Mapping Out Your Innovating Way Forward

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Mapping any innovation journey can be complicated. There is a fairly detailed journey needed to be undertaken for mapping out your future direction of innovation.

Let’s get straight into it, and the process and sequence needed within any innovation journey.

Firstly you have to work through the Strategic Needs– this needs to cover the type of approaches, the scope and intent, the assessments of the required impact for the end customer and organizational value, the understanding and outlines of this becoming organizational-wide in its integrated needs.

This approach does need a systematic approach, continuous up-dated toolboxes and visible metrics and tracking. Lastly, to build and quickly test, adopt and scale as knowledge and understanding are gained.

Second, there is the need to build reference points for future innovation activities, so duplication and learning can be built into understanding. Here it is vital to have gained the continued support and engagement of high-level participation, where we recommend the Leadership Alignment work Mat approach,

We need to ensure transparency for all stakeholders; the design evolves into a highly usable and integrated set of modular interlocking designs that allow for learning and flexibility to adapt to different conditions of needs, budget, and resource considerations. That collaborative mindset enables innovation to progress and eventually emerge from all the dialogues, exchanges, and contributions.

Then thirdly, we go into the process design stage shown.

This is the validating, evaluating and forecasting the future innovation state. This then needs to be well planned out in a roadmap of initiatives, identifying and resolving the key components and establishing a framework of how this will be moved forward. You have the choices of any work going to be internally developed and alternatively having a consortium or network of collaborators. I would argue here is one of the most valuable contributions an experienced innovation facilitator can participate in.

The final stage is the implementation and momentum building stage. This includes a dedicated programme management need, approaching any roll-out through initiative testing, piloting and exploring steps to move towards the organizational design options that work from this validation. A growing need is to build supporting technology and structure requirements, provide consistent internal communication of progress and applying for the associated screening and approval.

Ending in a ‘living and dynamic’ innovation touch and value map that evolves in time

Finally, throughout this journey, a consistent focus on building the appropriate capabilities and competencies. Over time and experiences, you clarify and deepen your innovation proactive principles and make this a constant “living and dynamic” touch, reference and value map.

The level of mapping out your innovation pathway gives significant dividends where there is any collaborative environment. This provides identification and reference.

Happy to talk about innovating mapping some more if it interests you for applying to your organization’s needs.

 

Fitness Landscape Dynamics for Innovation

Fitness Landscape Dynamics

Innovation is not so easy, there are so many dependencies that you need to work through.The importance of recognizing innovation needs a systematic approach becomes clear when you begin to work through all the needs and issues to understand and translate. Here are some thoughts:

By exploring and modeling the mutual dependencies you get to see how the existing and alternative future innovation system will behave as you begin to map out and recognize the different emphasis points that make up your innovation system.

You can begin to identify what are the more important dynamic ones that require a more dedicated focus and placing more of your resources behind, while others can evolve at their own pace or simply improve as they are far more dependent on the dynamic ones than you realized initially. These can get simply get ‘pulled along’ and rise equally in their performance.

The real need is to pass through different stages of understanding what makes up a dynamic fitness innovation landscape.

There is a complementary set of forces; improving one often triggers improvement in another. What you have to guard against is possibly ignoring one might equally impact negatively on others. Recognizing dependencies is critical and their triggering effect makes innovation evolution even more dynamic.

The combination effect to gain a greater innovation fitness effect comes from managing this over four stages of the journey of innovation fitness towards the dynamic capabilities stage and fitness landscape outcomes.

The four stages within each part of this journey are briefly:

  1. The goal within these stage is to identify the key dependencies relevant for improved innovation within your organization to discover
  2. What are the mutual dependencies that will have a more dynamic impact on your innovation system so you understand
  3. What consequences come from this and how the changing environment will behave so as to consider the effect, that then leads to
  4. What recognition and implications this has so as to put in place an ongoing, evolving set of innovation dynamics that keep you fit to perform innovation on a sustaining higher performance basis.

Again I want to emphasis here, this is an evolving journey but the critical recognition here is, for innovation to continue to be the driver of future growth and wealth, it clearly does need to have a greater understanding and recognition of its management potential within organizations.

This site I’ve made as a dedicated one to the innovation journey. Go to www.innovationfitnessdynamics.com if you are determined to push beyond today’s accepted, often ‘lagging’ performance from innovation activity, and raise the innovation performance engine up within your organization’s efforts.

I believe we do have this critical need to have in place a growing clarity of the factors needed to consistently deliver a more ‘leading’ position of knowing what does actually have a real dynamic impact, both on an organizations innovation performance and the individual contributions that contribute towards the required strategic goals and objectives.

This I feel states any journey and how we are planning this out to traverse across the terrain towards better innovation solutions, that make up the dynamics of innovation and provide a ‘fitness’ solution that is unique to your needs.

Care to share and join the journey? We can discuss how I can join you on your own innovation journey and enable that greater innovation fitness we all need to achieve, as innovation is a hard road to travel without the appropriate recognition of all it entails.

Designing Unique Workshops is hard work

Finding opportunities for Innovation and Growth is hard work. It is the value of having good, interactive, highly particpative workshops breaks much of those initial barriers to allow the hard work to begin in a more cohesive and collaborative way.

I believe any design of workshops must meet your needs, to push the thinking and to generate new returns in innovation understanding.

Boilerplate designs might look initially attractive but knowing your needs, limitations, concerns, and ambitions can transform a workshop into one that lasts in the participant’s minds as they felt it was “clearly” designed for them

Which end of the innovation spectrum do we need to go?

  • Workshops can mean different things to different people. Find ones that are 100% focused on engaging with and accelerating innovation. They need a couple of simple rules
  • Conducting ‘open’ dialogues or focused conversations should always have a sound context so the contributions slowly build-out and hold real promise
  • Discoveries can start with different ‘fields of enquiry’ to achieve different connections and deepen our perspectives

A great book, written by Bill Sharpe, explaining the Three Horizons often comes to mind. I wrote about it here “Three Horizons- fields of future, full of foresight”

Then I find the Divergent / Convergent approach in thinking as highly valuable

We need to always challenge ourselves and taking you through a set of lenses of discovery that go from ‘divergent to convergent‘ is important.

You need both to explore and exploit the multiple possible solutions. Divergent thinking is the ability and opportunity to offer different, unique or variant ideas adherent to one theme, while convergent thinking is the (eventual) ability to find the ‘correct’ solution to the given problem.

You encourage and ideate many solutions, both possible and impossible, and then use convergent thinking to move towards a realizable resolution or solution.

I use this ‘divergent and convergent’ structure for many of my workshops, it allows for broader engagement and involvement and that eventual drawing together from this process. Once or twice you have to be nimble on your feet to move from one to the other but the discipline comes from timing these as shared spaces but giving each a clear discipline of dedicated time as you do need a very different mindset to think openly then begin to narrow the options down.

Creativity makes use of divergent thinking, which is solving problems with many possible solutions, as opposed to convergent thinking, which is solving problems

The process of figuring out a concrete solution to any problem is called Convergent Thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of thinking that explores multiple possible solutions in order to generate creative ideas. It’s a straight forward process that focuses on figuring out the most effective answer to a problem.

Divergent thinking” is the process of coming up with new ideas and possibilities. We are more in a creative and intuitive mindset. We explore lots of possibilities and stay more at this point on the conceptual abstractions.

We work this through then we go more into  “Convergent thinking”, this is associated with analysis, judgment, and decision-making. We become more analytical, rational, sequential and objective. We begin to explore constraint driven issues. It is the process of taking a lot of ideas and sorting them, evaluating them, analyzing the pros and cons, and making decisions, and exploring options that reveal, over time and discussion emerging value

These journeys are personal ones as well as team forming opportunities and form the backbone of good workshops.

 Understanding innovation requires a deep awareness- through a variety of tailored or purpose-designed workshops, dialogues or discovery trips you can rapidly enhance your awareness and grasp of what ‘makes up’ innovation. 

Innovation is our 100% of our focus and we can, without question, advance your knowledge and insights across all of its complexities to be simplified through our workshops, dialogues and discovery approaches.

Building the workshop it is deliberately designed to help you need to think through many areas of productive innovation opportunity. For example:

1. Understand the trends and drivers in your industry as well as explore alternative perspectives allows you to look at not just ‘best practice’ but leading and emerging practice.

2. Look constantly outside your organization to ‘see’ and collaborate from the values of applying open innovation principles and techniques

3. Fostering the culture and climate for Innovation to workinside your organization can create the environment you are looking for but it takes a real understanding.

4. We all need to be aware of the way we earn our profit and where and why and it becomes absolutely vital that our innovation activity fully aligns to the strategic needs

5. Complete differently in the value chain- what it gives from new Business Models and discovering new opportunities to energize your business in different ways

6. When we stop and look at customers in different ways so as to listen to their needs we can discover new innovation opportunities and then how do you discover those unarticulated ones?

7. Expand into new markets and customers thoughtfully using the core within your business, in exploring the adjacency spaces and probing those ‘white spaces’ needs careful consideration.

8. Develop new product, services, structures and processes needs debate and understanding

9. Pursue a range of degrees of novelty to generate a greater sense of innovation possibility

10. Being able to sustain your momentum and make innovation repeatable does needs a broad identification and set of discussions to raise awareness, and build those capabilities and capacities well.

These journeys are personal ones as well as team forming opportunities.

 Understanding innovation requires a deep awareness- through a variety of tailored or purpose designed workshops, dialogues or discovery trips you can rapidly enhance your awareness and grasp of what ‘makes up’ innovation. 

Innovation is our 100% focus and we can, without question, advance your knowledge and insights across all of its complexities to be simplified through our workshops, dialogues and discovery approaches.

Building Capability and Capacity to Expand Capabilities for Innovation

A new equation

For innovation to be successful, the bottom line is the commitment and focus made for the building the capabilities and competencies in innovation as people make us the real value and ARE the innovation success equation in my opinion,

So we must simply invest in them by focusing on the 3 C’s of developing peoples Capability, Competency and Capability.

As we set about to build and expand capabilities we need to consider:

  • How we can accelerate uptake of innovation activity around the conditions provided through investing in them
  • The need to trigger engagement and achieve a growing attainment of knowledge acquisition and dispersion skills- essential for collaborative innovation
  • Setting about building practices for greater synergies, relationships and networking conditions, for ongoing learning and absorptive capacity
  • Extracting the right cultural, design, climate and environmental conditions,
  • Placing increasing value on evolving the structures, processes and technology application
  • Investing in lessons learnt, in validation and resolutions to challenges to build an ongoing adaptive capacity.
  • Recognizing people solve the critical bottlenecks and find solutions to overcome the constraints, they become increasingly motivated to find solutions and resolve gaps through their ability to be creative and inquisitive.
  • The ongoing building of capabilities and competencies clearly leads to a more sustaining and determined innovation future.

Increasing capacity through coaching

There are many benefits from having an intense course of one-on-one coaching, irrespective of the level of responsibility you have for innovation within your organization.

It is very similar to management behavioural coaching to change perceptions, to reorientate your thinking and approach, to open up to different thinking to build out your innovation understanding. Coaching yields a clear return but the hard work lies with the one being coached, wanting to see the alternatives and add these into their daily actions and lives.

Increasingly your innovation knowledge through coaching, you can accelerate different insights that can form a vital part of any innovation comprehension that can reduce uncertainties, encourage experimentation and draw others towards a changing relationship of trust, increasing productivity and engagement.


Through working with us through some fairly intensive and context specific sessions you quickly deepen personal knowledge and accelerate your critical business awareness and contribution.

Our innovation coaching approach provides ideal safe environments to enable innovation to quickly take hold and be translated.

Leaders, champions, sponsors and teams can gain from this coaching as well as the individual.

The Real Tipping Point in your understanding comes through ‘tailored’ Innovation Coaching where you see real benefits by discussing why and this, in my opinion always is framed around content and context:

•Context matters a great deal

•Content needs to offer a total solution

•Success takes time & effort

•Finding a release of working time to focus on adding new value to the Business (hard-wiring) becomes essential to achive this shift

I wrote this sometime back “Learning the Mantra of Innovation Context”It has value to read.

I take th approach in coaching innovation in multiple ways:

•Our approach is a mix of questioning, listening and re-skilling techniques and why this makes sense

•We recommend coaching is normally on a 1to1 basis as ideal but this can be in team situations as well, although this has a different approach

•This coaching is always innovation centric in everything we do in these 1on1 sessions

•Ownership lies with the person being coached and we seek to transfer the necessary insight and knowledge quickly and effectively

•We facilitate the unscrambling of many random thoughts and provide the clarity of piecing the innovation puzzle all together

It is yours alone to finally assimilate and use this new knowledge gained; we will help you in achieving your personal goals and provide the fresh dimension and place innovation understanding into the context necessary.

Why not contact me to find out more about a number of unique ways we approach innovation through coaching. Many of these become ‘deep dives’ to provide the necessary breakthroughs.

Then we have Peer-to-Peer Mentoring

There are certainly growing benefits in using external advisor’s and innovation mentors

To find someone who is empathetic and experienced in business innovation is growing harder so as to avoid many typical, sometimes unseen ‘pitfalls’ on innovation.

Someone who has a depth gained from their own business experiences; working in large organizations, managing complexity, projects and starting up fresh initiatives or taking them over to turn them around.

Someone who can empathize with the managing of innovation; in learning and leading significant activities.

A mentor or advisor can certainly provide:

* The opportunity and environment for you to step back from the day-to-day detail to take fresh stock, to re-engage in the bigger picture of what innovation can provide. They can help you to refocus and re-energize innovation activities. They can be timely.

* They can be a great sounding board as they listen they can prompt and stimulate your thinking. They can challenge it and help in arriving at new ideas towards solutions to your challenges. They can offer a series of directions and courses of actions to be considered.

* Growth or the needs for Renewal needed are often tough areas to manage and deliver through innovation activities. Timely advice can instil a growing confidence, the chance to debate and explore alternatives, and explore emerging options. A mentoring approach can help in avoiding ‘classic’ mistakes made by others.

* Today, we need to leverage the connections within our networks more and more. Knowing who, where and why becomes increasingly of value so as to avoid loss of time, energy and basic mistakes.

A mentor who has a wide network to tap into can seek out the best advice to support assumptions or offer even more clarification.

Each mentoring or advisory engagement will be different

Discussing constantly changing business challenges often values external evaluation. Often you can forget one issue as another one ‘pops up’ into the crowded agenda.

A mentor can remind, prompt and connect issues and bring a fresh perspective to these. Having the opportunity to revisit the different complexities within innovation so you have available a knowledge resource to share and reflect on constant changes since the last conversation or meeting can provide a catalyst to taking the appropriate action.

Having the opportunity to engage around different topics of discussions that surface around innovation can become a powerful motivational force for you to recalibrate, stay motivated, and have added incentives to think through these again.

In our view an innovation advisor or mentor needs to offer:

A good innovation mentor or trusted advisor should offer a different perspective based on a combination of their own practical business experiences along with a real depth of innovation understanding to provide a real return to your needs from innovation.

So to build the 3 C’s of Capabilities, Capacities and Competencies we can follow a peoples equation and invest in coaching and mentoring to really accelerate these.

Building the Innovation Business Case

The building always the Innovation Business Case offers a unique approach to tackle one of the real problem areas within innovation- making the case compelling.

One of the toughest aspects within Innovation is making the Business Case. Much of the information is imperfect, the returns are often fuzzy and the doubters ready to block and deter new ideas from entering the commercialization process.

Knowing the issues, reducing often the ‘noise and distractions’ and making the professional case is what we need to do to attract commitment to the projects we are working upon.

How can you reduce down uncertainty? By ensuring the innovation business case takes a clear methodical approach to this and builds the arguments up in a sound structured way, that shows the areas of clear discussion and conclusion and reduces down the more ’emotive parts, so as to allow the ‘idea or concept’ to firm up and be seen for its real merits.

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Why do we have difficulties to self-disrupt?

“Why do we always seem to have internal difficulties to self-disrupt?”

Now that is an interesting question. My quick and simple answer is to look at all the internal constraints you can see, or ask those around you what they can see as constraints for them. You will be surprised at all the constraints that stop the individual or the organization to make changes.

It is also being constrained when you look outside your organization and not recognizing the (perpetual) changes going on, often until it is too late or a fast, nimble entrepreneur has nipped in and set about building a new alternative to your existing offering that has, perhaps for some time shown signs of business model decay. Continue reading

The art of “Back Casting” needs care

Backcasting is a planning method that starts with defining a desirable future and then works backwards to identify policies and programs that will connect that specified “future to the present”. The fundamentals of the method were outlined by John. B. Robinson from the University of Waterloo in 1990. The fundamental question of backcasting asks: “if we want to attain a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?”

While forecasting involves predicting the future based on current trend analysis, backcasting approaches the challenge of discussing the future from the opposite direction; it is “a method in which the future desired conditions are envisioned, and steps are then defined to attain those conditions, rather than taking steps that are merely a continuation of present methods extrapolated into the future”

I have collected different views on “Backcasting”.

Those are from assorted references like Wikipedia, from past work on water and energy systems, from Natural Step, from Innosight, discussed and promoted in Mark Johnson’s book “Lead for the Future” and a really recent one from Roxi Nicolussi and her Backcasting; Creating a Strategic Roadmap for the Future” or finally here, this one “All Roads Lead From The Future Back — A Vision and Spoke Model” by Aidan McCullen. I am looking to further explore the applications applied in water, energy and climate work.

So exploring backcasting as a method

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Sharply accelerating clean energy innovation

Today the International Energy Agency (IRA) released a long-awaited update on where innovation needs to be in the energy transition we are undergoing.

At their own admission, it has been three years since they (IEA) released its last Energy Technology Perspective (ETP) report. Although they argue they have been reflecting on the critical technology challenges, it is way overdue.

In this new report, “Energy Technology perspective: Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation” released today, 2nd July 2020, they have developed some improved modeling tools to bring a higher capacity to answer key technology questions in greater detail. This is good news.

IEA will further follow up later this year with a flagship ETP 2020 publication later in the year to keep a tighter and more consistent focus on the role and need of innovation to accelerate clean energy transitions.

They, the IEA are planning an IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit really soon to convene ministers and CEO’s to the aim of driving economic development by this more robust focus on clean, resilient, and inclusive energy systems. Continue reading