Innovation – Let´s turn it into a production process
How a disruptive and structured approach to innovation helps you to create business potentials repetitively and on a very high-quality level – instead of continuing creative experimental workshops.
Authors: Gilles Fiorio; Fred Keßler, M.BC.
Make yourself aware that innovation does neither build on genius nor luck even if you can find some of that in innovation history ! There is a “recipe” behind, a process that leads repetitively to great and measurable results. Understanding and applying the principles of such innovation production process is the number 1 key to business success, prevailing everything at any time. Still, your internal eco-systems need to be adjusted and primed in order to execute this mighty process end-to-end.
Innovation is one of the trendiest words today; it is perceived as the generic solution to all the illness of the economy! Its field of application is clearly falsely defined: it is almost systematically associated with “Digitalization” or it is reduced to some tools like brainstorming, Design Thinking or Hackathon. But: Innovation can only release its creative power by integrating the perspective of the customer, especially the value generated for him, while the latter is often not enough considered.
The misunderstanding: approaching innovation with the objective to create something completely new is not leading to success. Innovation is always and 100% a recombination of existing inventions with which it is too often confused: Apple did not invent the MP3 music player or the smartphone, but it combined these inventions with a design, a concept and an eco-system that led to success! With a simple “Cross Industry Innovation” approach, the world insurance market leader Norwich Union was the first to start with the “Pay as you go” formula from the telco industry. A well-executed process could ensure a valuable output from this recombination!
Moreover, while innovation can be found and applied in every area of the business at any time, it is wrongly perceived as a digital, even as a disruptive imperative and almost everybody tortures their brains how something could be digitalized. Digitalization will certainly ease the operation of well-defined processes and it will probably be a part of the final solution. Nonetheless, trying to start with digitalization, you run the high risk of disillusion and failure! The primary focus needs to be put on the logical sequence of activities necessary to ensure the result!
The literature constitutes that there is demand for new management priorities, management responsibilities, management models, core processes, roles and resources in the business world to enable innovation. Namely, there are a couple of major roadblocks to innovation, each one strong enough to prevent it from being successful.
- Leadership – The decision to take responsibility for something and make people more successful – is rare.
- Culture – A climate that embraces diversity and inclusion – is hard to set.
- Objectives – A purpose, something bigger than only short-term goals is often faded
- Strategies – Defined ways to achieve the greater purpose – are sometimes weak.
- Processes – Defined sequences of activities, in a timed logical order to achieve the desired results – are most of the time not appropriate.
- Structures – Hierarchy, the way companies are organized these days – are preventing every good process design and workflow from the start.
Time to change the approach dramatically!
Business Process Management (BPM) has innovated to the most popular academic process – The Nobel Price Process – by making it visible, repeatable, measurable, controllable.
If you want to conduct true innovation, you really need to understand it. An explanation, based on the definition, should help to get started.
- belongs to social sciences (in business / business administration)
- generates economic (measurable) value
- renews objects such as business models, service bundles, products or processes
- needs a proper framing and focus that can be observed (e. g. a customer)
- triggers Change / Transformation that needs to be handled properly
- covers with a process Creation, Introduction, Application and Institutionalization
- is a process with multiple phases (subprocesses) inside and outside companies
- is to solve problems / unleashing potentials with a value proposition
- covers the conceptualization of a value proposition of a solution
- covers the operationalization of a value proposition towards a solution
- covers the marketing and sales of a value proposition of the solution
Organizing these 11 elements in a reasonable order helps to identify the process and its boundaries.
The left boundary of the Innovation Process is the search field (what should be renewed) and the right boundary is the successfully anchored application at the customer inside or outside the company that generates economic measurable value.
It is simply helpful to know the end-result of the process and the point from where it starts. Business Process Professionals are used to design processes coming from the desired end. But before we move to any design phase, let us continue to fill the gaps with what we already have.
Innovation covers the Creation, Introduction, Application and Institutionalization of the new object by solving problems / unleashing potentials with a value proposition and a solution.
Therefore, we can identify four more subprocesses of innovation in-between the boundaries
So far, we did nothing but understanding the main intermediate results of innovation. By looking at the innovation process end-to-end, you may already see where you are and where innovation fails almost everywhere.
Also, we are now ready to conclude that:
“Innovation is judged ex-post and not ex-ante. Only if a renewal was found, created, sold, adopted and if it was successfully providing business value, it was innovative.” Fred Keßler, M.BC.
Steve Jobs is quoted with “Innovation is an idea that performs”.
At Synchrotech, we went further organizing the process and we came out with the subprocesses and finally with the necessary activities of the innovation process.
It was so much amazing and rewarding to put the pieces together and see what happened. Essentially, we did it this way.
- We took responsibility to make ourselves and our customers more successful (Leadership)
- We decided to innovate the innovation process, so we focussed on the search field “new process”.
- We created a value proposition by putting something together that would help ourselves internally and our customers to innovate whatever necessary in order to increase competitiveness.
- We introduced the value proposition internally, inviting people to contribute, and moved on with a team who applied for it.
- We ran our solution and monitored the results
- We optimized everything until we were sure that the process delivers what we expect
- We anchored the process in the culture because we were successful with it.
Now we are operating the process and we are controlling it to get back to “innovate” as soon as we either see the chance of winning more or the risk of losing momentum.
Moreover, we bring this workflow to our customers to help them leveraging their success. You are invited to get in touch and get deeper insights from us.
The 6th Industrial Revolution is Rising – From Consumption to Contribution!
Completely different from the last five times that have started with a new toolset, this time it is triggered by a common, rapidly spreading mindset, also named swarm intelligence and responsibility.
Expressing physically and verbally what everybody knew already – the climate is changing – Greta Thunberg put a spark to high-energetic emotional fuel, even mobilizing the (so far regarded as unpolitical) young generations. Within only weeks the whole European political landscape experiences earthquakes and black holes underneath their feet. The European elections were disastrous for the former parties of people. Kerosene blasting industry giants like Airbus are rapidly announcing to develop green airplanes and to become carbon dioxide-neutral within only a decade.
A new industrial revolution is on the rise and we all have the opportunity to contribute this time with responsibility, while former revolutions were mainly driven by profit and growth. This wave will spark a need for major innovations as many areas will have to reinvent themselves, offering new products, new services or even new business models. So, it’s more than ever necessary to industrialize innovation. You’ve just learned that it is from now on possible and that you can master the Innovation Process.
Doing so, you could perpetually assess your business and your organization, you would detect the areas for improvement. When really driving your Business Performance, all your cycles would start with innovation (renewal). Then you would run (operate) what you have created, and you would observe (control) the outcome, which would lead you to the next cycle of innovation.
What may sound as an oversimplification at first sight, turns out quickly to be the true execution of agility and performance tuning in reality!
Synchrotech, as an agile organization with “Drink your own Champagne” attitude, we have adopted this new IOC-Cycle and we testify, it works.
As a summary of our first 3 articles, the commonly agreed ideas about the execution (PDCA-Cycle) are at best incomplete and at worst truly dangerous for an organisation’s survival these days. It is inevitable to redefine and prime the business operating model to move from a PDCA- to an IOC-Cycle for being able to seize opportunities coherent with the strategy. Thanks to this implemented true innovation workflow this is ensuring ongoing coordination with other parts / processes of the company.
We at Synchrotech desire to nurture every true leader´s striving for excellence. We are convinced that critical reflections combined with aggregation of knowledge and adaption of methodological approaches are much better foundations for strategy development and execution than pure “go with the flow” mentality.
In 2019 we are delivering a series of articles and events on current CXO-topics, all designed to create an innovation hub with and for our customers, partners and employees, where we are building processes, bridging the gap between business and IT.
We cordially invite everybody to comment and discuss with us and/or meet us, as already frequently occurring.