Regional innovation systems

recently. Basically, this concept aims at redefining the role of a region in innovation processes,

to abandon the political focus on local and regional innovation networks (Asheim & Isaksen,

2002). It goes to the extent of bringing territorial innovation theories up to date. Geographical

proximity is imperative in regional Innovation System as unstated information can be shared

easier when actors of the innovation process are in a suitable detachment.

In addition, intensification of reliance between individuals of modernism needs constant

interactions which can be made easier by close relationship. This entails that limited to a small

area interaction can be reinforced by socio-cultural principles like customs which are entrenched

in a geographical area. Agglomeration is another entity that enables geography to influences

regional innovation systems is that it forces contribution to knowledge infrastructure by

concentrating universities, research centers; easier access to rules and regulations (Acs, 2000).

7

Basically, this entails that the shorter geographical distance between participants, the less the

coast of exchange knowledge and information and the faster communication between actors.

Another issue that influences regional innovation system is cognitive proximity. It shows that too

little cognitive proximity leads to misunderstanding and too much may cause a problem of lockin.

The outcome of cognitive geography is usually that one is not able to notice possibilities

on new technologies and markets as routines that are within an organization. Organizational

proximity is another issue that denotes the extent within relations taking place between actors in

a firm setting. Basically, this tends to depend on the rank of the autonomy which the cooperating

actors acquire. In addition, there is social proximity which is a social embedded relation that is

between actors at the micro-level (Cooke and Morgan, 1994). This is where socially embedded

relations are meant to be understood as relationships that are based on trust constituted of

friendship and past experiences. Therefore, too little social proximity may result in a decline of

the innovation capacity of firms caused by lack of trust and commitment and too much can

inhibit innovativeness.

Geography in regional innovation system has shed new light on historically contigent

regional preconditions for innovation and economic growth, and has also revealed a weakness

in established systemic approaches to innovation attributes to their often limited appreciation

of these path dependencies (Andersson and Karlsson, 2002). In essence, this entails that the

geography of regional innovation system tends to draw attention to the demarcation, overlap and

relationships with extra-regional actors, networks and institutions.

8

The development of information and interaction technologies is another reason as to why

the role of geographical distance in regional innovation systems is perceived as diminishing by

scholars. This is so as the appearance of ICT changed the methods of generating, storing and

knowledge. Face-to-face interaction can be substituted by communication via virtual proximity

as there is technology. In addition, ICT increases the chances of changing tacit knowledge into

codified knowledge. Essentially, this shows that technological evolution has led to increase in

mobility of individuals and facilitated temporary geographical proximity.

Generally, geography matters as the idea behind territorial innovation models, stating that

the key factor of the growth and competitiveness is to be seen in local environment and

geographical proximity. it is beneficial for the transfer of knowledge and innovation processes.

This is so as the development of ICT facilitates the transfer of knowledge over long distance at

low cost and accelerates the codification of knowledge. In addition, the claim that geographical

proximity, regional and local levels still matters as it has proponents. Virtual proximity is not

able to be a surrogate for geographical proximity concerning transactions that are characterized

by ambiguity and complexity (Autio, 1998). Another aspect is that establishment of social

relations and community’s development from scratch cannot be done relying on new

technologies in the initial stages.

It is perceived that the role of geographical proximity in an organization’s innovation

performance depends on the firm, the size of the firm, and the target to which the distance is

considered. Geographical proximity positively influences the propensity of small firms to

collaborate with universities, where as for large firms the distance is less important because the

collaboration with world-class science is more valuable for them. Territorial closeness to other

9

firms improves innovation productivity of software firms and closeness to their clients does not

matter for their innovation performance. With regard to distance to investors, spatial proximity

impacts the likelihood of investments and is especially imperative for less experienced venture

capitalists. Thus, technological evolution has facilitated communications between actors of

innovation processes.

Globalization and technological evolution influence the role of spatial distance in

innovation processes but local environment is still imperative for local firms. This is based on

the aspect of presence of close knowledge networks and institutional assistance. This is so as

geographical closeness used to be perceived as an essential circumstance to share implicit

knowledge and to improve trust among investors. Furthermore, it is very important to lend a

hand both within the local network region and with far-away partners. This will contribute to

establishment of territorial innovation models as open systems that are unavailable in interactive

learning by global connectivity (Autio, 1998). This is the case as scientists have emphasized the

local character of innovation processes and have perceived the region as a locus of innovation.

Problems that Regional Innovative Systems face

Although regional institutional framework is perceived as being highly influential for the

way actors perform, such regional conditions do not always primarily matter by shaping a local

arena for knowledge exchange and direct interaction between region actors. Moreover, the

miscellaneous variety of regional innovation system types brings about a considerable scale of

definition bewilderment and empirical justification issues (Andersson and Karlsson, 2002). It

makes it a problem for researchers and policy makers alike to predict what a regional innovation

system is. The advance goes through the absence of a amalgamated theoretical framework from

This article was created by carol,a professional procurement executive. She has also been dealing with sales support at Mambo Microsystems Ltd, a well known company for Reseller hosting .in kenya.

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Creative Innovation

How creative is your innovation “process”?

Think about it? Is your innovation process highly prescriptive or very organic?

Is your innovation pipeline delivering a balanced portfolio of projects and products or is it skewed to being incremental or hedging on high risk disruptive innovation?

With all of the capability to connect and communicate with other people and data, creating a balanced and fruitful innovation ecosystem in today’s world has been made easier, wouldn’t you agree? Or maybe not!

There are several issues that we need to acknowledge, which are spoken privately but not always openly discussed as you will see why. There are also two strategies that we need to embrace, understand and implement.

Innovation Issues

Innovation is about being creative, creating that new “thing” that nobody else has thought of and adds value.

Below are some of the common innovation issues in the form of barriers and constraints that I have come across whilst working in various sectors such as the construction, pharmaceutical and biotech industry, albeit with varying degrees. Think about how many of these you have experienced within your organisation.

Standardisation – you are working in a business and a world where you have to conform to procedures, policies, legal requirements, so much so that creativity is virtually non existent

Linearity – from standardisation you have business processes, work flows, whereby you believe if you follow the process you will get the right results. I believe it was Einstein who said Insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There is a time when you need to go off-piste.

Diversity – within your business and organisation you will have a set number of people with certain skill sets, training and knowledge based on what you believe to be correct. There are over 7 Billion people in the world and I would bet that there is someone, somewhere who is not in your organisationthat has the block-buster idea or know how to develop a transformation and disruptive innovative solution.

Passion – how passionate are you and the people within your organisation about your work, how it contributes to creating and developing new products and services. Are you high performing organisation?

Creativity – do you promote continual learning and development through dynamic collaboration across your business and with outside organisations that can help you to think creatively?

Visualisation – having visibility of your innovation pipeline, that can be shared with anyone and supports divergent thinking is part of creativity.

Poor decision making – you are constantly being bombarded with data, requests, distractions that it is becoming more difficult for your to make informed decisions and is taking longer to make.

Fear culture – fear of being wrong, getting a negative result and sharing it because of what people might think of you or how it will affect your career to get to the “top”.

You will notice in most of the items above there are only one or two points that are system and technology related while the others relate to people – you and me. And yet what I have discovered is that businesses will typically focus on the “tangible” assets such as the business processes, systems, equipment and not on the “intangible” assets, which include people, the organisation and knowledge (including data and information) that contains the highest part of an organisations value and innovation capability.

Why is that?

Probably because processes and systems are easier to understand and therefore easier to optimise. But are you optimising the right part of your organisation?

People working collaboratively

I recently attended a presentation to listen to the person who led the engineering and construction delivery of the London 2012 Olympic Park. It was truly amazing how leadership where able to pull so many people together, deliver innovative designs and construction solutions and still meet and sometimes exceed the key milestones and metrics that were set, by working together as a team – a very big and diversified team.

The other key attribute that the presenter identified was clarity. There was clear visibility of what the objectives where, how they were going to do it, roles and responsibilities.

There were several main points to the successful delivery of the London 2012 Olympic Park but two in particualr resonated with me.

Collaboration – people working together to deliver an agreed outcome

Visualisation – the use of integrated visualisation tools such as BIM so everyone understood. Total clarity.

Helping people to collaborate with clear visibility can support and enhance your innovation capability.

Creative Innovation

Regarding the issues listed above I have considered their effect on creative innovation and how collaboration and visualisation could faciliate change and improvement.

Standardisation

If you work in a highly regulated industry you will veer to the safe, low risk position and more often or not you are driven there out of fear. Fear of getting it wrong can lead to very serious consequences such as a safety issue. This standardisation is further endorsed by people in your organisation who make sure you follow the linear process so that you do not step off the “proven path”.

This is further complicated when you have other people trying to create something new and are continually trying to step off the proven path. Both are working separately and to a degree, in opposite directions. But isn’t amazing. When a mistake is made or something does go wrong there is great learning. When these groups gather to analyse and work out collaboratively what went wrong, innovative solutions are created.

It takes an issue, for people to react and come together. What if you were to “fail” in a controlled way – fail quickly, continously, learn quickly and do it cheaply.

Celebrate that failure as a new learning and do it as a group rather than specific departments or individuals. What would that do to help increase your innovation capability?

Measuring people

People work differently; they have different skills and capabilities for learning and being creative. When in a group do you consider their performance from that perspective or do you revert to the dreaded Personal Development Plan and measure them individually. You can have fantastic individuals but unless they are team players, team collaboration will be low and will stunt your innovation and growth. Look at any team sport and who are the winners.

Aesthetic collaboration

Is your organisation and people being bombarded with data, information, emails – demands for immediate answers and responses? You probably have emails for example that you do not even bother to look at – you have become anesthetised to this communication. Similarly, if your innovation follows a linear, prescriptive process and is a continuum of targets and milestones, following procedures religiously, completing work that you know to be of no innovative value, but carry on for fear of non-compliance, you have an anesthetised process.

You need to create a culture and environment for aesthetic collaboration by developing a visual and social process that captures ideas through social critiquing, communication – collaboration acts as a catalyst for transformational innovation. This creates a “lens” for you to focus on. This is when your senses are at their peak and will help you and your colleagues become more creative such that you gain insights and ideas that create new value for your organisation and supports improved and quick decision making.

Key to aesthetic collaboration is to be more visual and have the ability to visually collaborate (socialise) with a diversity of people both internally and externally. Having this unfamiliarity of people and uncertainty of not knowing what will be said, what divergent questioning, thinking and answering will occur creates a high degree of excitement, alertness and focus. It is genetically built into us. I am sure you have experienced this haven’t you?

Visualisation

To support aesthetic collaborations the ideasneed to be dynamic and interactive. Typically you will capture these onto spreadsheets for analysis, develop a presentation to visualise and email it to communicate to other people. Sounds familiar?

You only have to look at the use of BIM (Building Information Management) within the engineering industry and the positive effect it has including an increase in innovation. Being able to visualise a complicated “boring” drawing into a 3D, fully rendered visualisation of what a building will look like allows a diversity of people to interact, create ideas and solutions that the engineer would never think of.

This I remember vividly when reviewing hospital bedrooms with nurses during their coffee break using visualisation to walk “virtually” through and see the wards that they would be working in. There was a long list of design points that us engineers just did not even think about. This co-creation was a new experience and developed a passion within the team to succeed.

Creative Innovation

I hope this has helped you to think how you can develop a creative innovation culture within your organisation using collaboration and visualisation as potential catalysts for change and creative innovation.

Jason Hier is an accredited BS 11000 facilitator and Director at Roelto – a London based Collaboration and Visualisation organisation.

Delivering effective collaboration, efficient data visualisation and productive visual collaboration for your business.

Discover how you can easily visualise and collaborate to develop a creative innovation process

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Building an Environment for Innovation Process Management

Many firms express a need to invest more in corporate innovation. However when investigating further into the thoughts of the managers who feel they need to make the change, it often show that’s there is a lack of clear direction with their innovation management and misunderstanding with how to manage their creative people. The reason for this confusion is because companies who express their need for corporate innovation feel that they will need to cater to creativity and deviate away from productivity.

The environment in corporate innovation must be established to build more influencing factors for creativity. More instance, businesses should invest in enterprise management software or idea management software in order to show that there needs to be a change in the influential factors that stimulates creativity and innovation. The second change that needs to be made it to eliminate the limiting factors that inhibit the drive that innovation.

The first de-influencing factor is in time. Time is crucial for establishing trust and understanding other cultures. There two ways time can influence creativity depending on the situation. Pressure time and innovation management can motivate innovation in order to solve a challenge by a deadline. The entire process can be tracked with an enterprise management software or with the influence of innovation consultants. The other is by allowing open time to explore and test various ideas with the goal of the best produced product. Free time allows for many people to explore and ideas software and allow for the natural flow of innovation process management to continue. With “free time” new connections can be made, where as scheduled time or deadlines is a focused on efficiency with innovation.

The next but most needed influential factor is empowerment. The freedom to act autonomously is important for innovation management. Scheduled time often limits the feeling of empowerment by giving away the feeling to another “owner”. With an idea management system ownership of a challenge or a problem should be given to those who solve the problem. The form of the organization and the environment in which the innovation tools are placed can influence the type of result the creative minds will be able to produce. Empowerment should be a goal oriented process with the focuses on maximizing the innovation tools including the idea management software. Coinciding with this sphere of influence is trust. The creative minds maximizing the innovation tools should feel they are trusted enough to ensure that they will produce good work. Creativity is limited with a limited amount of trust. When corporate innovation is in tightly connected management structure the feeling of trust will be limited.

It’s a tricky balance to establish structure while fostering innovation. When corporate innovation is structure it impedes the free mind needed for creative work. Control and task oriented work limited the creative and innovation process management. The climate can be resolved by structure innovation with an enterprise management software. The innovation process management falls under a structure. The work can be overseen by innovation consultants.

Ilan Smith has been closely working with innovation process management for many years. He can serve as a perfect guide to enterprise management software, ideas software and innovation management.

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Rapid Innovation

Introduction

Whilst invention is concerned with the creation of good ideas, innovation involves both the creation of ideas and the transformation of these into economically viable, market focused products and services. Rapid Innovation is the art of delivering new products and services in less time, at less cost and with fewer ‘post implementation’ problems.

Rapid Innovation combines three key concepts;

· Getting to grips with what is going on in the marketplace, what customers really want (and not just what you think they need) and understanding the competition.

· The adoption of ‘Concurrent Design’ concepts to eliminate barriers between teams and avoid sequential development.

And

· The use Rapid Prototyping tools that can quickly create prototypes of products, or simulate new services to help iron out problems and issues.

Innovation is about doing things differently and is therefore fundamentally different to improvement which is concerned with doing the same things ‘better’. This paper explores how organisations can successfully and rapidly introduce viable new products and services.

Top Five Innovation Anchors

The ability of an organisation to successfully innovate can have many benefits. These include cost efficiencies, market leadership, brand development and many more. However, there are anchors that slow down the ability of an organisation to innovate effectively. These anchors can result in lost market share, excessive development costs, unexpected operational problems or damage to the organisation’s brand. The five most important innovation anchors are described below.

Innovation Anchor 1: Failing to understand the market

It is quite easy to generate one hundred ideas before breakfast but……

· Only one in one hundred ideas will result in a product or service that is viable.

· Only one in one hundred of the viable products and services developed will be market leaders.

A process is therefore needed to sort out those ideas that are viable from those that aren’t. Viable products and services are those that meet the stated or unstated needs of customers and therefore are capable of generating an economic return. The sorting process creates an ideas funnel where only viable ideas emerge.

The key to successfully identifying viable ideas is to understand the market place in which you operate. This means meeting with potential customers and discussing what they want and understanding what services or products you will be competing with. Unless you do this you run the risk of wasting a lot of time and a large amount of money.

Innovation Anchor 2: Failing to work collaboratively

One of the biggest problems that occur in the development process is that activities occur sequentially rather than concurrently. This creates a virtual waterfall where activities are ‘thrown over the wall’ from one team to the next in a cascade of activity. The fact that ‘downstream’ considerations are not being considered at each stage results in lots of rework. Teams have to return activities to an earlier stage to correct errors, delaying progress and significantly increasing cost.

Collaborative development, involving multi-disciplinary teams, is a key to the concept of Concurrent Design. Teams involving expertise from across the development pathway considering all aspects of the lifecycle of the product or service being worked on can more than halve the lead-time from concept to implementation and reduce operating problems by 80% or more.

Innovation Anchor 3: Failing to empower teams

Having established a development team there is a need to empower the teams to make decisions. Complex and poorly defined decision making processes contribute directly to increased lead-times. Empowering teams means defining how the boundaries they can work within and then allowing them to get on with it.

Innovation Anchor 4: Failing to provide effective sponsorship

Development teams will encounter a range of problems and issues. The budget allocated to the team will be under threat and in complex organisations the team will have to ‘shout’ for attention and management time. The purpose of sponsorship is to keep the profile of development teams high up the management agenda and to minimise the management burden placed on the teams themselves so that they remain focused on getting to market rather than completing reports.

Innovation Anchor 5: Failing to utilise technology effectively

Technology is an important aspect of development, whether you are developing a new type of product or a service. Of course, there is a need for email communications but the fifth innovation anchor is more concerned with the effective utilisation of technology to reduce time lost and to share knowledge, such as intranets, webinars and video conferencing. It is also concerned with the use of technology required to shorten the overall lead-time such as the use of simulation tools, rapid prototyping and pilot activities to finalise the design of the end product or service.

By failing to address all five innovation anchors your organisation is at risk of increasing lead-times for development by 300%, more than doubling the overall development costs and increasing the number of post-implementation changes that occur by more than five times that of a Rapid Innovation project that has addressed all five issues. The issue of post-implementation changes has a direct impact on the overall cost through the shadow of design that we will cover next.

The Shadow of Design

The Shadow of Design is a concept that explores the increasing cost of changes that occur in the development cycle as time progresses. It can be best understood through the following example;

· A change during the concept/specification stage may cost on £1 to make.

· To make the same change at the point that the team are actively engaged in designing the item or service, it will increase the cost to £10.

· If the change does not occur until prototyping is underway then the overall cost increases to £100.

· If the changes occurs even later during the pre-implementation and testing phase the cost increases to £1,000.

· Finally, if the change is not implemented until after the service or product is ‘released’ then the costs increases again to £10,000.

Poorly organised development processes that do not adopt the principles of Rapid Innovation will incur five times more changes in pre and post implementation stages than Rapid Innovation projects.

Different Types of Innovation

Innovation is the generation and exploitation of ideas for the benefits of customers and the organisation alike. However, we should recognise that there are different types of innovation that organisations engage in. We should also recognise that there is a difference between an innovation that is ‘new to our world’ from ones that are ‘new to our organisation’. For example, you might develop a new service that your organisation has never done before but which is common around the world.

There are two groups of innovative activities.

1. Continuity Innovation- those that do not fundamentally change the market. These are further subdivided into Evolutionary and Revolutionary Innovations

2. Disruptive Innovation- these are innovations that create a new market or so change an existing market as to make it unviable for those competitors operating within it.

We will now explore both of these in more detail.

Innovation Type 1: Continuity Innovation

These are innovations that do not fundamentally change a market and instead evolve existing markets through products and services that offer better value to customers and the organisation itself. Organisations already in the market compete against each other’s continuity innovations. There are two types of Continuity Innovation; Evolutionary & Revolutionary.

Evolutionary Innovation

This type of innovation provides incremental developments in existing products and services. They are typically innovations that are expected by customers, for example faster computers, better fuel injectors or customer services that were previously only operated Monday to Friday but which have been extended to 24/7.

Most innovation activities are focused on evolutionary changes, often driven by a mix of cost efficiency targets, market shifts or the development of new technologies.

Revolutionary Innovation

Also referred to as ‘Discontinuous Innovation’ these are unexpected innovations that do not fundamentally change the market in the short to medium term. For example, the introduction of the first automobiles did not fundamentally change the market for people selling horse drawn carriages because the new automobiles were so expensive that they could only be afforded by a small percentage of the population. Another example is the introduction of sealed double glazed windows to replace ‘secondary double glazing’ and single glazed windows. The introduction of the new type of window offered people the option to buy the more expensive, but more efficient, windows or to stick with the lower cost single glazing windows. It was only slowly over time that the market changed to the extent that no new houses are built without double glazing in the developed world.

Innovation Type 2: Disruptive Innovation

These are innovations that create a new market by applying completely new values or technology which ultimately overtakes an existing market.

We have already mentioned that the introduction of the first automobiles was a revolutionary innovation as the market for horse drawn vehicles did not change substantially. Later, with the introduction of mass produced cars (such as the Ford Model T), the market changed radically and quickly led to the demise of horse drawn vehicles. Therefore, the revolutionary innovation became a disruptive innovation over time.

Other examples of disruptive innovations that have occurred include the introduction of the UK National Health Service, the advent of digital photography (replacing film) and the ubiquitous USB Flash Drives that have replaced ‘floppy drives’.

Prior to World War One much of the ice used in Europe was shipped from Canada. Over the years, the ice-cutters had introduced a number of both innovations and improvements that had the effect of reducing costs. However, there was no way to compete with the introduction of the electric fridge/freezers that could create ice on demand. Irrespective of how many further innovations the ice-cutters applied to their process, the disruption caused by the introduction of the new technology fundamentally changed the market and prevented the existing players in the market (in this case the Canadian ice-cutters) from competing.

Disruptive innovations are normally new to the world and can rapidly create new markets. Since the disruptive introduction of the first fridge/freezer there have been innumerable further evolutionary and revolutionary innovations in that market but overall the market has not shifted.

Defining Rapid Innovation

Rapid Innovation is a term used to describe the rapid generation of ideas, development, testing and introduction of viable products and services. The aim of Rapid Innovation is to achieve the three ‘halves’;

· Halve the lead-time

· Halve the cost

· Halve the number of problems

In most cases the successful application of Rapid Innovation can achieve significantly more than the three halves suggest.

The Eight Aspects of Rapid Innovation

There are eight aspects of Rapid Innovation and these are summarised below;

· Senior Sponsor

· Cross Functional Teams

· Market/Customer Involvement

· Metrics for Success

· Consideration of the entire lifecycle

· An Integrated Plan

· Gateway Reviews

· Technology Mapping

We will describe each of these eight aspects below.

Senior Sponsor

A senior sponsor, ideally at board level, should be allocated to champion the project. The sponsor should be responsible for chairing gateway reviews (see later) and for setting the metrics for success for the project. The sponsor should also represent the project at board level and be actively involved in helping resolve disputes between the team and others and promoting the product/service to the rest of the organisation.

Cross Functional Teams

At the heart of Rapid Innovation is the need for a cross-functional, co-located team. The team structure and operating practices should consist of;

· No more than 10 participants chosen to cover all the required skills for the project

· All volunteers

· Consistency in the process from start to end

· Full time for the majority, and ideally all, of the team

· Co-located

· Empowered to make decisions

· Managed by a single ‘development leader’

· Protected from unnecessary interruptions

For larger projects you may need to consider multiple cross-functional teams working together, with each ‘sub-team’ adhering to these parameters but with the added elements of frequent cross sub-team meetings, joint metrics between teams and with all teams reporting to one overall manager.

Market/Customer Involvement

Clear analysis of the market and direct involvement of customers in the specification of new products and services is vital to Rapid Innovation. This may require NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) to be arranged if a commercially sensitive issue may arise but without understanding of the customer’s needs there is a very high probability that things will be missed.

Metrics for Success

The metrics for the project should include timescales, overall spend, implementation or unit cost, expected volume of sales/activity and lifecycle costs as a minimum. These need to be specified up-front and any other constraints that the team need to work to clearly articulated before they start.

Consideration of the entire lifecycle

Products and services have expected lifecycles that consist of phases such as introduction, delivery, ramp-down and close-down. The start-up aspects will involve investment planning and additional marketing activities, whilst ramp-down and close-down may require you to consider everything from redundancies to recycling. It may seem odd to consider the end of life aspect at the very start of development but many post-implementation changes and costs occur because these issues have not been considered.

An Integrated Plan

The team should create and maintain an integrated plan that considers activities that both need to occur sequentially and those that can occur concurrently. The aim of managing the plan should be to get as much activity occurring concurrently and avoid as many tasks that need to occur sequentially. The plan should also cover the entire development cycle from initial concept through the post-implementation and will therefore be a ‘living document’ that evolves over time as more detail becomes available.

Effective integrated plans will consider;

· Market Analysis

· Sales & Marketing Activities

· Design & Development

· Quality Assurance & Testing

· Pre & Post Production/Implementation

· Risk Management

· Project Close Out Activities

Gateway Reviews

A number of gateway reviews need to be planned as part of the overall plan. These should be chaired by the Senior Sponsor and the aim should be to review progress and ensure that the programme is on-track. Typically a project will consist of a minimum of five gateways;

· Agreement of Specification

· Finalisation of Conceptual Design

· Pre-Implementation ‘Green Light’

· Post Implementation ‘Green Light’

· Programme Close-Out

The criteria for each gateway, meaning the tasks that need to have been completed at the date of the gateway review, should be agreed in advance as part of the integrated plan.

Technology Mapping

The last of the eight aspects of Rapid Innovation is the concept of technology mapping. This is a task undertaken at the start of development to identify the specific technology issues that will affect the success and lead-time of the overall development. Undertaking this activity early on enables the planning of technology procurement or outsourcing to be undertaken in good time. This also allows the team to identify technologies that can be used to reduce lead-time and costs early on, thus allowing them to be planned into the development process.

Are You Ready For Rapid Innovation?

There are a number of enabling factors that will support the adoption of Rapid Innovation concepts. One of the first and most important is the need to acknowledge that switching from sequential development and rapid innovation has a short-term cash-flow impact in bringing together a team from the start of development to work on the innovation. Ultimately this will be resolved through much shorter timescales and lower overall costs but the short-term impact can be a problem for some organisations.

Other factors that determine whether or your adoption of Rapid Innovation will be successful or not are the following;

· A culture that supports collaborative working.

· An understanding of your market and the expected changes within it.

· A management team prepared to empower teams to develop products and services.

· A flexible structure that allows people to move easily between reporting lines.

Whatever the problems, if your an organisation looking to reduce the costs and timescales involved in developing new products and services then you need to consider how you can benefit from adopting Rapid Innovation.

Mark Eaton is Director of Operations at Amnis, a performance improvement consultancy. For more information visit the Amnis website at http://www.amnis.uk.com.

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5 Keys For Driving Growth Through Innovation

Many companies struggle with the concept of innovation–what it means to them and how exactly it contributes to the growth of their business. It stands to reason that the primary factor behind this uncertainty is that these organizations do not understand the key variables that affect organic growth via innovation.

Fortunately, enough experiential data is now available to draw viable conclusions about how to accelerate growth through innovation, as well as how to mitigate the risk associated with unstructured innovation. This data can be distilled into five key variables for successful innovation.

Key #1: A Climate for Innovation

One way to mitigate the challenges of innovation is by establishing a climate suited for innovation; in other words, an organizational culture that rewards calculated risk-taking, collaboration and trust. Such a climate enables employees to learn from their mistakes instead of being punished for them. It also supports quicker execution of ideas and a more agile organizational structure, all of which minimize exposure from innovation risk.

Key #2: A Balanced Innovation Portfolio

Innovation-elite firms understand that achieving uncommon industry growth rates means going beyond the traditional research and development focus. Companies that manage to grow through innovation typically develop a balanced innovation portfolio that spans many areas–products and services, processes, strategy, even the core business model. These companies also vary the required degree of innovation, from incremental to significant to breakthrough levels.

Organizations that deploy innovation in this way almost always generate higher return on investment than companies that limit innovation to new products. Also, companies that innovate simultaneously in multiple areas reap more rewards than those that innovate in a single area.

The Apple Corporation, for instance, has experienced tremendous success with the iPod, a product innovation. However, the success of the iPod is largely due to the introduction of iTunes, a business model innovation. Through this combination of product and business model innovation, Apple created $ 70 billion in shareholder value in just three years.

Key #3: Collaborative Teams

The third key to innovation success is to assemble innovation teams that are capable of flawless and speedy execution, and then manage these teams for high performance and collaboration. This is easier said than done. To begin with, the best teams will be composed of people with diverse problem-solving styles. That is, some will excel at seeing the “big picture” while others revel in the details, and still others operate best in between.

In addition to a well-managed balance of problem-solving styles, effective teams must have a cognitive level (i.e., knowledge) and motivation level appropriate to the innovation problem they are trying to solve. Companies that do well in this area typically adopt any number of organizational and interpersonal assessments, inventories and management approaches to determine the capabilities of their employees (e.g., Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Kirton Adaption-Innovation theory, etc.).

Key #4: A Systematic Process

The fourth critical variable is to make innovation repeatable, predictable and scalable. This means making it systematic using a consistent process, or methodology, that is applied by all teams. The process must also be robust enough to accommodate multiple innovation pathways because, while some growth projects require “thinking outside of the box,” others require more structure within existing paradigms. There are various methodologies available; the important thing is to choose one that is structured enough to produce results, yet approachable and flexible so that everyone in the organization can adopt it to the necessary degree.

Key #5: Proven Techniques and Tools

The tools most often associated with innovation are creative techniques, such as brainstorming. Yet, the most successful innovations strike at the heart of what customers want and need. Uncovering unmet customer expectations, especially latent ones, requires the application of any number of research techniques from surveys to ethnography.

Whatsmore, there exists a bevy of powerful idea generating tools, such as Random Entry, Provocation and Movement and others that go beyond simple brainstorming to generate outside truly unique and innovative solutions.

Once the ideas are generated, there are several techniques that enable the objective analysis of competing ideas so the best one is chosen. Designing and piloting the subsequent solutions requires yet a different set of tools, many familiar to those in the process improvement arena.

The point being, organizations that succeed at innovation understand that innovation is a process, and they provide the tools needed to navigate the process from end-to-end: from defining the problem, to discovering the solution, to designing and demonstrating the result.

Breakthrough Management Group International (BMGI) helps organizations around the world systematically improve processes and increase innovation. For more about BMGI’s corporate onsite services, visit www.bmgi.com. For open enrollment training, visit www.bmguniversity.com.

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Public V Private Sector Innovation – The Basis For Success

A lot has been written over the years about both public and private sector innovation. Following the wave of managerialist reform in the 1980s and 90s it has been widely believed that the Public Sector could improve its innovation performance by looking to the Private sector. That is not the conclusion we drew from a recent comparative study of Private Sector CEOs and Public sector heads of agencies experience of innovation. Innovation was commonly pursued for different reasons irrespective of whether in the public or private sector. The approach adopted differed primarily based on the degree of uncertainty presented by the environment and whether the innovation was in response to an unexpected situation or part of a deliberate repositioning. The means available for being proactive, as well as the options available for managing uncertainty in the different contexts, most explained the difference between the sectors and the likelihood of a successful outcome.

The backdrop to the debate

Over the past few decades public sector innovation has been a hot topic in many countries. This has been in response to rapidly changing national and global circumstances requiring increased innovation in both policy and delivery to meet the needs of diverse stakeholders within limited budgets. While the need for innovation has increased there is a general perception that the public sector lacks the capacity to deliver it. This perception has been reinforced in the research literature, with the public sector frequently characterised as conservative, bureaucratic and reluctant to change. However, much of this past commentary has been based more on opinion (and perhaps a little prejudicial stereotyping) rather than solid evidence. There have been few direct comparisons made between the public and private sectors approach to innovation and none that considered both successful and unsuccessful innovations. As with all areas of public management, innovation in the public sector has been influenced by changing ideological conceptions of governance and public management. The New Public Management (NPM) of the 1980’s widely advocated the adoption of private sector management principles in Government. One of the implications has been a focus on the similarities between the public and private sectors in their approache to innovation, rather than the differences. We sought to understand what is unique about the public sector and what implications this has on the approach to innovation most appropriate to the public sector context.

How we did it

We collected 84 stories of innovation from the 25 CEOs and 20 Public Sector leaders (generally heads or deputy heads of Government Departments). Forty two of these stories were of innovation experiences which were successful and a further 42 unsuccessful. Detailed qualitative analysis was then undertaken to identify patterns within and between these stories. What this analysis overwhelmingly revealed was that, regardless of whether it was the Public Sector or the Private Sector, the way the leader thought about innovation was driven by the context they found themselves in and the problems they needed to solve – not some higher meaning or concept of innovation. Understanding and accounting for the context in which the innovation occurs is therefore crucial to the adoption of the best approach. The stories were drawn from a wide variety of contexts so we looked for those contextual characteristics that were common. Two characteristics emerged:

– The Level of Uncertainty the CEO/Head held about both their organizational situation and the environment it was operating in; – The Level of Pro-activity inherent to the CEO/Heads situation – whether the innovation was part of a planned strategy or a response to external triggers that needed to be incorporated.

Public V Private: What are the differences?

The first and most obvious difference was the existance of three quite distinct approaches to innovation in the private sector. Following the wider literature we labelled these incremental, evolutionary and revolutionary. The public sector, howerver, only displayed two, which we have called:

– Ministerial: innovation that occurs through interaction with and on behalf of the government’s political appointee; and – Departmental: innovation that occurs within a department and has been initiated internally and led internally.

Interestingly, and contrary to what many might expect, relatively few Public Sector innovations could be classified as incremental – characterized by low levels of uncertainty. This may reflect the generally more complex environment which the Public Sector confronts – particularly the diversity of stakeholders and interests which must be managed during any change to existing process. Secondly, the private sector interviews showed that the approach taken by the CEOs to different types of innovation can have a significant impact on the likelihood of success or failure. The same can be said of the public sector but the reasons for this are completely different.

Irrespective of whether a private sector CEO was reacting to an organizational circumstance or proactively innovating there was little difference in their likely success or failure. In the public sector the difference was dramatic. Indeed there was only one successful innovation from a reactive context in the public sector. Conversely the complexity or uncertainty appeared to have little impact on success for the public sector indeed the public sector had more revolutionary successes than failures suggesting a well developed innovation capability when circumstances are right – a finding which challenges those negative stereotypes!

There is a case for comparison or benchmarking between ‘Departmental’ innovation and the private sector. However ‘Ministerial’ innovation, presents such a significantly different innovation context that comparison with private sector approaches is of limited value. For example, comparisons are sometimes made between the role of the Board and that of the Minister and Government in terms of oversight of executive functioning. When it comes to innovation, the Board will generally take its lead from the corporate executive. In the public sector, in addition to performing an oversight role, the Government is an important source of innovation initiatives. Departments have an obligation to pursue political initiatives and these may be introduced with relatively little advance warning and with limited scope for modification or adaptation at the Departmental level. Consequently, public sector managers are far more likely to find themselves reacting than are their private sector counterparts.

A further and particularly significant difference is that the private sector assumes and accepts that failures are a normal part of innovation. The failures are acceptable as long as the successes outweigh the losses from a commercial point of view. This is reflected in the use of probability based approaches – an approach completely absent in the public sector profiles. In the private sector, return on investment is the ultimate measure of success. In this context, speed to market can be more important than a perfectly implemented idea. Removal of all uncertainty associated with the idea is a luxury that it cannot always afford nor indeed always need. By contrast, failure is not acceptable in the public sector due to the attendant political risks.

Historically the public sector, in many Western Democracies at least, has been very successful in the implementation of quite complex and revolutionary innovations – not least the extensive reforms of the 80s and 90s. However, it has arguably succeeded because it can use time as a resource to reduce uncertainty in a way that the private sector cannot. Innovation in the public sector then is highly sensitive to time and the quality of the idea, in a way that does not exist in the private sector.

It is significant then that of the thirty public sector stories collected we only had one successful story where the innovation was initiated in a reactive context. To put it another way, where the public service had little influence over the idea or the timing of the implementation, the chances of failure were substantially increased. The concern is that the public services in many countries may increasingly be confronting an innovation environment where reduced influence over the nature of the idea and the timing is the norm. The implication of this is that it removes some of the key strengths of public sector innovation, by reducing the time taken to implement complex public policy, and the ability of the public service to temper bad ideas through the reduction of uncertainty. If this trend is believed likely to continue, new models are needed designed to deal specifically with this environment.

Dr Chris Goldspink is an Executive Director of the Sydney Australia based research and consulting firmIncept Labs. The company helps SMEs, large corporates and Government deal with uncertainty in current and future environments by providing targeted research and supporting innovation, risk management, change and quality governance.

The Psychology of Innovation

On the practical applications of innovative ideas and the creation of value… and why the 21st century is the century of innovation

Innovation is not just creating something completely new, but creating a product that will be of value, especially commercial, economic, practical or social value. Thus creativity when associated with value and enterprise is innovation and an innovative product is “useful to others”. Innovation could lead to enterprise and commercialization as innovative products are commercially viable. Whereas an invention is creation of something new, innovation is the creation of a product or service that is valuable and useful to consumers. New and innovative products are sometimes radical and revolutionary, although there is incremental innovation that improves systems or products that already exist. Innovation helps in creation of commercial, practical or social value by implementing new ideas.

Innovation is applied invention and helps to create a new product to fill the unmet user needs in the market. An invention is a new product but could be a valued solution to a problem and only by becoming commercially, socially or practically valuable, an invention is transformed to innovation.

This discussion is based on the psychological basis of innovation and although innovation would be associated with creativity, creativity is a trait in humans and innovation is ‘what you do’. Thus innovation is a form of action that requires creativity, enterprise and radical thinking. Thus innovation being focused on creation of a product is action-oriented whereas creativity is thought-oriented. Enterprise is necessary to turn a creative idea into an innovative product that will have significant value in the short or long term. The psychological process of turning an idea into an innovation goes beyond the creative process and involves practical planning of designing and marketing the product to make it commercially viable.

Innovation involves the stages of brainstorming of a creative idea, problem solving, processing or developing it to come up with something radical and different and then developing a business model to help meet market and user needs. Creativity as a thought process is the first step of innovation. Innovation usually involves a new idea, method or product and either the art, technology or business of introducing something new. When ideas are translated to innovation, value is created and this forms the potential for business. Innovation is creation of a product with inherent value and this is done by considering what product will be of value to the user or will be successful in the market. It could be argued that even creativity is responsible for creation of products with aesthetic value or artistic value. Well, that is true but the value created by innovation is probably more objective, because innovation creates economic, commercial and social value.

The psychological processes in innovation differ from creativity as the action-oriented nature of innovation will have to be directed towards fulfilling a user or market or product need. In creativity, the only goal seems to be the creation of the product, although creative products like books can also be market directed. Innovation is specifically focused on meeting user needs, it is action-oriented, so it is based on applications or practical purposes. Whereas creativity being thought-oriented, primarily fulfills the needs of the creative artist and is directed internally, innovation is about the world and fulfills the needs of the user and market and is thus directed externally. Creativity also does not involve a focus on commercialization whereas innovation is about developing the commercial value of a product.

Creativity is the basis of art, architecture, poetry and any artistic or scientific activity for the matter. Innovation is invention with added value, is based on action and is thus more practical in its applications and tangible in its usability. Creativity and creative products are more abstract and not too well defined or tangible as far as their applications are concerned. The only application of creativity seems to be aesthetic pleasure and creativity is the basis of the aesthetic value of any product, including an innovative product. It is when creativity helps make products that are significantly useful to the market that it evolves to an innovation. Thus creativity is the foundation of all innovation, however creativity is not based on innovation. Creativity is the first step towards innovation and innovation is focused on delivering exceptional product or service to the value chain. In innovation, value is added for both user and developer.

The different components of innovation are creativity, radical thinking, business model, user needs, market, design and practical applications. Any new product will have to be well planned in terms of design and application and the business model guides the innovation to market launch and profitability. Thus the ultimate goal of creativity is providing aesthetic pleasure to the users or perceivers and the ultimate goal of innovation is meeting user needs and deriving profitability through commercialization.

Innovation could be about a radically new product or an incremental improvement, so innovation is about improvement whereas creativity is focused on originality. However the most original products are also considered as the most innovative. For example Apple Inc.’s design of iPhones and iPads are among the most original and that is why the most innovative. Thus originality is a common factor in both creativity and innovation and it is the basis of self-expression in creativity and the basis of a business model in innovation.

Innovation is frequently about revolutionizing drastically what already exists. The most innovative products bring about a paradigm shift in technology, or other market and sometimes ‘create’ market needs, rather than simply follow or meet the needs. Apple successfully created market needs for new technology and new design by integrating user expectations. Thus innovation not only meets market needs but can create new market needs and change market dynamics. Innovation is a commercial and business process, whereas creativity is more of a personal process and creativity itself cannot change the market, whereas innovation can change market dynamics significantly and can in fact change the world. Innovation is about evolution and progress of an industry, whereas creativity is more of about the evolution and progress of a creator’s mind.

Innovation is necessary in technology and in every industry to keep the pace of progress in human civilization. Innovation is usually preceded by an invention, whereas creativity is preceded by incubation and organizing the thought processes. Innovation is capable of revolutionizing the market, any industry and set the direction for future technologies and products. Let’s talk about search engine technologies by Google. That’s an innovative technology which brought about considerable profits to Google and thus transformed from a mere technology invention to innovation. So success of an invention defines an innovation. Innovation is used not just in technology but in architecture, automobile industry, engineering, and in all other fields and the primary goal of innovation is progress and also profitability by meeting or creating market and user needs.

The most successful companies thrive on innovation and cannot survive in the market without innovation. Today’s market is an innovative market and the focus is on competition in innovation. Whether it’s Samsung and Apple competing for the most innovative product in the market or two lesser known advertising companies competing for the most innovative advertising campaigns, innovation is the pulse of modern businesses. Even in the 20th century, innovation was not so important and the focus of businesses was on growth, strategy and advertising with emphasis on quality of products.

Quality management is what drove the 20th century businesses. This has changed significantly as businesses have now realized that to reach to the top and to become a powerful force in the market, quality and strategy are not enough. The 21st century will truly be the century of innovation.

This is part of a psychology series archived by a University and copyrighted.

Copyright 2013 Saberi Roy. This is part of a psychology series published as a book in Reflections in Psychology – Part I & II – by Saberi Roy (2009/2012) and archived on the digital archives of University of Iowa.

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