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

So how do you manage exploiting and exploring for Innovation?

Innovation Exploit and Explore to TransformSo how do businesses organise their structures to be able to simultaneously manage the needs to exploit and explore innovation?

In this post I wanted to explain my thinking through on this ability to be ‘ambidextrous’, knowing the difference of when to exploit and when to explore as essential to leveraging innovation, in all its forms and watching out for some of the traps in not managing this well.

Managing this, in all honesty, though, is hard to get the balance right but highly valuable if you do achieve it, it can transform the business. Many of our organisations struggle to manage both successfully as they tend to focus more on separation mostly in organisational structures alone as their attempt to become ambidextrous. It is far more than ‘just’ this.  Get the balance right across the organisation’s design and in its leadership management, it becomes a very powerful mechanism for accelerating performances by delivering significantly new innovation and equally sustaining and leveraging the core business you have today.

Recently I contributed a blog post over on the Hype Innovation Blog ” Balancing Exploitation & Exploration for Changing Performance” that opens up the subject but then extensively dives into three examples of Apple, GE and Google that are working in highly ambidextrous ways, pursuing exploiting and exploring in their own unique ways.

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Uncharted Waters Disrupting the Corporate Boardrooms

The storm clouds of Radical InnovationWhen you read a report that has within its executive summary this: “In combination the boards stand unarmed to enter the battlefield of future business creation in a disrupted world it makes you want to read on.

In a recent report called Radical Innovation and Growth: Global Board Survey 2016 (link opens the pdf) we have results from a survey jointly conducted by Deloitte Denmark and Board Network – The Danish Professional Directors Association, that opens up much that can concern us about the current boardroom and its great difficulty with managing more radical innovation.

It seems within our boardrooms they are ill-equipped to managing in today’s world, grappling with the past, holding on, perhaps too tightly, to the present and certainly being unsure of the future. It is struggling to adjust to all that is entering their world.

In this report, they surveyed 614 global board professionals from a total of 50 countries during the period covered from November 2015 through to February 2016 and then published in February 2016.

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Caught in the Headlights of Disruptive Innovation.

Exploding DsruptionThis past weekend I had an extended period of re-reading about the effects of disruption that seems to be occurring across all points of business, our politics, our governments, it seems across our lives.

I had been looking forward to a nice break up in the mountains of Switzerland, in a place near St.Moritz for five days of some walking, catching up with good friends over some great meals.

The evenings playing different card games or board games, as the temperatures dropped outside to minus six centigrade, the competitive nature raised the inside temperatures significantly. All good plans sometime get disrupted.

Regretfully a few days before, I ‘pulled’ some ligaments around the knee and this rendered the walking to some pretty tame stuff but the company, food and drink seemed to compensated a little I must admit, it eased the pain.

So I had some time on my hands so I decided to go back over the whole area of disruption to get a broader understanding and how this is driving so much within our innovation activity at present.

Disruption is all around us, coming at ever-faster speeds Continue reading

Striving for the innovation balance: between exploring and exploiting.

Exploit and ExploreWe never seem capable of adapting as well as we should do. Adapting always seems a work-in-progress, or it is often something where we are simply making little or no progress!

We often stay ‘stuck’ in the way we do ‘things’ around here, never seemingly able to break out into something new or different.

To adapt we need to open ourselves up to learning and adjusting our organizational ‘form’ in new ways.

In business there should be a constant battle to reconfigure the assets and extend the existing capabilities. Yet often these stay ‘static’ not learning or improving.  In our innovation activities there is an even greater pressing need to build into our thinking the ability to find more dynamic capabilities. It is a constant innovator’s dilemma to think through and get right.

What might help? Continue reading

Building the new dynamics into our capacity to innovate

Exploit and ExploreDo we know what are the dependencies and requirements for building and sustaining your organizations innovation success? How do you sustain innovation, is it more through the structuring of everyday work, by creating a particular set of social rules and resources that foster specific routines? Or something different?

We work really hard at maintaining these re-occurring processes, never willing to extend and push them in different and new ways. We have actually become very static in our approaches and learning, we are not learning anew. We often simply end up with incremental innovation that might just ‘nudge’ the growth needle but does little more than sustain us in the present and can be ‘contained’ in a tidy process that makes many, including the ‘bean counters,’ very happy until someone changes the game.

Then we need to think differently but this is usually far too late.. As demand is more volatile today we need to experiment, explore, learn and adjust. What becomes more important is the ‘work to be done, and how we go about tackling this and not the work done’ where we often simply ‘default too. Surprisingly Adam Smith identified this important difference in work way back in 1776.

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