Defending Europe, including the Brits, on innovation

Europe does seem to be always lagging. You get the impression those in Europe’s leadership are beating back the waves of progress, not embracing them- it is all self-serving. They also seem to operate in a fortress mentality. They seem to be spending all their capital on trying to make this (unholy) alliance of 27 + 1 to function.

The herculean task of integrating the impossible; in rules, regulations, attempting to reduce centuries of proud independence, individual cultures to be boiled down into the Super-European one. For me, it just can’t work.

I had an incredible 15 years living in Asia and came back to Europe some years ago and noticed a real difference, in many ways it has simply gotten worse, not better. Europe has been intent on institution building, forging an EU out of all the different countries that make up the European Union. In this “obsession” it has become very inward focused, the different leaders of the individual countries are battling to save their turf, yet the world continues to turn on different axes, that Europe seems not to have grasped.

This institutional building has forgotten the people-related building where aspiration, identification, inclusion makes the transformation happen or not. The EU has forgotten to translate all its work into true meaning for the people, believing in a worthwhile future. In Asia, you feel vibrancy, energy, opportunism, dynamism, that chance to get “part of the action”, here in Europe you sense a drifting, a separation, and growing fragmentation. Continue reading

Legacy is all around us. Innovation and insights suffer greatly

Can we continue to battle with legacy? When you think we are on a roll, we are making that transformation in technology, systems, new organizational designs, you are suddenly stopped in your tracks. Legacy fights back, it holds you up, it stops you from advancing. You fail to connect as you wanted to, towards a complete transformation. The future eludes you as you hold onto those old ways.

You can surround legacy but it diverts so much “spent energy”, it becomes the critical impediment to making that real change you so urgently require to compete in today’s’ world. We still struggle with resolving legacy in our systems, processes, factories so we lose the ability to really advance and gain true connectivity.

Why do I worry so much about legacy?  The more we hang on to legacies within our companies, the more we hold up the vital changes we need to manage in the 21st century.

Can you imagine how hard legacy systems are hard to replace? They make up vital business processes that were designed years ago but not for the technology onslaught  we are witnessing today or see in the future. They were designed on outdated technologies, designed in a world where data was recorded perhaps but not stored nor mined 24 x 7. Continue reading

Dealing with the innovation legacy lying within your business.

Dealing with LegacyI know the feeling, there has been such a considerable investment that has gone into previous innovation processes to get them established but much of this is actually out of date, it has become today a real ‘legacy’ issue but there is, of course, a real reluctance to challenge it. Well you should!

Often this reluctance to dispose of these old systems, processes and inadequate frameworks is holding innovation back.

I would argue that perhaps many of our current innovation practices are ‘frozen’ in past times and they significantly slow us down, in a world that is becoming one built increasing on speed, flexibility and adaptability.

We lose precious time as we should be forward looking. constantly learning and experimenting with new concepts and approaches to innovation and what and where these can bring in new growth, sustainability and value to our organisations.

Continue reading

Can we overturn built-in innovation legacy?

Often organizations are weighed down by legacy. This comes in many forms; in its culture, in its history, its core markets or products, in its systems, structures and processes built around innovation practice.

Today, we are confronted with a very different global market place than in the last century. National borders and regulations built to protect those that are ‘within’ in the past have rapidly become a major part of the ‘containing- restraining’ factors that are rendering many previously well-respected organizations as heading towards being obsolete and not in tune with today’s different world where global sourcing determines much.

They are increasingly trapped in declining markets, starved of the new capabilities and capacities to grow a business beyond ‘traditional’ borders, so this means they are unable to take up the new challenges that are confronting them. They see themselves as reliant on hanging on to the existing situation as long as they can, often powerless to make the necessary shifts, failing to open up, finding it increasingly more than difficult to find the ways of letting go, of changing. They are trapped in legacy. Continue reading

Putting the “R” into Innovation

Shellfish poisoning, have you ever suffered from it? There is rule that when there is not a “R” in the month you should be more careful on eating clams, oysters, mussels or scallops. Today with more commercial harvesting that risk or rule has been greatly reduced. I gather in the months of May, June, July and August- the northern hemospheres (usually) warmer months- there is higher potential where algal blooms and also in European climate, some shellfish are less palatable as oysters, for example, are spawning at this time. This raises the risk that can spread toxins and lead to a possible poisoning.

Now you might be wondering what this has got to do with innovation? Well, I’m off to Singapore for ten days in early May and I certainly will be ‘hitting’ the shell-fish buffet but really innovation is top of my agenda for this visit and one thing that I will remind people about is to focus on the “R” in innovation.

What do I mean by focusing on the “R” in innovation? Continue reading

Writing off legacy within your innovation systems

You hear constantly the need for greater speed, increased agility, and effective delivery from ideas to implementations for innovation.  Yet we still keep these organizational needs locked into those old structures, systems and processes that have been layered one on top of the other as we learnt about innovation over the years. We often simply kept  adapting these (often badly) into the existing way we were managing innovation. Isn’t it time we addressed this growing issue of adapting, stopped the compromising and started redesigning our innovation systems from afresh with present-day leading innovation practice thinking?

Managing innovation as a system is no different from managing IT for example. You get to a given point where the costs of running innovations through your existing systems continue to rise. You begin to diminish your innovation performance. Speed to market seems never to improve the way you want it too, and more importantly delivery against the identified market opportunity seemingly gets more and more compromised. The risks of cutting corners seemingly grows every day, and you under-deliver on the opportunity first seen.  No wonder eventually leaders begin to question and lose confidence in their innovation abilities. The results increasingly become suboptimal.

Is there an alternative? Continue reading