Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Innovation as a Problems-Solving Discipline

Innovation is not for its own sake, but for problem-solving.


Running a business is fundamentally a problem defining and problem-solving continuum. It becomes about addressing the correct need and perhaps the problem becomes how to identify the need at the right level. Any problem is the right problem if there is an attempt to find a solution. The reality is that, once people get into a routine at work, they typically get stuck at the “We always do things like that” mentality, and they do not like to hear about how things could be done differently to solve problems creatively. Innovation is change, it is never for its own sake. In essence, innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity for solving problems in business or real life. But how do you get motivated to be innovative on a daily basis via solving real-world problems large or small, in a creative way?


The systematic innovation is based on the in-depth understanding of business issues: The purpose of innovation management is not to promote innovation but to manage innovation in a structural way. The ability to innovate is ultimately dictated by the depth of understanding of the problem/issue to be resolved. Innovation process could be very loose on purpose, but what is rigorous and systematic is the processes of analysis & synthesis of the original business problem, product/service issues, opportunity, management dilemma, etc. It’s an important step to identify, understand, and evaluate the opportunities in which important problems need to be solved or critical jobs need to be done for satisfying important customer needs, and then map those goals into specific processes for innovation implementation. Most companies fail at innovation execution because they have no clear processes, nor understand the linkage required to work horizontally across departments, or a holistic approach to managing innovation for solving business problems effectively.


Apply creativity in a recursive way for problem-solving: For those who are trying to solve problems, they may find problems evolving as they try different solutions. Thus, it is important to applying creativity in a recursive way to creative processes for both problem identification and problem-solving. First, deepen their understanding of the issues via relentless experimentation and continuous discovery. Study the choices and select the best possible implementable alternative. Problem-solving ineffectiveness is caused by static mindset, even circumstances already change a long time ago. Or people dive into “HOW,” to fix the problem scenario before clarifying the clear “WHY” and “WHAT” matter about the real issue. An innovative problem-solver doesn’t do different things, they do things differently. The problems become more complicated in this ever-complex world. Sometimes lack of creativity becomes the problem after many people refused to deal with it for various reasons, and ignored it until it becomes a problem and later, the bigger problem, and the harder problem.


Innovation becomes simply “creating value by solving simple or complex problems” timely:  Pace and timing are absolutely critical for innovation and problem-solving. Too slow or too fast are as much a problem as backing the wrong disruptive technology or fresh ideas. Timing matters. Many organizations get the timing wrong are surprised when many years later another company gets the timing right for the same disruption, the original company underachieved. When innovation outside your organization outraces innovation inside your organization, it causes more problems for the business to catch up. Timing matters to catch the right opportunity for business growth or prevent the potential business risk before it becomes too severe. It is TIME to address factors influencing business velocity, performance, profitability, and customer preference. Timing does not mean to rush up, potentially, longer time frames allow the creation of more long-term problem-solving alternatives from which to choose, using both rational and instinctive knowledge.


Businesses today face fiery competition and rapid digital shift either technologically or economically. Looking uphill can help to identify the real problems that matter, and on a scale that can make a difference. Besides macro, large-scale problems, at the intermediate or micro level, for either organization or individual, there are many crucial problems need to be solved and quite a lot of challenges should be overcome. Innovation is not for its own sake, but for problem-solving.





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