Moving innovation even more in 2016

Innovating in the year ahead 2016Are we entering 2016 with an innovating mind-set? We need too, so as to seize the growth that is going to be tougher to find.

As we look to enter into 2016 what is top of mind for innovation to take hold and become the real core within our business organizations? Some of my quick thoughts or repeating mantras, no apologies here:

• Innovation is not the preserve of the (selected) few but the domain of the community, it is encouraging our connections to actually connect and exchange mutual value and knowledge.

• Moving innovation from just being symbolic to essential. We must stop dipping our toe in the water, we need to just jump in and get wet. We need to get everyone involved and wanting to contribute engaged and  excited on where innovation can really take us

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Striking the balance for exploitation across different innovation horizons

Nobody said innovation was easy and I was reminded of that recently. Innovation can certainly be, without doubt, fairly complicated in larger organizations. What must not be forgotten is that we must manage the innovation activities across all the three horizons of innovation and that adds even more complexity.

What is ensured from this complexity is that you can expect innovation does get very entangled in balancing out the resources that are available and needed, to handle all the conflicting, competing demands placed within the innovation system. For the innovation teams involved in the multiple tasks, getting this balance right and also trying to justify further support to keep all the activities progressing on time, is tough. We need to exploit and we need to explore and those often require different mind-sets or structures.

Each of the innovation horizons can demand different management’s attention for allocation, response and focus.  Horizon one represents the company’s core businesses today, horizon two includes the rising stars of the company that will, over time, become new core businesses, whereas horizon three consists of nascent business ideas and opportunities that could be future growth engines. This link takes you to a series of discussions on the three horizons http://tinyurl.com/d97bkhh for a deeper explanation.

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The separation effect required for innovation

Exploit and Explore 3I have recently been in some different discussions about the merits and balances required to manage incremental and radical innovation. Partly this is in preparation for a workshop later this month but partly from a conversation, I am having with a sizable, well-respected organization, with its head office based here in Europe.

In the conversation within the organization we were discussing the breakdown in their treatment of incremental and radical and they suggested this was being managed within an “ambidextrous structure” yet I was not convinced. I have to point out this was only a part of a broader story on the difficulties of managing conflicting innovation demands that they were having.

One key constraint in their thinking I felt was not having distinct units as they were trying to manage incremental and radical through the same process and that, for me, is a basic mistake.

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