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Connecting Innovation is the New Order of Play

Paul Hobcraft , Agility Innovation Specialists
18 Dec, 2017
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Paul Hobcraft, Innovation Advisor, Agility Innovation Specialists

There is a lot of change occurring in our innovation abilities. There is this constant shift to more open-sourcing and collaborating. We are seeing profound shifts that technology and digital transformation are bringing us to deliver innovation differently. These changes are influencing all of our worlds, allowing a very different “connecting” innovation to come into play and provide ‘greater value’

Nothing succeeds in isolation anymore, it needs fully connecting up, to bring increased value to the market and customer needs.

There are major shifts taking shape. What is radically changing how we innovate? We are seeing a significant acceleration of innovative collaborations through ecosystems. We are increasingly recognizing all the different collaborative tools increasingly at our disposal We are exploring both platforms and forming ecosystems to radically alter the competitive edge previously seen to reside inside the single company.

A more opening out, forming more connections into customers, engaging with them. so as to fully appreciate their needs and working with them to find solutions. This is leading us to recognize the value and power of the seamless customer experience. All of this comes from achieving a greater access and deepening the connections across networks. It is becoming the innovation network economy, to bring all the parts together.

For some time we have recognized the present innovating was simply not working

There has been a constant backdrop, of growing dissatisfaction, that I feel has been finally recognized. Our present poor performance in growth lies often within our existing innovation systems and their design. The search is on for a real lasting change that does transform and connect all the parts into a new innovative design, one that connects and orchestrates the ‘whole’. There are a number of intersections and driving forces that are coming together and what is emerging is this new innovation era. Now we have to weave them together.

We have moved out of the era of divergence and stand-alone business propositions, we are moving into one of converging, we are at a changeover point for innovation, where collaborators come together to find new higher valued value solutions that customers are looking for to solve their connected needs.

Innovation is advancing but most of it has been designed for a different time, the old era of stable markets, predictable solutions and having a clear sense of your competition. We must jettison much of the older ways, building in silo’s, wanting to have all our resources in-house. All that has changed dramatically.We need to collaborate and tap into the greater knowledge that lies beyond our labs, research centers or company borders. To achieve this, we need to envision change, we need to enlist others to build solutions that provide that greater value, that only partners can combine and deliver.

We have all been trying (very hard) to stay relevant in an ever-increasing uncertain world, applying solutions left over from a past era. Something has had to suffer and I believe this is our innovation outcomes, that are not shifting the growth needle as we keep our innovation systems and thinking trapped in the 20th-century mindset.

Often today I am constantly hearing it is all about “innovation theater”, those activities that make us feel good are enjoyed until the harsh reality of returning to working in corporations kicks back in. It sobers us all up until we can find those excuses to go on another innovation ‘bender’ that allows us to personally learn more but then face this return back inside. Yet does it need to be like this? We need to embrace a different innovation order.

We have three aspects that we need to fully understand

1. We hang on to all the legacies built up around the existing innovation system- why? let them go, please.

2. We are still operating in a world where we expect it to be predictableit is not. It is a VUCA world

3. We need a change, we are facing such constantly changing environments and challenges- our need is to how to respond to this and how do we design it differently?

Each of us has a part to play in innovation, to bring about its change, to bring it into the new innovation era I believe is very possible. It is the sum of all the parts that need connecting up that will build the new design, each of these will be individual to the work on hand or need to be completed. The day of simply copying others gives us “terrible practice” in a world that expects greater uniqueness and personalized experience. We have the constant need to “refresh, rebuild and redesign” many of those innovation parts as we learn we change and improve. This is where understanding the power of platforms and ecosystem designs plays a vital role.

My opening roadmap for our individual future design is built on connecting and collaborating

1. Exploring innovation through more facilitated conversations and investigation, designing pathways, roadmaps, blueprints and recognizing pattern recognition. These are encouraging us all to have more expeditions of discovery. We must constantly explore the evolutionary perspective in the face of an unknown and uncertain future, to find the ’emergent properties’ that will generate the new opportunities for us to explore, experiment, to learn quickly from in how we design and build them in a more constant beta mode.

2. Structuring for Asset Orchestration. This is built on the intent that you must orchestrate the capabilities constantly, to purposefully build what is needed to deliver the result and then rebuild them specifically for the next requirement or solution need, in a new learning environment. To manage and orchestrate means to lead, to frame, conduct,, direct and set the tempo, that is constantly changing and for that we need to be far more adaptive and fluid in our asset deployment.

3. Aligning People, Technology, and Innovation in Design-always and each time. It is the power of combination. While experimentation speeds the time to a viable business innovation, it does not necessarily lead immediately to the kind of large-scale growth or increased market share that are usually the barometers of performance, in the core business or in any future business potential. It is the “combination effect” that is evolving at increasing speed and complexity for connecting the parts up in a full innovation engagement. It is constantly adapting to the needs of the project, not to the system.

4. Impact and Intensity become the new mantra. We need to be more agile, iterative, to be encouraged to be extracting, experimenting and exploring. Our world is shifting from scalable efficiency to scalable learning. Execution and Value Delivery needs to drive the whole innovation process, learning as we go and leveraging this across our network and relationships to provide insights and new knowledge.

5. Exploring and Aligning. Here we are seeing a new management model seeking increasing ‘fusion’ but still wanting to maintain degree’s of separation, we are seeking out ‘flows’ through new knowledge to break down barriers that restrict new insights so as to turn these into new value creation, and we are encouraged to seek out and establish a higher ‘fluidity’ in what we do and reduce the rigidity we presently have in place in our current organizations.We need to operate in ‘dual minds’ and structures is at last constantly striving for the innovation balance: between exploring and exploiting.

It is until we recognize that a large part of our present innovation struggle, to date, is that innovation remains hard to manage consistently well, in a repeating fashion We still strive to systematize it and then attempt to replicate any success we have, so as to achieve more, to repeat and extract efficiencies, yet more often than not we fail. Why is that?

Plain and simply, each innovation is unique, it demands different more flexible thinking. Rigidity needs to give way to flexibility. To deal with the new innovation era we need to rework our existing models and ideas and replace them with a new innovation understanding.

We need to harness the capacity of learning through the competencies for new knowledge acquiring. We need to replenish the internal diminishing stocks of knowledge with a constant flow of new knowledge. This comes from outside, it comes through networks, relationships and collaborations increasingly built on ecosystem and platforms.

It is our increasing ability to participate in this growing formation of managing knowledge flows, harnessed through digital solutions, as they will move us to value creation. Ones that are increasingly collaborative, between partners but also with customers, all increasingly contributing their knowledge, insights, and needs to finding joint solutions and resolving challenges.

To achieve better outcomes and to drive sustained growth we need different management practices. We require scalable participation (ecosystems and platforms) to relate too and generate new knowledge flows. We need to be increasingly responsive, adaptive and fluid, in any design of structures and solutions. We need to constantly open up and share

Performance requires us to quickly learn and translate, that cannot come from the pursuit of efficiency, it comes from learning to be highly adaptive and responsive, to have a high level of fluidity to fuse all the flows of knowledgeinto new potential value creation.

Getting to design the new innovation era is becoming built on ecosystem principles

The collaborators need to trust each other, experiment, explore and exchange openly. It is working with each other’s knowledge that you can move beyond the known and through discovery, prototyping, engagement, validation, we build something that was previously unknown. That need to create even better value is the necessary new frontier of innovation that comes from combining forces. In that way, we can seek out the unknown, not yet discovered but much-needed to dramatically improve the existing we have. This need drives us, both as business, society and as individuals. By connecting all the known parts you begin to reveal a new unknown to explore and research. Through increasing exchanges and collaborations you then can find the solutions to make the unknown suddenly becomes the known and valuable. It is by working these new connecting innovation partnerships you open yourselves up to the possibility. We have the means, we have the desire, now we need to design the specific innovation need to achieve the result that is possible.

Results that allow machines to talk to other machines, to inform humans, to anticipate problems, to combine and fix problems, to build understanding to inform the next generation, to have a digital twin, to operate remotely or in harmony. We have ways to take where we are in our technology and digital understanding and feed it human ingenuity and the collected knowledge found in a network of collaborators to advance the solution, to unlock previously intractable problems. This is where the new innovation era will thrive, in any industry – the power of connected innovation.

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