News Flash: Innovation Is No Longer Just a Specialist’s Job. Now Here’s How to Involve Your Whole Workforce Instead

StrategyDriven Innovation ArticleThe classic method of segregating innovation to a single department, or to a process led by specialists, just isn’t fast enough any longer. What’s needed is a culture in which innovation is the mission of everyone, everywhere, every day. What’s not understood is how to do it.

Most innovation methods don’t actually result in innovative solutions. Research finds that just 5 to 15 percent of innovations are successful at large companies. Most business leaders would have greater odds of success if they went to a Las Vegas casino and gambled their innovation investment on one big bet. But companies pursuing innovation as their core business strategy realize 50 to 100 percent higher profit margins than those who pursue low cost, high quality and fast delivery strategies, or simply doing whatever the customer says.

Yet now, with Innovation Engineering – a data-driven, reliable system for creating fresh ideas and successfully turning them into reality – companies can transform innovation from a random act to a reliable science. Innovation Engineering is validated in real-world practice, and has been the launch pad for more than $16 billion in growth and system improvement projects.

Every existing innovation program preaches the importance of embracing a childlike, creative spirit. This works for the 15 percent of the work population who have a right brain creative thinking style. But it doesn’t work for the 85 percent with a logical left-brain thinking style. And without the 85 percent who are logical, there’s virtually no chance a meaningfully unique innovation will become reality. Left brainers are critical to accomplishing the engineering, finance, production and operational work that’s required to make meaningful change happen.

Innovation Engineering methods and tools are designed to engage both left and right brain thinkers. Projects are focused with clear, motivating strategic missions that speak to both project vision and boundaries. The result is an unleashing of a culture of “whole brain” thinking.

The following are some of the essential practices of Innovation Engineering:

1. Create systems that enable instead of control. The word “system,” especially in connection with innovation, creates a vision of being controlled, constrained and restricted. That’s not the purpose of Innovation Engineering. It’s a system designed to enable innovation by everyone. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a renowned systems specialist, observed: “Ninety-four percent of problems are caused by the system — 6 percent by the workers.” In fact, 99 percent of companies have no system for innovation. Often, leaders don’t believe the people in their organization can innovate, or they blame their people for a lack of innovation. In fact, the problem lies in their lack of an embedded innovation system. A new mindset is needed to embrace the discovery of ideas, methods and tools for working smarter.

2. Generate a multitude of ideas to end up a big idea. Invite teams of workers to free-associate around a problem or challenge. The more ideas you create, the more big ideas you end up with. For example, a business selling Christmas trees, who needed to find a profitable way to dispose of leftover trees, generated a multitude of ideas, such as pine needle tea and pine oil extract. The notion of creating great ideas by first creating lots of unrealistic ones is a viable approach to innovation.

3. Discover and develop “meaningfully unique” innovation. Innovation Engineering’s definition of innovation is precise: meaningful, in that it has an obvious value to the customer – that is, customers would willingly give up their existing behaviors for it; and unique, in that it’s genuinely original. Often it offers a quantifiable advantage that you can put a number on that shows how much better it is versus the existing alternative.

4. Analyze potential “death threats.” Key issues that could keep an idea from succeeding, in Innovation Engineering termed death threats, must be resolved through disciplined systems of discovery, instead of the old “declare and defend” approach. The term denotes the emotional intensity that matches a fear of unknowns inherent in innovation. It enables honest conversations about critical issues without igniting defensiveness. Instead of saying, “Your idea can’t work,” others are taught to say, “There could be a death threat with this idea.” Defining a challenge (such as a regulatory barrier) as a hypothetical concern moves it to the less confrontational third person. Death threats are examined by creating “What if?” hypotheses and experiments.

5. Add define and discover phases before the classic develop and deliver phases. To enable speed and success with innovation projects, include disciplined front-end phases to get clarity on the entire idea before entering the “develop” stage. Innovation Engineering designers have found that adding these phases increases development success by up to 250 percent. Two big decision points occur before develop and deliver where bulk of the investment (60% and 30%) is made. The define stage involves laying out the entire idea, as opposed to a sequential system of hand-offs from marking to R&D to production and sales. The discover stage involves problem-solving to reduce uncertainty and address the project’s death threats.

6. Know that patent owners reap the rewards. Patent filings in the U.S. have grown exponentially. While ideas alone aren’t patentable, the methods or the proofs of innovative ideas are. The importance of technology ownership is significant. The U.S. Patent Office found that, on average, wages are 42 percent higher for those employees who work in intellectual property intensive industries versus non-intellectual property intensive industries. Filing of provisional patents now take hours, not weeks, and doing so is a no-brainer.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert ContributorDoug Hall is an inventor, researcher, educator and craft whiskey maker. He is founder of the Eureka! Ranch, Innovation Engineering Institute and Brain Brew Custom Whisk(e)y. He’s been named one of America’s top innovation experts by Inc. magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Dateline NBC, CNBC, CIO Magazine and the CBC. His new book, Driving Eureka! Problem Solving with Data Driven Methods & the Innovation Engineering System (Clerisy Press,Oct. 16, 2018) describes how to transform innovation from random acts to a reliable science. Learn more at doughall.com.

StrategyDriven Enterprises, LLC

StrategyDriven Enterprises, LLC

StrategyDriven is dedicated to providing executives and managers with the planning and execution advice, tools, and practices needed to create greater organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results.

We help our clients create and execute a clear, forward-looking strategy – translatable to the day-to-day activities of all organization members – that’s critical to their realizing success in today’s fast paced market environment. Not only does a compelling, well executed strategy align individuals to a common purpose, it ensures that purpose best serves the company’s mission.

The StrategyDriven website provides access to a wide array of best practice business planning and execution tools, streamlined process flows, how-to articles, example-rich podcasts, and customizable ready-to-use program management templates. Premium Members receive access to over 200 members-only articles, whitepapers, models, and tools and templates; providing an in-depth look into critical business performance areas; placing specific focus on the alignment of organizational standards, programs, and behaviors to the optimal achievement of mission goals. Sevian Business Program purchasers receive fully implementable business performance improvement processes out-of-the-box, enabling the acceleration of business growth and heightening of operational efficiency needed to significantly improve bottom line results.

Collectively, our products offer business leaders the opportunity to access the knowledge of a highly educated and experienced staff without the associated overhead expense.

At StrategyDriven, our seasoned business leaders deliver real-world strategic business planning and tactical execution best practice advice – a blending of workplace experience with sound research and academic principles – to business leaders who may not otherwise have access to these resources.

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Important Lessons You Can Learn from Past Successful Products

In business, success is never a one-time achievement. You want to reach the level of success you aim for and then stay at that level – if not advance further – to remain successful. It is not uncommon for businesses to revise their objectives every few years; some even do it every year.

Maintaining success is often more difficult than becoming successful in the first place. You now have something to lose as the leader of the market. In this article, we are going to look at the important lessons about maintaining success from products that were successful on the market.

Always Listen to the Customers

The moment you stop listening to the customers is the moment you will start failing on the market. Just because you have a successful product, doesn’t mean you can keep customers happy without doing anything. This is a trap that may businesses have fallen for in the past, and one that you should never fall victim to today.

You only need to look at the iPod 6th-Generation review on ArgyllFreePress.com to know what I’m talking about. The iPod was one of the most successful lines of products on the market. The iPod 6 is at the top of that long history, offering incredible performance to people who didn’t need an iPhone.

Unfortunately, there were some important market demands that the iPod didn’t meet. The lack of better DAC and the fact that some apps will not even work on the iPod disappointed some avid fans of the product. Apple failed to listen to its customer base, turning the iPod 6 into a mixed bag of success and failure on the market.

Learn and Innovate

Success is often considered the most dangerous comfort zone of them all. Once you are successful – or see yourself as being successful – you start feeling more and more comfortable about the position. It doesn’t take long before the lure of being in a comfort zone gets to you.

We’ve had so many cases of market giants being defeated because of this issue. Toyota took over the American market from GM. Samsung started winning in Asian markets with new and innovative products. The same occurrences can even be seen in competitions between small businesses and startups.

Be Flexible

There is no sure-fire way to maintain success. You can’t have a strategy and expect it to remain effective on the face of market changes. You can’t be stubborn and stick to the old ways when there is a certain need for change.

Be flexible. Being flexible is one of the most important keys to maintaining success. It goes hand in hand with the need to learn and innovate; the business has to remain agile and you as the entrepreneur need to promote that agility.

The only thing that must never change is the “why”; the main reason why you entered the market in the first place. It is the heart of the business. Stick to your principles, use the tips we covered in this article, and stay successful for longer, even in today’s volatile market.

How Digital Process Innovation Can Influence Organisational Change In The Finance Sector

The finance sector as we know it is being transformed by new technology. Digital innovation is everywhere, from Big Data to risk management software, and it’s all coming to change in the way that the sector is organised and run. NEX Optimisation are undergoing an ambitious project to use distributed ledger technology to provide a single source of truth regarding financial transactions. Their services (as well as selected third parties) can then be applied within this environment. This is just one example of how digital processes can be used to streamline regulatory and financial resources, and so we’ve taken a closer look at the impact digital process innovation is having on financial organisations around the world.

Integration

As globalisation continues at a rapid rate, the financial sector is under pressure to keep up with demand. Finance leaders are expected to orchestrate change by closely controlling how their finance systems work alongside other parts of the business. The concept is simple – the finance sector needs to be able to deliver insight and risk analysis around the world, which could see them becoming integrators of information in as little as three years. The strategy, budget, forecast, workforce management plan and capital expenditure plan all need to become more integrated in order for financial organisations to be global business services offering end-to-end solutions.

Demanding More From CFOs

As digital processes innovate and change the way that the finance industry operates, CFOs will be under more pressure to perform. Technology has already made it possible for real-time, event-driven updates to be delivered which is giving CFOs new opportunities. Among these opportunities is the chance for better understanding of the processes and wider finance systems that are currently in place. They will be able to quickly identify areas where there is room for improvement or new ways of working, including making processes more efficient or even outsourcing work where possible.

This increased understanding could see a demand for a new type of finance team emerging. According to industry experts, a broader range of skills is going to be required from finance teams in the near future. Finance employees will need to be able to analyse effectively and communicate their findings with the rest of the business, instead of simply relying on their accounting skills and qualifications. They’ll need to be able to spot reoccurring patterns and problems, as well as coming up with solutions to the problems that arise in this new digital age.

CFOs Must Continue To Innovate

At the moment, innovation within the financial sector is only just beginning. Already it’s shaking the industry and prompting finance leaders to question the structure of their organisations, as well as how to achieve their targets. It’s clear that, within the finance sector, technology is becoming a force for making processes more effective and efficient. CFOs will need to continue to innovate their processes in order to stay ahead of disruption and keep up with the latest technologies, otherwise they risk being left behind. As soon as 2020, innovation could be measured, just like other essential elements of the industry such as marketing and IT. This just goes to show how valuable digital process innovation is considered to be within the financial sector.

Staying Ahead Of The Game In Your Business

StrategyDriven Innovation Article
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Business can be a very fraught environment. There’s a lot of stress and pressure, which makes it hard for people to consider certain parts of their operation. Over time, this can have a serious impact on your business. So, it isn’t worth letting things go. It’s important to make sure that you remember to keep your business on the rise when it comes to the technology and tools that you use. Getting left behind in this area could also see you left behind when it comes to business. To help you out, this post will be going through some of the best ways to make sure that you’re staying ahead of the game.

If you want to stay of ahead of the game when it comes to business; you have to stay ahead of technology. Of course, not a lot of people find this field to be that interesting. But, knowing what’s going on gives you some major resources. For one, it will mean that you know exactly what you need to be buying to get the best deals. It will give you insider knowledge of an industry that your business will almost certainly rely on. And, it can help you to make sure that you always know what’s around the corner. There are loads of resources to help you with something like this. One of the best ways to stay ahead is through a forum, like the LinusTechTips forum. Loads of YouTube channels have their own sites like this, and they can be very helpful.

Next, once you know what you need to buy; you need to know exactly how to use it. Now, depending on your industry, you’ll be getting different types of tech. So, learning how to use it could take some time. This is especially true for anything involved in manufacturing. Whether you work with plastics and use scientific injection molding, or you work with metal and use CNC lathes; a course will be the best option. This will give you the wealth of knowledge that you will need to not only do your job but be confident to fix problems as they come up. You can do the same when it comes to computers, too. You just have to make sure that your training is kept up-to-date to make sure that you’re not missing any new trends.

One of the hardest parts of this process for a business is updating and upgrading the equipment that they use. Thankfully, when it comes to manufacturing; most machines will be able to be used for years. But, computers are a different story. Computers don’t age well at all. So, it’s hard to make sure that you keep them in the best possible working order. One of the best ways to solve this problem is by not buying your computers at all. Instead, you can borrow them from another company. That way, when updates come out; you’ll be able to get your hands on the latest tech, without the expense.

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of what needs to be done if you want to stay ahead in the world of business and technology. All modern business relies on technology. And, without it; most businesses can’t run. So, it’s important to consider keeping your computers as up-to-date as you possible can.