Innovative strategy

While strategy and tactics are important topics, which are frequently confused, the role of innovation provides a key to distinguishing them.

This led to an article, focussed on the innovation aspects of strategy, which is intended to separate the two more clearly by describing their relationship, and putting tactics in their place!

Read the full article …

Innovation is an opportunity

Innovation happens as new perspectives, thoughts and ideas lead to changes in behaviour. Doing the same things and expecting a different outcome is unrealistic. Only when we do new things, do we make a substantial difference.

Mankind has evolved through the application of small thoughts which continually make a difference to someone and big ideas which occasionally rock everyone’s world. There is always an opportunity to innovate in specific ways, but now something else is happening at a generic level.

Innovation is an opportunity now: not because we have access to many new technologies; not because we face major challenges; and not because the pace of change is increasing. These have been true during many periods of history.

Innovation is an opportunity now because the world is beginning to understand that innovation can be managed. This has been understood by some people for some time; yet, for most people, the concept of managing innovation remains out of reach.

We have the opportunity to do new things more effectively through the application of our understanding of innovation. The opportunity is to be more innovative, and we are still learning what that means.

[This post was originally written in connection with my contribution to the Like Minds 2011 conference in Exeter, UK between October 19-21, and was published in the conference magazine for the Apple iPad, see the AppStore under “Like Minds” .]

To innovate or not to innovate? That is not the question!

Sooner or later continuous improvement, by any individual or organisation, runs out of steam.

Marching up the slope ahead of us makes sense as an effective way to move onwards and upwards, until we reach the summit. But the summit of what? Most likely it is not the summit, it is just a summit.

There are other summits, and many of them are higher than this summit. Now what?

Discontinuous improvement is called for, to transition across the valley or chasm to the slope of our next, higher challenge. With sufficient resources and expertise, we might be able to build a bridge or to swing or, even, fly across. Without them, we must commit to descending into the valley.

Or, of course, we could just stay where we are at the top of our little summit.

The questions about innovation are not about why we innovate or whether to innovate. They are about what, when, where and how we innovate.

Opportunities: how can we look for them?

We are all looking for opportunities, aren’t we? Or do we focus mainly on problems?

How often have you heard that every problem is an opportunity? Is this true?

So what is the difference between a problem and an opportunity?

Opportunities and problems are opposites.

Usually, we do things because we can see the benefit of doing them.

A problem exists when we see a benefit, but we are not able to generate it.

An opportunity exists when there are things that we are able to do, but we have not yet seen the benefit of doing them.

Whether or not we can turn every problem into an opportunity, we can focus less on problems and focus more on opportunities.

When we have a problem, we focus on the benefits that we cannot generate:

  •  we do not know what things to do to generate the benefit
  •  we know what things to do, but do not know how to do them,
  •  we know how to do them, but are not able to do them.

When we have an opportunity, we focus on benefits that we can generate.

How can we look for opportunities?

We can relax about the things that we are not able to do, and focus on the things that we are able to do.

We can relax about the benefits that we are not able to generate and focus on benefits that we are able to generate.

Is this an opportunity for us all?

Organising for innovation

Aspects and characteristics

It is unlikely that anyone doubts that the ability of an organisation to innovate is strongly dependent on the nature of that organisation. Its nature can be described by various characteristics (including cultural, behavioural and structural characteristics) and by several aspects (including the static and dynamic aspects) of those characteristics.  Continue reading “Organising for innovation”

Innovation strategy – where to aim?

At an inspiring BrightIdea meeting on innovation management in 2010, mentioned in a previous post, I was given, by Vincent Carbone (COO), the opportunity to present some high level thoughts.

The general upsurge in interest, activity and capability in the area of innovation management is continuing; however much of this is, as yet, tactical in nature. Now that the techniques, tools and tactics are becoming more widely available and accepted, it seems worthwhile to pay increasing attention to the strategic issues in the management of innovation.

Here is my presentation and some resulting discussion on this topic, kindly provided by Paul Tran:

The slides and notes are available here.

The meeting was superbly hosted by UBS in Zürich, Switzerland in 2010 on October 19.

Innovation strategy – “it ain’t necessarily so”!

Indications from developments in innovation management suggest to me that there are some areas which are readily available for improvement.

With increasing effectiveness of activities on the input side, the pressure to resolve the shortcomings further downstream will inevitably increase. We are seeing increases in tactical activity to generate and manage larger numbers of ideas and related innovations. This is occurring both internally within organizations and externally through open innovation. At least in part, this increase in capacity is facilitated by the availability of new and improved processes and tools. Consequently, many organizations are likely to be able to handle larger numbers of innovation opportunities than in the past. Continue reading “Innovation strategy – “it ain’t necessarily so”!”

Innovation? What innovation?

We’ve always known “why?”

We can carry on doing the same old things!

Along the way, we can improve, sell more, and cut costs.

But in end, sooner or later, we need to do something different.

That is why we innovate.

Now we know “how?”

Nowadays, everyone is talking about innovation!

Many things seem mysterious for a long time, and then we get them under control.

It happened in “sales”, then in “quality”, now it is the turn of “innovation”.

In the past, a few people knew that they could manage innovation; now everyone knows.

There are processes for managing innovation using “ideation”, “co-creation” and, even, “open innovation”.

That is how we innovate.

But do we know “what?”

Do we understand what to innovate?

Now there is a question!