Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Innovation Gaps: How to Fill Them?

Bridging innovation gaps is a strategic imperative for business execution. 

There are many forms of innovation - technology, application, product, design, business model, process, communication, or customer experience, etc; there’re also many ‘flavors’ of innovations, systematic innovation, customer-centric innovation, open innovation, design-driven innovation, or management innovation., etc, but fundamentally,  what are the innovation gaps, the gap differentiation helps delineate the problems and opportunities for innovation, and through identifying such gaps, business can manage innovation portfolio more effectively.

The innovative 'idea' or culture gap: If there’s idea gap, it means the cause to gap may have something to do with corporate culture, 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 if necessary, 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.

The innovation 'execution' gap: Even you have many innovative ideas, it doesn’t guarantee innovation success due to the possible ‘execution’ gap. Create a disciplined, managed space for developing and testing new models, products, and business approaches, shielding innovation teams from the organization’s dominant logic and established standardized operating procedures, which can stifle new thinking and approaches. Bridging innovation execution gap to achieving the business objectives requires a contracted execution scenario with clear stages, performance thresholds, and decision-making parameters combine with an iterative, experimental learning process that supports wide-ranging exploration at each stage.

The innovation ‘processes & tools’ gap: When the ideas have been developed or when they are able to be applied to meet a short-term objective, and then they should be pushed through an efficient execution process. Keep in mind that a new idea might need ample reworking before it finds its niche and makes lots of money and/or fills a need. More organizations are looking for integrations with project and portfolio management tools to ensure the ideas go straight from the systems into specialized tools to help them manage the portfolio of potential projects, and manage the execution of each. The agile innovation process and efficient tools enable the idea flow of generation, contribution, evaluation, selection, and execution stays totally connected. In addition, companies can be more successful in executing innovative ideas by relying less on silo function, and more on their cross-functional collaboration, performance management, and continuous improvement experts or change agents, who are familiar with innovation management processes and understand the horizontal, cross-functional operations of the organization.

The gap between 'strategy execution' and 'innovation execution': On the one side, innovation execution is an integral part of ‘strategy execution' if it involves any change whatsoever, is implicitly executing innovation; large or small, breakthroughs, radical or continuous improvement, as innovation is key element of business strategy, and innovation execution is a significant part of overall strategy execution; on the other side, de-risk the introduction of innovations into the market, protecting existing operations and brands, and establishing clear proof-of-concept before making investments to launch and scale.

Talent Gap: Last but not least, it’s a talent gap. The heterogeneous team with the cognitive difference is more innovative than the homogeneous group setting, as good ideas are multi-dimensional, they take root in unsuspected places and they evolve with time and by unexpected connections. People need to be able to apply both converging and diverging thinking to ideas so that current constraints are removed. People also need permission to push ideas around an organization without the fear of failure and without the need to deliver against a short-term narrow -focused objective. Once people see things being implemented and making a difference, the confidence increases and they will become even more innovative.

Hence, innovation needs a good strategy to identify the gaps, sets up the guideline, but not too many rigid rules, it takes alternative approaches for sustaining momentum and puts more emphasis on building the balance of innovation portfolio to compete for today and future.


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