Building the Coordinates into your Innovation World
Most of us are very aware that Innovation can be fairly complex in what needs to be pulled together to take an idea or concept into a finished product.. We are also aware innovation often ‘flies’ in contradiction to the normal organization’s ways and wishes, especially the emphasis on working in structured, efficient and productive ways. Innovation can often be rather chaotic and discovery driven, it often is seen as counter-productive to the orderly state our organizations wish to achieve.
Yet it is that randomness, that serendipity, that sudden discovery that needs a different way of thinking and organizing innovation. It can still be well-structured and effective but it needs the opportunity to allow in accidental discovery, by-chance conversation, fortuitous moments that just seem to happen and occur as you are “open” to them. You need to have both structure and unstructured aspects to allow innovation to happen, evolve and eventually shape towards an outcome that changes the current status quo. Innovation should always challenge and question this status quo.
One of the useful ideas of using an external resource is to put additional coordinates into your innovation world, they see contradictions in a different way. They can assist in working through the conflicting signals, so as to help align innovation in helpful and thoughtful ways. Certainly, the innovator’s role is not an easy one inside the structured world of larger business entities.
I like practical advice with evidence, it helps bridge misunderstanding. This can come through a variety of methods: benchmarking, validating, frameworks and interpreting how innovation can fit with your current or future needs. Often the outside advice can place innovation into a greater context that can accelerate the outcomes you need to gain understanding and achieve increasing identification.
The value of the external innovation specialist has great value in insights
It has a very powerful combination effect if the advice is right. In my case, I try to offer operational experience drawn from the client’s input and my own understandings of being involved in many different businesses, at varying management levels, in many markets and industries. As we combine experiences, we can open up our thinking. Shutting down someone else’s experience or thinking denies us the opportunity to learn and advance thinking. This is providing a cross-industry experience and gives sometimes detachment from your world. It becomes valuable to explore something different, to take time to compare and contrast, to arm you with greater insights so you can relate your innovation activity and maybe recognize being exposed to something outside your industry might give you a completely different insight to a problem you are working upon, by seeing solutions from another industry as close to the answer you were looking for, even more, it can become even more grounded or questioned. We are better at (pattern) recognition when we “see” something tangible. Often it is hard to visualize something.
The other main contribution comes from common sense and intuition.
Receiving thoughts that feed into your own instinct or conflict with it give a terrific and fast sounding board. It remains outside the politics and constraints of your organization. It gives a different sense of perspective and verification.
It does not matter if these are micro-learning moments (quick answers to immediate need) or those deeper more macro learning ones (to learn specifically a new subset of innovation), it is by having the opportunity to put different coordinates into your thinking that can be offered by the external advisor can bring significant value and save valuable time.
What slips under your personal radar can also partly be picked up
Not just in those moments of need but by having an ongoing relationship with an external coach, advisor or mentor you can benefit from critical updates and insights, that might have slipped under your radar dues to your focus on getting the work done. You can have set up interim reports that focus on a given theme or topic of interest that you don’t have the necessary time to investigate yourself, you can gain from field research, breaking innovation reports on topics of need and interest and you can encourage your team to equally tap into this innovation knowledge vault.
The recognition is in knowing and appreciating
It is recognizing the value of having someone just a call or email away who can provide backup value in insights or knowledge gives you a significant edge.
Why reinvent the wheel when others might already have your wheel size ready and waiting to fit?
Should your Startup / Scale-up have an Advisory Board?
Robert P. Mollen, Counsel at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP. I find that thoughtful founder questions generate my most interesting blogs to write. Recently I’ve been asked on several occasions about advisory boards – should an ...