Optimism in Innovation, Thinking About Risk Differently

For me, there is never enough talked about innovation risk. Innovation is held back so often because the quantification of it’s risk cannot fit into an organization’s current assessment and measurements of risk.

Innovation is often too intangible, full of unknowns as the very nature of anything new and different. Innovation risk leaves many executives very uncomfortable.

Organizations get uncomfortable when the words “radical” “intangible”, “unknowns” and other words like these when they form part of the conversation. It often starts to induce that “risk twitch” where that careful management for short-term performance might become threatened, or the manager feels any decision is ‘going out on a limb’ and possibly career threatening.

That growing uncomfortable feeling that innovation places their bonus at “risk” so they like to ring-fence innovation as much as possible. Now some of that ring-fencing is fine, you contain a risk to keep it manageable but most innovation does not constitute organization risk, yet it gets caught up in that risky fear that innovation seems to induce. Actually, if we were managing innovation at the core, our risk management for it would be very heightened and managed differently, but how many of our companies’ have innovation as their core?

So I always welcome discussion on risk and innovation. The more we talk about it the better for what is coming towards us. Continue reading

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Innovation cannot expand without the 4th Industrial Revolution

We are a long way away from fully capturing the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in an inclusive and holistic way. To do this, technology adoption and diffusion across the ecosystem needs to improve dramatically.

In a recent report, jointly from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey called the “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the factories of the future” they made a number of observations

“After a decade of flat productivity, the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value to global manufacturing. A few years back, experts noted that the changes associated with the 4IR would come at an unprecedented rate yielding incredible results for those who truly embraced them.

Still, the hockey stick of benefits has not kicked in yet – while all companies are making efforts to adopt technology, most of the production industry (~70%) remains in pilot purgatory (where technology pilots last for extended periods of time, and companies do not take the final step of scaling up viable technologies). Less than 30% of manufacturing companies are actively rolling out Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies at scale”

No wonder we presently have trouble attracting many businesses onto platforms when they are still very much behind in deciding or deploying a strategically thought-through IIoT digital design, that is connecting everything up.

It is equally holding a new form of innovation back, one that is highly collaborative where partners come together to work on more complex problems. Collaborators can achieve solutions only by being “fully” connected up, comfortable with their data, understanding and contribution, both within their knowledge and insights.

The power of multiple-connected ecosystems gives innovation a completely different momentum but it needs this 4th industrial revolution to be fully operative, for a digitally connected world in manufacturing and beyond. Continue reading

The legend of the Gordian Knot and today’s organizations “knotty” problems

Cutting the Gordian Knot

If you are not aware, it is worth reading about the Gordian Knot. “For people the world over, the Gordian Knot represents the difficult, the intractable and often the insolvable problem. Today’s systemic business problems are the modern-day equivalent of this seemingly impossible challenge, our Gordian Knots to untie or cut through.

According to Greek mythology, the huge, ball-like Turkish knot with no ends exposed was impossible to untie. An oracle had predicted that the first person to do so would become the ruler of all Asia. Thousands of people had tried, without success, to unlock its complex riddles. Alexander of Macedonia, son of King Philip II of Macedon, solved this puzzle simply and very creatively – by cutting it in half with his sword, exposing its ends and making it possible to untie. Alexander the Great went on to conquer all of Asia, just as the oracle predicted”.

So are Organizations Cutting their Gordian Knots?

So how can we cut the intractable knot inside organizations and thrive from it? Continue reading

So the value we can derive from using Knowledge Graphs

How does Knowledge Graphs fit within our need to communicate in new, visually exciting ways?

Let me provide a short narrative to give this a meaning and why it is becoming so important

 

Today we deliver content- It has become far too easy. We are drowning in it on a daily basis. We all suffer a massive deluge of digital input. Content can’t stand alone.

  • What we need is context to anchor content and give it meaning………..that’s our necessary starting point.

Context shifts everything, it gives it shape, a structure to draw (deeper) meaning from. We learn to know, to integrate, to remember, to understand and to act.

 

Of course, context is going to be fluid as it builds out its related content.

Having content and context is complementary, interconnected, and interdependent, they interrelate to one another, as we gain more insights we can potentially build a greater understanding. We improve our knowledge.

It is going to be needed to be adaptive as we learn but it will be placed in ‘certain bounds’. If we start from a much clearer starting base then the learning and discovery allow people to want to find solutions as they gain increased knowledge and provide fresh inputs, they begin to strongly relate. We pass through memory understanding. Continue reading

Mapping the customer journey is the top driver for digital transformation

mapping-the-customer-journeyOrganizations are struggling to understand the behaviors of the ‘connected’ customer. Partly it seems executives don’t engage with their brand or business in the way that their customers do. There is often a difference in understanding the value creating points between them

The lack of having a well mapped out customer journey means missing out on opportunities caused by not knowing this complete set of connections being made into you. By not knowing all these connecting points and drawing them together in a cohesive plan, there is a significant chance you are simply restricting the developing of innovation solutions that map back to all the decision-making that is going on in the customers’ minds.

This failure to optimize and seize upon all the possible options to connect with your customers is restricting your ability to broaden out your innovation solutions, making the journey more value creating, it certainly can be really holding your business back.

As you explore the digital transformation path this can become your best opportunity to connect along the total customer experience and see a greater return on this understanding and investment. Continue reading

The Business Model, a Canvas for Innovation’s Convergence

So where were you when this Business Design Summit was happening? Did you miss it? Well kick yourself if you are remotely interested in where innovation is evolving too. I missed going as it was a sell out fast but I watched the live streaming.  So I had a more detached view but let me give you the flavor of what is bubbling up around the Business Model and its Canvas where a new (and older) generation of innovation ‘tool-smiths’ are all converging in a growing community.

In Berlin, held at the Classic Remise Berlin on 19th & 20th April 2013, around 250 people gathered around the Business Model and started to bring together the converging aspects required in any Business Models design in tools, concepts, and methodologies.

Lucky for many that were unable to attend, the wonderful thing was that the summit also was live streamed and had a dedicated hashtag of #bdsummit. I watched it and got very caught up in the event. They plan to release the presentations and I think a whole lot more from this summit in outcomes through most probably the toolbox center to build better Business Models.

This summit became the place of the innovation ‘tool-smiths’ to meet and exchange so as to begin the forging and crafting of the new tools needed for innovation. These are aimed to help us in today’s and tomorrows world where innovation is more central within business strategic thinking.

Firstly, the Business Model meets one of today’s need

Unless you have lived under a rock, in a hermit’s cave or on a beach disconnected from the world, anyone remotely interested in innovation will have had business model innovation seared into their thinking.  Then you would be aware of the Business model canvas and the book “Business Model Generation” by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur and a core team of leading exponents, that included Alan Smith, Patrick van der Pij and Tim Clark and co-authored by 470 Business Model Canvas practitioners from 45 countries.

The Business Design Summits Objectives

The Business Design Summit had as its primary question: “Are the Business Tools you are using relevant for today’s world? It went on to ask “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them, instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking”.

So this was a summit of different concepts, tools and a host of the forward thinking people within the world of innovation offering the parts that are converging. The different speakers offered a rich diversity of ideas, suggestions and examples to stimulate your thinking. Each speaker contributed a tool and suddenly we had born a whole new community of “tool-smiths” crafting away within innovation.

The speakers included at the Summit

These included Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Patrick van der Pijl, Lisa Solomon, Lisa Chen, Luke Hohmann, Mark Johnson, Stefano Mastrogiacomo, Dave Grey, Karl Landart, Henry Chesbrough, Muki Hansteen-Izora , Steve Blank and Rita McGrath. Regretfully I missed one or two of the speakers as I got sidetracked within my day.

The visuals produced as these sessions developed were stunning.

Example of a visual recording, this is by @HolgerNilsPoh: A Business Opportunity Canvas by @mukiz from the #bdsummit

Apart from Holger Nils Pohl working away, I think there were lots of visual and graphic recorders busy capturing what was presented in terrific event maps. Each of these contributed and made it a visual feast. These visuals significantly improve ways to teach. More and more in our daily work, visual thinking will play an increasing part on the new tools needed in understanding increasing complexity and being quickly able to visualize it in today’s world and become part of our tool box for determining the next steps.

Some “stand outs” that I gained

It is hard to suggest one part was better than another, it was this convergence that made the event come together but for me the timely reminder by Mark Johnson on the strategic importance of the jobs-to-be-done cannot be ever understated. Jobs-to-be-Done are central to arriving at the value proposition as they should “inform” on the needs of the customer that present the new innovation opportunities, perhaps also needing new business models.

The second was Luke Hohmann and his innovation games, something I will need to explore a whole lot more. His tag line of “The Seriously Fun Way to Do Work—Seriously”.  This offers online and in-person games to help organizations to solve problems across the enterprise by using collaborative play to tap into true innovation.

Lisa Solomon who did such a fantastic job of being a main facilitator to much of the summit. She introduced her forthcoming book around Strategic Conversations and spoke about her work and teaching around innovation, leadership and design.

Of course, Alex Osterwalder had his usual high octane mix of presenting, tweeting, facilitating, just physically driving the summit along. He must be shattered after events like this, energized for what’s ahead but drained in the immediate aftermath. He was everywhere, the Innovation puppet master pulling all the strings of a well orchestrated summit.

Yves Pigneur did such a great job, introducing the BM Canvas but also in both wrap ups of “three minutes” to summarize each of the days sessions. The way he did this has some real lessons on how to recall and conclude succinctly.

Dave Gray and his evolving cultural mapping tool is yet another topic I need to climb into more following this appetite teaser “as a tool, the hammer sees everything as a nail… culture itself is a tool” where he introduces the tool steps of Evidence, Levers, Values & Assumptions. This seems a more diagnostic tool and I feel will develop the more this is progressed, improved and used.

Then the whole topic of where large corporations need to fit into this business model movement with the challenges and emerging issues discussed by Karl Landart and Henry Chesbrough. This is where the Business model canvas has to deepen its presence. The Business Model Canvas has still not fully found its way into large corporate culture, certainly not easily into the boardrooms. Time, short attention span and limited patience are real constraints. Should it- certainly yes, how it is going to happen is a real challenge.

This whole area or corporate challenge needs some real intellectual capital in solving this as it is a necessity for BMC to really take hold in large corporations. By the way, this was the best presentation in my opinion I have heard from Henry Chesbrough and I was intrigued by his emerging thoughts on providing a Corporate Conflict Detector.

Muki Hansteen-Izora( @mukiz) of Intel talked through their internal tool, a first in a public forum, the Opportunity Identification Tool or Canvas- the opportunity space is bringing their perspective into a conversation, developing up the essential components, and getting these rooted and traceable.

The summit finished with a conversation between Steve Blank and Rita McGrath around “the end of competitive strategy” Both are real influences within innovation, firstly they talked through the new playbook for strategy and where so much is due to change. The sum of this was that Organizations are still awfully reluctant to give up power, we simply can’t continue as we are, as all our ground is eroding and that long term quest for finding sustainable competitive advantage is rapidly disappearing .

Transient short term competitive advantage is taking the place of sustainable competitive advantage. This will become a “big idea” and influence our future in how we set about dealing with this. Rita is about to launch her book around this whole area in the coming weeks and I feel will “rattle a few cages” in a few boardrooms, when they read it I suspect.

Steve worked his usual magic of weaving both the start-up and established organization into much of this conversation. He provided numerous examples, spoke of the different “epiphanies” he has had on his customer process and where the link comes together in his work and the Business Model Canvas. Always throwing in the amusing story but always underscoring a powerful learning outcome.

Between Rita and Steve there was such a wonderful conversation between two deeply experienced people, full of knowledge to share, stories to tell and ways to bring these together in practical ways that you could relate too.  A great, great finish.

Are tools or ideas enough?  The world is moving really fast

My growing concern is not the enormous energy being invested in new tools and methodologies; these are good, really good, my concern lies still in the iteration process. The issue is do we crowd source these more and more, with growing built in bias, to keep improving on them as soon as an idea hits us or do we slow them down from “just being put out there” (alpha versions) to being better “beta” versions? I’m not sure when the right time is to release tools.

We have to remember Alex’s original foundation for his Business model canvas was a PhD and that was incredibly well-grounded and why it has taken hold to such a level. Steve Blank’s customer work has integrated his enormous set of experiences and lots and lots of experimentation but that comes in a fairly unique package.

Just having tools for tools sake is not the ideal place to go but tools, well thought through, placed out in the broader community to be experimented with, reiterated and improved is highly valued and needed. Finding the balance is going to be the key from all these tool-smiths.

Congratulations to the organizers of this Summit  

The Business Design Summit brought together an enormously talented group- could it have looked out into the future more, could it have debated more instead of the “tried and tested” listen and group work? Perhaps not, the group needed to begin to work together, to find a greater common language. To have this streamed was incredible and valued by us that were not able to attend. I offered this tweet to Alex:

Alex terrific day tweet.
But I do have a “what if” as my wish?

We do need to plot all the tools into the Business Model Map so we can have a more comprehensive roadmap of what tool or methodology fits where and why. I’ve love that to emerge from this summit. We really need a “live” mashup of all that is going on in a “dynamic” business model canvas environment so a growing community can all provide the next generation. I think this is where the summit has begun to provide a real momentum – the shifts we need to make “to teach people a new way of thinking.”

The next summit will be tentatively in Berkeley late this year or sometime next year.

amended version 27th April 2013