Innovate or perish
Kevin and Jackie Freiberg and Dain Dunston suggest that if we don't define the rules of the game, we should get used to playing by someone else's rules, and outline 10 principles for accelerated innovation.
- Dare to be radical and revolutionary. Review your strategic initiatives to check which have the potential to: "make lives dramatically better, redefine and raise customer expectations, turn heads, stop people in their tracks and create buzz".
- Question the unquestionable. Think like an outsider to challenge the "taken for granted" assumptions.
- Look for the intersection of trends to find opportunities. Pay close attention to the early warning signs. These provide insights into the pattern shaping your world.
- Jettison the incumbent mentality. Incumbents believe that the future will be more of the present (if slightly better) and become vulnerable to new entrants who see the future as a different game operating to new rules.
- Look beyond customer imagination for the next big thing. Customers shouldn't be under estimated. But customers don't always know what they want. And even if they do they might not be able to articulate it.
- Look for breakthroughs beyond your industry. New ideas won't emerge out of innovations from the same people in the same office talking about the same issues. For innovation, build open collaborative partnerships and alliances outside the organisation.
- Let limitations drive creativity vs. complacency. Some constraints, eg regulation we can't escape. But while some are complaining about the limitations, others are using their imagination to find new solutions.
- Accept nothing short of elegance. Complexity is easy. Simplicity is difficult and starts by asking what can we "take away" from a product or service or process to make it better for the user.
- Risk more to gain more. Innovation requires experimentation that involves mistakes. What are the consequences for failure?
- Invite people to change the world. Does your organisation have a "noble, heroic cause" that is solving a problem that matters to others?
10 tensions in innovation
Tim Kastelle outlines the competing forces of innovation that need to be understood and managed for organisational success. In managing innovation we have to do things that seem to be opposed to each other.
- Exploration vs. Exploitation. We experiment whilst also getting more efficient
- Radical vs. Incremental. We improve our current potations and embark on more fundamental changes
- Now vs. the Future. Innovation bridges the gap between our current performance to the level it needs to be in the long-term
- Core competency vs. Benchmarking. Is it better to improve what is above average or invest where we are lagging?
- Analysis vs. Intuition. Here we reconcile objective data driven approaches with the immediacy of insight and hunch.
- Open vs. Closed. Innovation can be brought in from the outside to introduce fresh thinking or generated from within to harness existing creativity.
- Centralised vs. Decentralised. Does innovation reside within a dedicated team or is innovation a fundamental requirement for everyone at all levels?
- Planned vs. Accidental. Can innovation be orchestrated as part of an overall strategic game plan or should we look to nurture the soil and hope that the green shoots of creativity will emerge?
- Structure vs. Emergence. How much process is needed to kick start innovation or should innovation be a flexible response to changing circumstance?
- Out on your own vs. Deeply Connected. Should innovation be left to the creative geniuses who need freedom to operate or should innovation be embedded in team processes to keep a check on reality?
Innovation as an embedded capability
"When the pace of change outside your organization is faster than the pace within, you will be out of business."
Stephen Shapiro outlines how to make a culture of innovation a reality: http://www.steveshapiro.com/2009/07/06/how-to-create-a-culture-of-innovation/
Innovation is less about new products, services or ideas, and more a fundamental capability to "adapt and evolve repeatedly and rapidly to stay one step ahead of the competition." This is a culture of innovation that is predictable and sustainable.
To get to this point requires three things:
A focus on the "right" challenges. Innovation hinges on identifying and solving challenges. And the biggest challenge is identifying that challenge which will create the most value. And an important first step is to see the range of challenges as part of an "innovation portfolio", ranging from the safe bets of incremental innovation to the riskier investments that represent radical innovation. Review your portfolio and evaluate the level of innovation challenge.
Finding appropriate solutions to those challenges. Here the options are:
- Through employees or internal teams and assigning responsibility for the challenge to an established individual or group.
- Internal crowd sourcing to access experience and expertise from those who would not typically work on this kind of challenge.
- Outsourced to an external single source to give an outside party ownership for solving the challenge and delivering the result.
- External crowd sourcing to draw on a diverse group of external problem solvers who work independently on the challenge.
Implementing the best solutions. Embedding innovation within the organisational culture is about the portfolio of projects that look how best to translate the solutions into a practical programme of activity. This can be variations of "build it, try it, fix it" - http://www.steveshapiro.com/2007/07/30/build-it-try-it-fix-it/ - or more analytical and systematic processes of Analyse, Design, Build, Test and deploy.