Deliberate Innovation: Part Four

The previous posts in this series (here, here, and here) covered the concept of innovation as a single comprehensive system. We’ve now reached the point at which we can discuss the results your organization can generate from that system and from the ability to innovate consistently. In the context of that discussion, we can also identify particular types of organizations — depending on their innovative predilections and proficiencies — and map them out like this:

  • Happy Observer. For whatever reasons — and regardless of any success they might have achieved in the past — companies in this category lost their competitive mindsets. Some became observers, like Blackberry. Some of are gone, like Blockbuster.
  • Agile Follower. Companies in this category keep pace with market demand and successfully compete on price and time to market. They listen to their customers and benchmark themselves against their competition, working to just keep themselves afloat. They’re good at the how of what they do, and they listen to their customers for what to deliver. Most companies fall into this category; although, they might have, at one time, been market leaders with products, services, or delivery methods.
  • Smart Forecaster. This category comprises companies that anticipate market demand. They recognize their customers’ unarticulated needs, invest in competitive intelligence, and continually offer increasing value. They typically understand the what and the how but not the why.
  • Visionary Trendsetter. Companies in this category create demand. They start with why not and educate their customers on why, what, and how, thereby making competition irrelevant.
  • Resilient Presence. You can recognize companies in this category by the fact that they’re always there. They thrive and prosper, conditions and uncertainty notwithstanding. With nimble applications of innovation, talent, cash reserves, and investments, they create new products, services, business models, and market opportunities. They absorb disruption and are virtually immune to market forces.

A company’s presence in any of those categories is a choice. Not every company needs to be a Visionary Trendsetter. Not every company can become a Resilient Presence. There’s nothing wrong with being a Smart Forecaster. In fact, Smart Forecasters enjoy stability and growth with affordable risk. By the same token, placement in any of those five categories need not be static. Yes, complacency will erode your categorical characteristics. But focused effort will help to maintain or improve them.

The Future is Now

This series has presented the ways in which innovation can be deliberate — the product of systemically open minds and systematically linked processes. It’s explained that innovation embraces uncertainty by encouraging experimentation, by learning from failure, and by recognizing the associated risks and costs as the price of succeeding.

It’s suggested that a procedural framework is required 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. And it’s pointed out that innovation is affordable and accelerated through a disciplined approach that conforms to (and exceeds) ISO 56000 innovation-management guidance. That approach answers the questions, “Why?” (the purpose), “What?” (the deliverable), and “How?” (the mindset and the corresponding processes).

Companies used to aspire to go from good to great. But the clock is ticking. Great will no longer cut it.

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