Building upon the four essential pillars for innovation

It is always welcome to read a thoughtful article that reminds me, no, it actually inspires me, by reinforcing my own belief that innovation is progressing, even if this is sometimes frustratingly slow. The innovation architecture is progressively being recognized and put into place, it’s forming the building blocks of the innovation platform we need to build upon, ones for more radical innovation outcomes.

So the article “Want to Win at Business Model Innovation? Put these Four Pillars in Place” was written by Rick Waldron, ex Nike, and Intel.

He grabbed my attention with this comment early on in the article:

“ Little attention has been paid to the architecture required to stand up a sustainable, impactful new business innovation capability. Those of us battling it out in the trenches are left to learn the hard way”

I so very much relate to this central recognition that most organizations lack a solid, well thought through innovation architecture, it is one of the real reasons innovation is constantly under-delivering.

Rick points out:“Corporate innovation efforts by and large continue to fall far short of moving the needle in any significant, sustained way or of delivering on the promise of future-proofing companies against ever-increasing disruptive forces.

While a growing number of companies have begun to find some success in implementing design-centered thinking, lean innovation techniques, jobs-to-be-done analysis, and empowering employees to solve customer and internal process problems, much of the focus has been on supporting current business models – i.e., on incremental rather than game-changing innovation. But this work is merely the table stakes for staying in the current game”

The view offered in this article suggests four pillars to be put into place: 1) A Committed and Engaged Leadership, 2) A Comprehensive Innovation Strategy, 3) A Sustained Mindset Shift and 4) A Comprehensive Tool Kit.

Rick’s article just gave me the chance to go back and review my thoughts and relate his excellent suggestions and thinking into some of the work I have written about in this area. So I wanted to link them up a little more in my mind on some diverse and previous thoughts that I have written about and hopefully link them far more into yours and this article of Rick’s. Continue reading

Innovation System Thinking on a Sunday! What, no roast or glass of wine? Later.

We all spend our Sundays in different ways. Some spend it recovering from the Saturday night, other spend large chunks of the day traveling to meet up with friends or family. Others go off to the gym, jog, take a run, or simply enjoy a day of pursuing something differently from their working week. We do different things. Mine is usually a mix of exploring and researching around innovation in the morning, a couple of hours at the gym, a walk to finish off and then a mixture of enjoying a nice home-cooked meal and a relaxing evening.

That part of the day spent on innovation, researching and reading, tends to partly stimulate my week ahead in different ways, as I try to reinforce what I’ve learned by applying this to the work gathered around me at that point in time. I am looking to see how it does help shape and influence it, it ‘fuels’ the coming-in week in some part. Of course, this greatly depends on what I am working on, for others and, for myself. Some weeks I just don’t find the opportunity to apply it, so that “Sunday thinking” sits there for another day or week, or even months before I revisit it or connect it back up. Continue reading

Putting some dynamic tension back into the innovation system

I have been having some writers block recently and I was not sure how to unlock some random thoughts I was having in the past weeks, then in a great conversation I had today, with a fellow innovation colleague, it started to “reveal itself” in where I needed to go to give a new sense of repurpose.

A collaboration is being mooted between us but until there is a point of common understanding much stays under partial wraps until we both get to a more comfortable point, where we feel it can go for us but it certainly triggered this post as a starter.

The thinking hinges around the state of innovation today, how it is fragmenting in  a myraid of parts, all seemingly contributing; yet it seems learning has been replaced by personalized experience and the chase for individual knowledge. Mostly this does not get embedded back in the company, the ones who are paying for this exposure.

I was wondering if there was a decent ‘return on investment’ being made by the company or was it just being front-loaded on the individual, so they gain and then can take that understanding elsewhere, or simply set up their own shop of ‘innovation expertise’. The ROI and the Return on Learning seemed to be mostly heading out of the door, leaving the organization that made the investment, devoid of a return.

My feeling is this should change and we firstly establish a “System of Record” for innovation that brings the individual learning into a collective one, a “system of collective engagement” that enables all within the system to gain from and design innovation solutions, from a more ‘whole’ system thinking perspective, that gives innovation sustaining power connecting the individual to the organizations needs. Continue reading

Dealing with Your Darwin Effect through Innovation

IFD 4

I have been working away, as my labour of love, frustration and sheer determination, on my thinking through the ‘harnessing’ of the dynamics within innovation, to offer organizations their innovation fitness and future landscape design, so as to radically alter their present capabilities and capacity to innovate.

The aim is to relate these to where your organization is in their existing capabilities, where they need to go, in identifying and clarifying the necessary capabilities they need to have, so as to achieve certain strategic goals and then, “we”, together, collectively prioritize the critical ones as ‘must have’ and then set about filling the gaps. This is the innovation fitness journey needed to be travelled.

The building of those more ‘dynamic’ capabilities and competencies are the ones you need so as to provide for a more dynamic innovation environment and deliver unique capacity for your ongoing strategic goals.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Building a Core into the Capabilities of Innovation

I think most would agree there is a continuing need is to build the management of innovation into a clear organizational capability, where innovation becomes a continuous effective innovation process. If you don’t agree, then I’d suggest you don’t bother to read on!

The struggle to date is that innovation remains hard to manage well; we strive to systematize it and then attempt to replicate any success we then have achieved. Often this does not work as the variables that make up innovation can be different for each innovation event or activity.

The make-up of innovation

I think we all recognize that innovation is made up of both tangible and intangible assets. It is the marriage of these two that makes innovation a unique capability to manage in well-structured ways. It is the people engaged in innovation activity that make it work.  Everything else, the process, structures, technologies and management systems are just the contributing enablers. Continue reading

Designing appropriate tension into the innovation process.

I’ve always loved this: “appropriate adaptiveness is not a natural tension- it has to be designed.” OK, I can hear you quietly sniggering.

When you are dealing with the innovation process you naturally have tension. Often if you have no tension or simply too much slack built into the process, you don’t end up in achieving a good result. Results fall well below expectations. It is often this lack of designed-in ‘tension’ that is not appreciated like it should be within the innovation process. The wrong tension is left to eat away at the innovation process. Getting the right balance of tension is critical to get the best out of the ‘system’ of innovation.

Firstly a cautionary warning here.

Now this is about to get into the realms of theory but I hope you stay with me on this. Why? Well knowing why innovation does fail can be useful (to your future) and what you can design into it, so as to reduce this risk has some value, I would think. So tune out or hang in- your choice. Continue reading