The use of the three horizon model, frames and can alter the nature of the tensions and dilemmas between vision and reality and the distinction between innovations that serve to prolong the status quo and those that serve to bring the third horizon vision closer to reality. It provides a great way to frame your innovation thinking
Having different perspectives and voices will enhance your innovation activities, they provide diversity, stimulus and greater options for you to consider the future innovation journey. How do we set about engaging with all these different voices surrounding innovation?
Have you ever worked with the three horizon framework?
It is really useful for managing your innovation activities, drawing out the often conflicting voices within the organization on how to take innovation forward. The approach can unlock you from just being caught in the present, to one of envisaging a future that then allows you to begin to build different capabilities, competencies and capacities.
Find out more here and here and here on the three horizons or within this blog site put “three horizon approach ” into the search box. You will find I have provided a considerable overview in different posts thoughts on the 3H thinking and why I place such value in it for innovation’s evolution.
The three horizons offer us much to frame our innovating future
Following 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.
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:
There 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.
The balance between risk mitigation and being equipped for risk readiness is still an ongoing struggle to balance for most organizations.
There is still a continued reluctance for exploring new radical innovation opportunities and although organizations ‘talk’ growth, they continue to struggle in achieving it through new innovation.
The incremental commitments to innovation still rule the day to move growth along. Until a new sustaining confidence returns to our economies, risk mitigation dominates as markets continue to be more volatile and unreliable in predictive data and executive sentiment remains cautious.
Our organizations are looking for a higher certainty of return and seek sometimes endless validation and justification before they commit, even to small incremental changes. It is no wonder incremental innovation dominates in our innovation decisions; it is where reality sits for many. Are we heading off in a bad innovation direction?
Within our ‘business as usual’ attitudes lie the seeds of destruction. Today there is a relentless pace; we are facing stagnation in many maturing markets.
We place a disproportionately high amount of our resources in the ‘here and now’ to defend what we have and what we know. A potential ‘big mistake’
We actually subvert the future to prolong the life of the existing. We constantly look to make it more efficient and more effective but this is in the majority of cases just incremental in what we do, both in innovation and our activities. These are often simply propping up the past success instead of shifting the resources into the investments of the future.
Spotting signs of innovating decay
Within the Three Horizon framework for innovation the horizon two is beginning to address some of the current decay arising from the core within the existing activities (or system). Here we have the highest tension point as it is the place for transformation to take shape and form.
“The future never stays the same as it is in the present”.
Today we grapple with more uncertainty than ever before. For many of us this is the time of year when planning out the future becomes more ‘top of mind’. These are moments where we have to stop chasing the daily numbers, pushing the immediate projects that are in the pipeline and turn our attention to laying out our future plans. Sadly we often make a poor ‘stab’ at this thinking through process; we don’t get our thinking into the right mental frames.
The problem for management is anything discussing the future enters the ‘zone of uncertainty’ and this ability to often ‘read the tea leaves’ can very much determine the future health and direction of the organization. Ignore these shifts or signals and you are on the path to your own ‘destruction’.
Not only should we search for possibilities that extend and strengthen our existing core offerings but we should search out on a wider basis.
Often we make a complete mess of this planning out of our future.
Most of us that have travelled on the undergrounds around the world and are well used to the announcement as a train pulls into the station of “mind the gap” between stepping off the train and the platform. The reminder is to make us aware there is a gap and we need to be ready for this. We need to be consciously aware.
Innovation nearly always suffers some form of “mind the gap” and yet we tend to ignore the obvious and stumble into these gaps or fail to recognize them completely. These ‘gaps’ comes in so many different ways and guises.
We are in a need to constantly “mind the innovation gaps”, these are everywhere.
Firstly innovation is meant to bridge the growth gap found in organizations, it needs to have clear plans to manage the core, seek out new adjacencies and investigate the white space opportunities for making up the growth plans, so as to meet the strategic goals and aspirations of the organization. Often the resources are not allocated to all three of these, it is often left to the same team to bridge the gaps and more often than not, they fail. We also fail to think across different innovation horizons and not allocated dedicated resources and the time to each of these.