Innovation is increasingly moving beyond the previous boundaries of just being left to each organizations scientists or marketing departments, those days are seemingly long gone. Today and in the future, innovation is about open, inclusive, full of exploration and harmonization to extract the best results.
We seem to have really grasped and recognized the combination-effect that comes from the myriad of different linkages that is propelling innovation activity and bringing increasing confidence within the boardroom.
According to a recent PwC report, optimism has dramatically been raised around innovation, so much so the vast majority within the survey of 1,757 c-suite or executives respondents believe their aggressive growth plans will be driven by organic growth (93%) and not by previous means of M&A activity. They are talking more radical and breakthrough innovation. BCG in its 2013 report on most innovative companies is equally far more bullish on innovation.
My only wish is this all this optimism is grounded in reality and recognition of what significant changes are required in structures, processes and supporting mechanisms that this increased innovation focus will really require. They will have to address the existing organizations constraints as well as rework the emphasis away from the efficient and effectiveness focus that has become engrained. This will require a very dedicated focus on understanding innovation management and what it really means, to translate this organic ‘wish’ into reality over the next five years.
The good news is, we have seen innovation maturing
We are certainly seeing innovation has moved well beyond just products. It is exploring the value of combining or even separating services, changing value propositions on a more consistent basis and exploring new business models far more openly. All these approaches to innovation are challenging and demanding far more constant reorganization around changing the innovation activities to meet the ‘breaking’ opportunities.
One innovation struggle is around ‘rigidity’ within the organizations.
Innovation requires a more fluid, adaptive and agile environment. This will require some significant changes within the approaches within managing within these structures and this takes a significant and dedicated approach to achieve. The end result is changing the way people are managed and valued. There is a need to draw in, to engage, more open to diversity in opinion and thinking and increased emphasis on fluid teams tackling issues and challenges in unique ways, not through standard processes and approaches.
Research led or technology – based standing alone is not enough in pursuing greater functionality or breakthroughs, we need to cooperate with all the relevant people and partners that can bring the innovation idea or concept to fruition. The opening up to greater networks, exploring relationships and allowing them to deepen becomes vital. Allowing time for these to work and build the essential trust needed equally will take time.
The shifts in innovation activity, seeking simplification
We are also seeing increasingly the disruptive era of simplification, which captures far more of the imagination and where the increased movement of future wealth generating opportunities lie by meeting targeted customer need. These are not ‘layering’ on features that have been the approach of the past, this is stripping away and rapidly breaking these back down into targeted applications that do the job, we the consumer or client wants, often willing to pay a premium upon.
Complexity is also changing, taking out the pain
Complexity should not be about customers having to work out how to understand something; it is using the smart complexity that sits behind the solution to allow us to focus on what we need to achieve, to then help us significantly deliver on our required needs. Smarter searches, algorithms, designing your own options all are giving us the complexity we need. Simpler, interactive interfaces to do the job we wish to do, not forced to spend time learning and doing.
Exploring the effects of reverse innovation and lean approaches.
Reverse innovation, jugaad or frugal innovation is where there is a huge potential – still largely untapped in developed countries offering new avenues to real targeted growth. What about the strong underlying movement in start-ups that is far more ‘needs related’ or serving ‘unmet needs’ through lean approaches and customer development techniques. These are so much better understood than the approaches in the past, of simply cruising along for opportunity with a vague business concept.
Sharpening the minds, changing the mindsets.
Everything has become so much sharper in why we have to focus our minds down, it is far more on what and where innovation can give us the next growth opportunity and that comes from all the diversity we can muster. Managing in the global innovation space is no different; we can get far more quickly at answers on a global basis than at any time in the past. We are learning to tap into this global knowledge in different ways, it needs a dedicated focus and understanding, to find the unique mix that suits your needs and knowledge accessing and translating and then we are closer to the solutions that have the global unlocking key.
We are using the ability to engage, to explore and exchange through a variety of social mediums, we can collect and interpret larger amounts of data than ever before.
As growth comes increasingly back on the agenda for most organizations, it will come far more from exploiting through this organic growth approach. Yet to achieve the ambitious growth targets that many organizations are seemingly talking about, there needs to be a radical overhaul of internal innovation understanding and structures.
Revisiting past practices
All of what has gone on previously needs to be revisited and in many cases reworked through new practices, new systems and new measures. Organizations are coming rapidly to the point of needing to be innovation re-engineered to make the sizeable changes they must achieve to ‘allow’ organic growth to deliver.
Innovation challenges much that is presently established within organizations, there is potential higher risks, significant changes required to be enacted within the organizations, with a whole raft of different competencies and capabilities to be learnt to extract the ‘promise and value’ from the innovation needed.
We are forced to look harder for attracting growth into our business and innovation can provide the force if there is the commitment backing the rhetoric of needing organic growth to be the primary driver of over the next five years.
Innovation needs positive translation in its management
I am sensing a really positive shift in innovation practice. It does seem to have gone up a notch or two in its maturity and adoption within our organizations in recent months. Can you feel the changes or are we still at the intent stage? Are organizations fully commitment to what shifting to an innovation emphasis will mean? Or are we only at a recognition stage?
There are significant sets of issues needed to be addressed to really allow innovation to drive growth. Organizations need to consider very radical shifts in approaching innovation and its management to gain any momentum, so intent can meet these organic growth ambitions as suggested? For me, in the next twelve months it will be the level of activity to begin to re-equip organizations will determine if this is a reality or just C-level rhetoric, worried over the alternatives of low or no growth prospects but staying risk adverse.