helping you innovate 2/2

In our first blog post we discussed the importance of a customised approach to innovation – one size does not fit all. But how do you identify what matters most for your business?

To determine what your approach to innovation might be it is essential to first explore several critical dimensions in your organisation. 

The most successful innovators have done just this. 

For example, at the highest level, a simple expansion of innovation is to divide it into two parts:

  1. Opportunity identification (Ideation)
  2. Execution (Commercialisation)

Most companies are inherently stronger at one or the other, but neither the dough nor the oven make a cake.

Countless innovation programs stall at the ideation phase because ideas are not prolific, strategic or strong enough to win executive support.

Or, even if strong opportunities are identified, the far more important success factor is the ability of the people who will execute and the numerous ways that they need to be supported.

Good people working on good ideas still often get swept up by the ‘whirlwind of the everyday’ with projects eventually cancelled due to lack of progress. 

The nature of a company’s underlying industry is also often neglected when designing for innovation. 

For example, a healthcare company probably faces vastly different consequences for missteps than, say, an online retailer. How well is the innovation aspiration ‘calibrated’ against the ‘reality bites’ risks and limitations the company faces?

Other important factors are asset intensity, competitive position, funding options, and the related and very important, board and executive appetite for change. Meaningful change requires meaningful support.

When such factors are carefully mapped out, designing for successful innovation is far more akin to creating a strategy for the organisation rather than the ‘ideas competition’ many have a tendency to equate with an innovation program. 

It is the confluence of such considerations together with clear ambition, supported by the identification of emerging themes of change and opportunity, that form the basis for how to proceed. 

Whilst not immutable, this approach is essential to setting up the necessary governance to stay on course – ensuring that the right sorts of opportunities are pursued – those that have the potential to deliver at the necessary scale on the themes identified. This forms the basis for disqualifying the vast majority of ideas – an essential part of staying out of the innovation weeds. 

Even with this structured approach, innovation is a journey which is constantly evolving and takes time to deliver value. 

That said, you might be surprised at how fast you can progress.

The important part is to understand your ‘what’s going on here?’ and then create the right structure and process upfront. This can be done quite quickly based on a lean, 80:20 innovation methodology we call the Minimum Viable Innovation Programme (‘MVIP’). 

Carbon8 Consulting has practical experience in helping clients create value through innovation.  Whether it be as your innovation ‘sounding board’, conducting a collaborative ‘diagnostic’ of what your unique requirements are, or a full-scale innovation implementation. We would love to help you explore and understand what solutions may fit your specific circumstances.

Gregg Lister -Associate Partner

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