Innovation is the lifeblood of business growth. Innovation management is also a process; a means of getting the right product to the right people at the right time.
Apologies in advance if any of the content in this article offends political sensitivities and affiliations; it’s certainly not the intention. Judging by the press and social media, to most people in the UK and probably in Europe as a whole, it appears that the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA is beyond surprising. But digging beneath the shock, and of course looking from the outside, there are lessons to learn for innovators.
Following on from the first article about the rationale for setting targets for creativity, I’d now like to suggest how and what should happen.
This is the first of two articles on setting targets for creativity. The topic of part 1 is why targets should be set; part 2 deals with how to set them.
I like sporting analogies for business, especially football (soccer). Football is known as the beautiful game, not just because it is often spectacular to watch, but for its glorious unpredictability. Who have could have foreseen that Leic
As Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter; but some of us are looking at the stars”. To me this phrase says a lot about ambition. It starts with a vision, a dream, an inspiring view of where we want to be in the future. Of course the bit about being in the gutter is a bit dramatic; suffice to say that many companies are in si
I called my mobile phone provider last week with a couple of small issues. The enthusiastic young man on the other end of the phone asked me some basic questions to establish my identity.
“What’s your full name?”
I’ve been neglecting my blog lately, as a result of some intensive consultancy projects and some personal time. Now that I’m back, refreshed and raring to go, the first thing that struck me was the analogy to innovation itself. It’s easy for companies to be distracted and take the eye off innovation. In many cases, it does indeed
Most of what is done in business management today is about control. Most organisations have a military-style command and control structure showing hierarchy and reporting lines; although people in business don’t have to salute each other.
I'm always happy to collaborate with partners who stimulate interaction and learning in innovation. One such event coming up in June is the Innovation Exchange: Chemical & FMCG conference. You can find more details below from Yiota Andreou of Marcus Evans.
Drive around almost any big city in the world and you’re likely to hit traffic jams sooner or later. It’s like innovation in large companies, where the sheer size and complexity can inhibit the smooth flow of new offerings.
When I was growing up in the UK of the 1970s, there was a TV game show called The Golden Shot. The final part involved a member of the audience guiding a blindfolded cameraman to line the crossbow sights up to the bullseye. “Left a bit, right a bit, up, down a bit – FIRE”. If they were lucky, the bolt would hit the middle of the target and they would win a prize.
Innovation should always have a target.....
Are you confused about what innovation really is? If so, it’s probably not surprising. It’s widely written about in many different contexts, but with different impressions and about different things. So in an attempt to get a few things off my chest……
Experience is what you get just after you needed it. Or so the saying goes, suggesting that if only you had known beforehand what you learn afterwards, you would have avoided mistakes and achieved a better result. That’s largely true (in my experience!) but it isn’t a blanket statement that’s applicable in all cases.
I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations recently focused on the strategic view of innovation using the 3 Horizons framework originally proposed by McKinsey, and the assessment of risk and return from innovation.
Recently I went to the Financial Times’ FTInnovate conference in London. The conference theme was “Big vs small: which one is better?” The conference chair freely admitted that the intention was to provoke debate, not to have a fundamentalist binary position with only one right answer. And there was a lot of good discussion and debate.
“It’s only words, and words are all I have…….” , is a line from the Bee Gees song “Words” from the 1960s that has been covered many times since. Full disclosure here – I don’t have this song in my collection, only in the recesses of my consciousness.
Open Innovation is now widely recognized as a way to enhance options for innovation by accessing external assets. However it can mean many things to many people; from running a crowdsourced idea scheme like Lego Ideas or MyStarbucksIdea, through to large co-branded initiatives like Senseo.
In the middle of this spectrum lie Open Innovation joint development projects. Put simply, these are projects where two or more companies work together to launch a product or service, usually exploited in the market place by one of the partners. But these can take many forms.
In a recent conversation, I remarked that I used to be a scientist. Thinking about it afterwards, I realised that was wrong. A more accurate description was that I used to practice as a scientist, first with basic science, then the discovery and development of science-based products. But I am still a scientist, in other words I take a scientific approach to many aspects of my work; I think like a scientist.
One of my favourite definitions of innovation comes from Andrew Hargadon – it’s about making the possible desirable and the desirable possible. It neatly encapsulates supply and demand, implying that it’s something the customer wants and the innovator can deliver. It’s where problem and solution meet.
’m sure many of you will have read or heard the famous quote attributed to Henry Ford, “if I’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. This is usually quoted in the context of radical or breakthrough innovation, justifying an approach that doesn’t rely on customer feedback.
It is generally accepted that innovation involves risk. In the more enlightened organizations it is also clear that failure should be accepted as a consequence of playing the innovation game. It’s a bit like sport. You can’t win all the time, but it doesn’t mean that you change the whole team if you lose one game. Equally, embracing failure is going too far.
Open Innovation (OI) is a well-established way to increase options for innovation. It is quite prominent in areas such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (CPG), but much less so in manufacturing industries. That’s why I took the opportunity recently to find out more from Pete Longdon, who runs the OI programme at Tata Steel.
Tell me more about Tata Steel
Very few management systems or initiatives start with a blank sheet of paper. Every sizeable company already has ways of managing supply, quality, finance etc – and innovation. When the realisation comes that innovation needs to be strengthened, the temptation is often to import a system that will solve all your problems.
Disruptive innovation is the best type, isn’t it? New, exciting and the Rolls Royce of the innovation showroom? The one to aim for? Well, not quite….
Why is innovation like a swan? Of course, the picture is elegant and graceful. But below the surface there is a lot of management legwork going on that you just don’t see. Many companies achieve remarkable things with innovations that add tremendous value to the daily lives of customers and the companies that help them; but the emphasis is almost always on the output, whether that be product, service or business model, not on the work that delivered them.
Innovation is far too often an organizational orphan. How can you make sure it is not just fostered, but becomes adopted and part of the family?
While leadership and management are inextricably linked, they remain different. When it comes to innovation, they remain crucial to the ability of an organization to deliver growth. Good innovation management is fundamental, but without strong leadership, much of the good work done in management can be undone.
In the film, “What Women Want”, Mel Gibson’s character has the ability to read women’s minds and understand what they’re thinking. In the real world, we often need to second-guess what our existing or potential partners want. This is the case for Open Innovation (OI), when smaller companies with something to offer try to understand just exactly what large companies need, and whether there would be complementarity between the two.
The early stages of innovation are inevitably quite uncertain and poorly defined. The Front End process gradually clears the fog, you’ve done your research experiments and confirmed that you have both technical and market feasibility. There comes a point when the development target is clarified, and this is where the Trinity of product development takes over.
The members of this special group are: