Saturday, April 6, 2019

Five Pillars of Digital Innovation

Innovation is the core activity of human evolution to changing the environment for reaching high performance and making collective progress.

Nowadays, with rapid changes and fierce competitions, innovation is no longer a “nice to have,” but a “must have” competency for long-term business success. Digital is the age of innovation. Highly innovative digital organizations, no matter large or small, are highly dynamic and flexible, focus on solving problems and unleashing business potential. Innovation is not always equal to the latest gadget, it’s about people, culture, partnership, and manner, to build a highly creative working environment and develop differentiated innovation competency. Here are five pillars of digital innovation.

Dissatisfaction: Innovation is all about figuring out a better way to do things or creating satisfying products or services. Innovation is the process which combines restless dissatisfaction with the current state coupled with the excitement of leading individuals or teams to discover alternative solutions that tailor business needs and produce great results. Most people consciously or subconsciously protect their status quo and get used to conventional thinking. But in a digital society with a more open culture and the increasing pace of changes, conventional thinking sometimes has a negative connotation about sticking to outdated concepts, traditions, cultures or the old ways to do things or perform mediocre result. It’s like walking on the treadmill, even taking steps, but getting stressed out without moving forward, and wondering what’s going on. With dissatisfaction, people can diagnose the root cause of problems they face, broaden thoughts and connect wider dots to trigger creativity. There is a full cycle of emotions behind innovation. Being innovative is the state of mind, it’s about thinking differently, acting differently, solving problems differently, delivering results differently, and adding value differently.

Simplification: Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. - Einstein Innovation overall has a very low success rate. Innovation is a process which could be managed. However, innovation processes often fall into one of two camps; one is so detailed and specific such that the processes lack of flexibility for adapting to changes, the compliance with the process is impractical; or it is so high level and abstracted from the issues at hand that they do not provide practical guidance or lack of formal process to implement the idea step-wisely. Generally speaking, innovation is to simplify things. There are always constraints, so simplicity implies to build as little as possible. More specifically, the ability to simplify means to eliminate unnecessary for figuring out a premium solution. Some tough problems get solved intuitively and elegantly, but behind the scene, there is a lot of hard effort or complexity for someone to implement it. To follow the simplicity principle, effective innovation requires a well-managed process as part of a holistic system and a strategic alignment, encompassing many key business aspects such as leadership, strategy, communication, culture, technology, etc. Effective innovation requires a suitable process as part of the wider holistic 'system' for innovation, encompassing other key aspects such as culture, leadership, and strategy, etc. During the whole innovation process, make sure that all staff is aware of the planning, processes, schedules, process or potential pitfalls, and they are ready for taking responsibilities of building innovation competency.

Diversification: Innovation blossom comes with diversity. Diversification is an excellent engine for creativity, although it doesn’t mean that is the only success factor to spur innovation. Diversification and differentiation make the business stand out by allowing the business to fix innovation bottlenecks and develop unique business competencies. Diversity is a facilitator for merging significant building blocks of new and existing ideas and concepts or blending them to create something new. All ambitious businesses strive to unlock their business innovation performance and unleash their full digital potential by enforcing diversification and collaboration. The emergent digital technologies and practices make it possible to expand the talent pool, build highly innovative teams with coherent diversification from cognitive difference to complimentary experiences & skill sets. It’s also important to define the updated competency model, assess the talent's overall capability to solve problems, strike the right balance of cognitive difference, learning plasticity, characters, skills, experiences, personalities, and energy within the teams. Many forward-thinking companies across industrial sectors have also broken out of the static industry box, treat customers, partners and other industrial ecosystem participants as active agents for brainstorming new ideas, and come up with alternative business solutions.

Amplification: Innovation follows fundamental principles or basic rules, which are adapted depending on the company's strategy, competency, and circumstances. To scale up innovation practices and amplify its effect, organizations need to think about ways with dynamic planning to broaden their ecosystem perspective and become highly flexible and resilient. The real challenge is to understand where and how you can and should innovate to get the biggest effect and scale up the best innovation practices across the digital ecosystem effortlessly. Organizations need to develop tailored innovation practices by leveraging effective tools or methodologies and using them wisely with the expertise to really add value or catalyze innovation. It’s also important to fine-tune many critical business factors, including “hard” factors such as policy, process, performance, and “soft” factors such as culture, leadership, communication, etc, to shape innovation capacity of the business. The highly innovative companies can connect the key resources or assets in their vicinity and context to the information and resource-rich hub or clusters across the business ecosystem for sowing innovation seeds, growing into fruitful plants and reaping the business benefit.

Exemplification: Leadership is one of the critical pillars of innovation management. Digital leaders who are open-minded, competent, curious, courageous, adaptive collaborative, and willing to listen to employees are more likely to be the exemplars as successful innovation leaders. Innovative leaders view the whole picture and apply creativity in areas not tried. Creative leadership is essentially anchored on the leader's overall multifaceted resourcefulness. It requires the strength to collect feedback and review recommendations to problem-solving or decision-making. In practice, many leaders 'say' that they are ok with the new way to do the things but exhibit the contrary. Leadership exemplification is important to encourage the culture of innovation for leading people to grow beyond existing levels of company performance and capability. Innovative leaders are not only self-motivated but also motivate teams to think out-of-the-box, develop innovation capacity, and discover the new path of doing innovation.

Innovation is the core activity of human evolution to changing the environment for reaching high performance and making collective progress. There’s no one size fits all solution to develop a creative working environment and build differentiated innovation competency. It is always important to gain an in-depth understanding of crucial innovation ingredients and build the solid pillars of innovation management, in order to reach the next level of the growth cycle and achieve the long-term business prosperity.


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