Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Playing an Innovation Oddball: Celebrate Failures

Creativity is an out-of-the-box thinking, so playing the oddball is part of innovation. 

Innovation in the digital era is coming at seemly a much faster pace, more change, and more potential disruptions, with a broader scope, scale, and impact on the business’s surviving and thriving. However, in most companies, the risk-allergic minds dominate the workplace and protect the interests of narrow-short-sighted benefit. Keep in mind though, innovation comes with a risk of failure; many say that innovation won’t happen without enough failures. Being innovative is a state of mind. Shall you play the innovation oddball: Celebrate failures to inspire creativity and encourage innovation?

Have the right dose of risk appetite: Risk appetite implies some ability to actually measure risk level. The future is uncertain and no amount of quantitative analysis can accurately predict what opportunity or risks lie ahead. Some risks can be quantifiable; some can only be approximated. The good innovation leaders have the right dose of risk appetite and rational risk management skill. Individually, a talented person with the right dose of risk appetite can fail fast and fail forward; shows resilience to recover from the failure and learn lessons from it. The innovation management team with the right dose of risk appetite is able to turn things around as a team when a failure happens and develop the culture of learning and risk tolerance. The logic for building an innovative culture is that you reward people for trying new actions and doubly reward them for successes. If you punish failure, you shut down innovation immediately.

Have a positive attitude toward risk: Failure is part of innovation; it is very much an intrinsic part of innovating. In the digital era of innovation, failure is seen as a fruit full of experience. So, the differentiation between a good innovation and bad innovation is the people’s attitude toward risk. Innovations fail because folks fear innovation. Innovation fails because there are too many disconnects that occur between the birth of a vision/concept and the process of turning it into a reality. The risk attitude is to determine the company’s attitude and strength to deal with risks appear. Innovation is always a tough journey, not a flat road. The positive attitude is to take the calculated risk and be cautious about obstacles or pitfalls on the way and avoid making repetitive mistakes. Besides risk-tolerant attitude, take a balancing act to have enough failure and an open environment that encourages learning from failure quickly and cheaply, without having failures that are too frequent or too expensive.

Innovations succeed when failure is seen as a learning step to great success: Innovation and risk often go hand-in-hand. With creativity, "change" is made." With every "change," the risk is involved. The more dramatic and powerful the innovation is, the greater the risk would be. Innovations succeed when failure is seen as a learning step to great success. An overall framework for innovation with periodic reviews will help to sustain progress and minimize the risk of idea flops. Setting the right priority helps to leverage the limited resource, manage risks and improve the innovation success rate as well. Prioritization is about managing constraints - you can't do everything; so which innovation initiative will you take to maximize the value with calculated risks? The leadership approach toward risk also directly impacts how the business manages a healthy innovation portfolio with the right mix of incremental innovation and breakthrough innovation.

Creativity is an out-of-the-box thinking, so playing the oddball is part of innovation. Instead of finger pointing, celebrate failures and learn some lessons from them. When leaders shift from “risk-avoidance,” to “risk intelligence” mentality, they can stay focus, weigh risks and rewards, take prudent risks and discover better ways to lead the success of innovation.


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