Thursday, December 21, 2017

Three “F”actors in Innovation Management

In the rapidly evolving businesses and economic systems, the creation of new innovations is very complex but critical for firms’ survival and thriving.

Digital is the age of innovation. The art of innovation is that it involves new ways of bringing together the latest technologies, ideas, and resources to create something novel. The challenging part is that innovation is not always equal to the latest gadget, it’s about people, process, culture, partnership, manners, etc. Digital organizations have to orchestrate all those important ingredients into the unique innovation capability of the business. Here are three factors in innovation management.

Framework: Working in an innovation garden not only takes passion but also needs the process and hard work. The “hard” issues to stifle innovation is that the systems/processes/technology many organizations are using to capture innovation value are becoming inefficient in this rapidly changing world with the high degree of digital convenience. Though there's no single structure that will work in every organization, the innovation framework is the key ingredient in managing innovation. Because a well-defined innovation framework and fine-tuned structure are essential to managing innovation in a corporation to enforce cross-functional communication and collaboration. Organizations can be more effective in executing innovative ideas by relying less on silo functions, more on cross-functional collaboration and continuous improvement. The right level of guidance and process is important, but the overly rigid processes or too ‘pushy’ goals will stifle innovation. Bridging innovation execution gap requires a systematic execution scenario with a fine-tuned framework, clear-defined stages, decision-making parameters, performance thresholds, metrics definition, combined with the iterative learning process and organizational structure that supports wide-ranging exploration at each stage. The science of innovation is to manage innovation lifecycle and executes in a systematic manner that provides sustained competitive advantage.

Fluidity: Digital fluidity enables free thinking and intuition. It is important to build a working environment to streamline mind flow, knowledge flow, idea flow and develop scalable idea management which means for sharing and managing ideas throughout the enterprise, even across silos and geographies. On the business navigation dimension, we live in the digital era, idea flow can be streamlined via enforcing cross-functional communication, using common business language for harnessing understanding, taking incentives to encourage sharing, paying more attention to ideas from others, and setting the right prioritization. Such digital fluidity helps to unlock latent expertise, collaborate with communities with geographically-distributed teams, and arise the opportunity, to ultimately reach the pinnacle of innovation abundance.

Flexibility: Running an innovative business means that an organization can think “out of the box,” break down the “We always do things like that” mentality, think alternative solutions from the outside-in lens, build new things based on the business needs, and come up with optimal solutions to delight customers. Flexibility is an important element of innovation management because overly rigid rules or processes will stifle creativity and decrease innovation effectiveness, agility., etc. A flexible innovation leader allows an innovator to bend the rules as long as it is not harmful to the organization. Foremost, digital leaders must create a work environment for people to collaborate and share knowledge, develop the digital pipeline to keep ideas flow. As long as this flexibility is provided with necessary management oversight. Different organizations have different strengths, capacity, and capabilities to innovate, innovative skills and capabilities an organization always needs depend on the circumstances the business is in. Highly innovative teams do not focus on hierarchy but on ideas, information, creativity, flexibility, openness, and curiosity. Together, these flexible teams, with extensive experience, are resolute, responsive, flexible, able to speed up and figure out the new way to do things.

Innovation is about moving forward. In any business, if you are not moving forward, you’re moving backward. There is no standing still. In the rapidly evolving businesses and economic systems, the creation of new innovations is very complex but critical for firms’ survival and thriving. It is critical to build a solid innovation framework, keep the business environment fluid, and leverage flexibility, to build innovation management capability as differentiated business competency to maximize the business’s digital potential.


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