Ten Different Types of Innovation (cont.) Some Extra Comments

1. Mixing and matching innovation types will have a greater impact and make it harder for others to compete.

2. Use continuous innovation to maintain sustainable competitive advantage.

3. A common way of supposedly 'innovating' involves making minor changes to a product, like processed food items sold in a supermarket. Even though this may require only minor adjustments to the production process and is cheap to do, it is not a very effective, long-term innovation strategy.

4. Innovation intent (need to articulate your goal like President Kennedy in May 1961 for NASA

"...before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth..."
President Kennedy as quoted by Larry Keeley et al, 2013

When he said this, it was not known how it might be done.
"...Instead he laid out a challenge, set a time frame to get it done, then he worked to install and trust talent to deliver it..."
Larry Keeley et al, 2013

Need to consider 2 fundamental questions

i) how can we innovate differently? (this involves understanding what the rest of the industry is doing and seeking to be distinctly different)

ii) how ambitious do we need to be? (what needs to be done to achieve your goal)

5. Cost of complexity, ie the more types of innovation that need integrating and/or if large teams are involved will add to the complexity and decrease the chance of innovative success. To handle this, use the Occam's razor approach, ie

"...When formulating a hypothesis, start with one that has few assumptions - and make it more complex only when necessary. This principle of parsimony should also guide your innovation work: take on the minimal amount of complexity needed..."
Larry Keeley et al, 2013

Furthermore, because almost any new design can be copied very quickly, they have a very short and troubled shelf life. You need to find ways to improve your processes like developing cost saving processes in your supply change management.

"...there is much more to success than mere product performance or industrial design......challenge your team to add other types of innovation to achieve a bigger sustainable competitive advantage..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013

6. Need a disciplined approach to innovation, ie understand what you are doing and why.

Some examples of this include

- Microsoft (their understanding of the power of licensing led to the development of systems like MS office, etc)

- Amazon (expanded beyond selling books to fulfil its mission statement:
"...To be Earth's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online..."
Larry Keeley et al, 2013

- Starbucks (it always intended to be more than just another coffee shop;
"...by offering a 'third place' between home and work, the company built a community of regular customers..."
Larry Keeley et al, 2013

- Virgin (started as an independent record label and diversified as a worldwide brand company working in a range of sectors from mobile phones to transportation, media to music, etc)

7. Innovation is not static and is continually evolving. Need to continually check what your customers' needs are, etc. There are 6 elements to this:


"...rethink what your customers need, understand what they hate about an existing industry and reimagine how your business might actually change their lives..."
Larry Keeley et al, 2013

i) rethink (what novel activities, etc can you integrate (smoothly and painlessly) that are not the norm within your industry now?)

ii) reimagine (what aspects of the status quo needs changing? what do customers not like?)

iii) reframe (how might you enlarge or reinvent the activity?)

"...all businesses use a system of activities - some set of assets, processes, offerings, and channels. Innovation demands that you imagine, develop and sustain new capabilities..."
Larry Keeley et al, 2013

iv) engage (what activity would be startling and newsworthy? Think of providing something no competitor can offer and deliver it with a guarantee)

v) extend (identify ideal participants; make it easy for them to prosper with you)

vi) expand (who will do what? Realise that there are asymmetric power structures that need to be handled)

8. Leadership is important in innovation, ie as a catalyst and driving force, plus setting the environment that is receptive to change. This is especially important as most people and organisations prefer the status quo and innately resist change.

Innovation should be obligatory, not optional.

9. Psychological safety

To maximise the benefits of innovation, you need to create a work environment that is psychologically safe, ie staff feel fully engaged and are encourage to contribute their best ideas. They feel safe about speaking up and contributing

Remember: fear has a profoundly negative impact on engagement, learning efficiency, productivity and innovation.

There are 4 sequential elements to psychologically safety:

i) inclusion safety (means accepted by the team; people feel they are an important part of the team, eg team identity; able to ask questions; inputs are invited and welcomed from all; everybody shares information)

ii) learner safety (indicates that staff feel safe to ask questions, experiment and to make mistakes; people are protected from criticism; encourage learning so as to build confidence; model learning behaviours, ie 'failure' or 'mistakes' are learning experiences)

iii) contribution safety (staff feel comfortable about participating as an active and fully-fledged member of the team; explain 'why, assign the 'what' & delegate 'how')

iv) challenges of safety (staff are allowed to challenge anybody's input and to feel confident that it won't be taken personally; everybody is respected, especially for their point of view, etc)

(source: Nicola Hunnibell, 2020)

10. Some interesting quotes

"...Innovation always feels obvious in retrospect. But the journey from idea to implementation is anything but; it is fraught with doubts and danger and as a leader you will be second-guessed by analysts, shareholders and employees alike. Your job is to sustain the effort..."

"...Think back to a minute, if you will, to the beginning of your career. Do you remember a time when somebody took a risk on you and gave you a chance? Did you have a mentor who trusted you to step up and do well, despite a near total lack of evidence that you were capable of doing any such thing? We believe the best innovation leaders do this routinely: they charge young, high-potential individuals with expectations that they will innovate, and trust them to pull off tough initiatives. At the same time, you must hold your organisation accountable for innovation smart metrics and incentives, this is how you will give innovation teeth..."

"...history is littered with cautionary tales about companies that missed fundamental shifts in their markets - from Xerox developing and then ignoring many of the integral components of personal computing, including the mouse and graphic user interfaces, to Blockbuster failing to respond to the existential threat that Netflix and video-on-demand posed to its business model. Your job as a leader is to stand in the future and face it bravely......and develop your organisation so it can stand there as well..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013

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