The Heart of Innovation
Thirteen Leadership Tips to Manage Apparent Paradoxes
At the heart of innovation lie forces that simultaneously oppose and complement one another. Like yin and yang, each has its benefits and drawbacks. Together they create value. The innovative leader must recognize and reconcile these forces.
In contemporary organizations four paradoxes come to mind.
First, top-down and bottom-up approaches to engaging people in innovation. Second, the roles of individuals and teams.
Third, the importance of continuity and change.
Fourth, how imagination and reason both drive innovation.
Here are some tips on how to leaders can manage these paradoxes.
Tips to engage people top-down and bottom-up :
Tip #1: Design your innovation strategy formally.
Let your leadership team define your innovation roadmap, the type and pace of innovation, the specific targets, projects, resources and systems to achieve them and the people accountable for their delivery.
Strategic thinking in business has been through stages which emphasize different things. Early debates championed growth in new territories (taking the same products from local to national to global) or new market segments, or expanding the product range in existing markets. Later on, increasing value through vertical integration or diversification into new businesses became hot topics.
In the 1980s Michael Porter identified three generic strategies: cost leadership (value through low cost), differentiation (seeking uniqueness in some key aspects of the business) and focus (dominating a narrow niche market). Strong differentiation and low cost pursued together resembles the “Blue Ocean Strategy” proposed by Kim and Mauborgne twenty years after Porter.
In the 1990s Hammer and Champy championed business process re-engineering and there was a widespread proliferation of attempts to extract value from a new generation of information technology.
But what has really changed in strategic business thinking? And what hasn’t?
Health professionals are well aware of the value of collaboration. The surgery and the emergency room, the care of a single patient always call for different competencies working together in an organised way. Health professionals are also well aware of the value of a single expert - a specialist diagnostician, a skilled surgeon, a researcher inventing new treatments. In an organised health establishment people will at times complain of poor collaboration, at other times of too many people meddling in their work and causing delays. They will complain that they have no help when they need it and too much interference when they want to get on with their work. We will argue that from the perspective of innovation, they are usually always right.
The innovation game is not played on a level playing field. Start-ups - companies under 5 years old owned by one or a small number of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists - will innovate quite differently from established companies, which have a history of successful growth and a market share to defend. Recent start-ups that have grown up, such as Facebook, Google and Netflix are hybrid cases, still youthful and on the warpath for new products and markets, and also with huge existing businesses to consolidate. Here are some of the differences between newly beginning and existing companies.
# Different appetites for disruption
The start-up thrives on it. Challenging the status quo is its bread and butter.
Three tips on organizational change. The essence of timing, improvisation and exiting the realm of reason.
Leading innovation in organizations calls for changing strategies (objectives, business models), structures (processes, systems, hierarchies and ways of working) and cultures (behaviors, attitudes and organizational norms). Some attempts at deep transformational change succeed (IBM and Whirlpool are well documented) and many fail (Kodak and Borders books come to mind). The failures are often because of bad timing, skillsets that cannot cope with the unknown and an unreasonable imprisonment within the realm of reason. Here are three tips to overcome these challenges.
Technology is the know-how of making valuable things happen. Innovation is the way humans derive value from new technology. Some humans, acting alone or in packs, will accelerate the potential of new technology and others will hold back.
Why make creativity a top priority in the personal and professional skills you would want to develop? There are in fact plenty of good reasons arising from very sensible questions.
By Melissa Hekkers
The last time I spoke to Dimis Michaelides was almost three years ago. At the time, the multitalented business consultant was putting on a variety show entitled God, Sex, Revolution and You that attempted to blur the lines between social and sexual revolution through various artistic expressions.
Food for Thought is my new pop-up restaurant where people who can think (our innovation experts) serve their ideas to people who can’t (everyone else).
What kind of innovation?
Imagine a horizontal line which I shall call the innovation continuum.
On the far right side are the radical innovations which create entirely new businesses: the early search engines, tablets, smartphones, electronic books, social media …