Can We Have One of These? A Product Innovation Platform

Recently I was exploring the world of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and read an excellent Whitepaper from Aras Corp, one of the leading PLM solution providers.

The Whitepaper called “Product Complexity, Digital Transformation, and the Innovation Imperative- The race to reinvent how complex products are developed is here“.

This made me a little jealous and a little wishing that ‘we’, across the whole of innovation management, could not have one of these platforms available today. Some claim that they do this already but seriously they do not.

I have argued we do need to change the way we undertake innovation and its development. I am really frustrated by the legacy we have in our processes, systems and the ways we approach innovation, and its development lifecycle. We still break it up into separate parts, dealing with the pre-ideas stage, collecting insights, the idea management, then into a pipeline or portfolio system, that all has so such manual and siloed approaches built into this. These are tue legacy systems.We do need to bring innovation management into the 21st century where everything is transformed through a platform that allows total integration.

So as I read about the solution that Aras provides to the designers within Manufacturing to manage PLM complex systems and products, you have to wonder why this cannot be extended into all innovation’s management. Of course what “sits” on the platform will be different but it has much that can adapted and aligned in the principles of any design. Continue reading

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What do we expect from Innovation? Mostly disappointment

Good innovation is notoriously hard to achieve. There are so many obstacles and uncertainties as you take an idea or concept through to eventual release. Often, we are dealing in the unknowns and uncertainties. We continually lack facts, we keep seeking validation. We are pressured for results. Others looking at the innovation progress keep demanding tangible evidence and quantifiable guarantees that the outcome provides clear returns.

Much of the innovation discovery journey is a disappointing one. A hunch or insight becomes a dead end. A promising idea did not foresee a roadblock that cannot be resolved. Resources constantly “churn” and get depleted, waiting for others to be brought up to speed. Those not involved directly within the innovation project constantly remain skeptical or require more proof. The status quo of the existing places an increasing drag on the forces of change.

Then we have that often-delusional aspect; where the organization has this total belief they are well ahead of their competitors and simply point to their financial performance as the justification that their innovation is superior when it is so many other factors that have determined that. Superior is often so transitory.

When they are constantly scanning reports on the “state of innovation” it can often lull them, to give some that warm glow, others quickly being dismissive, disregarding many of the key messages as “not applicable to me”. Continue reading

The State of Innovation Management in 2015 Just Released

tate of Innovation Management HypeAs we come closer to the year-end it’s good to look back, make some dedicated time to take ‘stock’, in this case, on innovation’s progress. In a just released “The State of Innovation Management in 2015” that I have authored and kindly provided by HYPE for free, I believe you will find something of interest that you missed during a busy year, coming to a close. I certainly hope you will find time to go through it.

You’ll gain a valuable and quick insight into critical aspects that innovation managers and CINO’s should be aware of. It is in an easy format of thirty plus pages and offers a reference resource that builds a solid understanding of innovation today regarding relevant factors that will stimulate and support your innovation activity.

http://i.hypeinnovation.com/the-state-of-innovation-2015-report

The Surge of innovation reports in 2015

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I wonder who is withering on the innovation vine?

Dying on the grape vine 1This week I tuned into the Pipeline virtual conference for product development practitioners and gained an encouraging feeling that innovation is progressing along nicely. Packed all within a day there was plenty of material ‘fodder’ to feed off of and learn from.

A really good conference but what quickly followed was a strong dose of that withering on the innovation vine.

I read two consulting surveys around innovation

I’ve been suddenly pulled out of my virtual bubble back into the harsh realities of where innovation really is. Just simply how innovation is struggling and that lies far more at the top of our organizations than below, those below who are simply trying to ‘get on with the job’ but with at least one hand (or even two) tied behind their backs.

I have been reading two sets of observations, one from Fahrenheit 212, the other from Innosight and my mood began to change. I’m suddenly back in reality where we have this huge gap between those ‘working’ innovation and those at the top simply not engaging with innovation or still failing to understand it or even failing to connect the dots.

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New report: Improving returns on your innovation investment

I highly value the studies that are undertaken by the larger consulting firms. They have the C-level access and geographical reach to give us some critical insights into the progress of innovation.

Recently Arthur D Little provided their latest innovation excellence study, its 8th Global Innovation Excellence Study, into what companies can do to achieve a better return on their investment in innovation management. The report can be downloaded or viewed here and outlines in their opinion what really works in terms of managing the innovation process.

They offer some good pointers and understanding of what differentiates top innovators within and across industries. It also suggests that it provides new insights into what companies can do to achieve a better return on their investment in innovation management. I think it does fall a little short on a depth to support and validate these claims in my opinion, but it does still provides sound insight.

They specifically attempt to focus on understanding what differentiates top innovators from other companies in different industries. Drawing on over 650 responses, the study sheds new light on the basic key question: what innovation management techniques are most important in achieving a better return on innovation investment? The results they suggest are important for any company that wishes to stay competitive.

Overall the report highlights six key insights:

1. There is strong evidence that excellence in innovation management based on Arthur D. Little’s model leads to higher innovation performance.

It is such a pity they lead off with this ‘claim’ adopting their best practices helps to achieve innovation success. I would strongly argue adopting any good, coherent framework will contribute to improving performance, providing you give this the dedicated focus, resources and top management commitment. I think they have put the “cart before the horse” by leading with this.

2. Top quartile innovation performers obtain on average 13% points more profit from new products and services than average performers, and 30% shorter time-to-break-even, although the gap is narrowing.

They argue the gap in best and worst performers has narrowed in recent years and past under-performers can and do catch up and maintaining a lead in innovation performance is getting harder. I’d have liked to have this observation explained or validated some more.

3. Innovation performance achieved has decreased on average since 2010, yet satisfaction with this level of performance has nearly doubled

This is the really  interesting point for me.

Comparing 2010 and 2012 results, they found a significant overall decrease of up to 25% in innovation performance across a range of industries and suggest this may be driven by the tough market conditions of recent years which have forced companies to focus on short term performance, as well as issues specific to certain industries.

In contrast, they found that overall satisfaction with innovation performance increased significantly from 25% to 42%, although the majority of respondents are still dissatisfied. They conclude on this point that this might also reflect recognition that innovation success is getting harder to achieve.

4. There is a clear correlation between capability in innovation measurement and innovation success, yet less than 20% of companies believe they have a good innovation measurement capability.

What they found as more surprising is that less than 20% of companies believe they are better than average in innovation measurement capabilities and indicates the level of dissatisfaction with their efforts to measure innovation performance.

They offer the view this underlines both the inherent difficulty of effective measurement of innovation, and the significant potential for companies to improve their capabilities in this area.

5. Certain innovation management practices have a particularly strong impact on innovation performance

Top innovation performers invest relatively more in radical improvements to products, services and business models, as opposed to incremental improvements. They suggest there are four basic practices but the key, for me, is the one of mobilizing the whole organization to develop new ideas. I would argue mobilization across all that innovation covers is critical, not just new ideas but ideas to commercialization.

6. Top innovators do much better in adopting best practices in accelerating growth

The study found that top innovators are better at identifying unmet needs, fostering an entrepreneurial culture and leveraging existing key competencies.

Another really important point for me that is often understated.

They pick up on it is the organizations ability to overcome important internal challenges such as getting top-management support, enabling fast decision-making and establishing productive cross-functional relationships that gives them innovation leadership.

The conclusion of the study.

The study concludes with the two important insights: there is a strong correlation between adoption of new business growth practices and achieving innovation success and top innovators are more effective at dealing with internal barriers.

I think the study gives encouragement that having a focused, disciplined approach to innovation does make a difference. By tackling the internal barriers successfully will change innovation performance. It is not a ground breaking study but it does offer some helpful focal points to improve organizations performance.

The real disappointment for me?

I still feel disappointed they started off with promoting their own model as blatantly as the reference point to success. I am not a lover of  generalizing around “best practice”. I’m of the school arguing for “emerging practice or novel practice”.

I also wonder if they have not fallen into this old trap of perhaps practice leader’s self-justification for this study, hard as it might seem as a comment. This tends to be for me the older consulting practice approach of self-promotion that I believe actually constrains your perceived value to clients. Today a more detached view seems to offer greater consulting judgement even in best practice observations.

I quote from www.sourceforconsulting.com in a recent article “Consulting firms need to re-think their approach to thought leadership from scratch.  Less money should be frittered away by people writing whatever they want and more invested in centrally co-ordinated thought leadership.  Some seriously innovative thinking needs to go into developing a game-changing approach to content or publication”

I would apply this observation also to this Arthur D Little study. To quote again from the above www.sourceforconsulting.com article “Research is a good example: liberally distributing the results of an expensive survey in your publications used to be a differentiator but even the smallest firms do this now; primary research has to be either very clever or very big to stand out”

My final thoughts

I think the Arthur D Little innovation practice does make a really sound contribution to innovation practices without doubt. I think they can do a whole lot more actually.  I really do think translating their observations from benchmarking and best practice observations can be significantly lifted up in being real value differentiators by extending their existing toolkit at www.adl.com/InnovationExcellence into something more dynamic as a “must go to” source.

They need this deeper thinking through of thought leadership, aligning their innovation practice and the growing knowledge coming into them to provide a distinctive set of offerings . There are surely,  far more imaginative ways to offer us all more value from their studies, from their engagement and practice involvement than simply leading with “strong evidence suggests our model leads to higher innovation performance” and you read on with that growing feeling they are simply working backwards to this opening validation, as you read more of the report.

I think they can do better, they have the capability but not yet the right application and end goal. Innovation and its management needs broader engagement by the larger consultants.

There is a real leading innovation practice space to fill and this goes way beyond existing approaches made by the bigger consultancy firms or the ones exclusively focusing on innovation. A large diverse innovation practice can fill this space but it needs so much more. Will anyone step up to the plate I wonder, it needs it.