Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Innovation Prinicples

Building a highly innovative organization requires a combination of principles, people, processes, and technology integrated into differentiated business competency.

Innovation comes from the creativity aspects of a free mind left to simmer, to test and requires thinking outside the box, altering or changing the frame of reference to create previously unconsidered solutions. Innovation by its inherent nature comes with a risk. Failure is of crucial importance in the process of achieving high performance of innovation management. 

Thus, businesses today have to make the strategic choices all the time of where and when and how they innovate, whether they do that ground up by shedding ineffectual upstarts or acquire like trees drawing sustenance from the environment in its best form. A high mature digital organization establishes a set of principles and builds effective innovation systems to handle innovation streams for different purposes and with different time frames, to sustain institutional-level innovation effectively.

Perceive innovation as a system, capable of delivering organization wide capability: Innovation is not serendipity, but a managed process. It isn't something to order up, buy or conform to a certain human application. While organizations can innovate without clear systems of innovation, the ability to achieve sustained innovation results probably does require at least some degree of a 'hard-wired' innovation system with embedded mechanisms. It can lay out different thinking, structures, and solutions; it is dynamic, with high adaptation to the changing environment. There must be an appreciation for the organization of the sources of creativity as well as the structures and cultures that will promote innovation.

Creativity, the roots of innovation are those patterns you cannot see, cannot feel until the latent emergent behavior of the system that becomes greater than the relative sum of its parts, comes into focus. Innovation management systems include many critical business elements such as framework, people, process, culture, tools, etc, to manage “systematic innovation” and develop business-wide innovation capabilities. A good innovation system can “smell” the right ideas at the right time and place, mixing them in imaginative or advantageous ways, and developing them into business potential. They can also identify critical business issues and predict and prevent potential risks timely.

Apply the “simplicity and flexibility” to solve critical issues creatively: Unlike the closed mechanic system, digital organizations are like the living system, spontaneously self-organizes, generates patterns, forms structures, initiates innovative activities, and above all, creates novelty over time. They are able to assess to what extent the business has the flexibility, adaptability, and capacity to innovate in terms of people, finances, and manageability. Innovation is not for its own sake, but to solve problems in alternative ways. Never assume you know what the problem is. Never think there is a short list of solutions you can pick from. We need the flexibility to adapt "in-stride" as necessary to move the goal promptly as we discover the fresh insight and co-develop tomorrow together.

Not every complexity is bad, the management needs to encourage desired complexity and eliminate unnecessary complexity to make things elegant. Engaging customers by providing simplified and intuitive products/services on an ongoing basis to see how their goals are achieved is a good way to orchestrate a people-centric organization. Hide technical complexity, what is left visible to the customer should be simple, intuitive, secure, reliable, predictable and easy to use, fluently mix the art and science in trying new technologies, to innovate the products or services and delight customers via intuitive interfaces and “easy to use” features.

Altruism forms a necessary attitude and condition in developing creative workplaces which are heavily based on collaboration, sharing, networking and co-creation systems
: Due to the fact that innovating in today’s digital world has become increasingly complex in nature, often, organizations can no longer rely on a single individual or team to drive innovation, but often the collaborative efforts. Whether a group of people has an amplified creative ability depends on varying factors such as different intent, different talent traits, different working styles, and different outcomes. It takes time and generations of changes within a company to encourage independent thinking, develop an “altruism” theme with a necessary attitude and condition, embrace fresh thinking and the new way to do things. Otherwise, there will always be roadblocks to these "new" ideas.

Innovation is a production, adoption, assimilation, exploitation, and exploring of value-added novelty in the business. In an ideal digital workforce, empowerment is the mantra for developing the digital ready workforce and shaping a culture of innovation. Digital management needs to focus on harnessing cross-functional collaboration through iterative communication, robust processes, and powerful digital platforms. Make people feel more comfortable with the digital new normal - chaos, uncertainty, and ambiguity and create an environment in which people are comfortable to bring up fresh viewpoints, allowing time for play and exploring.

Theory = thinking, practice = doing: Theory and practice are interactive and interdependent innovation management disciplines: The right dose of theories needs to well mix with the right sets of best and next practices for effective innovation management. One is sorely limited without the other. Every organization needs to develop the tailored innovation practices via leveraging effective tools or methodologies and use them wisely with the expertise to really add value or drive innovation. Collaborative innovation needs to be coupled with theory-based approaches for the next frontier challenges.

There is no universal theory or magic formula to do innovation, using good practices or a tailored theory- good for a certain organization and fit for the specific situation and challenges that are faced and that actually requires different priorities as compared to others. The good theory can instruct the best innovation practice which has a certain value to produce profitable innovation, but the next practice continues to emerge. When looking for results of innovation practices, it is not a question of knowing what the best answer is based on theory, but what actions will lead to desired outcomes that matter. However, the best practices are sometimes outdated sooner than you think, this is particularly true for innovation best practices. Especially the innovation best practices are not for making static or rigid processes, but for setting the principles and standards to achieve innovation management excellence.

Present accountability as a cognitive fitness to show the ownership mentality when taking a new adventure of innovation: Innovation has a very low success rate statistically, thus, the leaders and managers should be more interested in finding "causes," not interested in assigning blame, in order to identify the right dose of innovation appetite, and build a culture of accountability. In fact, shared accountability or collective accountability involves shared ownership, empathetic communication, open door listening, transparency, etc, are all success factors of innovation.

Accountability goes hand in hand with the delegation of authority or power, it is significant in encouraging self-management, so people can decide their own ways to get work done, and keep their creativity flowing. The good measure of accountability is about resilience, it is determined not by whether an individual or a team makes a mistake or not, but on how quickly they can recover. People have the courage to learn when you fail; which we all do every now and then, take responsibility for the failure, learn from it and move forward.

Building a highly innovative organization requires a combination of principles, people, processes, and technology integrated into differentiated business competency. It is essential to define a set of digital principles - these well-defined principles or policies that are communicated frequently, followed uncompromisingly, with a holistic approach to manage a healthy innovation capability portfolio, can significantly increase opportunities to reap the benefit from innovation management.


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