Moving innovation into our core – Part three

Not fit for future purposeThis is the third and final part of this series on the rethinking within the management of the innovation system.

Part threeTechnology will drive innovation change.

We are in need of a different sustaining capacity, one build around innovation as its continuous core; constantly evolving, adapting, learning and adjusting, in perpetual motion.

We are heading for transformational change

Digital technology and the cloud are offering us a radically different conduit to achieve a new engagement process within our organizations. Innovation is going to be very much caught up in this transformational change.

Technology and data will be innovation’s catalyst for change.

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Moving Innovation into our Core – Part Two

Papering over the innovation cracksA three-part series on rethinking the management of the innovation system.

Part two, recognizing the broken process we currently have.

The innovation process and the structures build into our organization certainly need to be changed.

I outline here different barriers that require change to bring innovation more into the core of a business.

Today, we are needing to build greater agility and responsiveness into our innovation design to counter for a more rapidly  changing market, sensing changing conditions and to ‘seize’ breaking opportunities. . A new combination of speed, flexibility, networking and focusing on adapting and fusing the skills and capabilities needed, will require changes in our innovation work.

Our current structures and processes for innovation are holding us back and will continue to not deliver the expected results needed today or the future, giving real growth and sustainability. We do need a far more radical approach to a solution for managing innovation inside our organizations.

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Moving innovation into our Core- Part One

Innovation at the CoreInnovation has sat outside the core of organizations central systems for long enough. Arguably this lack of being a core central focus holds the deeper understanding of innovation back.

A core that could offer up the sustaining value and contribution innovation can make, into the growth and future well-being of organizations and having available the level of resources and commitments it needs. Today innovation seems to be falling short in delivering on its promise. Why?

A three part series on rethinking the management of the innovation system.

Part one, building the business case of needed change in how we manage innovation.

Those constant top level concerns need finally addressing

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Seeking strategic and innovation alignment conversations

Alignment of Strategic Innovation ConversationsInnovation stands in service to the strategic goals of our organization, or it certainly should!

The first thing is you need to have a solid, thoughtful conversation around the type of strategic emphasis you wish to achieve from your innovation activity, how will it support the organizations strategic direction..

These can be aligned to general strategic needs such as growing market share, differentiation and disrupting adjacent markets, serving the consistent changing and demanding customer needs, or by honing the delivery process, by spotting those and then exploiting them rapidly and effectively. All these become alignment conversations.

Creating clear goals and linking / aligning innovation to those, gives a more agile top-level strategy dialogue as a vital step before you get into the actual innovation concept – delivery stage. Senior executives must establish the manner in which innovation fits within the strategic context established by goals, vision and strategies.

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Seeing Your Innovating Future Across Different Horizons

The three horizons offer us much to frame our innovating future

IFD Mountain ViewFollowing a couple of recent posts on reflecting on the three horizons methodology, firstly here and then here, I wanted to come back to where I see real value, in managing innovation into the future.

The 3H methodology enables us to look out into the future, across three different horizons that can manage the transition between short, medium and long term in our innovation activities, something often badly lacking in most organizations thinking.

It allows us to gauge  the challenges, adding aspects we are beginning to gain a sense of, transitioning from one position to another. It allows us to deepen our evaluation of the innovation portfolio of activities, resources and skill sets across different delivery frames of short, medium and longer-term.

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Three Horizons – fields of future, full of foresight.

Three Horizon Book Bill SharpeI’d like to relate to parts of a book that came out in late 2013 from Bill Sharpe. His book, or actually more a booklet, called “Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope”, published by Triarchy Press, has some really helpful insights.

In this book, Bill outlines his distinct ways of creatively working through many of the unknowns, by framing and connecting though the Three Horizons, (3H) as his contribution to the patterning of hope for all our futures.

I draw out a lot within his thinking, experiences and approaches within the book. Some of these initial thoughts outlined here, re-affirm my own thinking and focus on the 3H, specifically for innovation and its management.

Here are some of the ‘triggers’ I connected with strongly from his book:

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Reflecting on the Value of the Three Horizon Model for our Innovating Future

Business as usualThere is that prevailing sense that we are just managing for ‘business as usual’, leaving many increasingly uncomfortable and feeling exposed. Why?

Our businesses are not adapting fast enough to changing conditions in the market, often lagging in the competitive race to update and keep relevant.

Businesses are struggling with conflicting knowledge flows and incoming intelligence, just simply managing their talent to keep them relevant, engaged and outwardly orientated.

They need to constantly adjust and adapt to the demands and challenges within the societal conditions, environments and markets, grappling with constant shifts in consumer demand and coping with the declining natural resources and of what all of this might mean.

We are often short on foresight and certainly struggling with growing complexity.

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Interpreting the Strategic Discussion for Innovation

The struggle for innovation alignment is one of those real challenging issues that are seemingly very hard to resolve, or so it seems. I’m not setting out a comprehensive solution here, well not in this blog, of the suggested ways to address this strategic/innovation alignment issue, as that is far more complex. All I will offer at this point of time is this alignment concern is becoming increasingly top of my mind.

Constructing an innovation conversation framework

What I am offering here is an innovation conversation framework, on how we can approach different strategic value propositions, and where we might need to debate these across the organization, as the points of impact so we can make this move towards a higher degree of innovation alignment.

If we take the three ‘classic’ strategic thrusts of product leadership, operational excellence or customer intimacy, just for illustrative purposes here, then we need to make clear the potentially different emphasis points within any suggested innovation approach that we should take. We must, within any innovation approach, be clear on what and where we should be placing our primary focus.

Aligning innovation within a strategic conversation framework

This framing can be most useful to remind people who are involved that there are significant points of difference. There is a need to agree and align on what we are driving our innovation activity to support any selected strategic direction. This framework can really open up the discussion. It can begin to show the possible implications and challenges ahead.

Equally some might argue that you actually need to combine all three, well I’d certainly want to question that really hard on whether this is possible all at the same time. I would really doubt it, if you just consider some of the aspects I’ve laid out within this framework above.

If it is still demanded, and some leaders can be just that, demanding,  I would suggest you really do need, even more, a framework to remind you of the critical differences and what aspects need clear focus to deliver to the distinct value proposition parts. Each strategic value proposition has significant implications to plan and work through.

Having a top picture in mind certainly helps

Having a top picture of the where to place your emphasis makes some sense. I’m not saying these shown are the ones you will have within your boxes but all I’m offering here, is a suggested framework that captures the key strategic emphasis points, so as you can engage in a deeper discussion before you launch yourself in blue yonder.

This framework can help you to contribute to achieving a greater alignment between the strategic direction (product leadership, operational excellence or customer intimacy) and the key innovation aspects that help to align to this that the organization will need to think about and work through.

Does it make sense to you?