynefin Model and why I find it highly valuable for innovation.

Innovation has many characteristics of a complex adaptive system as I have crudely  attempted to explain here.

The three primary states within the Cynefin framework are Ordered Systems (including Obvious and Complicated), Complexity and Chaos.

Order is split into two, as this handles a key difference in human knowledge between those states, where the cause and effect relationship is obvious and those where it requires greater analysis or expertise.

Exploring a process of emergent discovery for innovation

Most innovators are working in and certainly are far more familiar with the ordered domains, for ‘obvious’ innovations that extend, enhance or evolve their existing products and services. Equally they understand their more specializes place and contribution to be growing in their comfort, in the part they play in the more ‘complicated’ domain, where expertise, dedicated focus and specialization is often required or called upon.

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