Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mastering Digital Innovation: From Innovation Fatigue to Innovation Blossom

Innovation success demands insight, understanding, patience, persistence, and courage, among other things for reaping the benefit from innovation.

Digital is the age of innovation. Innovation is the business management capability to transform novel ideas and achieve its business value. And innovation is what leads to differentiation. Due to the hyper-complexity of modern businesses, innovation is essentially about reducing the unnecessary business complexity to tackle the complexities of business dynamic. For many traditional organizations, innovation is still the serendipity, even they work very hard on it, but innovation has very low success rate. So, what are the root causes of ineffective innovation management, and how to shift from innovation fatigue to innovation blossom?




Group Thinking can cause innovation drain: Many organizations are still managed through overly restricted hierarchical management discipline which discourages “Thinking differently.” In these organizations, people consciously or subconsciously protect their status quo and stifle changes. To be truly creative means challenging conventional wisdom and beliefs, and making progress intellectually and psychologically. It is important to create the working atmosphere encouraging creativity and avoid group thinking. Lead the team through facilitation to get what the discussion requires. Everyone grows up with a different style and the business cultures in which they've worked will shape how confident they are. One can't force others to think creatively. 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. People also have different experience and personality, therefore, they may have the different ways to develop creativity or provide feedback. The ideal innovation management system is to tap into everyone's skills and talents, without the typical impediments to cooperation, to keep creativity flow smoothly. Breaking the old rules is important for radical innovation, but it doesn’t mean to be “ruleless,” get lost or lack of focus. The right set of ‘rules’ is not for limiting your imagination, but for framing the system to identify opportunities and mitigate risks.


Lack of innovation execution capability: Innovation management is about the full cycle of idea creation and implementation for achieving the business value. Innovation has three phases: Discovery of a problem or new idea, designing a prototype solution and the ultimate delivery of a commercially astute outcome. That the best point of view is to see innovation as a system, capable of delivering organization-wide capability. Most companies experience innovation fatigue and fail at innovation execution because they have no clear process, nor understand the linkage required to work horizontally across departments, or a holistic approach to managing innovation. There are many areas within a company where the innovation process can be applied to create value, including both “hard” innovations such as products/services/processes/business model innovations and soft innovations such a communication/culture/management innovation. Innovation Management System should include policies, structure, and program that innovation managers can use to drive innovation. Remove any of the three, you're liable to fail. Hence, it is important to look at innovation from the perspective of developing business-wide innovation capabilities. The good or bad innovation would depend on the business’s aptitude to manage innovation. And the aptitude is based on the set of tools, structure, and talent, which are better equipped to manage innovation by allocating time and resource to the people in charge. Innovation is a disciplined approach and differentiated business capability to discovering and building opportunities in creating new meaningful sources of value to targeted users.


Lack of a risk-tolerance culture: Failure is part of innovation; it is very much an intrinsic part of innovating, the job of management is to help when a failure happens to turn it around as a team, fail forward and learn some lessons from it. In fact, the differentiation between a good innovation and bad innovation is the innovation leaders’ attitude toward risks. Failure should not be an offense and actually, if there are not a few failures, then you are not trying hard enough. Innovation is always the tough journey, not a flat road. Many traditional companies, especially large corporations, often suck at innovation, because they become too dependent on satisfying corporate regulation or protocols, and not get around to developing a culture that fosters/rewards innovation until it is too late. The positive attitude for inspiring innovation is to be cautiously optimistic, take calculated risks and be alert about obstacles or pitfalls. Hence, innovation management takes a balancing act to have enough failure and an environment that encourages learning from failure quickly and cheaply, without having failures that are too frequent or too expensive. At the age of innovation, failure is seen as a fruit full of experience. Failure is part of innovation. The organizations with the healthy innovation appetites should enjoy the balanced innovation portfolio with well mixed radical innovation and incremental innovation projects.


The key to innovation blossom is the open leadership that keeps sowing innovation seeds, build a healthy innovation portfolio, like the gardener takes care of the plants, understand both their nature and nurture their growth diligently. It demands insight, understanding, patience, persistence, and courage, among other things for reaping the benefit from innovation.



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