Moving to a Digital World totally across your Business is highly challenging

Transformation is very hard at the best of times for all of us to undertake. Digital transformation forces us to work with mostly emerging, constantly evolving technologies, and then apply these in an integrated way into an existing business. This stretches our abilities significantly, as we may remain unclear of the finished design for quite some time.

We have to evolve it, as we go. With anything that is evolving in front of our eyes, we will need to recognize some of the decisions we will make will turn out to be wrong but made as a good judgment at the time, on ’emerging’ evidence, not proven. Achieving a digital transformation is becoming really essential for innovation, helping to enable your ability to deliver sustained growth through making all the ‘connections’ come together in different ways than ever before; in evaluations, analysis, in collaborations and in the process from discovery to eventual commercialization.

Digital transformation executed well is a really big undertaking. It goes way beyond making a series of incremental improvements to become cloud-ready as are supposed to build in and reflect social, mobile and digital technologies in the solution set. We need to fundamentally transform our processes by opening up and engaging with customers in dramatically different ways, in real-time, in constant exchanges and connected ways. Everything needs to be tracked and traced. Continue reading

Digital technology is changing the innovation ‘game’

Digital technologies are beginning to have a real impact on the methods, approaches, and rates of our innovation outputs. Social technologies are giving us real-time understanding.

We continually learn nthat intuition and ‘gut feel’ on research set up and gathered weeks or more often months ago, has a hidden cost as it rapidly goes out of date. This ‘knowledge’ is becoming out of date before we can gain from it and sometimes highly dangerous to follow, or believe in in the more volitile market conditions of today’s, those that are rapidly changing. We need to get closer to ‘real-time.’

This reliance on rapidly out-of-date understanding cannot be the basis for any justifications for high-stake bets when it comes to innovation. We need to change our thinking and design in the digital insight part more specifically within and along the innovation process. Technology in all its forms is altering the innovation game but are we adapting to this radical change potential? We need to embrace it. Continue reading

The backdrop of digital transformation and its consequences

Digital transformation is now omnipresent and has the potential to reshape the way all organizations operate. The customer has become absolutely central to this transformation and the push towards the 4th Industrial revolution is driving this transformation wholesale, across all industries and services engaged in business.

Let me outline some of the challenges in my opinion that might help us all form a clear view of the digital transformation journey, recently researched.

Firstly I’m sure we can all agree transformation is very hard at the best of times

Digital transformation is doubly difficult, it forces us to work with mostly emerging, constantly evolving technologies, and then apply these in an integrated way into an existing business. This stretches our abilities significantly.

Beyond making a series of incremental improvements to become cloud-ready, we are supposed to reflect social, mobile and digital technologies. We need to fundamentally transform our processes by opening up and engaging with customers. On top, we have to deal with a broad range of communities, across platforms and in different ecosystems at speed, scale, and scope. However, we must do all this to reposition all our businesses towards the digital world.

I provided a recent digital transformation report that might help you in planning this digital journey.

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Mapping the customer journey is the top driver for digital transformation

mapping-the-customer-journeyOrganizations are struggling to understand the behaviors of the ‘connected’ customer. Partly it seems executives don’t engage with their brand or business in the way that their customers do. There is often a difference in understanding the value creating points between them

The lack of having a well mapped out customer journey means missing out on opportunities caused by not knowing this complete set of connections being made into you. By not knowing all these connecting points and drawing them together in a cohesive plan, there is a significant chance you are simply restricting the developing of innovation solutions that map back to all the decision-making that is going on in the customers’ minds.

This failure to optimize and seize upon all the possible options to connect with your customers is restricting your ability to broaden out your innovation solutions, making the journey more value creating, it certainly can be really holding your business back.

As you explore the digital transformation path this can become your best opportunity to connect along the total customer experience and see a greater return on this understanding and investment. Continue reading

Organizations are in a constant dilemma concerning innovation

Organization's innovation dilemma.The issue of “where does innovation fit?” is one of the most difficult ones to address in many organizations. It seems to fit uncomfortably for many.

At the top of our organizations they ‘require’ innovation but will often not want the potential disruption this might entail.

Yet the organization today is being challenged like never before, it has gone from managing the predictable business to responding to the unpredictable, more opportunistic and alert to change, a place innovation can fit within the need to respond to this different environment.

This is the final post in the series that has focused on the innovation work mat components

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Piecing innovation together

Completing the innovation design

Completing the innovation design

When you look at all the (broken) parts within innovation it takes some time to figure out how you can piece it all together to make it a better whole. Innovation and its management is just this place this needs to be pieced together. It often cries out for it.

Most people that work in our business organizations are spending their increasing time in piecing their part of the innovation equation together to make innovation work and trying to improve on the existing conditions to deliver new products and services. They have to work on fixing the system and its many faulty parts, let lone work on their new concept. Is it not about time we stepped back and really thought through the design of innovation and its managing? Why is this so hard to do?

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Your dominating innovation design is?

Each organization seems to favour one design approach over another when it comes to how they innovate. It favours either the more comfortable repeatable zones or is determined to push the boundaries out on its innovation activities.

We often talk about simply incremental and radical, yet we do have other choices such as a more ‘distinctive’ design or one that sets out to be ‘disruptive’.

Let me offer this for thinking through on your fits on the innovation path you want to take and ‘flag’ some areas you need to consider. Each degree of innovation (or type) has considerable organization design issues to think through.

We have different designs for innovation and they have implications

Let me explain these a little more

Degree is the scale to increase the intensity of innovation- incrementally, distinctively, radically or disruptively. Each of these ‘degree’s’ have implications and aspects for the organization to consider.

Type provides the environment you are operating within. Incremental innovation is fairly predictable, it is the ‘easier’ option, and it tends to be a fairly static place to be, everything is fairly predictable; you keep refining the practice of innovation. For distinctive you are extending your innovating into good practice, you are looking to push design, to offer something beyond the existing extension. I feel design innovation fits really well within this type. Radical is more about learning, being alert, agile and experimental, preparing to take some risks but pushing beyond the existing boundaries, into emergent practice.   Lastly disruptive, a high risk approach where it is very much leading edge, self generated, self- inflicted but offering potentially high reward that changes existing dynamics and is often novel and experimental in how you handle this in practices.

Approach is the way you set about innovation. Incremental for the vast majority is often through a very ad hoc innovation process and not systematic in their approach in linking strategic with their innovations.  Although you could argue and argue well, that the vast majority of consumer goods companies have a very highly systematic process to churn out incremental products constantly but I don’t think this type of incremental innovation gives ‘huge’ additional growth value, it tends to maintain the ‘steady’ state.

I think the more it is systematic the more the innovation moves from a ‘incremental’ to ‘distinctive’ as it is the richness of combinations that separate the product or service. For instance you redesign the container, you add different ingredients that are healthier, you reposition your product in brand message, you offer a more emotive attachment- this becomes more distinctive, more enduring than incremental. Radical or disruptive is far more fluid, adaptive and constantly searching out, less reliant on a given process, more on the nature of the proposition to drive it through to translation, not on a given process or accepted methodology.

Fit deals with the space you chose to operate within. The more you chase up the degree of innovation the more you need to challenge your organizations structure, response mechanism and adaptation.

Without going into the Cynefin framework explained here it has considerable value as it offers a ‘sense making model to think through’ for you to reflect on the type of innovation and its difficulties.

Innovation is certainly complex and the Cynefin framework offers an excellent complexity model for being made more aware. It helps you to think differently and apply the necessary changed mindsets needed for these four innovation types.

Conditions are more to do with how you work. These are too a large degree the ability within the organization to adapt and how you learn. If you don’t communicate well, you don’t seek to learn from mistakes or each other the learning loops never actually happen. You need to find ways to question and re-question if you want to push the boundaries.

Where do you see your organization?

So these are my dominant design structures for firms when it comes to innovation. Can they operate across all four simultaneously – highly doubtful -especially if you have a culture, industry and leadership that stays within the incremental space or a given comfort zone. It is really hard to unlearn this repeating pattern of innovation and attempt to move into the different degree’s of radical or disruptive particularly, yet I hear so many talking about this, as a need to do but can they?

The implications of the degree of innovation does have significant implications and organization design challenges, so be warned.