The environment for innovation does really matter

Seven domains in work matThe Executive Innovation Work Mat methodology requires investigation and engagement across the seven domains or components that make up the work mat.  The aim of any work mat discussions undertaken with executives focuses upon bringing out the parts necessary for innovation to happen and that needs an integrated approach and lasting engagement from senior management.

In a series of articles I will be looking at each of the seven components within the work mat to raise questions to probe and prompt the necessary thinking that needs to be made in organizations determined to build a lasting innovation competence and structure.

I’ve already offered some opening thoughts on Governance and Innovation, for me one of the basic building blocks for innovation lies in creating the right conditions for an Environment to innovate.

So what are those environmental conditions required for innovation?

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Correcting an innovation oversight sometimes hits you hard!

I’ve had one of those weeks where a certain realization took hold, something that had been nagging away at you suddenly surfaces and slaps you in the face. Ouch!

I have just completed my own gap-analysis on how I have explained the Executive Innovation Work Mat methodology and its value.  It actually was a bit of an eye opener. I was surprised in this audit of all associated posts, articles and papers written by myself or in collaboration with Jeffrey Phillips, that there were some very glaring gaps in my posts on explaining this methodology.

The Seven Components that make up the Executive Innovation Work Mat

The Seven Components that make up the Executive Innovation Work Mat

The Innovation Work Mat has seven components or domains

What was crazy here is the fact I have the research, the component parts all worked through, structured and being used in actual engagements to prompt the essential discussions, yet I had not been publishing these enough through my posts to underpin the methodology.

I had been missing essential domain component messages that are the very essence of why you need to work around the entire work mat as essential. I was missing the opportunity to publically talk about ALL the parts as it is the combining of these that does provide its value as an integrated approach to innovation that can cascade throughout the organization.

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The Role of Governance needed in Innovation

Questions for GovernanceLater this month a book I have looked forward too, is finally being launched. It is called “Innovation Governance: How Top Management Organizes and Mobilizes for Innovation” written by Jean-Philippe Deschamps & Beebe Nelson.  Jean-Philippe Deschamps is emeritus Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at IMD in Lausanne (Switzerland).

Innovation Governance is promising to provide a comprehensive framework to help top management develop the overarching values, policies and initiatives needed for a corporate innovation constitution. The authors are providing a framework for encouraging and focusing innovation by explaining what innovation governance is, the various models for governance and their advantages and disadvantages, how to assess and improve governance practices, and behavioural tactics for maximizing the effectiveness of governance.

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Taking on those innovation hills is never easy

AchievementFollowing on from my last post suggesting the way to move innovation forward, it was to ‘take the different innovation hills, one at a time, for innovation advancement” I used a military metaphor of “taking the hills”.

So what are the hills we need to take?

 There are plenty of innovation hills to attack but here are ten suggestions that would advance the cause of innovation and establish its territorial importance in the organization somewhat.

Some hills maybe on first glance, seem not so important but they all move towards setting up the winning conditions for innovation to become a core within organizations. Some are sending clear signals of intent; others show the fighting commitment necessary to take that hill because it is strategically important.

Hill one is by abandoning quarterly reporting

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Taking the hills, one at a time, for innovation advancement

Taking the hill. Pfc. John J. Allen of Company E in the 25th Infantry Division leads his men in attack on the west central front in Korea, March 30, 1951.

Taking the hill. Pfc. John J. Allen of Company E in the 25th Infantry Division leads his men in attack on the west central front in Korea, March 30, 1951.

How do we move innovation forward? We need to see this as a battle of hearts and minds, of overcoming dogma and fixed mindsets, using skirmishes to advance the innovation advancement. We need to break out of entrenched positions and lead innovation forward.

Many people feel innovation is an uncomfortable place, it often is at the edge, it deals in both opportunity and risk, it is uncertain to commit to joining the innovation battle. Sadly the majority working within our organizations do not understand innovation, it is too intangible, it seems shrouded in mysteries, yet it offers challenge, excitement and satisfaction. To achieve ‘something’ is highly motivating.

We firstly need to mobilize around innovation

To mobilize the organizations troops you have to give them objectives, they need to identify and be given a clear understanding of the ‘cause and its effect’. Over time they can recognize the positive effects and begin to understand the consequences if they don’t join in and engage.

Let me use a military metaphor, in war for this post.

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The role senior executives must fill for innovation success

Executive need to engage for innovation 1Jeffrey Phillips of Ovo Innovation and I wrote a White Paper, we called our foundation document, on “Accelerating or inhibiting innovation – understand your role for innovation success”. You can read the full paper here

We strongly believe there is a real Innovation leadership gap

My last article “Developing talent to drive innovation” was questioning the spending of new funds on developing talent for innovation, unless the organization and its leadership is not clear on what it is specifically looking for, or how it is prepared to back their words with specific actions beyond ‘just’ new funding levels, then this might not be money well spent.

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Alignment is needed everywhere

Alignment of Innovation to Organization's Strategic Goals

Alignment of Innovation to Organization’s Strategic Goals

Working in most organizations you spend a disproportional amount of time on looking to achieve alignment. This can range from aligning your meeting schedules to the bigger strategic issues by gaining agreement on the way forward.

 I would bet you that working on alignment is certainly one of the main tasks that is sucking up a large part of your working day. Interesting enough the higher up in the organization you go, the more you have to seek alignment. Gaining alignment is actually very hard.

In corporate life we are constantly attempting to also link organizational goals with our own personal goals. To make this alignment, it requires the difficult aspect of achieving common understanding of all the parties for the specific purpose you are requiring, so as to achieve a consistency between ‘agreed’ objectives and the implementation of these across those involved.

In pursuit of alignment

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Piecing innovation together

Completing the innovation design

Completing the innovation design

When you look at all the (broken) parts within innovation it takes some time to figure out how you can piece it all together to make it a better whole. Innovation and its management is just this place this needs to be pieced together. It often cries out for it.

Most people that work in our business organizations are spending their increasing time in piecing their part of the innovation equation together to make innovation work and trying to improve on the existing conditions to deliver new products and services. They have to work on fixing the system and its many faulty parts, let lone work on their new concept. Is it not about time we stepped back and really thought through the design of innovation and its managing? Why is this so hard to do?

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