Sunday, August 13, 2017

CIOs as Chief Innovation Officer: Five Types of Innovators to Accelerate Digital Innovation

Organizations need to invest in the cultivation of capacity for innovation and recognize innovators with varying talent and strengths.
Innovation is about future, without it, you lose sight of tomorrow. Innovation is an exceptional, exclusive, and realistic idea that separates you from others without a second thought. Do innovators belong to rare breed or they are among us and within us? More often than not, innovation is the teamwork, the different strengths and complementary skills of innovators can develop the business’s innovation capability and capacity, and improve the overall innovation success rate. CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer,” can you identify innovators and manage innovation effectively?

Innovation creator: Innovation is about how to transform the novel ideas to achieve its business value. Hence, creating fresh ideas is the first step for innovation, creativity is the most needed skill in the digital era. Creativity is about connecting wide dots. Creativity is the high-level thinking which relates to intelligence, empathy, idealism, imagination, profound observation, communication skills, process understanding, cultural understanding, and interdisciplinary knowledge. The creative mind has better ability to identify patterns, better ability to make unusual connections, and has the tendency to constantly question the status quo. Creativity is the “actual thinking” which is a conscious or subconscious effort to reorganize your memories and integrate newly acquired knowledge to trigger fresh ideas. The conscious effort employs and tries to expand one’s attention span to stay focused on the wide range of meanings (memories) in order to reconcile them into a coherent whole. Thus, spotting and scoring individuals as an innovation creator need to focus on individual capabilities and potential to innovate. The indicators to assess the intrinsic capacity of the individual as innovator include such as interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, plasticity (fast learning) and knowledge synthesis capability, etc.  

Innovation translator: The goal of managing innovation is to achieve its commercial value. From the business management perspective, innovation often needs cross-functional communication and collaboration. Either from innovation management or the general management perspective, the mistake that most organizations make in this regard is to fail to translate the high-level language of innovation strategy into the professional language of the various functional capacity and staff specialty. Thus, innovation translator becomes the critical role to ensure the organization can create ideas as well as manage those ideas to achieve the business value via effective communication and cohesive processes. Innovation communication gaps are caused by cognitive difference, ambiguous process or management bottleneck. In the complex businesses today, especially those strictly hierarchical large organizations with bureaucratic culture, there are too many power players or functional/process silos which cause communication bottlenecks and create gaps in innovation flow, innovation translators are those who have interdisciplinary knowledge, diplomatic skills and communication effectiveness to push the ideas forward and advocate innovation relentlessly.

Innovation stabilizer: Innovation is about figuring out the better ways to do things. Innovation shouldn’t be serendipity. Making innovation happen is not hard, indeed too much nonsense it talked about this. Innovation will happen when people are given free space to be creative without poor leadership or overly rigid structure to hold them back. To avoid innovation fatigue or serendipitous perception about innovation, innovation stabilizers are the important role in conducting “Systematic Innovation.” They are innovation leaders or professionals who can provide the appropriately structured framework and a set of practical tools people can use to create and implement ideas, or improve products, processes, and services that will deliver new value to customers.  Leveraging tailored tools in effective innovation management is important to improve its success rate. Innovation Management System includes policies, structure, and program that innovation managers can use to drive innovation. Remove any of the three, you're liable to fail. True innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. Innovators should always have the greater vision in mind and strive to return sustainable development and growth back to the business or society they are working in/for.

Innovation navigator: Due to the increasing pace of changes, innovation can happen anywhere across the organization and its ecosystem. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum and hybrid nature, it is the incremental improvement- radical innovation continuum. In dynamic digital business environments, there must be a capacity to respond to new and emerging opportunities and to create new opportunities. Digital era opens the new chapter of innovation. Innovation can happen everywhere - breakthrough innovation, evolutionary innovation, and incremental innovation because technology is changing constantly. Generally speaking, all businesses should have a handful of "bets" in the breakthrough category. Thus, innovation navigators are the critical role to envision the future trends and capture potential innovation opportunities. The evolution of innovation only exists in the more open environments that create insights, take advantage of all sources of creativity in a more open way and leap innovation management to the next level. Through great navigation, a healthy innovation portfolio can be integrated with the annual strategic planning process and financial investment model. The size and mix of the innovation portfolio depend on the business circumstances, strategic objectives and severity of external challenges or changes. When looking at business/organizations, the most powerful innovation navigation system involves tapping the organization's ecosystem (people-centricity) for the collective perspectives/insights of those who makeup and know intimately their parts of the system.

Innovation evaluator: Innovation is about transforming novel ideas to achieve its business value. Without a profit motive, it doesn't work. Thus, measuring innovation becomes one of the significant tasks to manage innovation. The problem for innovation measurement is often that the initiative is not well defined. The important work for innovation evaluators is to select the right set of metrics to measure innovation management effectiveness and efficiency. The measures should be oriented to justify innovations the organization needs. Better look at what the results were prior to implementing the innovation and after. Sometimes it takes much longer time for a new innovation drive to produce measures, it is also useful to evaluate innovation processes which demonstrate the growing capability of the organization to deliver more innovation with business impact in the future.

Innovation is the means to the end, it should either benefit your customers or your employees. Organizations need to invest in the cultivation of capacity for innovation and recognize innovators with varying strengths. Make innovation benefit the widest possible audience within your organization.


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