Sunday, June 1, 2014

What’s your Attitude and Appetite for Innovation

The innovative attitude should be fearless to change and experiment, but be paranoid to avoid unnecessary mistakes or take a calculated risk.

Innovation is the light every business is pursuing now, but most of the innovation initiatives fail to reach expected return on investment. Incremental or disruptive -what’s your innovation appetite? Fear or fearless - what should be your innovative attitude? Fear of failing or rigid process - what are all the different types of barriers in the workplace that never let any innovation emerge?



No one likes failure, but failure is nature of the innovation. More than two third of pre-screened ventures can't make the ROI. As more often, innovation is not just for incremental improvement of existing technologies or products; rather, it’s for radically new ideas, technologies or products. However, most organizations are not forgiving to failures, as the cost of inability to bring it a new idea to a successful conclusion is extremely high, even if the reasons are the culture of the organization itself. Not only the innovations wane in the process, the people championing it are suffocated and are rendered, unable to try again..... so the rest do "learn" from it and never dare to try. But the point is if management of any organization can't tolerate failure, then there will be no innovation, no growing or no future.

Don't be afraid of the failure, but you have to learn something from your failure. In the world of innovation, you will fail more often, many more times, than success. So you should not be afraid of the failure. If the company does not understand the failure, then there will be no innovation. It’s always fundamentally fear of failure - although it comes dressed in many disguises. You need to "master" your abilities and your team need to master precision as a team. This comes from first thinking through the work or situation, continually learning, making "non-repeatable" mistakes and taking calculated risks.

Build rigorous innovation process and system in placeThe organization, especially the established companies remember the nightmare of starting out and all the risk are taken, but with unintended losses. Then, the promises are made to stabilize the company with processes that would capture and mitigate risk, so everyone could sleep well, knowing there were purposeful measures in place to protect the stability and allow for planned growth to take place. The paradox is: To try to create too restrict rules, borders, or an overly rigid system to churn out innovation kind of goes against the whole idea of innovation. In an established firm, there needs to be a robust and flexible process to follow, the good ideas get discussed and funded and move forward. So the great attitude for innovation is to be fearless to experiment the new things and take a new adventure, but to be “paranoid” and manage innovation more systematically.

Cross pollination is good, but make team accountablenot to the exclusion of giving people individual ownership and responsibility in what they do. The desire to better ones self is the fuel to innovation. It’s what makes the free market work. If you work hard, have a good idea, and deliver value to your customers, you will be rewarded. Without a profit motive, it doesn't work. In following up evolving stages, a small group of people with different expertise will be involved in to justify a larger scale investment, either internally or externally. Again, everybody in a team has to be open-minded and work for the common goals. It’s also more about empowering people to innovate by getting out of their way, recognize them as innovators and give them actual ownership in what they work on. Lead more, but manage less, allow people to fail, reward results.

Leverage tailored tools in effective innovation management. There is a tremendous range of innovations exists. You shouldn’t use the same tools or methodologies to work with human genes, and with the design of an ergonomic shovel. Any System which attempts to do that, in general, will be overloaded with its own complexity. The ideal system is to tap into everyone's skills and talents, without the typical impediments to cooperation, and relatively less creative and innovative folk can become successfully creative and innovative people once they develop or learn the system. It has to spur active brainstorming between the equal level, and it is the only way to screen-polish-further advance truly innovative and breakthrough ideas and concepts. One can't force to others to think and creative. It should come from individual self-esteem and curiosity, with the purpose of creating innovation-based fulfilling work and making things that people really need.

The organizations with the healthy innovation appetites shall enjoy the balanced innovation portfolio with well mixed radical innovation and incremental innovation projects. And the innovative attitude should be fearless to change and experiment, but be paranoid to avoid unnecessary mistakes or take calculated risk, in order to manage innovation in more systematic way.



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