Thursday, May 2, 2019

Managing Innovation in a “RIGHT” Way

Innovation is the essence of evolution. You have to manage it in the right way with the right elements, strategically and systematically to achieve consistent business results. 

Innovation is about transforming novel ideas to achieve business value. Innovation has to result in something which leads us to a better state than where we are today. There’s no such “one size fit all” success formula for innovation management success. Innovation is a journey and is therefore not possible to pre-describe how it will work out, it involves experimentation, trial, error, research, applying structured methods or tools, reviews, systematic analysis, and debugging. But innovation shouldn’t be just serendipity. Here are three “right” elements to improve the overall innovation success rate.

The right kind of mind: The right kind of mind is an essential feature of real innovation. To create the new idea requires not just one type of thinking, it requires the multidimensional thought processes from creative thinking to critical thinking; from logic to intuition; from analytics to synthesis; from divergent thinking to convergent thinking; from nonlinear thinking to holistic thinking, etc. To put simply, it requires the “out-of-the-box” thinking or shapes a bigger thinking box to connect crucial dots for stimulating creativity. Thinking out of the box is all about “rule-breaking.” To become creative, you would have to break down some conventional wisdom, outdated knowledge or old rules. By doing that, you are kind of “outside the box,” more precisely, you are able to walk across the boxes to connect interdisciplinary dots for sparking creativity. The flashes of inspiration we now see retrospect as groundbreaking inventions or breakthrough innovations were driven by creative people not only far-sighted but determined to make their ideas succeed. The right kind of mind helps to build the right type of skills and the right dose of risk-taking attitude to innovate for achieving the “art of possibility.”. Innovators present nature curiosity, openness to new experience, cognitive diversity, intellectual engagement, pattern-discovery, learning plasticity, interdisciplinary knowledge, courage, and persistence, etc.

The right level of management control: Innovation should break some outdated rule, but needs a right level of guidance. To get the best results, you need to structure the creative process. An organization that has a lightweight and loose on purpose process allows creativity flow, get protected, channeled, and nurtured will succeed more often than an organization that does not have such a process. The “hard” issues to stifle innovation is that the systems, processes or technology many organizations are using to capture innovation value are becoming inefficient in this rapidly changing world with the high degree of digital convenience. Besides the right processes or systems, the level of guide and process needs to be right in order to improve innovation effectiveness. If you don't have the right level of Innovation Management control in place, it is substantially harder and less likely to be an innovative company for the long run. Overly rigid processes or too ‘pushy’ goals will stifle innovation. It means that the processes will become less safe and economic, products turn to be more expensive with lower quality.



The right set of measurement:
Innovation is a management process which needs to be measured for making continuous improvement. However,  innovation efforts cannot be measured as same as other types of business initiatives via quantitative manner only. In many companies, a pervasive obsession for purely quantitative measurement or numerical success indicators sweeps aside much of the softer and more qualitative information that is crucial in making innovation efforts for nurturing innovative culture and developing innovation competency of the company holistically. The goal of innovation measurement is to track innovation management effectiveness, not just about the quantitative results which sometimes can mislead the management with a short-term perspective. Generally speaking, there are two types of innovation measurement. The first type is about measuring the outcomes of creative thoughts or actions. Which business values have those new ideas designed and implemented? The second type of measurement is through innovation drivers, the important elements that nurture creative culture and enhance the innovation capability of the organization. Do not just measure innovation with lagging indicators such as short-term financial metrics only, select the right leading KPIs by deciding which are seen as critical to making continuous business progress in order to deliver innovation results for the long run. The few the better, but they have to be credible and relevant also in the eyes of stakeholders.

The essence of innovation is made of trying new combinations of known things and figuring out the better way to do things. Innovations can range from small to game changers. It's the essence of evolution. You have to manage it in the right way with the right elements, strategically and systematically to achieve consistent business results. The organizations with the healthy innovation appetites, systematic innovation management approach with prioritization mechanism, and tailored measurement will beat the odd to improve the innovation success rate.

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