Saturday, March 7, 2015

Digital Master Tuning #52: Can Organizations Overcome the Barrier of Effective Implementation of Innovation as a Strategy

Innovation should eventually result in business benefits - be it tangible or intangible.

Innovation has to result in something which leads businesses to a better state than where they are today. However, people invest in many failed projects because they dream big; their thoughts did help the incubation but were not able to navigate the twists and turns during actual implementation resulting in either a failed state or a completely inverse ROI. That's why innovation success rate is still in single digit percentage. Can we debate more on "does innovation happens when you are pushed to the corner or can it be driven," while doing so how important the vision, strategy, commitment and funding from top management are?

Innovation should eventually result in business benefits - be it tangible or intangible. Innovation is different than creativity. The biggest challenge in organizations with innovation as a strategy is the in-depth understanding of what is means to innovate and then mechanisms for enabling innovation across the organization. Innovation should eventually result in business benefits - be it tangible or intangible. Many times the employees have been biased with innovation only as a disruptive innovation and did not consider incremental innovation as an option. With a well-defined approach in leading employees towards coming up with innovative changes in the day-to-day tasks, organizations have seen significant benefits. Most employees when they are asked to put focus on innovation, then tend to think only large, absolutely out of the box ideas - this is a disruptive innovation and is not so easy to achieve. Another type of innovation is incremental manner - small innovation in day-to-day working, which is more realistic and steers towards the organization in achieving its strategic goals. Most projects fail if at all they are put through execution, due to the human element. There is a fear of the unknown, then a lot of times, innovation is feared to bring in job cuts. It also fails because the management fails to understand who all are the real stakeholders (direct and indirect) and since they are not taken into confidence, they are the cause of "entropy."

Building a culture of innovation is a strategic imperative. Innovation is not necessarily related to only new products & new service offerings. It can be in areas of new business models or operational effectiveness. Why does the innovation fail? Because the word innovation is either misunderstood by many or by hearing word innovation people step back, it is not possible in these kinds of work. You should first break this barrier and mindset. From incremental manner to break through, the start point could be improving in the day to day work before thinking big, so that bringing in the culture and build a creative environment to make the workforce think and execute rather than just doing their daily work.The second aspect is that organization has to put in a big effort to change the mindset, the culture, to make employees understand innovation could be in process, system, marketing, organization etc, but not only product innovation. And, implementation of innovation is a collective and inclusive action by all in the organization / teams involved. It is by every individual in the stream from top to bottom line members of the implementing team. The important element is that the management never assumes all employees in an organization can innovate to the same level, statistically only around 15% are proactive innovators and early adopters in an organization, that means never push all employees to innovate which will not happen, at best 15% of population would have the inclination to innovate, better encourage them first to achieve something.

Create the synergy of innovative implementation. Innovation is the first step, what lacks is execution and of course the organization willing to accept change due to innovation and execution and then, in particular, give it enough time to flourish. Innovation is about getting new ideas and someone needs to have little space to think about the ideas. People are so busy in executing their day to day things and have very little or no space to come out of their current sphere and think about doing things in a different way, that makes a big gap in implementing the innovation. Engage more employees and give them space. Barriers can be daunting, yet overcome. Innovative implementation has advanced many, but if something is missing, stagnation and uncertainty will surface. Be it business, family or community, idealism should not take a backseat to the bottom-line of competition and profit. Since each human bears the potential of greatness as intellectual beings, cooperative effort is crucial. Therefore, each can contribute to overcoming barriers or creating them. If we each recognize the need, properly defined expectation, barriers are overcome. If personal growth is our highest and best objective, individuality is valued as leadership and service co-exist in harmony. Thus, management investing in idealism accomplishes the good that builds the whole; be it business, family, community or nation, if each one shares in orderly implementation, each produces responsible innovative process. Achieving this goal can be difficult if selfish ambition is allowed, the errors of the past are repeated, the fullness of divinely inspired innovation suffers.

One of the most important aspects for highly successful companies is the ability to innovate and implement successfully. Innovation, in any organization, comes with the baggage like: do we really NEED, who will be RESPONSIBLE, what will be the COST, RISK, and ROI etc.... but we all know in today's scenario where we have to work against all odds to become more innovative. Identify the types of companies successfully in innovating and implementing on a very high level:  
1) Startups - Startups are mostly successful in innovating & implementing innovation because they have more open culture and less change friction. 2) Dynamic companies - this is a set of companies that are always agile & dynamic for reasons like their domain which might be fast changing, the culture of the company, the size of the company, having exceptional "leaders with vision."
What is the innovative result that can be drawn? 1) One important aspect that spreads across both types of companies is the motivation factor. Startups are in the hunt to prove themselves and create their own space, hence, they are motivated. Similarly the dynamic set of companies either are into some domain that is fast changing, highly competitive, hence the motivation to be in the game or has it in its culture with motivated individuals as strategized by the company, etc.  2) An incremental run can be had with some baggage as you are running a continuing marathon & have occupied a certain space. While disruptive innovation requires the change of mindset. So it’s become important to drop all the baggage & run light - which is what startups inherently do.

The question comes to mind is what is next, how do businesses exist and survive first, should  innovation become your first priority etc.  Innovation strategy needs to be practiced by management in true spirit. There should be encouragement and involvement by management to spread the spirit. Innovation can be any change which adds value. Even a simple process change can improve efficiency. No doubt every organization has its own vision, mission, value system, strategy, game plan, road map etc and various initiatives are being driven. What you need to revisit is that enough for you to exist, survive and still to achieve what you want to be. Innovative efforts can sometimes fail. Still it is to be recognized. A failure can lead to further probing and can bring results. Innovation has to be a special drive/initiative in every organization to see the big change, great success and be ahead of the game.

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