The Need for Digital Innovation Platforms

I want to offer some thoughts that need us all involved in innovation to think about as we finish out 2018.

If you are frustrated with your current innovation process then read on. If you are not, then simply “click away” and certainly my best wishes by ignoring a very changing innovation world that we are all undergoing.

The reality is we are all moving towards becoming “Digital Enterprises”. Digital transformation is deepening into an enterprise-wide movement. and is modernizing how companies work.

As these Digital Enterprises effectively adapt and grow in an evolving digital economy, then it is clear that innovation certainly needs to be part of this but is it digitally ready? I think not. Much of the current innovation process you are currently working with is a Dinosaur, it should have disappeared long ago. Can we manage innovation the way many still are?

Innovation, in my view and many others, is rapidly becoming even more complex. Risks are actually rising not falling. Products continue not to meet customer needs in multiple ways. Without the “connected digital difference,” products are remaining limited in their appeal. Innovation is struggling to really perform and unleash breakthrough products due to many ‘inbuilt’ inhibitors. We need a radical redesign of the innovation process and that is becoming full connected up and have a distinct digital thread running through it. We need to think about complete digital innovation solutions in the future. Continue reading

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The problem of scaling can confuse those innovating.

The problem of scaling can confuse those innovating and can this be changed?

I have been often returning to scaling, struggling with finding the best answers. Many organizations struggle with scaling. This can be scaling their organization, their capabilities or more often, taking an idea into a fully scaled delivery.

Maybe I have been looking at it all wrong?

The complexities of scaling can’t be lightly dismissed. You need very often, size to scale. This could be in a new plant, in where production should be situated, so it can be allowed to scale at a later date, in resources able to achieve scale or more importantly you scale according to the type of goods or demand so they can be readily available, closer to the market they are needed.

When you work in a global organization, scale takes on even a greater set of dimensions; one that needs coordinating and managing.

So I was thinking through some points on scaling a little differently. They are partly ‘open questions’ or some thinking out loud. You can say they are “half-baked”, perhaps in more than one way! Continue reading

Innovating in the digital age- a terrific report

The report from Arthur D Little “Innovating in the digital age- a cross-industry exploration” has to be the one report that really stands out for me from this year. I highly recommend it. They take a look at how digital technology will transform the way innovation will be managed in the future.

This report was produced by Dr. Michael Kolk, a partner, Digital  Innovation Lead in Arthur D Little and Heike Woerner, a principal, technology and innovation management.

Now that is music to my ears, a report that provides extra “jest” to my own arguments that digital innovation is going to take over in very significant ways the innovation management process from discovery to delivery.

So many of the current suppliers of software are asleep at the wheel still working the old tired model of how to set about innovation. That will change, it will change and I predict we will see significant movement into having digital solutions specifically for innovation management in 2019. As I know the continuing deepening of insights will eventually compel companies to change their innovation management thinking. Continue reading

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

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

Continue reading

Shoring up the fragile innovation system, call GE

Well, the World Economic forum’s annual meeting is beckoning later this month. During the period of 25th to 29th January the WEF attempts to engage business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.( http://www.weforum.org/)

Just released on 18th January is the GE Global Innovation Barometer with its results of its second annual review on innovation. Here is the source site to check out and explore your own needs : http://www.ge.com/innovationbarometer/

The aim of the release is to use this and have this available for the meeting in Davos as well as shape GE’s innovation agenda going forward. For the Davos meeting lets hope our leaders have the time and inclination to review its content. No doubt GE will be there and if  Beth Comstock is going as the senior vice president and chief marketing officer of GE I’m sure she will be leading the “innovation does matter” charge.

Beth is emphasising a number of vital points that are arising from this survey. Let me provide a few, her rallying cry for business leaders is to understand where and how their innovation strategies are being challenged and to drive towards new solutions.

The report raises all the uncertainties found in today’s market place are challenging business’ ability to innovate. There is a growing restriction on accessing external funding or a conservative attitude and appetite for risk. Some would argue this ‘hording’ of cash, of not investing at this time does push us into more of a deeper hole so how can this be resolved. Enter the political group to provide a more confident environment for investment so let’s trust some resolution of resolve and consensus emerges out of this meeting of minds.

The top line summary taken from this GE barometer taken in October/ November 2011

  • • 9 of 10 executives report economic crisis negatively impacts their ability to innovate
  • • View innovation as primary driver of economic growth, jobs, quality of life
  • • Pro-innovation markets produce better economic results
  • • New model for innovation in the 21st century validated
  • • USA, Japan, Germany, China still perceived as most innovative

The continued belief, confirmed by the majority of business leaders interviewed is that innovation continues as the main driver of prosperity, competitiveness and job creation, and but also points out how challenging and uncertain the present economic and political environments we are in, may hinder companies’ ability to deliver meaningful innovation.

My one comment here on this– Leaders please ‘walk the talk’ on innovation.

A partnership paradox

I found more than interesting in the release by GE that a disconnect has surfaced between the importance of partnerships and the need to pursue them in the near term. There is a clear confirmation (86% of those surveyed) that partenerships are an important component of the new model of innovation but only 21% believe finding partners is an immediate priority to innovate more on a day-to-day basis

My comment here: That is a real disconnect between the present belief and momentum supposedly going on in open innovation and the possible activity taking place in the trenches and what the top knows about. That gap if it is there I think needs urgently addressing to get everyone on the same collaborative page.  Might actually “put the cat amongst the pigeons” for many.

Creating conditions for meaningful innovation

There is a reminder that one-size does not fit all. At the global level innovation continues to move towards an open, more collaborative model, innovation at the local level presents a complex landscape of challenges and opportunities that broad strokes can’t resolve. These constraints or nuances need to be dealt with at the market level as perceptions on innovations ‘place’ are radically different. This is where the barometer has some good insights for those applying global innovation across different market situations.

My comment here: Adopting a more flexible approach to innovation might have increasing value, especially in these more uncertain times where discontinuities will increase more than decrease.

Embracing the new innovation approach

The report reflects on the needed shift for innovation to thrive in the 21st century. That is embracing a new paradigm, one that engenders this collaboration need between several partners, values the creative power of smaller organizations and individuals, and tailors solutions to meet local needs. Business leaders around the world agree that great innovations in the 21st century will be about shared value — addressing both human needs and the bottom line – versus delivering profit alone.

  • • More than ever, 88 percent of executives agreed that the way companies will innovate in the 21st century is totally different than ever before.
  • • 77 percent of executives acknowledged that individuals and small- to mid-sized enterprises have the ability to be as innovative as large companies.
  • • 73 percent agreed that innovation will be driven by people’s creativity over scientific research.

My comment here: Again, I have to question this, not the notion or intent but the real understanding.  I would argue innovation still has not got the appropriate attention and critical understanding at leadership level for the vast majority. To believe they are taking us through a new paradigm is a tough one, I would suggest they are being dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into the 21st century, hanging on to tried and tested 20th century practices.

My second comment here: The danger for executives in larger organizations does lie in the second point- individuals and small-to-mid-sized enterprises do have the ability to match and often exceed them in innovation. In individuals and small units or the smaller pockets of like minded communities does lie the potential of creativity and large organizations are struggling to get their heads around this dilemma.

Convergence and Divergence- narrow the gap.

So I hope the combined forces of Beth Comstock, GE and its global innovation barometer discussed in Davos provides a platform for strengthening innovation’s message at the leadership level.  I would certainly feel within GE it is shifting the focus in their own innovation challenges and as they absorb the outcomes of this barometer I look forward to seeing more innovating coming from them.

Come on GE lead the way and show that continued willingness to take risks and engage across and with society. It is better than the alternatives that many leaders are taking- to reduce innovation where they will eventually pay that price. Get the innovation message across Beth please. The Global Economy needs innovation more than ever to move forward.