Saturday, December 19, 2015

Three “Rigidities” to Avoid in Innovation Management

The search for the key to the "sustainable innovation holy grail" requires a specific understanding of innovator motivation.


Innovations in the digital era are coming at seemingly much fast space, more changes and more potential disruptions, and therefore, innovation management also becomes more complex and dynamic, so what are the potential barriers to stop people from being creative, and how to manage innovation more effectively?


Rigid thinking: A strong blockade for innovation is rigid thinking, relying only on how things were done before, and lack of “out-of-box” thinking. If one only looks at a problem or situation based on some parallel or formula of the past, the "options" for self-expression are limited. If the situation requires a new formula or option, rigid thought prevents the ability to create a new expression from manifesting in that moment. Narrow/closed-mindedness also blocks creativity, as to be creative, one's mind needs to be open to new concepts. The opposite of creative thinking is the static mind. Creativity requires openness to new experiences or opening your eyes to see old things in a new and different way. Keeping growth mind, learning from every experience, but also learn to unlearn your experiences, creativity starts with a knowledge base, and then openness to new experience or detecting thing you didn't know or applying knowledge from other domains to a new one, results in creativity in the new domain, sometimes in contexts like that you end up being creative by accident. Lack of humility, which is a form of rigidity and being closed to new ideas, is indeed an impediment to creativity.


Rigid process: Innovation is, generally speaking, a discipline because it is a systematic way to applying creativity in the real life and business. However, should innovation processes be standardized, or is it innovation process an oxymoron? The term innovation process implies an openness to innovative ideas, with an accepted interface into the organization to actually develop and exploit the ideas as they come about. An obsession with the rigidity of efficiency stunts the innovation creation process. Innovation is fluid and should not be straight-jacketed. Many process innovations will be concerned with increasing and optimizing efficiency and maintaining existing skills and linkages. Efficiency and short-term goal orientation often divert focus from innovation in general; and innovation that will benefit in the long range return on investment. So innovation is often dependent on business insight because you can't change an organization without insight, the organization adapts exclusively to the insight you provide to it. The search for the key to the "sustainable innovation holy grail" requires a specific understanding of innovator motivation. It is not a one size fits all, and thus, innovation processes need to be robust and “ant-ifragile.”


Rigid culture: If there’s idea gap, it means the cause to gap may have something to do with corporate culture, culture is about how to focus - focus on a few things that matter for business, and the business has the capability to do better than the competitors. It’s what innovation all about - do it better, faster and more cost effectively. One of the biggest barriers to innovation is culture inertia: Here are some common response: "We've always done it this way,"Our competitors are doing it so it must be right,"Stick to your own responsibility,"You don't really understand that problem,"Don't rock the boat;" etc. Indeed, attitude matters, and DARE a little to ask "Why" or "Why not." Hence, it is imperative for improving the organization's culture to one that is more innovative, inspires creativity, celebrates or allows failure or prototyping. If you have or develop the right culture through change management, open, not close; agile, not rigid, and then everything else can be connected. An adaptive culture makes innovation and improvement easier. It is easier to collect, facilitate and manage ideas more optimally. Finally, if you get the culture right, then people feel they have the freedom to try and even to fail.  

Innovation is both art and science. From a business management perspective, it is more science than art. Especially digital innovation now expands its horizon and flexes its muscles, goes beyond just creating the new things, and it has enriched context. Therefore, innovation management needs to take a structured approach, but it also has to overcome “rigidity” we described above and bring up the business result with agility and flexibility.

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