Do we know what the dependencies and complementaries for building and sustaining innovation success are? How do you sustain innovation, is it more through the structuring of everyday work, by creating a particular set of social rules and resources that foster specific routines? Really, that does seem to me as sounding a little too easy, or we all would have got to this point but we haven’t,when it comes to managing innovation. Innovation seems to conflict with everyday work.
The reality is we can’t ‘create’ rules or specific routines when it comes to our need to constantly innovate, there is a host of constantly changing variables, risks and conflicts that need constant adaptation to those specific circumstances, yet we can learn more on the underlying principles and approaches. So how do we manage this in everyday work, inside organizations hell bent on managing efficiently. Certainly I buy the argument that Innovation should become part of everyone’s job on a daily basis so they have the space and potential to work on it constantly but what does this require? This is part of our journey within seeking innovation fitness through its dynamics.
Here we begin….
Is the debate then, “dynamic” or seeking “routine” for sustaining innovation success?
For me the argument points to the capacity to build “dynamic capabilities for innovation” around the critical situation we are all finding ourselves in, of rapid ongoing change. ‘Rapid change’ calls for constantly developing and leveraging dynamic capabilities and this need to be fully understood so the appropriate resource and commitment can be placed behind them. The world of innovation is based on consistent, never ending competition, a constant price/performance rivalry, increasing quest for improving returns and the ‘creative destruction’ of existing competencies all certainly contribute to rapid change without doubt.
What are the firm-specific capabilities that can be sources of real evolving but equally lasting advantage, and how can combinations of competences and resources be developed, deployed, nurtured and protected? These need to be difficult-to-imitate combinations and integrative enough to give new sources of competitive advantage to stimulate new growth and financial return.
Strategic innovation often changes the ‘game’; what it explores and exploits to stay dynamic.
What are dynamic capabilities?
Dynamic capabilities are those skills, process, routines, organizational structures and disciplines to build, employ and orchestrate intangible assets that are nor replicated easily by others and constantly change to meet customers’ needs.
Dynamic Innovation Capabilities need to advance knowledge creation and absorption, extend and integrate what is learnt into something more worthwhile, something new. These capabilities need to learn how to modify constantly the way we operate, reconfigure and redeploy. This involves the dynamic of sensing, seizing and transforming (Teece et.all) at the three interdependent levels of the individual, firm and network to coordinate/ integrate, learn and transform constantly and to reflect constant change that is taking place.
Two different academic views but does one lead to the other?
Dynamic Capabilities are defined by Teece, Pisano & Shuen in their different papers on the subject as “the firm’s ability to integrate, build and reconfigure internal and external competencies to address rapidly changing environments so as to achieve new and innovative forms of competitive advantage”.
Everyday Dynamics are where people know what is expected of them and what to expect from others and have a common ground for negotiating collective action in particular situations that create an ongoing social fabric, where innovation naturally flows. Zollo & Winter suggest a dynamic capability “is a learned and stable pattern of collective activity through which the organization systematically generates and modifies its operating routines in pursuit of improved effectiveness”
Both definitions require learning and exploring
Both of these ‘dynamics’ arise from learning and constantly adapting within organizations and these aremore likely to come from systematic methods or they become to chaotic. Innovation nearly always requires structure, process and being worked through in systematic ways unless you perhaps are a sole inventor/ innovator or responding to a real crisis that is novel. To work with others successfully you need a certain structure.
Capabilities for innovation are complex, they are structured and multi-dimensional and have a constant flow of energy. Often today organizations strive to keep these far too much in “equilibrium” (zero level) but the reality is that our markets being served are not in this ‘equilibrium’ and are constantly being disruptive, more ‘dynamic’ than ever.
We cannot keep a ‘business as usual’ mindset ,we need to recognize we are operating in potential set of constant unstable circumstances. This is a complex adaptive system and we need to treat innovation and building capabilities within this so they are both dynamic and everyday. We require adaptive organizations constantly modifying and remodelling their innovation capabilities to antiscipate and react to consistently changing market conditions.
We need to become far more aware of the dynamics that surround us that are needed for innovation to work constantly. We need our journey to evolve, we need to walk on.