Paul Hobcraft, Innovation Advisor, Agility Innovation Specialists.
I have argued in the past that innovation management needs to radically adjust, it requires being designed differently, it needs to be highly adaptive, technology driven.
In my opinion, it needs to be based on the thinking around the shift from products to solutions, from transactions to building far more value-adding ongoing relationships, from a supplier of product services into highly valued network partnerships, exploring innovation across all options.
instead of delivering on discrete elements; this requires managing the whole ecosystem of the innovation design differently through technology where platforms dominate and transformation becomes an ongoing process to evolve the business model, so as to seek out constantly changing market opportunities, in agile, adaptive and fluid ways, for successful innovation outcomes, that meet those real customer needs.
I’d like to offer some views, partly looking out to the future, partly considering what is potentially within our grasp, if we step back and rethink innovation design. So here I offer some parts of this design, my thinking out loud, somewhat in random order and some of the reasons why:
For me, I have a picture floating around in my head. It is emergent and not yet in full view
There is this need to have a new cycle of innovative design. We need a really radical way forward on innovation, a highly adaptive solution, where all these solution parts are available on demand, constantly adjusting and adaptable to the situation you have to resolve. We build a process that relates to the problem on hand in its structure, offering the suggested process needed in frames, tools, process designs.
We go and simply ‘grab them’ to fit the innovation we are working upon. We design the innovation system we need after we know what we are trying to achieve in the challenge or idea. We “pull down” what is needed. Can we design a totally ‘adaptive’ innovation process to fit the specific need?
Why not? We need to adapt our system thinking to the challenge identified, not the other way around, that of trying to fit them into a generically designed process. It should be each real challenge needs the innovation system design that is unique to fit the mission; highly adaptive, designed to the business need and the innovation discovery that helps fulfill the mission. It adjusts and you learn.
We need to be highly adaptive and that comes from a greater technology understanding
Can we find ways to be highly adaptable, agile and fluid in grabbing and taking the parts of the innovation system and constructing them into that design and process that works for that specific challenge? Becoming adaptive in organizations that are often highly rigid and standardized is so conflicting, so different, you must separate the two that many are arguing even stronger today than ever, a dual innovation process or organization design.
We are requiring a more abstract thinking as we are increasingly focused on “engineering our business in new and different ways” and this becomes the uniqueness and requirement of how we design our innovation systems, to meet specific needs.
Accelerating the inventiveness within us all
We have seen a consistent change over the years to move towards a more inventive engineering and discovery mindset within our innovation approaches. We started in manufacturing, continued in logistics and supply chain and have seen an evolution of our labs and thinking to keep advancing our processes, thinking, and growth inside our organizations.
We need to increasingly rely on problem-solving techniques that we generate through greater automated discovery and inquiry. So, we seek out greater applied science knowledge we will use it to support and develop practical applications based on technology and innovation. Utilitarian in its principles, seeking real-world use and implementation through a more creative, collaborative environment, leading to more discoveries that distinctly ‘blend’ the lab application with the customer discovery of unmet need. Through a blend of pattern recognition, predictive analytics and exploring cognitive computing we can change much with innovation
Learning to work and listen more with the outside of our organization
We have been steadily learning to adapt what we knew inside an organization with what we should increasingly listen to outside it. There has been an increasing emphasis on linking concepts in new and novel products and services, increasingly closer to these customer needs and desires.
We need to consider how big data and analytics, technology and a far more creative thinking needs to be applied collectively but in greater constellations of partners. We need to get far more comfortable with working in ecosystems, managed in platform designs to work more collaboratively
Innovation management itself must become “fluid” in design, in adaptation so the right approach is to be constantly ‘adaptive’ and put together what is needed to tackle the challenge that needs resolution. A constant redesign to meet the circumstances
The question is can we make such a radical change in our innovation design?
As I said earlier, to get the best out of any idea or innovation concept we need to design the process around the idea or the challenge, not try and force these through the wrong standardized process we try to “work” innovation through today. Often innovation outcomes end up totally different from the original intent or vision and become highly compromised in their value and impact.
We need to be highly adaptive in what innovation applications, processes, tools, and frameworks can be grabbed, perhaps from the innovation cloud and formed into the individually designed innovation process that looks capable of delivering the challenge or idea or can be adjusted as we learn and go.
A radically different orchestration of innovation – highly networked, fully connected-up.
In my view, we must go way beyond “open innovation” as we practice it today. There is a real need for a broader ecosystem approach that taps into a constellation of diverse and specialized players that all come together around a particular challenge, collaborating to deliver growing complex solutions that offer real growth value for the client.
I would argue this fits within a constellation of partners all working towards delivering innovation that is highly valuable, radical, disruptive and distinctive. A network of highly vested ecosystem partners all working towards a common goal on behalf of the organization that holds the principal intellectual property as the founding partner.
An ecosystem arrangement with a multitude of agents participating in resolving complex challenges, sharing their individual knowledge, pooling their collective expertise, working in a collaborative creative environment, of a platform design where the development and commercialization of the process is established, mutually understood on who shares or owns what, and working on creating real value creation that delivers on the expertise and passion infused into this.
Digital and technology matters, in its raw innovating power and its potential business impact
I think applying a digital mindset is clearly a transformational phenomenon across much of today’s existing business. The unique combining of the cloud, big data, social streaming, the internet of things, mobility, the industrial internet, are all making this the time for new growth opportunities through this digital economy and the radical overhaul of the activities to realize the benefits. Where is innovation within this?
As we recognize that the enterprise will need to move towards a design that is constantly evolving, adapting, adjusting and reacting. We need to design our systems to be highly agile. Systems that allow people to make their decisions based on the data they can access and predict a result. This needs to be designed so it will be totally redistributed down to the person that is the interface so they can have decision authority, to seize breaking opportunities and achieving customer satisfaction far more quickly than in the past.
I think we need to see a greater advance in multiple Business models, each will not stand alone, they will interlock in intelligent ways, to benefit from scale that becomes the essential need and greater appreciation of sharing services, jointly working towards common outcomes. These strategic connections will open-up due to collaborating in different partnerships those opportunities for shared cost of new channel developments, building their part of the value propositions, driven through common back office services. These will increasingly rely on platform management to manage these and partners within ecosystems to come together to achieve more complex solutions that advance customer experience.
We are transcending traditional industry and product boundaries
The dizzy array of strategic choices will totally disrupt existing business models if they are right in their design. The whole world of communicating, transacting and designing all the different negotiations and products that meet the immediate needs of the customer makes this the “digital business era”, where constant redesigning and orchestrating the parts will keep it at the forefront by a constantly evolving set of combinations and leveraging a network of diverse capabilities.
It will be how and where a business or entities of business come together and see where ‘people, things and their business offering’ can come together for mutual value based on the unique combination of the different technologies available.
There will be a constant evolving evaluation of the assets both internal and externally that make up this digital world (people, the business, and things) that will take this out beyond the control of one company, into a system within a larger system to make it work at a far constantly evolving speed, gaining adoption and appreciation of the value of being connected and collaborative.
We have to recognize that innovation will certainly not get any easier; it will be faster, more demanding and a heck of a lot more risky to design, create and execute.
The real need is delivering a new integrated innovation engagement platform
Without a doubt, digital and physical do operate at really very different speeds. We need not only a new innovation management system, we need a modern engagement platform.
The growing pressure will be demanded to find solutions that provide a cohesive and business-focused approach to the new social enterprise where we seek engagement at scale into multiple arrays of communities and advocates that has data and innovation as their operating core.
So we have this overriding need to Automate the Innovation Process
We still are very reliant upon stage-gate intervention points, often more due to dogma and imposed oversight by committees occasionally meeting. Decisions are determined by the human, based less on hard knowledge or dynamic intelligence, often these have tended to be thinner on the ground to validate concepts and not provided the necessary insights that come from technology driven insights.
Judgment becomes highly personal and reliant on (past) experience and that lack of multiple digital awareness limits the end result. Human intervention comes from this lack of common insight and understanding the growing knowledge stock. We need to predict, envisage and experiment a lot more. Often we pivot due to lacking understanding and we need to find better ways to tell the story and a variety of technology applications can help us here.
We need to integrate and sync so many transaction and stand-alone systems that have been allowed to proliferate over the years to meet specific business needs. We need to draw them into an integrated system of innovation design. So what can we challenge and change?
Innovation must catch up in as we work through the transformation change.
At the moment innovation is seriously lagging in its potential as we have failed to “connect it all up.” Yet it is not just a need to simply connect up, we have this need to redesign innovation from the bottom up in its design to ‘account’ for all the changes that have ‘advanced’ our understandings. We need to leverage technology in significant ways to automate the process and capitalize on the power of data, intelligence, and flexible design delivered in highly adaptive ways.
What type of innovation intelligence platform can be built so multiple ecosystems can form around it? It needs to be one that is integrated and connected up; in tools, methodologies, frameworks, in solution providers and collaborative clients, all working on common problems with data intelligence, feeding into their decision making process, evolving the discovery and the needs required through innovation, by what they are “intelligently” learning and exploring.
Of course, this needs deeper thinking and reflecting but I keep believing we are moving towards the ‘cusp’ of a new innovation designed process. We do need it, to reflect the need for a more connected innovation thinking through process.