Sunday, February 5, 2017

Who Should be Put in the Right Position for Accelerating Innovation

There is no doubt innovation is becoming more important whereas technology becomes more advanced.

  We all know innovation is important because it is the lifeblood of any business. But compare the upcoming digital era to the previous industrial era, innovation is becoming more intensive with broader content or enriched context; there are both radical innovation and incremental innovation; hard innovation and soft innovation; The speed of change is expedited, so does the speed of innovation. Innovation is the buzzword everyone is talking about it. But from innovation management perspective, who should be put in the right position for accelerating innovation?


Who should lead and facilitate innovation: The success of innovation depends on bold leadership and proper management. Innovation leadership is crucial because leaders must have a clear vision and be strong in communicating it. An innovation leader must walk the tightrope between diplomat and maverick. An innovation manager supplies risk capital as a risk taker, monitors and controls the business’ activities as a manager. Through proper management, the business is able to overcome the obstacles to lead successful innovation. Innovation leaders need to be extremely open-minded to embrace diverse viewpoints, also learn how to sell your ideas. It may mean sitting back and waiting to make your recommendation; talk to others one-on-one, gather their input and make them a part of the process. The leaders in innovation today are problem-solvers with interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding, who have to create, manage, and orchestrate the innovation symphony not completely written yet. And the first sign of a good innovation leader is that he/she will recognize his/her limitations and build a team to compensate. So, an innovation leader should have his/her own constitutional innovation leadership behaviors across the innovation creator, translator, stabilizer, and navigator, etc, with the pattern of required behaviors to face the emerging situation and succeed.


Who should be the innovation champions: Digital innovation has broader scope, you need different types of people for various innovation objectives (incremental, breakthrough, etc.) for different types of companies (solutions versus products, etc.) You need to have both idea creators and implementers. Aptitude and skills will vary from front-end to back-end. Typically no one has them all, but innovation champions can think differently and dream bigger. Innovation comes with a foresight to envision a need that others overlook or ignore and a willingness to forge ahead to satisfy visions, in spite of a risk of failure. Generally speaking, your innovation champions are at their very heart visionaries who also have the determination, dedication, motivation and passion. Innovators whose work continues to move forward and, in turn, is profitable to self and others; think differently than those who are traditional thinkers. They see the old problems from every direction and find different solutions, and make a significant influence on building the culture of creativity and inspire others to become more innovative as well.


Who should be engaged or involved in innovation management: First, make a fair assessment on how 'creative' or accepting of 'creativity' a company is by asking - How does learning occur? How is success defined? And how is failure defined? Creativity is risky and most companies want to minimize risk versus taking intelligent risks. Most companies would never take a huge leap even with the enticement of a huge payback due to the minimize risk culture which delivers minimal payback. Thus, the commitment from the top management is crucial for the innovation success. Top management teams should mentally review the pros and cons, potential cause and effect to other areas, short and long term financial implications and the overall impact on the company, prior to suggesting an alternative approach. In innovation practice, the initial "fear of the unknown" morphed into the kind of low-level anxiety that stimulates creative change. In the process, there’s friction to changes, but over the longer haul, everyone from the top down saw the benefits. Individuals and teams were rewarded for taking calculated risks. Ultimately, innovation wheel is spinning faster when it was pushed by the top management and that commitment cross the functional levels permeates to the entire organization.


There is no doubt innovation is becoming more important whereas technology becomes more advanced. Because innovation is the core activity of human evolution to changing the environment to reach performance for profit, for saving of resources, for the satisfaction of users, etc. It is critical to put the right people in the right position from sowing the seed of creativity, growing the innovation fruits, to reaping innovation benefits.

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