Innovation often fails to align with the strategic needs. This is often not the fault of the innovator happily working away with no specific guidelines, apart from the general remit of “we need to be more innovative”, it lies in the boardroom not communicating the board’s needs clearly enough down the organization.
Building up our capacity to innovation does need to understand and reflect the organization’s business activities but it is grasping the value creation aspects that will deliver the necessary capital-efficient and profitable growth.
Even the basic questions often remain unclear, those of are we looking to grow revenue, reduce costs, reduce working capital or improve our fixed capital? I expect the CFO would say “all of them” but each does have implications on the understanding of the fit and eventual role of innovation. Then where does risk fit into the strategic equation for innovation, it lacks often the clarity it needs.
Deciding that capabilities can be better leveraged requires a separation of exploit and explore.
The aligning of strategic direction (and importance) with any capability needs is in the understanding of what activities are diverging with core and those converging, then figuring out the future core. It is the two dynamics of exploitation and exploration we should be leveraging for our innovation and future growth
Today we need to exploit and explore and our capabilities need to be built fit for one of these two purposes. Exploiting is today’s business need, to leverage and improve the existing business and equally, in parallel, explore for tomorrow’s new business growth.
Then we also need to diverge and converge
The diverging ones need to have a real emphasis on improving performance, how they are managed for cash or to eventually sell or dispose of along with those converging on the new ‘known’ core of the business to grow and expand. So by recognizing these and that is not easy in itself, you are beginning to know and identify the capabilities you need to have in place to fix today and make it as healthy as possible, alongside those new capabilities that will create a new winning set of growth and value propositions.
We certainly need bolder investments in knowledge around the make-up of innovation capabilities
I certainly believe there is a real call for fresh and bolder investments in knowledge, in infrastructure that focuses on activities that spur new approaches that lead to innovation. These are not just the traditional ones based on managing today’s core but on finding those innovations that provide new value, the new generation activity that is occurring from recognizing how we can build, yes build for further exploitation (extending the life) and exploration (new understanding) and manage each as separate risk evaluation exercises with different metrics of progress.
We also need a deeper innovation grounding of internal workings and alignment
What I feel we need is a deeper grounding in what is actually going on inside organizations within their innovation activities and how these align with the needs of strategy and what is clearly missing. We start here as it gives us all this clarity and coherence, missing in much of our existing understanding.
We have the real opportunity today, in finding new ways of combining the four emerging forces of knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation, which will drive the growth models of tomorrow. It is these that are forming the new innovations ‘black box.’
It is mastering this new ‘black box’ of actual innovation activities, exploring and exploiting the necessary innovation capabilities that are required to be ‘going on’ in organizations to achieve a closer coherence we need to radically improve the innovation performance.
I have plenty of ideas, frames and methods built up to help you make innovation fit and be more coherent in its contribution. Why not find out?