Archive for the ‘ Feature ’ Category

A Fresh Approach to Future Innovation

by Paul Hobcraft

A Fresh Approach to Future Innovation
We need to constantly renew within ourselves. There is a time when your innovation efforts may need a serious renewal and for many this might be now. Knowing when to invest in an innovation renewal and organizing for it is like any other organizational activity.

Those that are honest enough to admit that what they have achieved to-date in innovation activity is just not going to ‘cut it’ for the future will be making a very ‘tough’ call but it might be one of the best ones you are about to make. I think we all need to think of a renewal of innovation as essential in our thinking as over time many things have changed and moved on. We need not just to adjust in our objectives but more importantly to adapt and acknowledge that our innovation understanding has greatly improved, so we need to reflect this in our innovation structures, processes and systems. Continue reading


To Innovate, You Need the Courage to Step Backward

When we think of innovation, we tend to associate it with forward motion. We may envision it as a leap ahead—a radical breakthrough that happens quickly—or, more realistically, as a steady march forward, during which a series of small advances and refinements eventually lead to a desired outcome.

But in observing a number of leading designers and innovators over the past couple of years (including individuals such as Yves Behar, Bruce Mau, and Dean Kamen, and firms such as IDEO and Smart Design), what has struck me is how often these change-makers seem to be moving sideways and even backwards, in addition to moving forward. In my own head, I’ve started to think of this as a kind of “catalyst’s dance”—with the most common version of it being a nifty (and quite difficult) four-step. Continue reading

What limits innovation in established companies?

Sometimes, as an artist or writer you have a great idea and you have the chance to be part of the creation.  Sometimes you’ll find that others have beaten you to the idea, and your job is to extend the idea, improve it and make others aware of the original contribution and your offerings.

Some days I’m a creator.  Some days, today for instance, I’m publicizing Gary Hamel’s recent post in the Wall Street Journal about Innovation.  Not that Gary needs a significant amount of assistance with publicity, but when someone gets it right, we need to point it out. Not with a flashlight but with a search light so everyone can see. Continue reading

How to conduct an executive workshop that produces game plans for innovation

Health%20Care%20Innovation.jpgThe brainstorming session may beget large quantities of ideas, but its more sophisticated cousin, the executive workshop, can help create something far more valuable: focused energy to explore new growth platforms from corporate leaders. In the scheme of things, cool ideas are a dime a dozen, but generating the confidence to brave new ground, especially in risk-adverse global corporations, is something far rarer.

Several paradoxes exist in corporate innovation environments today. Due to the resources required, new growth-platform investment decisions are typically made at the highest levels in large global business units, yet the executives who must make those decisions have little time to spend on exploring the sources of innovation beyond the conventional R&D lab, where momentum-setting action rarely takes place. Managing customer complexity with new, value-added offerings has become the latest best practice for industry leaders, yet few are structured to take on the challenge. Even if the willingness for radical innovation exists, proven processes for cracking the code on organic growth challenges and driving differentiation often don’t. Result? Spinelessness, fear, excuses, skepticism, flat-lining, or worse. Continue reading

Innovation Matrix – Get Beter at Innovation

This is a bit of a distillation of observations over time.  I thought of it because I think that a lot of people that are trying to improve innovation within an organisation think that they can go from the bottom left (No Innovation Capability) to the top right (Google-Like Innovator) in one jump, simply by introducing some sort of innovation program.  I think that this is impossible – that you actually have to make the trip in a number of steps, and that there are many different paths that you can take. Continue reading

Create Your Own Disruption To Avoid Media Meltdown

The basic principle of Disruptive Renewal is that connected device adoption and the broader digitization process are permanently and irrevocably changing the way in which customers interact with products and services. Media industries were on the bleeding edge of these trends, causing what we have called the Media Meltdown, a painful transition that put audiences in control and permanently disrupted media company business models and products.

It is now clear that the same digitization process will eventually transform all industries, that companies lose control of their customers when new technology enables them to interact with products on their own terms.  Revenues are threatened. Either these companies harness the technology to build new products and services or they fail.

We call this process Disruptive Renewal, and though it often happens swiftly, it doesn’t happen at once.  Instead it falls into three key stages (see graphic below):

Continue reading

Ten Tensions in Innovation

In a series of journal articles, Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman have talked about the importance of being an ambidextrous organisation in order to succeed at innovation. To be ambidextrous, organisations have to be good at both exploration and exploitation. All this sounds a bit academic, so here it is in clearer terms (I hope!): firms that are successful at innovation are able to simultaneously come up with ideas that allow them to take advantage of what they’re really good at (exploitation) while also being able to search for novel new ideas (exploration).

This is a hard balance to maintain – the two processes require quite different management skills, different processes, and different measures of success. Exploitation is usually about operational efficiency, while exploration is about experimentation and risk.

These seem almost like opposites – and that’s one of the challenges of trying to manage innovation. To be really good at it, you have to do things that appear to be opposed to each other.

Here are ten tensions in innovation management:

  1. Exploration versus exploitation: we need to be more efficient while also being more experimental.
  2. Radical versus incremental: this is closely related – we need to have a relatively balanced innovation portfolio. It’s the incremental innovations that improve current operations, but it’s the more radical innovations that keep us in business over the long term. Continue reading