Innovation remains elusive as a consistently defined term and as a clearly defined activity. But elusive doesn’t connote difficult. Rather, it suggests the needs for systemically open minds and systematically linked processes.
Innovation is perceived to be difficult because it necessitates uncertainty, experimentation, and their associated risks and costs. So, we typically revert to the way we’ve always done it, hoping to arrive at new or different outcomes. And we think not making mistakes — or avoiding failure — constitutes outstanding performance. But mistakes and failure are inevitable parts of experimentation and learning. The key is not to avoid experimentation and learning but to embrace them while managing their risks and costs.
To manage those risks and costs requires a framework in which to manage innovation from ideation to monetization — to identify opportunities, to develop markets, to evaluate talent, to determine talent gaps, to qualify ideas, to capitalize them, and to build the supporting infrastructure.
The framework ensures innovation is affordable and accelerated through a disciplined approach that conforms to (and exceeds) ISO 56000 innovation-management guidance. It answers the questions, “Why?” (the purpose), “What?” (the deliverable), and “How?” (the mindset and the corresponding processes).
Do It on Purpose
The purpose can derive from a variety of motivations:
- The motivations here could be to grow, to be profitable, to achieve stability, and to create value for customers.
- This is usually drive by the desire to develop, leverage, enable, or exploit emerging technologies into processes, products, services, or business applications, sometimes in service to #1.
- Social Good. Some organizations desire to help create better lives, to benefit community, society, or humanity.
- Other organizations desire to help sustain life on the planet, balancing economic, social, and environmental factors to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- Strategy as Charter. While they’re often viewed as separable, strategy and innovation should be seen as conjoined twins. You might think, “Let’s get our strategy first, then we’ll work on innovation.” While innovation isn’t possible without the strategy that precedes it, the strategy is incomplete without innovative mindsets, processes, and business models.
In the next post in this series, we’ll discuss the elements of sustainably innovative processes.