Innovation (executing effectively)


This involves understanding the principles of bringing your innovations to market on time and on budget.

Eight principles

1. Innovate with a mission, don't be random (many innovation initiatives fail as the outcomes are poorly defined; their connection to the strategy purpose of an organisation underlying opportunities being unclear.

"...great innovators know what they are trying to achieve: focus on fewer, bolder ideas and execute them with care. They have clearly defined intent, desired outcomes, married to an equally clear strategy to achieve them..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013)

2. Set guard rails to keep the team on track ("...constraints amplify creativity......and so does the success of your innovation initiative. In the absence of such parameters, teams drift and drown in possibilities, veering from option to option - because of poor guidelines, everything is essentially optional and no one can see you're barking up the wrong tree..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013)

3.  Focus on the critical parts (usually the hardest parts are the most critical, and are the hardest to copy, imitate, etc.

"...identify the true critical parts of the innovation concept. Work on them relentlessly until they are solved..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013

An example is iTunes. A critical part was to be able to buy a song.

"...It took 200 lawyers working for Apple round-the-clock for two years to negotiate the rights to do this......A key factor in the company becoming the most valuable firm in the world by mid-2012..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013

4. Resolve dilemmas boldly and have patience for the answers (throughout the innovation process, many trade-offs or dilemmas occur, such as a 'product cannot have superior service and low price', etc. Sometimes innovators pick one side of the challenge and ignore the rest. This can lead to incomplete answers and partial solutions. Need to develop new options to resolve the problems that deliver the impossible. Demand holistic solutions instead of ideas that are merely playing around the edge.)

5. Use high-protocol innovation and understand which method works (need to equip the team with good techniques and a protocol to follow, ie what to do and in what sequence. The concept of putting smart people in a room and equipping them with nothing but expectations rarely works for innovation)

6. Never innovate in a vacuum (some teams get stuck in the endless loop of internal discussions around possible uses of technology, features, functionality, etc. Use circuit breakers like observing customers and end users and study other initiatives that have tackled similar challenges, ie use them as a reality check. Be careful of groupthink.)

7. Visualise experiences from end to end (use prototypes, starting with paper first, to illustrate the whole concept.

"...Helps you communicate your concept to others and test it with customers, and it ensures that everyone in your team fully subscribes to the same vision. Visualisation also helps to clarify what your team will need to build, saving costly delays or corrections..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013

8. Co- construct innovations with other stakeholders like customers, suppliers, competitors, etc (in-house is not the only way to develop innovations)

"...In today's hyper-connected world, no firm should anything solo. Embrace open innovation and find ways to work with friends or rivals to design, build, and deliver ideas..."

 Larry Keeley et al, 2013


"'s a bumpy road from conception to commercialised new offering or business..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013

An ideal situation incorporates:

- a strong articulation of the idea (including visualisation)

- KISS principle (Keep It Simple and Short)

- willingness to experiment and iterate, eg prototypes, pilot runs, etc (with less emphasis on traditional analysis techniques)

- willingness to be adaptive, flexible, agile, opportunistic, imaginative, bold, unconventional, fast, etc

- willingness to challenge the status quo (including traditional rules and regulations, mindsets, orthodoxies, beliefs, etc)

- willingness to be creative, 'think outside the box', etc

- effective leadership's support and commitment

- recognition of mistakes are not failures but contribute to a learning process

- an understanding of why customers will want your offering

- knowing how Innovation will make money

- understanding what is needed to bring it to the marketplace

In summary

"...Eradicate lore, substitute logic. Root out myths, bring in methods. Know that there are 10 types of innovation; use more of them. Find orthodoxies and slay them. Expect people to give excuses; make them innovate anyway. Get leaders to sponsor innovation from the top; get high potential people to build innovation from the bottom. Get the details right..."

Larry Keeley et al, 2013

Effective innovation is a mixture of science (tradecraft) and art !!!!! The science will tell you what to do while the art tells you how to think, ie mindset.


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