Saturday, September 15, 2018

Improving Innovation Quality and Strengthening Innovation Discipline

The best point of view is to see innovation as a system, capable of taking a stepwise approach to scaling up and delivering organization-wide capability. 

Innovation is about reinventing the business direction and purpose at any time. Innovation is a managed process to transform novel ideas to achieve business value. Innovation is the core activity of human evolution to changing the environment for reaching high performance and improving business profit, for the saving of resources, for the satisfaction of customers, etc. Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. However, innovation overall has a very low success rate, how to improve innovation quality and strengthen innovation discipline?

Quality ideas: Most organizations have too many ideas. But more is not always better. “High-quality ideas over many ideas” is the principle for idea management. Getting quality ideas is not easy though. Good ideas nearly never emerge spontaneously. They need to seed and mature. Set the criteria to evaluate and prioritize ideas accordingly. Generally speaking, less than 5% of the ideas submitted will be implemented. This could leave more than 95% of people frustrated. The original germ of a creative idea is often, if not always arrived at through the interaction of ideas from different domains of thoughts and experiences. Describing a good idea in a short template is very difficult for most people. Good ideas and expertise are correlated. Most good ideas emerge from interactions, not single individuals. It’s important to develop the idea portals for creating the healthy idea emulation if combined with other tools, open up these ideas for collaboration, bring valuable inputs to help the development of the idea. Enable the management to communicate their thoughts and guide the people for participating in generating quality ideas. Innovation thrives in diversity. Innovation happens at the intersection of people and technology. Thus, innovation managers need to check by asking: Can your company learn some innovative ideas cross the functional, cross-geographical, and cross-industrial border? Can you identify important technology trends or the next wave of business change or innovation? Can you spot key players who are involved in the idea development? Can you classify the components or operations of ideas, and what parameter the innovative ideas might have? With the high-quality idea management, businesses can have a significant opportunity to develop them into well-planned business initiatives and ultimately achieve the fruitful business results.

Quality innovation processes: If idea creation is more art than science, and then idea implementation is more science than art. Innovation is a managed process. Lots of ideas mean you will fail if you do not have a screening process to systematically evaluate them. High-quality innovation processes and the step-wise innovation scenario will make innovation more science than art, improve return on investment importantly. The main barriers to innovation are silos, rigidity, inflexibility, static process, or bureaucracy, etc. Innovation managers need to evaluate their company’s innovation processes by asking tough questions such as: How will it effectively use the power of stimulus to create meaningfully unique ideas? How will it increase speed in the innovation process? How will it effectively leverage diversity to create meaningfully unique ideas? How will it help to engage employees and reduce fear in the organization? How will it decrease risks in the innovation process? The nature of how the implementation of the idea has to follow a logical path with well-considered tools/platforms for innovation, in the given culture, operating environment, and governance, could strengthen the innovation effort and improve innovation quality. With continuous process improvements, you can reduce costs and increase innovation success rate. But keep in mind, quality process means the right level of guidance and discipline, but overly rigid processes or too ‘pushy’ goals will create new bottlenecks and stifle innovation.

Quality people and teams: Quality ideas are often created by quality people who are self-motivated to think, learn, innovate or invent. High-quality leaders or employees have a winning mixture composed of character, and creative intelligence, they can think and work independently, develop their creativity, and have excellent problem-solving skills. Creative people have “thought candor” which offers a different way of thinking about a situation or problem that fills the blind spots and moves the innovation conversation forward. From a team building perspective, you need to have both idea creators and implementers who can rise above the status quo. Select people who love the clash of ideas, love listening, love being wrong, and love learning. Cultivate the culture of inclusiveness which focuses on cognitive differences, abilities, skills, and the wealth of ideas. Either individually or as the team, learn how to do the 'basics' well, such as listening, asking questions, giving and receiving feedback, as well as dealing with conflict or even constructively advocating a point of view or building trusted relationships. Developing a highly innovative team is both art and science.

Innovation is a means, not an end. If you don't know where you want to go, you are unlikely to get there. It's important to set a clear goal, continue strengthening innovation discipline and improving innovation quality. Although there’s no magic formula for innovation success, the best point of view is to see innovation as a system, capable of taking a stepwise approach to scaling up and delivering organization-wide capability. People, structure, and process are all quality factors to improve the success rate of innovation and achieve the high-performance business result.


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