Innovation has a hard job to align

We need to recognize that innovation is one of the hardest things to align to strategy. It’s inherently messy, fairly unpredictable and its team-orientated approach sometimes cuts across borders, challenges different established positions and seemingly conflicting priorities.

It often challenges the status quo and can on certain occasions, potentially challenge the stated strategic goals as those ‘disruptive forces’ have not been addressed radically enough. Innovation often “asks” difficult questions of ourselves.

We keep asking a lot of innovators but consistently restrain them or starve them of essential resources, at the critical times they need them. We seem to get in the way of blocking innovation so it can’t be seen to align with the goals or vision of the organization. Continue reading

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The Essential Connection Between Strategy and Innovation

Most organizations are seeking solutions to the necessary connections between Strategy and Innovation. The connection between the two are often broken.

Often it is within the strategies that should be outlined, lies the potential new spaces to play for innovation’s design. Yet how often do we fail to connect the innovation’s we design and execute specifically aligned to the strategic need?

We somehow seem to stay locked in the ‘here and now’ constantly repeating and refining the known and established within our domain of responsibility. Is this because innovation is not at the core of the business as it should be? Often we are inherently resisting to exploring change as it becomes risky and far more demanding. A good strategy, well outlined should encourage innovation and gain engagement but it can equally determine how we break down our imposed boundaries by its strategic intent, to encourage exploring and extending on what we know into the what we need to know. Strategic intent informs innovation.

If you have a clear strategic understanding of the needs of the business you are getting more of the understanding of where-to-play and how-to-win in your innovation activities and market investment. It is making these strategic connections that is giving innovators a better chance to deliver back concepts that offer alignment to this strategic need. Investing in this understanding and alignment should never be understated. The time invested, allows for the innovation investments to do their part in supporting the business and feeding it with the growth options required, or highlighting where the possible gaps might be, for additional investment or M&A activity, to accelerate this and bring-in fresh innovating momentum.

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We are in need of a common language for innovation

German Late Medieval (c. the 1370s) depiction of the construction of the tower.

Any innovation common language needs working upon. It firstly needs recognition it is in our best interests to find a common point. It needs to be relevant to each of us, it must be current, appropriate, accurate and highly visible throughout the entire organization. It also needs to be allowed to grow and flourish, to evolve and become the lingua franca of all our innovation work. It needs building and constructing in conscious ways and design.

Let’s step back just for one minute, these ‘sentiments’ are fine, yet we actually do, seriously lack a common language for innovation and we should find the ways and the means to change this. It holds innovation back significantly. It can’t continue in a world of greater networking and collaboration.

Languages unites us or keeps dividing us

Language can have the power to unite us or potentially divide us. Developing a language to unite us in our innovation efforts goes some way to reduce disagreements and egos, to qualify individual interpretation or bias, often a key inhibitor that can block a team’s success. It lays in a common foundation. It builds confidence and understanding.

Once we have a common language, we can set about building and creating a more robust innovation management system. One that builds on this framework so it can relate to the relevant context, conditions, and environment for innovation, to offer within this building block, the common identity.

These identifiers can build into better understanding how to structure governance, process, and functional structures, to build a culture that is responsive as ‘they’ can identify a need for a common cause of understanding. It is in this central innovation language that becomes our clear unifying context, the enabler, and sense of personal identity with the purpose of what we are wishing to achieve.

In any common language, we need to master the understanding, the nuances and how it all fits together. We need to exploit it and extract what it can offer to enhance all the work we do in innovation. We need to appreciate always its terms, its definitions (and limitations) and the related performance values that can help to improve our performance and in our achievements of working increasingly with others.  A common understanding of our meaning to ‘innovate’ becomes an imperative. Continue reading

Constructing Innovation as Value Management

Innovation and ValueInnovation needs to create value, both short-term and progressively over time. It fuels the growth and fires the imagination.

Yet our innovation activities are constantly coming up short for the leaders within our organizations, who continue to remain disappointed in its final outcome to stimulate and drive the growth they want to see.

It is actually the classic “chicken and egg”. Aristotle (384–322 BC) was puzzled by the idea that there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed. Leaders need to lead and are they the chicken, they are the resource for how can the people charged with innovation can lay the ‘golden eggs’ needed, if they are incapable of laying? Or should the innovation egg come first for our leaders to become more confident and build further, believing in innovation far more?

There should be no dilemma we can’t treat innovation lightly anymore, it needs to develop its uniqueness for each of our organizations to evolve. We need both the egg and the chicken to be ‘producing’.

What I’m driving towards here is that innovation is evolving is my 1st point

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Successful Innovation needs a common language, context and communicating

The story of Babel

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)

People disconnect because they lack what is needed to connect!  Innovation thrives from knowledge and you need to make sure this is allowed to flow. To achieve those essential knowledge connections, you need a shared understanding of innovation, that common sense of purpose as a framework. This will though, always stay a work-in-progress.

You need to begin to build a common language of greater understanding. We need to unite around innovation. Imagine if you work consciously to put knowledge in the hands of people willing to make innovation happen, what the potential might be?

Give people the power of the context for their innovation engagement and that shifts everything to give them a clearer shape and meaning. You are laying out the conditions, criteria and circumstances, giving innovation its foundations.

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Measuring and motivating the innovation elephant

Elephant and the blind men 1I often think of the parable of “The Elephant and the Blind Men” when I get into discussions about measuring innovation. What are truths, what are the fallacies?  The parable implies that one’s often subjective experience can be true on your need, but not necessarily the other persons view of their understanding of value.

You get, as the end result, a failure to account for other ‘beliefs’ or capture the real value and miss providing broader motivations to encourage the innovation elephant along.

Establishing the right metrics that motivate and yield the result you are looking for is sometimes a tough challenge. You should always start with the bigger picture, organizational needs and then design the metrics and cascade these throughout the organization.

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Seven Parts to the Innovation Leaders Litmus Test

Seven parts to the Innovation Litmus Test for the Executive Innovation Work Mat methodology

Seven parts to the Innovation Litmus Test for the Executive Innovation Work Mat methodology

Let’s cut straight to the chase. To achieve the alignment of innovation to the organizations strategic goals and ambitions is so highly critical, yet we are, in so many cases, failing to meet this essential objective.  We end up in that position that innovation disappoints.

We should bring together all that makes up those considerable efforts that goes into all our innovation activity. We need to work at strongly aligning all the innovation activities into the organizations goals and agenda. So how? Stay with me, I believe its valuable to your finding better innovation solutions.

To this end the Innovation Executive Work Mat was designed. I would recommend you consider this within your innovation thinking. It provides a structured framework for an organization to gather around but it is leadership driven and often this is simply missing within innovation activities.

We are in need of fresh growth through innovation

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