Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Will Innovation Enhance or Distract you from Strategic Focus

Someone obviously needs to innovate otherwise the world will come to a standstill.

Innovation is the light every organization is pursuing, however, some might complain it has distracted them from their strategic focus, because a company cannot have a clear focus on everything, innovating, bringing products to market and cutting cost/removing complexity to stay profitable. Are companies able to focus on more than one thing, should their primary focus be prosperity via innovation or maintaining a sustained business via efficiency?

Innovation has a broader scope beyond just a new product or service: Innovation is more about taking something someone created and adding to it, changing it, adapting it; in some sense, to a particular need, whether individual, group, or industry. From a business perspective, innovation has a much broader scope than a new product or service, it means both incremental innovation (product update or process optimization) or breakthrough innovation (the new business model or disruptive invention, etc), it also includes "soft" innovations such as leadership/management innovation, communication or culture innovation, etc. From an individual perspective, innovation is something thrown your way in the jobs you have, the hobbies you enjoy, finding some application of a thought, an idea, a thing, or even a skill, to which you discover some practical use in the reality of the rapidly changing world. In this regard, innovation can only enhance its strategic focus. Because innovation is not all about products and services, it can also be used for cost reductions, process, and business model changes and improvement. Innovation is a disciplined approach to discovering and building opportunities to create new meaningful sources of value to targeted users. Innovation is a sustainable and scalable way that can be learned and practiced as a set of personal leadership skills.

Innovation vs. Invention: What is the difference between innovation and invention. The invention is similar to innovation: both have to do with creating something novel out of great ideas. The invention is creating something new, it is sometimes revolutionary. Innovation is adding meaningful value by improving the new products or processes (hard innovation), or harnessing creative communication or leadership (soft innovation). Both invention and “hard” innovation have to pass the Proof of Concept. Proof of concept is proof of the market. Investors try to mitigate the risks: (1) the risk that the product won’t work, (2) the risk that the product works, but the market doesn't want it and, (3) the risk that the product works and the market wants it, but these people can’t get the product to market. Using external resources with internal resources increases a company's chances of truly utilizing best-of-breed talent to drive innovation and invention because the world's resources at large become open to the companies who take an in-house with the out-of-house combined approach.

Even creativity is a system thinking process: The question is moot, for innovation isn't something to order up, buy, or conform to a certain human application. Innovation comes from the creative aspect of a free mind left to simmer, to think, to test. Creativity, the roots of innovation are those patterns you cannot see, cannot feel until the latent emergent behavior of the system that becomes greater than the relative sum of its parts, comes into the focus. Even creativity (the digital term ”agile creativity”), the essence of the artful mind, is a systems thinking process, where you see the patterns of the universe around us, seeing some wicked pattern of nonlinear behavior by which we increase the sum knowledge of who we are, what we see, and are able to bring it to some level of understanding for those around us.

The holistic thinking needed to strike the right balance - stability and innovation; “Run and Transform business.” A successful business, or any system for that matter, finds its greatest stability when the parasitic and collaborative elements within it, find a balance. Being too aggressive is just as bad as being too conservative. Innovation becomes the 'hammer in search of a nail" for the aggressive business, destroying creativity, and ultimately much of the stability of any given company. There are axioms within system assurance engineering that support innovation as the result of many forms of engineering thinking required in order to create complex systems, such thinking as temporal, abstract, induction and deduction, holistic, and inclusive mindsets. The actual challenge with innovation is to fully understand the system and systemic risks throughout the life cycle and the adverse event life cycle. These are system safety, software safety, reliability, quality, logistics, maintainability, availability, human factors, and system risks associated with the cutting edge science, technology, and engineering aspects; which are not commonly apparent or known.

Digital innovation principles are based on collaboration and co-creation. Innovation comes with a risk of failure, usually not well tolerated in a market governed by risk-allergic minds, protecting the interests of narrow-short-sighted benefit. Innovators should always have a greater vision in mind and strive to return sustainable development and growth back to society and the community they are working in/for. Innovation should always be involved in a “Me and the US” combination in every single dimension, stage, and initiative. In this sense, altruism forms a necessary attitude and condition in today’s principles of innovation, which are heavily based on collaboration, sharing, networking, and co-creation systems. They should be regarded as the roots and the framework of all company innovation actions.

Innovation is about moving forward. In any business, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. There is no standing still. Companies have to be prepared to lose some to gain more. They just can't have the cake and eat it, resources are scarce and limited at the best of times. They have to make the strategic choices of where and when and how they innovate, whether they do that ground up by shedding ineffectual upstarts or acquire like trees drawing sustenance from the environment. At the end of the day, nothing stands still. We're all in a state of flux, and it's much easier to flow with the force that pushes up against it like the willow in the wind.


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