Seeing the Energy Transition in Different Horizons and Innovative Ways

The majority of my recent work has been in investigating and building a comprehensive understanding of the #energytransition.

It is, to say at the very least, complex and challenging, but for me, satisfying and rewarding. Let me briefly explain how I am going about this and why. Why am I seeing the energy transition in different horizons and innovative ways?

My research ‘intensity’ (If I can call it that) had to become well structured, and I turned to some of my favorite, perhaps old fashion tools to capture my learning and give me my points of reference.

Included in this structured approach is different tools to capture and translate my progress. I have been building out extensive energy mind maps, constructing a dedicated posting site set up under “innovating4energy- a transition in all our lives” to ‘reflect’ some of my learnings and then to test that translation of my thinking, hopefully for others to relate too. Then building up the content within Microsoft’s One Note. Finally, lots and lots of saved files in an extensive folder on “the energy transition”.

The Energy Transition and building the new Smarter Infrastructure and Systems is a fascinating area within my present focus and future work. Here is why and how I am going about it:

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A new normal is upon us, the paradigm shift that will change the World.

There is a real increasing pressure to totally reinvent my business. The past business paradigm of reaching out, providing value, and making money is still there. Still, it is how we all undergo the changes needed in a radically different set of economic circumstances.

We all are seeing the world in a very different light, in some ways a very harsh one, where the old normals are breaking down. The change in our world is even a little scary, it actually is giving me a little “angst.” I need to put some reorder into my world.

Firstly as many of you know, I have been investing my time in growing my understanding, expertise, and thinking over three “core” topics. My Innovation intent has been central to this for twenty years, but this has ‘funneled down’ into recognizing the value of ecosystems as the business design for innovation to thrive and deliver more significant value creation. In the past two-plus years, the whole Energy Transition has been my vehicle to apply my innovation learning and ecosystem thinking.

We must hold on to much of what we have, but we really will be forced to abandon so much of our accepted norm.

My search or questioning is not about abandoning what I have invested over these years, it is how can I redirect it. To shift its position to actively contribute in new ways, to adapt and adjust to the ‘new normal’ we all must seriously recognize is coming towards us.

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The immediate shift in work and social norms needs innovation

Being in a personal crisis is one thing, but being in a global one is a whole lot different. So much is totally out of your control. You can rant and rave at some of the decisions have been made, or likely to come on some current performances.

Often you are left wondering where the insights or collective thinking was trying to offset the events that were unprecedented and scary but have now put us into such a massive economic downturn.

The decision to throw a protective shield around our health systems made sense, but the human suffering unfolding is going to be very tough on those that made these decisions, as it is to nearly everyone else. Facing this economic collapse is mindblowing.

We all are coming to grips with what this means in our working lives. We are in for immediate shifts in our working environment as we emerge from “lockdown.”

Innovation is going to become central to overcoming huge global problems of keeping our distance, inventing, and implementing the solutions to keep our “social distance” and know we are safe or not..

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We all need a different Social Media profile? Now.

We are in a very different time, a social distancing time that might lead to a different type of work, one that you will have to be forced to stand out from the crowd as a socially engaged person.

A growing reality might be that many people will be forced to stay at home until a vaccine is found, due to their risk of infection. Travel might become off-limits for many.

As we come out of the present crisis, we need to look at our social engagement and influencer profiles as we need to engage with the world differently. We will be in a greater world of virtual management, earning our “daily crust” from what we do at a distance.

This crisis period has become even more dominated by Social Media. What can this teach us? Continue reading

Working through the current disorder we find ourselves in

In times like these, we need to “unfreeze.” It is a necessary time where we need plenty of adaptive thinking on our needs to start thinking how we are going to emerge out of this “lockdown,” so many of us are in and apply our reasoning to literally “crank starting” the economy engine again.

Even if this is one month, two months, or longer, we need to become creative and innovative. We cannot be held in this “frozen state” for long without looking to become economically productive again. It may be in different ways, in new roles, or in transition until we have a higher “grip” of what we can achieve in a very volatile, challenging world.

If we remain in our present states, then what I suggest as a ‘frozen state’ remains, we default back to what we know, based more on repeating patterns, believing everything is orderly based on efficiency, effectiveness, and doing what is necessary to manage daily. Well it is not, we are in chaotic and unpredictable times.

This, regrettably, is simply not good enough in today’s world as it has changed so radically in these last few months. Continue reading

Making the appropriate impact

How do we set about and measure the impact of something or somebody? Impressions do matter, snap judgements can shape and influence so much that you can actually spend your precious time at simply defending and justifying something or someone.

This applies to a new product as much as it applies to ourselves and how we engage across society, organizations or in our teams. We actually have a set of daily impact points and we need to think about these, it can be positive and impressive, or it can be inappropriate and judged as weak. They can be proactive or just ‘set’ constantly in reactive mode.

Having a clear understanding of the different impact points can help you and those around you have a better meaning in helping to shape events and the future contributions that can make a positive difference and give you a greater sense of satisfaction.

How do we shift from that often subjective view to a more balanced one?

I’m a great believer in trying to shape events before they happen. This often requires a lot of pre-work and often some ‘spent energy’   but if I’m not prepared enough I often feel uncomfortable and not in command of myself, and my ability to explore and influence through my thoughts. This gives me that sense of insecurity and then I feel I have less of an impact on the discussions and caught up in other people’s agenda’s, often for the wrong reasons and not for the best outcomes

So what are the points of impact for innovation?

I think we need to break these down into different levels of impact. Arguably there are different boundaries of impact. For example we might have global, organizational, social, competitive and personal impact points. We can surprisingly have an influence in all of these in a highly connected world and through our organizing and influencing will partly determine your innovating future.

So I look at impact points in different ways but I tend to start at two points of impact.

1.       What are the triggers to growth?

Answering this question leads us out on the appropriate impact path. Are we, for example, in survival or in crisis mode? What is our needs for future growth (personal and organizational for instance), do we need to find an innovative response to a burning need, are we facing competitive pressures, are we seeking new market space? Do we want regeneration in what we do? We need to discover, to explore new ideas, new learning opportunities and concepts. We need also to make some evaluation to any seen or even unseen threats to any growth approach.

2.       The second question relates to our legacy issues.

These are often ignored. We tend to layer onto what we have instead of taking a more radical approach to overhaul where we are. We often build up our innovation activity in set, established ways and don’t want to face the issue of re-engineering the innovation systems or process. I would argue we should. There are always natural tension points in any innovation process, we get caught up in inertia, the copying of other people’s best practices, the commodity trap, the extraction of ‘raw’ energy in the name of efficiency and the constant ‘quest’  to become more effective. We really do need to press the ‘reset’ button. We should look at alignment to strategy, to challenging what we are doing in the name of our customers not just ourselves. We need to reconfigure and we need to simply challenge and let go of much of what we have built up. It is never easy but legacy resolutions release much for improving the impact.

Then we need to set about two further questions.

3.       Improving performance

The potential surrounding absorptive capacity is critical for creating the appropriate impact on innovation performance. Absorptive capacity (AC) is a critical dynamic capability in knowledge-based competition. It is the ability to recognize the value of external knowledge, assimilate it and apply it to new commercial ends. To learn how to target, absorb and deploy this external knowledge becomes critical to ‘feed’ the internal innovation process. Learning to do this and do this well, this can become a powerful source of competitive advantage, not easy for anyone else to copy. This can become unique practice applicable to you, not best practice found across your industry. The work of Cohen & Levinthal is a great starting point, besides some of my own comments you can find on my site. It is this ‘outside in’ potential that feeds the process and raises the engagement.

4.       Tacit Knowledge

The more knowledge you require- not information or data- the more you have the potential for strategic advantage. Just look at places that knowledge is not moving as fast as its potential, collecting more knowledge or insights than others and focusing on the customer experience all the time raises knowledge, implied and explicit. Tie that back to absorptive capacity and you have powerful sources of potential impact.

My third set of impact points relate around building platforms, road-maps and in execution.

5.       Building platforms and road-maps

As we become more open within organizations and in ourselves we begin to develop a more connected sense. Separate ideas or points of knowledge need combining; they need greater collaborative efforts than before. We need to reach out to others; we need to recognize others have a greater specialised knowledge than we do so we need to learn to build more platforms that allow multiple parties to work together, each on their own parts. It is this ability to leverage through a platform approach that yields the potential for greater impact, for more radical or breakthrough innovation through diversity yet working towards a common cause.

Innovation is complex, it needs sketching out, and it needs always a roadmap. Innovation needs clarity; it needs a greater awareness of all the points of innovation fitness for you to navigate along as you traverse the terrain to your end point. I have a dedicated site on this area at www.innovationfitnessdynamics.com which is outlining the different aspects of dynamics needed for innovation impact understanding. The aim is looking to improve the innovation performance engine within organizations and build fitter, more responsive and dynamic ones, around their needed innovation capacities.

6.       Execution is the last 5% of real effort.

The argument goes; ideas are ten a penny and simply it is through our execution we make impact. Execution is the tougher end of innovation not that fuzzy front end stuff. This execution end is the real point of innovation performance where you actually feel the impact of all your personal efforts. Do you meet the needs and wants of your customers? Did you arrive with a clear winning proposition or felt you have compromised far too much within the organization that the final result was incremental at best and not what you are truly capable of. Execution is far more than ‘just’ 5%, because if you can’t execute then where is the lasting impact?

Then my last set of impact points are the ones that impact on you personally.

7.     Adapting to change.

We often struggle to adjust our thinking, to recognize that change is needed and invariably we leave it too late. It can become ‘disruptive’. We do need to combine the three e’s of evaluate, explore and exploit, we need to adapt them to changing circumstances. The value of combining these in different ways gives numerous, surprising diverse levels of impact points.

8.       Empowering and Trusting

We need greater engagement, we need powerful stories to motivate us more, and we need to seek out more meaning in what we do. The more we do this the more impact we can contribute back. This needs dedicated time in resourcing, supporting and investigating from others to support us. The more we trust each other, the more we form stronger relationships, to build better networks of understanding and place our growing trust into more effective collaborations, which have growing impact for all to see.

9.       Measuring our success

There are many ways to measure success. There are the ones ‘handed down’ to us, there are ones we can measure ourselves against. I believe our own measures usually far exceed the ones handed down to us. If we can learn to adapt more and quicker, if we can utilise the technology around us more effectively, if we actively seek new learning and experiences, to respond to any threats in better ways, then we are really learning and making a constant improving impact within ourselves. If we can apply what we learn constantly with the aim of improving on the existing, we are then moving well beyond’ appropriate’ impact, we are building our competencies and capabilities that become visible for all to see the positive impact.

There is a self always in relationship to others.

How others see you and what sort of person are you matters. If you care for making an impact there are many ways. How do you want others to see you? It is all in alignment, how you absorb and translate knowledge and where you wish to take it. Improving your circle of influence comes from knowing, from seeking out new knowledge, staying throughout life in that endless curiosity. As Harold Jarche (http://www.jarche.com) does put it so really nicely: “Life in perpetual Beta”

We all need a virtuous cycle, something that reinforces the good. We can make deliberate steps to change our behaviour, to make increasing contributions. How you are viewed, in turn, changes the way you are treated. This reinforces change. The more you can contribute in positive effect, the more impact you can have. You choose the impact you want to make and you will be surprised that in today’s world you can influence far  more than you often can image, and then perhaps bring a brighter colour into your and others lives through your positive impact.

You can choose the appropriate impact points you wish, what you do need is a strategy, knowing where you can shape and what you can influence. It is the path to improving your recognition and value and that is not such a bad point in these difficult times.