Saturday, January 10, 2015

Digital Master Tuning X: From Innovation Life Cycle to Innovation Best Practices

The one perspective of being a Digital Master is to be a consistently innovative company. 

Innovation is the very light every organization is chasing now, but for many, it is still a serendipity. With just about every company in every industry out there touting "Innovation" as part of their strategy or one of their core values, it's become confusing what innovation means. many companies go with the word 'innovation' these days and in some way, this word has become a catchphrase for many; just to project their companies as innovative game changers. What does innovation mean to you? And, what qualifies a company to call itself innovative? What’re the special traits of digital innovation. In the chapter VI of Digital Master, we introduce the 9-step innovation lifecycle and 10 innovation best/next practices.

There are different flavors of innovations: disruptive innovation, evolutionary innovation and incremental innovation. There are “hard” innovation such as product/service innovation or “soft” innovation such as management or culture/communication innovation. Innovation can happen anywhere across the organization and its ecosystem. Be it related to IT, procurement, operations, logistics, sales & marketing, services, HR, Finance, etc. Any particular function across the value chain can change the way it works or delivers services / products to its customers which includes its internal next functional block as well. For a big, established organization, it will be all about the game changing, market winning products it develops. These very concepts / products can turn out to be disruptive for their own products. That's disruptive innovation. For a very small start-up firm, doing something efficiently (improved internal processes, better technology and well developed organizational culture) can also mean innovation. Incremental Innovation is all about small leverage giving larger benefits. If you want to measure the ROI of innovation, It's all about how efficient you have become in serving / selling your products & services. These very services / products can increase your top line growth.

If innovation doesn't create that value, it's not innovation: Technology is changing constantly. If you do not innovate, your competitors will and make your current successful product obsolete. Brands who want to establish a strong presence in a market have to innovate constantly, design products that fulfill consumer needs better, cheaper or differently. Many established brands become too comfortable and forget to innovate and by the time they wake up their market disappears. People come up with new ideas all the time ... once an idea happens the challenge is (in this order) making the case, attracting the investment, exciting the market and producing the product in a way that generates profit. Innovation starts with an idea but only becomes the true innovation in the marketplace (whether it be product-focused or operational improvement). Innovation can be large and disruptive, or small and incremental so long as it creates tangible value that didn't exist before.

^Depth + ^Breadth = ^Probability for Innovation. Innovative ideas are one thing, execution is a whole different matter: Innovation is the mechanism through which you grow and evolve something to something better (higher value-add) or something new (mostly based on a combination or modification of previous attributes/approaches). Innovation can happen everywhere - it is our gift as humans - a great deal of what defines us as humans actually.. whether new products, services, solutions, new sounds and music, new way of reading and publishing, new ways of educating future of generation, etc. Innovation, as an individual process or collective process helps us adapt, improve, grow and integrate. Lots of tools are available to help us think differently, assess problems and come to solutions in novel ways. When looking at business/ organizations, the most powerful of these processes involves tapping the organization's ecosystem (people!) for the collective perspectives/insights of those who make up and know intimately their parts of the system.

People are innovators, process or the technological tool are enablers: Innovation should always be associated with anything and any work that drives better results. But more than that, innovation is a manifestation of a unique trait in some people who unconsciously or consciously strives to do or feel better through change. This is why business today desires more innovate thinking people to create an innovative culture in the workplace. Innovation can be brought in by anyone right from blue collar worker to C-suite personnel. Only through innovation do we create better products and ways of doing things. You ask why such word is found in many corporate statements. This is precisely the point and desired outcome. The fact is everyone, for all-time, has tried to be innovative in some capacity. Products have consistently been designed to solve a problem, the best companies sometimes "create" problems that people didn't even know existed then solve them. Innovation is not only externally oriented (relative to markets, customers, consumers) but can also be focused on the operations side (within a firm as well as industry structure). Innovation involves new ways of bringing together ideas and resources to create something novel. Identification of the novel is only the beginning, the heavy lifting starts as a firm aligns resources and executes ... and hopefully the firm can manage innovation lifecycle and executes in a manner that provides sustained competitive advantage.

Change is accelerating all around us, innovation is the only way to succeed.. as a company, and as a person..Not every innovative company or individual is a digital master yet, but being a digital master means that you are an innovator or mastering on managing your innovation life cycle systematically. The main point here though is that it is really hard to be a consistently innovative company. It requires an organization and culture that nurtures new ideas and is able to profitably execute on those ideas. This is not easy, and companies that strive for innovation (with products, services or operations), continuously struggle to achieve and sustain it.  Here are two 

Digital Master fun quiz to tune your creativity.

7. There are two “P”s in the innovation life cycle (the first letter of each innovation step). What do they stand for?    
A: Platform  B: Process  C: Product  D: Performance

8. The high performing business innovators’ best practices are decoded as:   
A: SuperStars  B: DataGurus  C: ScoreChamps D: TopArtists


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