Thursday, April 8, 2021

Pitfalls of Innovation

There is no template that you can apply and suddenly become innovative, it must be done continually, patiently, and systematically.

Innovation is what leads to differentiation. It is the development of a new combination of available resources in a way that solves problems in alternative ways. There are many ways to differentiate and, therefore, there are many ways to pursue innovation. 

Due to the fact that innovating in today’s digital world has become increasingly complex in nature, innovation has a very low success rate, there are all sorts of pitfalls on the way and many challenges you have to overcome. There is no template that you can apply and suddenly become innovative, it must be done continually, patiently, and systematically.


Innovation is the lip service, everyone talks about it, but no one works on it: With fierce competition and continuous disruptions, innovation leads to differentiation. Often the term "innovation" has become so diluted, it is hard to have even a basic conversation about it without problems of definition or interpretation arising. For many organizations, innovation is a lip service, as they lack a good strategy to manage innovation, a mature innovation culture to encourage creativity and a scientific set of methodologies and practices to implement innovation. Many traditional companies, especially large corporations, have frequent conversations about innovation, often suck at innovation, because they become too dependent on satisfying corporate regulation or protocols, and not get around to developing a culture that fosters/rewards innovation until it is too late.

Innovation is both art and science. Even creativity, the essence of the artful mind, is a systems thinking process, where you see the patterns of the universe around us. The science of Innovation Management is to prepare everything to maximize the transformation of an idea to implementation through well-aligned processes and structures. There are axioms within system engineering that support innovation as the result of many forms of engineering thinking such as temporal, abstract, induction and deduction, holistic and inclusive mindsets. Innovation management shouldn’t be just about taking a few random business initiatives, it’s an ongoing differentiated business capability development with multi-stepped processes to build a balanced innovation portfolio.

Innovation becomes the “hammer in search of a nail": Being too aggressive is just as bad as being too conservative. When innovation becomes the “hammer in search of a nail" for aggressive businesses, it perhaps wastes business resources, decreases much of the stability of the company, or underestimates psychological curves and knowledge/skill/capacity/methodological curves, etc. It’s important to understand how innovations are underpinned by people, processes, and technology, and how much integrated capabilities are really required for innovation efforts you are kicking off.

To tailor innovative approaches to solve complex problems, a defined structure is essential to managing innovation, but there's no single structure that will work in every organization, a lightweight innovation management process should allow ideas to flow, get protected, channeled, and nurtured will succeed more often than an organization that does not have such a process. Don't lose sight of your goals. Go nuts in your ideation process, but stay grounded by including reality checks in the broader process. It’s important to strike the right balance of setting processes and creating an open space to keep ideas flow and innovation growing, and improve the overall innovation maturity.

Innovation = no rules: By nature of creativity, it’s about discovering the new way to do things, and it often means to break the old rules or the “old way to do things.” Rules are about safeguarding the status quo. Consequently, too rigid rules, will stifle creativity and thus innovation. One rule is to break the rules that bind you. Breaking the old rules is important for innovation, but it doesn’t mean to be “ruleless,” get lost or lack focus. The right set of ‘rules’ is not for limiting your imagination, but for framing the system to identify opportunities and mitigate risks. 

The ideal innovation management system is to tap into everyone's skills and talents, without the typical impediments to cooperation, to keep creativity flow smoothly. However, being "unruly" incurs risk, you need to set updated principles for managing innovations and mitigating risks. A set of good rules is to ensure that innovation efforts are focused in that direction. The right set of ‘rules’ is not for limiting your imagination, but for framing the innovation “smelling” system to identify opportunities and mitigate risks, focus on managing innovation effectively for reaping profit from a good innovation.

Due to the hyper-complexity of modern businesses, innovation has become more intense with broader content or enriched context for managing people, assets, time, resources, and risks to achieve high-performance business goals. It’s important to overcome pitfalls, develop management skills, mitigate risks, and improve the success rate of innovation with continuous deliveries.


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