Friday, June 16, 2017

CIOs as Chief Innovation Officer: How to Deal with Those Innovation Paradoxes

Either dealing with innovation dilemmas or handling innovation paradoxes, it is part of innovation management learning curve.

From conventional wisdom, innovation is the serendipity. In the majority of companies, innovations management has a very low success rate. But innovation does not just accidentally happen, it can be managed in a more systematic way. Innovation is a differentiated core business capability. Exploring innovation starts with leadership, strategies, and culture, it can then naturally flow through to the customer's needs. Design then follows. Innovation leaders face dilemmas and have to deal with innovation paradox well. And the focus & rewards of innovation playbook is the core management discipline for riding innovation curve and achieving the business results.

Following rules versus breaking rules: To become creative, one would have to break down some old rules, innovation is the progression, innovation is doing something better than it currently is. It's a mindset. After breaking the outdated rules, you are "outside the box." Thinking outside the box is all about "rule breaking"; the more "unruly" you are, the more creative you are. The innovation challenges the status quo and that is important in a healthy, innovative organization, as the saying goes, there is no innovation without disobedience. On the other side, being "unruly" incurs risk, you need to set the updated principles for managing innovations and mitigating risks in a structural way. That said, although breaking the rules is an important part of innovation, ‘business creativity’ such as leveraging creative thinking for business goals, does require certain ‘rules,’ to help frame, stay focus, and make innovation a fair game to invite all great talent in. Thus, the successful innovation management should strike the right balance of breaking outdated rules to allow the new ideas shine and making updated digital principles for prioritizing and managing innovation as a practice.
Innovation structure framework or lack thereof: Innovative organizations have deployed a range of different management, technology, process, and structural solutions. Work in an innovation garden not only takes passion but also need the process and hard work. The innovation framework is the key ingredient in managing innovation. Innovation is the differentiated business capability underpinned by business processes, and to optimize the innovation process (minimizing cost, time and risk whilst maximizing scalable solutions) requires much more effective collaboration. Innovation is a high mature digital capability which needs to be built via disciplines, structures, processes, and practices. Thus, a well-defined innovation framework and fine-tuned structure are essential to managing innovation in a corporation, but there's no single structure that will work in every organization. So, the right level of guidance and process is important, but the overly rigid processes or too ‘pushy’ goals will stifle innovation. It starts from managing business goals transparently together with innovation discipline.

Risk Tolerance vs. Risk Control: Innovation by its inherent nature comes with a risk. The failure is of crucial importance in the process of achieving innovation. The risk is part of innovation, but you can manage parts of these risks. Risk-based thinking is something people all do but perhaps many people do it imperfectly. In evolutionary terms, from risk control mind to risk management to risk intelligent mind, that shift is crucial to improving innovation success rate. The risk intelligent mind needs to be systematic, critical and analytical to handle uncertainty management. And this is part of innovation management paradox. On one hand, the organization should encourage risk-taking, and build the culture of risk tolerance, on the other hand, the business needs to manage risk skillfully. The successful thinking about risk leads to survival by mitigating risks, and the accumulation of enough resources to thrive by capturing opportunities in it and adapting to the uncertainty and changes. A digital mind with risk intelligence can naturally and skillfully apply risk-based thinking for almost every discipline of management, including innovation management, people management, financial management, IT management, resource management, etc, or overall interdependent digital management practices.

Either dealing with innovation dilemmas or handling innovation paradoxes, it is part of innovation management learning curve. Although there’s no one size fitting all innovation practice, that makes innovation still be serendipity for many organizations. Businesses organizations just have to learn from experimenting, amplify the best practices, and build innovation as a core and differentiated business capability.


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