Friday, July 26, 2019

Five Insightful Questions to Overcome the Panic of Breakthrough Innovation

Innovation is not serendipity, it’s a mindset, a process, and a business competency. 

Innovation is to transform novel ideas for achieving its commercial value and truly meeting people’s needs. Breakthrough Innovation is disruptive and will change the business in many fields. It can achieve the higher ROI but with much greater risk. Often, there is no best practices to follow for managing breakthrough innovation as it is in the future with no necessary continuity with the past. It takes a kind of “out of the box” thinking and a lot of guts. It’s not something everyone can accomplish. Here are five insightful questions and answers to overcome the panic of breakthrough innovation.

What’s your comprehensive innovation strategy?
Breakthrough innovation is powerful. It’s often disruptive and changes the competitive landscape, potentially making entire industries obsolete. If managed well, it can bring significant opportunities for the business to reach the next growth cycle and deliver the higher business value. To overcome the panic, asking the strategy related questions helps the organization clarify the very purpose of innovation, identify the critical issues facing the company, capture the emergent business opportunities to address the possibilities, and deploy a range of different management methodologies and technologies to tailor their own circumstances for managing innovations in a structural way. Breakthrough innovation is risky, but it brings the company great opportunities to reinvent itself by either creating the new business model, solving future issues with long-term perspectives. Therefore, a good innovation strategy as an effective constraint provides the guidelines for innovation management by providing anchors to explore from, evaluating what’s the altitude of innovation impact and the aptitude to manage innovation; the innovation processes efficiency, and measurement effectiveness, etc. It also helps the business laser focusing on the innovation efforts which can make a bigger impact for customers, partners and the marketplace, as well as become the disruptor rather than being disrupted.

Do you have the appropriate innovation climate? Innovation requires multidimensional thinking, analyzing, retrospection with less scripted behavior. Breakthrough Innovation is a radical new approach and takes out-of the-box thinking. It’s important to develop the proper innovation climate which encourages creativity, enforces trustful relationship, and has the right level of risk tolerance. Either individually or collectively, there is a full cycle of emotions behind innovation. Therefore, innovation managers should make an objective assessment by asking: What is triggering your emotions for doing innovation? What about trust? Or what about happiness? What about the right innovation climate? Your personal climate, your team climate or your organizational climate? Environment either encourages or discourages innovation, the ease or difficulties inherent in surviving. There are some key characteristics to build a culture of innovation. It’s important to keep a workforce open to innovation by cultivating a compelling future vision, the presence of transformational leadership, high organizational justice (trust); a participatory management style and multi-channel organizational communications. Only in an open trusting space, creativity can flow smoothly and innovation can be catalyzed effortlessly.

Who are your innovation catalyst? Innovation needs catalyst to spark up, spot and recognize the innovators who can rise above the status quo and catalyze the innovation climate. Creative people are in demand to catalyze a culture of innovation in the workplace and play as the “innovation agent” effortlessly. Put more C-suite people for innovation even when the company performs well, that make innovation more naturally become part of the strategy. Creativity relates to intelligence, empathy, inquisitiveness, idealism, learning agility, and process understanding. Having a fair recognition system with well-defined innovation performance measures and high visibility for all positive contributions will help in creating a culture of innovation. Perfecting the art of innovation is about shaping a bigger box of thinking either individually or collectively. Engage with futurists because they can often inform you of what is coming, what customers need and perhaps the future trend of products and services. Invite outliers to innovation dialogues because they can bring up interdisciplinary knowledge and fresh insight to boost creativity by inspiring people to step out of their comfort zone, overcoming panic. So the organization can become creatively disruptive and explore the "art of the possibility.

Which gaps shall you fill to build innovation capabilities? Breakthrough innovations are not something everyone can accomplish. You have to systematically develop the capability to execute them successfully, and that is something you do not accomplish overnight. Innovation competency is the key differentiator between the leader and the follower. Innovation involves many steps: the generation of an idea, the demonstration of its feasibility, its implementation, its commercialization, and its diffusion. It’s important to identify innovation capacity gaps or bottlenecks, such as resource limitation, process ineffectiveness, skills deficiency, or culture inertia, etc. Bridging innovation execution gap to achieving the business objectives requires a logical execution scenario with clear stages, well-set decision-making parameters, performance thresholds, combined with an iterative, experiential learning process that supports wide-ranging exploration at each stage. The organization's long-term success is based on a set of differentiated capabilities, with innovation as its core competency.

How to manage innovation risks effectively? Every innovation pursuit has risks in it, and every risk has opportunities in it, Exploring breakthrough innovation means you are doing something that hasn't been done before. You're accepting risk for potential reward. Therefore, it is important to set clear guidelines for managing innovation risks in a structural way. Innovation risk management need to consider both endogenous and exogenous drivers, the primary focus of the risk management process would be to identify and control those risks that can be addressed such as financing, marketing understanding, competitor analysis, identifying the space of opportunity, defining the scalability of the products/services, what timescale to allow, as well as capital investment, etc. Innovation is risky by its nature, the effective leadership, risk-tolerance culture, and well-established framework, etc are all crucial to improving the success rate of innovation, especially breakthrough innovation.

Innovation is not serendipity, it’s a mindset, a process, and a business competency. The right set of Q&As helps to clarify innovation strategy and overcome the panic of doing breakthrough innovation. Innovation breakthroughs that really hit the spot are often the radical new approach that makes a leap of the business to the next level of the growth cycle and achieves the high return on investment for the long term.


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