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We are proud to announce our twenty-ninth Innovation Excellence Weekly for Slideshare. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the world's most popular innovation web site and home to 5,000+ innovation-related articles.
Issue 29 – April 19, 2013 1. What is Innovation?............................................................................………….. Greg Satell 2. Prototyping: Engage in a (Buckminster Fuller) Dialogue with Reality ….... Lyden Foust 3. Building an Agile Organization …………..…………….……..……...……… Shoaib Shaukat 4. Innovation Fails Because of Corporate Antibodies……………..…...... Stefan Lindegaard 5. Innovation versus Product Development .………………...……… Simmons and Crawford 6. Innovation Litmus Test – Taking Ownership ………………………..………. Paul Hobcraft 7. Forge Your Front Line, Liberate Your Leaders ……….…….................…. Matthew E May 8. Don’t be Afraid of Trial-and-Error …………………….…….……………..…….. Jorge Barba 9. Own the Behavior ………………………………………………………….....….. Mike Shipulski 10. Dealing with Fast Change in the Context of Innovation …………..…. Stefan Lindegaard Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and strategic advisors to many of the world’s leading companies. “Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.”Cover Image credit: Question from Bigstock
What is Innovation?Posted on April 14, 2013 by Greg SatellEverywhere you look, people are talking about innovation. There are conferences and gurus, workshops and webinars, apostles andpractitioners.But what is it, really? It’s hard to go about the practice of innovation when there is so much confusion about what it actually is. Some havesupposed frameworks (i.e. discovery/invention/innovation), but to be honest, I don’t find them particularly helpful.It seems obvious to me that a common sense definition of innovation is that it is a process of finding novel solutions to important problems.Unfortunately, in order to make innovation palatable to business organizations, many have tried to narrow the definition to make it morepurpose driven. That’s getting it backwards, after all it’s businesses that need to adapt.A Question Concerning TechnologyOkay, let’s start from the beginning. Clearly, the reason that businesses are interested in innovation is that we are living in an increasinglytechnological world and, for any business to consistently earn a return, it needs to develop technology.As Kevin Kelly points out in What Technology Wants , even the use of the word “technology” relatively new, serious use of the term onlydates back about half a century. So it’s not something we have a lot of experience with, like operations or accounting.Martin Heidegger was the first person to seriously tackle the issue in his classic 1949 essay, The Question Concerning Technology, wherehe argues that technology both involves uncovering (i.e. bringing forth) and enframing (i.e. putting in context of a particular use).
The definition is extremely insightful and useful, not least because we tend to think of technology (including things like legal concepts andbusiness processes) as something we create rather than uncover. As I pointed out in an earlier post about how technology evolves, we createtechnology by harnessing and then exploiting forces that were already there.So, if we want to innovate by creating new technologies, we need to first discover things and then figure out how to put them to good use.Penicillin vs. DNATo see where the discussion of innovation often runs into trouble it’s helpful to look at two often cited discoveries: That of penicillin and thestructure of DNA.Penicillin was discovered by accident when Alexander Fleming left a petri dish open and came back to find his bacteria had died. He tracedthe phenomenon to a strange mold that we know know as the wonder drug, penicillin.The structure of DNA, on the other hand, was no accident. In fact, many were searching for it, including such luminaries as Linus Pauling, thegreatest chemist of the day. The answer, however, eluded everyone except for two relatively unknown researchers, James Watson andFrancis Crick, who combined several novel approaches to solve the problem.You can see the difference: Both are discoveries and technologies, but only one is the product of innovation. We learn little by studying thediscovery of penicillin (except, of course to pay attention), but a great deal from how Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA. Theywere, in a very real sense, the first open innovators.Discovery/Invention/InnovationOne popular way to frame the innovation process is to break it down into discovery (new knowledge), Invention (new technologi es) andinnovation (useful things like products and services). However, it doesn’t take much thinking to realize that this isn’t very useful because itconfuses work products with work processes.
For example, both penicillin and the discovery of DNA were both the products of discovery (and eventually, by Heidegger’s definition, becametechnologies), but in one the process was accidental and the other the process was innovative, combining new techniques in chemistry, biologyand physics in ways no one had thought of before.And that is a very crucial point. It is absolutely senseless to argue what constitutes a commercial product or service (it is, after all, a matter ofcontext rather than of quality), but finding novel solutions to important problems is a crucial component of modern business life.The Innovation Management Matrix RevisitedTo finish up, I’d like to return to an earlier discussion on Innovation Excellence about whether innovation needs a purpose by introducing amodified version of the Innovation Management Matrix I published in Harvard Business Review.Each of the four quadrants represents an area of innovation in that each requires finding novel solutions to important problems and as well asthe opportunity to create new products and services. (If you doubt the importance of quantum teleportation, see my earlier article on the nextdigital paradigm).By arbitrarily determining that Netflix and the iPhone are innovations and the discovery of the structure of DNA and quantum teleportation arenot, we would be unnecessarily limiting ourselves and therefore missing opportunities. After all, one man’s purpose is another man’s folly.
They do, however, require separate and distinct innovation processes and that’s where the discussion becomes important. In order to manageinnovation effectively, you need to focus on one set of processes or your organization will become hopelessly muddled.However, you will still need to gain some competence in other quadrants or you will miss opportunities (as Apple is doing now). Finding theright mix of research, partnering, mining the organization for disruptive ideas and engineering improvements is essential for every organization.Note: Special thanks to Ralph Ohr for helping to hone some of my ideas on this topic.image credit: janetnewenham.com Greg Satell is an internationally recognized authority on Digital Strategy and Innovation. He consults and speaks in the areas of digital innovation, innovation management, digital marketing and publishing, as well as offshore web and app development. His blog is Digital Tonto and you can follow him on Twitter.
Prototyping: Engage in a (Buckminster Fuller) Dialogue withRealityPosted on April 14, 2013 by Lyden Foust In our world, speculation is bad. We see many people accumulate mountains of information and data from studies and statistics but never venture to speculate on the larger ramifications of this information or connect it all into a theory. On the other hand, we have all met that person who constantly speculates. All they do is talk about all the ideas they have, how they could make millions, and how the world has it in for them. The great inventor Buckminster Fuller was neither of these people. Fuller was constantly coming up with ideas for possible inventions, making him like… everyone else. What set him apart was that he noticed early on that many people have great ideas but were afraid to put them into physical form. To set him apart from the dreamers, fuller created a strategy for turning speculations into realities.The Artifact StrategyWorking off his ideas, Buckminster would make sketches in a notebook.Here is the key, he would make these sketches as quickly as possible. Assoon as an idea entered his head, he would capture it on paper. Next hewould make crude models of his ideas, if they seemed feasible at all hewould proceed to crafting working prototypes. By actually translating hisideas into tangible objects, he could gain a sense of whether they werepotentially interesting or merely ridiculous.If the prototypes passed his test, he would take them to the next level andmake public “artifacts” of his ideas to see how people would respond.One artifact that he made was the Dymaxion car. It was meant to bemuch more efficient, maneuverable, and aerodynamic than any vehicle inexistence, featuring three wheels and an unusual shape.However, in making the artifact public, he realized several faults in it’s design and reformulated it. Although the Dymaxion car never took off, ithas to this day influenced and astounded engineers and designers. Buckminster would eventually expand this artifact strategy to all of hisideas, including his most famous one – the Geodesic dome.
Put it to workHave an idea for a product? Make a clay model and pretend you are actually using it. Or even better, make an ugly looking prototype that workslike the real product would. Watch how your target market interacts with it.Have an idea for a service? Map out what the service would look like, and then act out each part. If you can bring in the people you aredesigning for to interact with the product or service prototype it will inject even more reality into the process.Modern Day ExampleA great example of building and testing a crude artifact is the online social search engine Aardvark. Before its acquisition by google for $50million, it was a social search service that connected users with friends or friends-of-friends who were able to answer their questions.Essentially, it humanized search by allowing you to query your extended social network.Aardvark launched their beta test in 2008, with little to no funding. How did they do it? They literally had people sitting behind computers waitingfor a question to come in, then they would perform the intended function of querying the persons social network manually. Archaic? Yes, butAardvark grew by leaps and bounds, validated their product for the cost of a pizza party.Engage in a dialogue with realityFuller’s process of making artifacts is a great model for making your ideas real. You can spend thousands of dollars in a lab by yourselfperfecting an idea, only to find out when you launch it there is a discrepancy between your level of excitement, and an indifferent public. Getfeedback early, based on the assessments you gain, you can redo the work and launch it again. Cycle through this process several times andthe responses will empower you to see how your idea affects the user at a deeper level. You will see the objective reality of your work and itsflaws, as reflected through the eyes of many people.Most want to talk about the facts, or merely speculate about solutions. Instead, you must follow the route of Buckminster Fuller and go theopposite direction. Turn your speculations into their physical forms, artifacts. They will allow you to confirm or dis-confirm your theories, piercingreality into the process.image credit: bfi.org Lyden Foust is a Research & Innovation Associate at The SEEK Company. A student practitioner of design strategy, Lyden is fueled by relentless sense of curiosity, and a desire to improve lives through innovation. His scrappy attitude has driven him to found and expand a successful business before graduating college & to curate the first TEDxXavierUniversity.
Building an Agile Organization – Implications for functionalmanagementPosted on April 14, 2013 by Shoaib Shaukat As more and more companies adapt lean and agile practices and continue the journey to become more agile, the traditional functional structures become a bottleneck. As the agile spreads across the teams, so does the activities of the team members and their managers requires rethink. The command and control ways of controlling the teams will not work any more as agile needs more work participation from the team. This creates some interesting problems for the traditional functional managers such as development manager or test manager. Many of the traditionalresponsibilities of these managers are no longer required. In my experience the following activities can help ease the pains of this transition.1. Build community of practice for the functions (such as programming, QA, business analysis etc.) across multiple agile teams or acrosslines of businesses if applicable. This allows lessons learned by the developers to spread to other testers in other teams. Functional managerscan help coordinate or promote this activity by finding and encouraging the right people to run such activities. As this is more a social activityand need voluntary participation from team members, it can’t be organized in a traditional style. Lean Coffee type of meetings can be moreeffective in bringing people together.2. Identify training needs across teams and provide courses, skill development programs to develop resources. This is an important part ofcreating a knowledge culture based on continuous learning. Setting up brown bags on various topics of interests for community will bringpeople on board and will help the teams to share and develop new knowledge.3. Take a strategic view of your teams and areas of responsibility. Look across your product road maps and evaluate how well the currentskills and knowledge match future needs. If there are other teams who rely on your team then consider their needs in the planning process andtake steps to fix gaps through hiring, training etc.4. Take steps to help team members take on more cross skill responsibilities. Agile teams often see more benefits when team membersare willing to go beyond their key areas of expertise (e.g. Developers taking on Testing activities or BA activities). This is only possible whenteam have trust on each other and their managers. Managers should develop more tolerance to mistakes and failures as when new activitiesare tried there are more chances for something to go wrong. However this is an important part of learning process and achieve flexibility andagility. Traditional metrics of judging people’s performance in their areas of expertise should be abolished if you want to promote more teamwork.
5. Other managerial activities (such as performance reviews, hiring/firing) will need more collaboration with the teams. As you are likely towork less directly with your employees on a day to day interaction, so it makes more sense to take input from your agile team members. Teamscan determine the needs they are lacking in the best possible way as they are responsible for the project.6. Bring more team members in the planning process as this creates a better buy in and also team members get more understanding of theorganizational needs.7. Take time to explain the organizational and project context to your team members. Consider them as your partner in driving thecompany towards success.8. Last but not least, hire people who have the right ingredients to work in this kind of structure and who are not afraid of taking moreresponsibilities.If you have gone through this phase in your career of are currently going through, please share your ideas.image credit: crateinccom.com Shoaib Shaukat is a senior software engineer and business analyst working in commercial software development, management and technology solutions for fortune 500 customers. He is passionate about technology, Internet, product development, and customer-stakeholder requirements.
Innovation Fails Because of Corporate AntibodiesPosted on April 11, 2013 by Stefan LindegaardHere’s a big reason why open innovation efforts can fail: they are oftenkilled by corporate antibodies resisting the changes brought by opening up toexternal partners. These antibodies can exist in both large and smallcompanies. If you’re hearing statements such as these, corporate antibodiesmay be at hard at work, resisting change:• “We already tried that and couldn’t make it work.”• “What we’re doing has worked fine for years; there is no need to change.”• “Our current product is still profitable; I don’t see why we need to spend moneyon something new that might not even work out.”• “We already explored that idea years ago but decided against it.”• “If that were a good idea, we’d already have thought of it. After all, we are the experts on this.” (Said about an idea coming from the outside.)• “Let me just play devil’s advocate here….”• “Of course, I support innovation, but I just don’t think this is the right time to make a big change. The market isn’t ready.”People making such statements may truly believe that they have the company’s best interests at heart. Or they may be putting their personalinterests ahead of company loyalty. Some people also become antibodies because they don’t feel their opinions are given enough weight. Suchfeelings can cause people to continuously take the negative side or play devil’s advocate. The phrase “I hate to bring this up, but…” comesfrom them a lot, followed by a boatload of negativity.This is not to say that anyone who questions the need for change or the direction that change is taking is being unnecessarily negative. Soundfeedback is needed from many quarters for real innovation to occur. But what I’m talking about is not constructive criticism. Rather, it is therelentless negativity, foot dragging, and throwing up of needless roadblocks that pose a true threat to innovation ever becoming a reality.Recognizing that corporate antibodies are likely to show up at some point in your innovation process and having strategies in place to deal withthem should help you derail some of the people who want to impede change and maintain the status quo. Here are some potential solutions:• Make people backers rather than blockers. It’s never too early to start this. Your initial stakeholder analysis and resulting communicationsstrategy will mean that you’re being proactive rather than reactive. By communicating proactively, you can sometimes co-opt the antibodies intothe process in a way that satisfies their egos and makes them feel their ideas and authority are being appropriately recognized. You maydiscover that your proactive efforts weren’t enough, but you can continue to communicate to stakeholders that they can play a valuable role inshaping the company’s future, including their own destiny. Bring people together to facilitate knowledge sharing and the building of newrelationships that broaden everyone’s perspectives. Keep people involved in the innovation process.
• Stay below the radar. In some situations, the best choice is to stay below the radar as long as possible. Don’t become too interesting tooearly. This will help you avoid people who want to own the idea or process, or who want to apply standard corporate processes to the projecteven though this can kill it. This, of course, is more applicable to large companies than to small ones, where everybody knows what’s going onand it’s hard to keep anything quiet.• Have frameworks and processes in place. Many internal innovation debacles can partly be avoided by setting internal rules about how tobring innovation projects forward. With a framework and process in place, it becomes easier to move projects forward without having them gethung up in destructive internal warfare.• Provide high autonomy. In larger organizations, having innovation councils with high autonomy or units with their own assigned budgets andgoals are other ways to get around the damage that can be done by corporate antibodies. Such structures help shelter new ideas againstsituations in which executives are not willing to spend their political capital in supporting innovation or when they believe the change will impacttheir own career negatively.image credit: word cloud image from bigstock Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.
Innovation versus Product DevelopmentPosted on April 12, 2013 by Wayne Simmons and Keary Crawford Since the inception of the automobile industry, product features and functions were thought to be the primary determinants for customer buying decisions. Indeed, many automobile companies have built their corporate identities around specific product characteristics such as Volvo’s emphasis on safety features, GM’s and Chrysler’s focus on “American horsepower”, and Mercedes’ use of luxurious materials in their vehicles. This product-centric thinking has driven entire marketing and branding campaigns and determined where most of that industry’s innovation resources are invested. Powerful market forces and changing customer behavior have challenged this dominant interpretation of innovation, changed the basis of competition and caught some automakers ill-equipped to respond. New factors such as thebuyer’s experience at dealerships, the availability of maintenance services, financing options and fuel economy are outside of the traditionalproduct development arena and now play a significant role in buying decisions. As a result, as innovation in the automobile industry hastraditionally been associated with product development, customers are forcing automobile companies to rethink how they define innovation andwhere they invest their innovation resources.Many companies equate innovation with creating and adding new product features and functions in a traditional product development life cycle.With this interpretation, the basis of competition and growth is assumed to be the volume, novelty and frequency of adding an ever-expandinglist of product features and functions. When this narrow interpretation is dominant in a company, the vast majority of innovation investments arelikely to flow to extend or add features and functions to existing products. As a result of this thinking, there is an elevated potential thatcompanies may limit themselves to the relatively limited growth potential that can be extracted from existing products.
Re-conceptualizing InnovationBut this one clarification is just the beginning. In order for innovation programs and, ultimately companies, to deliver on its potential, they mustelevate the conversation about innovation to the new language of business innovation. In conjunction with entrepreneurship and growthstrategy, the six dimensions of business innovation – service, design, business model, value, customer and strategic innovation – offer multiplepathways for companies to drive growth and enterprise value creation. Business innovation accomplishes this by equipping companies to maketraditional innovation more measurable and tangible – key ingredients for sustainable business growth.Companies should consider: What product or service can we pair with our current offering that will set us apart? What convenience can our offering provide customers that none of our competitors offer? Can we construct compelling experiences around/beyond our offering for our customers? What offering or guarantee can we deliver that no one else would dare?image credit: growthstrategy.com Wayne Simmons is an accomplished executive, innovator, value creator, and entrepreneur and co-author of GrowthThinking: Building the New Growth Enterprise. As CEO and Co-Founder of The Growth Strategy Company, Wayne leads the vision, strategy and growth of the company. He has worked for global advisory firms Ernst & Young, Deloitte Consulting, and has been a trusted advisor to C-level executives at Fortune 500 corporations, venture capitalfirms, and small and midsized companies. Wayne was trained in airborne reconnaissance for US Army Intelligence; and is an alumnus andFellow of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Keary Crawford is a results-driven executive leader with extensive experience in operations, M&A and finance for start-up, entrepreneurial and middle-market companies. As co-founder and COO of The Growth Strategy Company, she manages the strategic growth and vision, and day-to-day operations; and is co-author of GrowthThinking: Building the New Growth Enterprise. Keary was trained in Behavioral and Social Sciences and is a Fellow and alumna of theExecutive Development Program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Innovation Litmus Test – Taking OwnershipPosted on April 12, 2013 by Paul Hobcraft There is always a healthy debate on who “owns” innovation within any organization. Often it can boil down to where the innovation concept is along the pipeline is or who has been designated with maneuvering or piloting the innovation through its different stages. The reality of lasting ownership is much tougher; there are huge, often yawning gaps, in innovation accountability. The right answer should of course be everyone but making that statement on its own is a little bit of a cop-out, an easy answer to a complicated dilemma. So let me offer a connected way. Working through the Executive Work Mat , jointly developed with our friends at OvoInnovation , this Work Mat was designed for many reasons but principally to gain leadership engagement within all things involving innovation.One of its overarching principles was the quest to gain alignment from the top, at board level, through its interconnected structure and theirstrategic inputs so as to establish and make the critical connections all the way down and throughout the organization.What we needed also was putting in place a fairly rigorous ‘litmus test‘ to establish if this is achieving the positive reaction required and theWork Mats intent.These are my thoughts on this.To achieve the alignment of innovation to the organizations strategy goals and objectives is so critical to have the best chance to deliver thenecessary impact needed; to gain growth and improvement on the existing position. We need to test for alignment, we need to see if innovationis being adopted, if innovation is cascading through the organization. Is it having a positive effect on how the organization and its people viewinnovation? How do we harness all the necessary efforts for a positive ‘reaction’?The Litmus Test required for Innovation.
There are two handy definitions of a “litmus test” and why I think this can be applied nicely here in evaluating the value of the Executive WorkMat.1- A litmus test is used in chemistry to test and establish the acidity or alkalinity of the mixture- I think innovation does prompt plenty of‘reactions’ so this works well.2- The second, a litmus test becomes a critical indicator of future success or failure, exactly what the Executive work Mat is attempting toinfluence in managing the innovation efforts.The Seven Parts of the Litmus Test – a summaryTranslation points in value, impact and alignment – the value of the Executive Work Mat is to gain alignment, to promote value and achievea better positive impact from innovation.The Leadership Commitment – how leaders chose to engage, to encourage and promote innovation activity is critical. They need to mentor,coach, listen and respond to the concerns, opportunities and offer their contribution and judgment.Peoples involvement – In some recent research by Deloittes on what is required for successful collaboration they felt three conditions neededto be in place. These I really resonated with, in where I feel any litmus test for innovation should focus upon when it comes to people: Do they Belong: people collaborate on behalf of organizations they feel connected too. Do they Believe: people collaborate when they commit to carrying out specific actions How do they Behave: people collaborate when they share a common understanding of how things are done.Designed-In – the effectiveness of any innovation system is within its design, its processes and functioning. Here within the litmus test you arelooking far more at establishing, generating, exploring, validating and using what is available and learning from it. It is in the care andthoughtfulness of the design.Engagement & Understanding Outputs – the ability to communication, to find agrowing common language of innovation is vital to sustaining success. It boils down tothe relating, the responding and the respecting of this. Identification and dialogueallows innovation to flow more freely. Respect generates growing trust. Trust is vital toinnovation.Risk & Rewards – Always the risk and fear working on innovation naturally comes up,it consciously needs to be addressed. To assess the exposure, the barriers, thebalances and checks needed, the learning from success and failure needs openlyexploring.
Finally, we always need Outcomes - Any effort or initiative has to have outcomes measured on its return of effort and cost involved. It isfocusing on effective implementation, on execution, on gaining a ROI and on achievements you can raise the awareness and value ofinnovation. Outcomes become essential to drive and sustain innovation. People hunger for success, leaders also.Adoption of the litmus test for delivering sustaining innovationSo for me, to achieve a lasting value out of the suggested Executive Work Mat you need to do these litmus tests and impact assessments togauge the successful alignment effects. A clear connection between engagement, alignment and ownership through innovation’s growingidentification in its importance to be central in supporting the strategy within a business.If you have not yet considered the Executive Work Mat then I would simply encourage you to reach out and make that first connection,knowing a positive result from the ‘effect’ can make or break your organization. I’m certainly looking for more workouts in supporting yourinnovation fitness efforts. Interested?image credit: madeinchina.com Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.
Forge Your Front Line, Liberate Your LeadersPosted on April 12, 2013 by Matthew E May What if you were able to grow your business confidently in the direction of your choosing? What if you could consistently provide the most innovative solutions to your customers’ problems? What if you could attract your industry’s best talent? What if you could command premium pricing of products and services that are heavily in demand and are far superior to any alternatives? According to entrepreneur Ray Attiyah, author of The Fearless Front Line, there’s only one way to achieve the entirety of this wish list: liberate the leaders by empowering the front line.Attiyah is the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Definity Partners, a training, process and leadership improvement firm. In addition tofounding Definity Partners, Attiyah owns 16 additional businesses including start-ups, manufacturer, training and e-commerce companies.Buried in Daily DetailsAttiyah argues that all too often the front-line activities of a business are so unpredictable, unreliable and complicated, that business ownersand leaders can’t seem to pull themselves away. But if you’re spending most of your time on the day-to-day operational aspects of thebusiness, you’ve left a critical gap.“Time and energy are consumed by urgent but unimportant tasks,” he writes. “Who’s creating the innovative and inspiring visions and strategiesthat are critical to growth?”The key is to liberate the top. But the precondition necessary to do that is “having a front line that can operate reliably, excellently, andindependently day in and day out every day of every week of every year.”Attiyah maintains that business owners often have difficulty forgetting bad situations, and that inability to let go shakes their confidence in theirfront-line team and its activities. To compensate for their lack of confidence in the front line, leaders become conditioned to over-manage andunder-lead.Attiyah describes how to embolden the front line to take true ownership of essential day-to-day operations, which will liberate owners fromgetting mired in the distracting details. They can then capitalize on the momentum created by the fearless front line to determine what theorganization needs to do to make (then keep) bold promises, place (then win) bold bets, and scout (then hire) bold people.
The Key to Inspiring the TroopsSo how does Attiyah suggest you develop this inspired, accountable and confident front line?1. Raise the bar of excellence by investing in top performers and removing obstacles that frustrate them2. Make meaningful changes quickly to bolster team confidence, enthusiasm and trust3. Implement daily huddles to foster a positive “what went well” environment, communicate your standards of performance and create a simpletouch point for communicating the status of reactive improvementsAttiyah’s approach is based on a simple truth: As businesses mature, they create clutter. Superfluous processes are added to create a safetynet for unreliable systems, and the organization can’t see clearly what it needs to do to be efficient and effective. Leaders end up spendingmost of their time in the weeds, which distracts them from their most important priority: growing their business.Attiyah introduces a Run-Improve-Grow model, a continuously moving system that stimulates a culture of consistent relevancy, new growthand constant innovation. You can use the principles of Run-Improve-Grow to build a solid and simplified foundation.The Run focuses on excellence and empowers the front line to take true ownership of their critical role.Improve capitalizes on the momentum created by the fearless front line to liberate the organization’s leaders.With a fearless front line, simplified management system and new organizational attitude, a business is ready to launch boldly into the Grow,outlining what the business needs to pursue strategic innovations and new opportunities that will propel the company to great relevancy andprofitable growth.“Imagine a workplace that is free from the stress of managers and staff always finding problems but rarely acting on solutions,” Attiyah writes.“A workplace where teams establish and agree on clear standards of excellence, and a workplace where people are encouraged to proposebold ideas and then make them realities? Run-Improve-Grow makes that workplace possible.”If you want your front-line workers to have an “I run this place!” mindset that frees you up to concentrate on the bigger picture, The FearlessFront Line will provide a practical road map, and deserves a read. Matthew E. May is the author of “IN PURSUIT OF ELEGANCE: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing.” He is constantly searching for creative ideas and innovative solutions that are ‘elegant’ – a unique and elusive combination of unusual simplicity and surprising power
Don’t be Afraid of Trial-and-Error Posted on April 13, 2013 by Jorge Barba Why wait for the need to become obvious? Yes, why wait for it? If you are an established company, you have a set of challenges that you need to wrestle with on a daily basis. Growth, is one. Either by strengthening the existing value proposition of your current business, or by creating something entirely new. With that said, to see what isn’t there, ask yourself a pair of questions: What is the true value that customers get from my products or services? In what other ways could that value be delivered? If you can answer these questions clearly, then you can see a world of possibilities. Anticipating the needs of your customers isn’t a walk in the park. I have a client that is sitting on a gold mine of insights that could potentially take them into another business, or simply evolve their existing business. These types of opportunities are not obvious when you are engaged in the everyday routine of the job. Outsiders, in this case it was us, can help you ask the unquestionable and see anew. Anyway, when you do identify other ways to deliver value, two things can happen:1. Your existing value proposition can be strengthened2. You create another product or service that takes advantage of this opportunity Both steps need different planning. If you are are working in a well established company, you are sitting on a mountain of unidentified insights. The pull of the daily routine is too strong for you to re-examine the company and see what’s in plain sight. It is best you don’t wait for Tinkerbell to come and drop Pixie dust on you to start flying and see the bigger picture. These insights can only be uncovered by either perceiving them, or by probing for them. To probe, you have to spend time with your customers and pay attention to what they say and do. You can’t assume that customers are completely satisfied, or that their existing needs will stay the same. You have to probe, and then probe some more to get a feel for what could happen. This means you have to experiment constantly with complete disregard for what customers like right now. Facebook and Google do a lot of this. Their appetite for experimentation is what keeps them pushing to either strengthen and extend their core, or to replace it.
With that said, take into account that by trying things, you might actually piss off your customers. But, understand, what your customers will liketomorrow might not be the same as what you give them today. They will either evolve with you or without you. We all know how the latter lookslike.Bottom line: There is no innovation without experimentation. Whether you like it or not, you have to play a game of trial-and-error to developnew value. There is no way around it. That includes experimenting with your value proposition itself. This is how you develop evolutionaryadvantage. Jorge Barba is an Innovation Insurgent and is the Creative Strategist at Blu Maya, a San Diego based Digital Marketing Firm that helps organizations build their online business with strategy development for new products and services. He’s also the author of the innovation blog Game Changer. And lastly, you can follow him on Twitter @jorgebarba.
Own the BehaviorPosted on April 13, 2013 by Mike Shipulski The system is big and complex and its output is outside your control. Trying to control these outputs is a depressing proposition, yet we’re routinely judged (and judge ourselves) on outputs. I think it’s better to focus on system inputs, specifically your inputs to the system. When the system responds with outputs different than desired, don’t get upset. It’s nothing personal. The system is just doing its job. It digests a smorgasbord of inputs from many agents just like you and does what it does. Certainly it’s alive, but it doesn’t know you. And certainly it doesn’t respond differently because you’re the one providing input. The system doesn’t take its output personally, and neither should you.When the system’s output is not helpful, instead of feeling badly about yourself, shift your focus from system output to the input you provide it.(Remember, that’s all you have control over.) Did you do what you said you’d do? Were you generous? We’re you thoughtful? We’re youinsightful? Did you give it your all or did you hold back? If you’re happy with the answers you should feel happy with yourself. Your input, yourbehavior, was just as it was supposed to be. Now is a good time to fall back on the insightful grade school mantra, “You get what you get, andyou don’t get upset.”If your input was not what you wanted, then it’s time to look inside and ask yourself why. At times like these it’s easy to blame others andoutside factors for our behavior. But at times like these we must own the input, we must own the behavior. Now, owning the behavior doesn’tmean we’ll behave the same way going forward, it just means we own it. In order to improve our future inputs we’ve got to understand why webehaved as we did, and the first step to better future inputs is owning our past behavior.Now, replace “system” with “person”, and the argument is the same. You are responsible for your input to the person, and they are responsiblefor their output (their response). When someone’s output is nonlinear and offensive, you’re not responsible for it, they are. Were you kind?
Thoughtful? Insightful? If yes, you get what you get, and you don’t get upset. But what if you weren’t? Shouldn’t you feel responsible for theirresponse? In a word, no. You should feel badly about your input – your behavior – and you should apologize. But their output is about them.They, like the system, responded the way they chose. If you want to be critical, be critical of your behavior. Look deeply at why you behaved asyou did, and decide how you want to change it. Taking responsibility for their response gets in the way of taking responsibility for your behavior.With complex systems, by definition it’s impossible to predict their output. (That’s why they’re called complex.) And the only way to understandthem is to perturb them with your input and look for patterns in their responses. What that means is your inputs are well intended and illinformed. This is an especially challenging situation for those of us that have been conditioned (or born with the condition) to mis-takeresponsibility for system outputs. Taking responsibility for unpredictable system outputs is guaranteed frustration and loss of self-esteem. Andit’s guaranteed to reduce the quality of your input over time.When working with new systems in new ways, it’s especially important to take responsibility for your inputs at the expense of takingresponsibility for unknowable system outputs. With innovation, we must spend a little and learn a lot. We must figure out how to perturb thesystem with our inputs and intelligently sift its outputs for patterns of understanding. The only way to do it is to fearlessly take responsibility forour inputs and fearless let the system take responsibility for its output.We must courageously engineer and own our behavioral plan of attack, and modify it as we learn. And we must learn to let the system beresponsible for its own behavior. Mike Shipulski brings together people, culture, and tools to change engineering behavior. He writes daily on Twitter as @MikeShipulski and weekly on his blog Shipulski On Design.
Dealing with Fast Change in the Context of InnovationPosted on April 15, 2013 by Stefan LindegaardCorporate innovation teams need to be better prepared to deal withthe fast pace of change in business and thus also in their work withinnovation.I wonder how (or if) companies develop strategies for dealing with this.I did not find much on this topic so here you get some early ideas onhow such a strategy could look like. Your input is highly appreciated!First, they can consider this sequel of steps:Prepare: Here the goal is to understand impact of changes as earlyas possible. You can develop a process to identify trends / changeswith potential impact on innovation efforts and you can develop ways to measure magnitude and pace of these trends/changes. Some areforeseeable to some degree, whereas others come with less warning. The latter is of course more difficult to deal with, but any kind ofpreparation still helps.You could also prepare by working with scenarios based on the above input. Once this is in place, it makes sense to make your innovationstrategy more flexible.Embrace: A well-prepared team has different kinds of response options in place and they will now activate these accordingly to theassessment of the trends and changes that are now impacting their innovation efforts.Adapt: Sometimes you miss the boat and now, you need to adapt fast in order to catch up. This can draw upon the work made in the responseoptions although you have to factor in that you are no longer ahead of the change, but behind it.
Learn: As with failure, you need to capture the learnings of the changes in order to be better prepare for the next step…Drive: If you can get a process like this to work, you have a better change of driving changes within your industry.As corporate innovation teams reflect on changes in this sequel, they should also consider that change happens at many different levelsincluding products, technologies, services, processes, markets, internal organization, external ecosystems and government regulation.Factors Affecting Responses to ChangeOne of my inspirational sources for this post was an article, Dealing with Change: Some Theory and Strategies, which included this list offactors affecting personal and/or organizational responses to change:Degree of Choice About the Change: Imposed changes tend to be particularly difficult because you feel powerless from the outset, even ifyou happen to agree with the change. It is hard to generate a sense of ownership over a change which is imposed. Similarly, a black and whitechoice is more difficult to own, than one where you have the opportunity to select from a range of options (or generate your own ideas).Compatibility of the Change: How does the proposed change relate to your life/organisational context – your values, beliefs, lifestyle,preferences or habits? The further you are required to move away from your ideology or comfort zone, the more difficult it is to respondpositively to change.Magnitude of the Change: Will it continue to impact on your life? If not, you might be able to tolerate an unpopular change more readily. Is it abig or small change? A small uncomfortable change is easier to make than a big one. The size and duration of the process of change, too, canaffect your attitude to change. How much time and effort will be taken, firstly, in making a decision and, secondly, in implementing it?Ability to Undertake the Change: Do you know exactly what change is being asked for? Do you have the competencies (skills, knowledge,attitudes and values) to adopt the change? Have you experienced a similar or related situation before? Are you aware of precedentselsewhere? Are there others who might be able to resource you in this process? Clearly, it’s impossible to implement a change unless youunderstand what is required, and have the ability to do it!
Awareness of the Impact of the Change: Have you thought through the overall consequences of this change occurring? Sometimes, fear ofthe unknown (the possible impact of the change) is unnecessarily overwhelming. On the other hand, without forethought, an apparently simplechange can have serious implications which you didn’t plan for. Processing the possible implications of the change in a balanced way (lookingequally at positives and negatives) can help overcome false barriers or challenge naive acceptance.Number of Dimensions to the Change: Singular/isolated goals are easier to manage than multi-faceted ones which impact across a range ofareas in your life/work.Level of Control/Influence over the Change: This can apply to either the process of change or its outcomes. Personal change is generallyeasier to handle than structural change, because you are likely to have more power (or, at least, your sense of power seems more tangible).There are many aspects of power – control, influence, personal, cultural, structural, formal, informal, internal, external …The degree of control or influence you have may vary in the decision making and implementation phases of the change. Information about whoowns what may be clear/open, or confused/hidden. If you are dissatisfied with your level of power in one or more of these areas, it is likely toaffect your willingness to change.Let me know if you can share insights and/or examples on how companies prepare for changes in the context of their innovation process.image credit: intersection image from bigstock Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.
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