Those that learn to frame the Strategic Innovation discussion are the big winners

discussion

Constructing an innovation conversation framework is never easy, we all come at it in different ways and when it comes to those strategic conversations, we feel a sense of panic and growing tension as our messages begin to fray at the edges and slip more into tactical, the more we talk.

If you just diving into innovations, this sort of strategic conversation can change the goalposts, alter the perspective, and can give the innovation a more focused framing to build propositions around. It enables you to stand out as you are able to articulate the “bigger picture”

The framing of an innovation conversation framework

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Forget Best Practice, Think Always Of Learning Next Practice

Often you hear the request made: “Can you give us a best practice snapshot; we would like to get a sense of where we are”.

The trouble with best practice is you are looking at someone else’s practices and these are highly individual, made up of different groups of methodologies, processes, rules, theories, values, and concepts. These together have provided that specific company a level of success that others – mostly competitors – begin to notice.

There is no such thing as what they have it, you need to copy and have the same.

We all get caught up in best practices, you can’t simply pick up and plug and play, as one organization’s initiative is never the same set of conditions or positioning that others can simply copy.

We desire the “one-size fits all” as a comfort blanket, it makes our innovation lives easier. Many consultants love this request, as they do not need to apply the real skills of discernment, subject matter expertise, and the difficult challenge of peeling away a client’s practice to understand how they can rebuild them to become unique, into a leading practice that cannot be copied.

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Taking Final Ideas to Market is the Hardest Part

 

It seems so simple doesn’t it – “bringing final ideas to market”. So easy to say, yet it does seem so very hard to achieve.

Everything we should be aiming at is ‘successful execution’, it’s the last, hard five yards of all the work that went into something, which can be finally realized and come to ‘commercial life’

Here in Europe, it is often suggested that “Europe is the cradle of creativity”, perhaps but I think the United States is “the crucible of innovation”, it forges ideas and takes them to market far better. In the US there is this powerful push to make money far more and to realize innovation, as clearly you must focus on the ‘making money part2 otherwise it remains a good idea but not fully market executed.

Europe has many good ideas but they seem to get lost in this final stage, the execution of the concept, turning it into something realizable and commercially valuable, or socially needed. Much of Europe’s hard work in the discovery and validation stages fail to gain scale due to this lack of sustaining commitment until the concept is firmly established. There is far more emphasis on this final step within the Horizon 2020 funds to show ‘proof of concept’ or commercial value than in the past and that is a good thing.

Putting more resources behind the likely winners, rather than on projects that simply stay ‘blue sky’ or conceptual, then get picked up by others to commercialize. It is the final go-to-market that makes a real difference in wealth creation and job creation.

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A new normal is upon us, the paradigm shift that will change the World.

There is a real increasing pressure to totally reinvent my business. The past business paradigm of reaching out, providing value, and making money is still there. Still, it is how we all undergo the changes needed in a radically different set of economic circumstances.

We all are seeing the world in a very different light, in some ways a very harsh one, where the old normals are breaking down. The change in our world is even a little scary, it actually is giving me a little “angst.” I need to put some reorder into my world.

Firstly as many of you know, I have been investing my time in growing my understanding, expertise, and thinking over three “core” topics. My Innovation intent has been central to this for twenty years, but this has ‘funneled down’ into recognizing the value of ecosystems as the business design for innovation to thrive and deliver more significant value creation. In the past two-plus years, the whole Energy Transition has been my vehicle to apply my innovation learning and ecosystem thinking.

We must hold on to much of what we have, but we really will be forced to abandon so much of our accepted norm.

My search or questioning is not about abandoning what I have invested over these years, it is how can I redirect it. To shift its position to actively contribute in new ways, to adapt and adjust to the ‘new normal’ we all must seriously recognize is coming towards us.

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The immediate shift in work and social norms needs innovation

Being in a personal crisis is one thing, but being in a global one is a whole lot different. So much is totally out of your control. You can rant and rave at some of the decisions have been made, or likely to come on some current performances.

Often you are left wondering where the insights or collective thinking was trying to offset the events that were unprecedented and scary but have now put us into such a massive economic downturn.

The decision to throw a protective shield around our health systems made sense, but the human suffering unfolding is going to be very tough on those that made these decisions, as it is to nearly everyone else. Facing this economic collapse is mindblowing.

We all are coming to grips with what this means in our working lives. We are in for immediate shifts in our working environment as we emerge from “lockdown.”

Innovation is going to become central to overcoming huge global problems of keeping our distance, inventing, and implementing the solutions to keep our “social distance” and know we are safe or not..

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We all need a different Social Media profile? Now.

We are in a very different time, a social distancing time that might lead to a different type of work, one that you will have to be forced to stand out from the crowd as a socially engaged person.

A growing reality might be that many people will be forced to stay at home until a vaccine is found, due to their risk of infection. Travel might become off-limits for many.

As we come out of the present crisis, we need to look at our social engagement and influencer profiles as we need to engage with the world differently. We will be in a greater world of virtual management, earning our “daily crust” from what we do at a distance.

This crisis period has become even more dominated by Social Media. What can this teach us? Continue reading

Focusing on moving from disorder in today’s world

To borrow and adapt a phrase from F. Scott Fitzgerald and those over at Cognitive Edge:The test of (complex adaptive) intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

I wanted to go back to one of my favorite frameworks, the Cynefin framework for partly thinking through the “known-unknown-unknowable” in our present world. We are seemingly more in the “unknown or unknowable” at present, perhaps in a world of disorder, in our understanding and actions relating to this coronavirus, a global pandemic.

The Cynefin framework is from Dave Snowden through Cognitive Edge. The positioning of Cognitive Edge is “making sense of complexity in order to act.”

I start by suggesting we need to find ways to navigate ourselves back into some (new) order; to stabilize the chaos we are in. What we first need to do is make sense of what is going on around us, we need to determine what actions to take and the level of action, resource and support each part needs. We need to constantly ask: is it clear, complicated, complex, or chaotic, or even worse, highly confusing. The Cynefin framework significantly helps us to determine what particular parts we are dealing with, in the decisions needed. Continue reading

Working through the current disorder we find ourselves in

In times like these, we need to “unfreeze.” It is a necessary time where we need plenty of adaptive thinking on our needs to start thinking how we are going to emerge out of this “lockdown,” so many of us are in and apply our reasoning to literally “crank starting” the economy engine again.

Even if this is one month, two months, or longer, we need to become creative and innovative. We cannot be held in this “frozen state” for long without looking to become economically productive again. It may be in different ways, in new roles, or in transition until we have a higher “grip” of what we can achieve in a very volatile, challenging world.

If we remain in our present states, then what I suggest as a ‘frozen state’ remains, we default back to what we know, based more on repeating patterns, believing everything is orderly based on efficiency, effectiveness, and doing what is necessary to manage daily. Well it is not, we are in chaotic and unpredictable times.

This, regrettably, is simply not good enough in today’s world as it has changed so radically in these last few months. Continue reading