Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends


Dear readers and friends of our blog,

Recent
conversations with CEOs and managing partners of innovation consulting
specialist firms inspired me to write a piece on trends in the
innovation consulting services market. This report is nearly done and
will be published in a couple of weeks.

You have the chance to
receive a free copy of this 10-pager before its official publication.
What do you have to do? Simply share your view on trends in innovation
with us. My colleague Chris Andrews and I will then select the best
three responses from all your comments. The timeline? This challenge
will end on Monday 21 September, 2009 at noon EST.

As a starter, let me give you a sneak preview on two of the key trends that I am outlining in my report:

  • Most innovation programs focus idea generation, not development. The recession has revealed that at many companies
    there is not really a dedicated innovation process and framework in place. Many
    new innovation programs are primarily focused only around the generation of new
    ideas and on how to constantly grow the pool of ideas. The causal link between
    large numbers of ideas and greater innovativeness is still the most common form
    of thinking -- but it is frequently misguided. Companies frequently lack an
    end-to-end approach to innovation, which is a clear requirement for innovation
    program success.
  • Innovation management solutions do not help
    if the underlying process is broken.
    Over the past few years software
    vendors have emerged which offer dedicated tools for managing
    and facilitating innovation efforts at companies. However, these solutions primarily focus on the idea
    and knowledge generation around innovation rather than the management of
    innovation processes. While only 13% of strategy professionals stated in
    a recent Forrester survey that they are using a dedicated innovation management
    tool, such technology tools in themselves are not a
    solution. Organizations must first establish their own innovation
    “infrastructure” -- including a business purpose, clearly established innovation
    leaders, and support from stakeholders. Once companies have institutionalized innovation,
    executives should select the appropriate technologies that help to govern and support
    its innovation program.

With this, the blog challenge is now open.

Leave an insightful comment and get the chance to win!

Regards,
Daniel

Comments

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

Daniel, a great idea and a great start for us. I look forward to the full report. In terms of trends, I would offer the following:1) Innovation for AllInnovation is no longer a capability reserved for the black turtleneck crowd in Silicon Valley. Wall Street has finally realized, after decades of value-destroying M&A efforts, that only the innovators survive and thrive. The pressure is now on for ALL companies to identify new sources of organic growth. Unfortunately, most find their innovation muscles have atrophied after years of inward-focused cost-optimization efforts. Given their need for sustainable performance, innovation service providers cannot simply operate as an outsourced solution but must seek to embed themselves with client teams and help to improve capabilities (and cultures) from within.2) Business Model vs. Product InnovationMost "big" innovation successes (and all disruptive ones) were not simply due to a product advance but to the business model that was created to enable its competitive entry and eventual dominance of a market. As Mark Johnson and Clayton Christensen highlighted in their December HBR article: Fully 11 of the 27 companies born in the last quarter century that grew their way into the Fortune 500 in the past 10 years did so through business model innovation. Understanding and capitalizing on the dynamics of business model innovation will emerge as a crucial component to any corporate growth strategy.3) Acknowledgment of Innovation as a Team EffortInnovation will move beyond internal R&D organizations and broadly engage consumers/customers, employees and even competitors in a new, collaborative interpretation of "continuous improvement" where insights are captured and shared, raw ideas are generated and refined, and business models are optimized for the mutual benefit of the consumers and the company. Team-led execution and impact will trump an individual's best ideas no matter how comfy their bean bag chair may be.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

Great post. I agree with Kevin's comments as well.I'm hoping to see a few things with innovation and innovation management in the future:1. Evolution beyond the easy ‘quick fix’ –What does this mean? Organizations get beyond their focus on IDEAS and fully embrace that innovation is about more than a brainstorm, an idea contest or a piece of software as a magic elixir. They begin to embrace innovative behavior and culture-building as a ‘must-have’ for success, rather than simply embracing a software solution and hope that the technology alone will make innovation a reality.2. More Internal Training and Tools for Innovation –Leadership in organizations has begun to see that they need to internalize innovative practices and behaviours in order to truly succeed with their innovation efforts. This means stopping just TELLING people to ‘be innovative’ and instead GIVING them the training and tools to enable them to better do it over and over again on their own. I believe that everyone is innovative in their own way, and they need to be given the training, tools and permission (!) to unleash this to benefit the organization. Many innovation efforts would benefit from stronger innovation training and tool sets vs. more money spent on one-off idea contests.3. Better Portfolio BalancingIt’s easy to be an innovator in good times, right? Well, bad times teach us that we need to better manage risk, which means better balancing the quick wins and breakthrough bets in our portfolio. I think an investment in portfolio software is a good bet for innovators going forward, and I hope that organizations will conduct more diverse idea generation sessions in the future to better diversify their innovation bets.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

Daniel,Great topic(s)!....You are right in the assumption that innovation programmes/platforms focus on idea generation - or ideation. Two essential reasons for that is that companies in general doesnt have a structured proces for ideation , thus having structure for developing via R&D´s..!...so the gap is, and has been, to be able to put volume in the ideation processes. When doing so, another challenge occurs; If you are successful in spurring and cultivating volume in ideation, ideas will pile up rapidly and you will find your self in a bottleneck situation, not having the time/tools to evaluate/validate incoming ideas/suggestions....So what to do ?..Let the idea makers collaborate in the ideation AND the pre validation/evaluation of the ideas/suggestions created amongst your employees, partners, suppliers and even customers. Mix crowdsourcing, prediction markets and incentives to achieve this scenario!...We have done this at Nosco with our innovation platform; Idea Exchange. The way we have done thios is to adopt the mechanisms of the stock market (Idea Market)....so when adding an idea in Idea Exchange it is instantly turned into a "share"..All participants have fictioous money (monopoly money) with which they invest in the "shares"..Further, you can comment on others ideas/suggestions, and via sharing your knowledge you can skyrocket an idea - or put it into a free fall;-).You run your ideation in campaigns . each having a specific subject for which you want/need ideas..Let people add ideas, trade in ideas, comment on ideas - and after a period you "shut down" the "market" - and the shares with the highest price will stand out in the overall ranking. This way you can effectively capitalize on the "collective intelligence" of your employees, partners, customers ect., in identifiying and validating ideas for new products, cost reductions, process changes, CSR/Sustainability ect. And the vital part; You close the gap between your ideation and R&D, via the "idea market" validation method.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

I can see another problem.May so-called innovations are not really innovations in the eyes of the consumer. Marketers become obsessed with innovations for their own sake; consumer needs and opinions are often disregarded!In Poland, we had a campaign launched by a No. 1 juice manufacturer where the slogan communicated "a new, better red cap". I'm sorry, as a consumer I don't care. A new, better red cap is not a reason to buy, is it?In our research, we often hear consumers complaining "I used to buy xxx... I can't find it anymore".Maybe an innovation could be to leave things as they are? Find your core product and simply keep doing the good work? In Europe, Nivea seems to know how to make their flagship product - the basic Nivea cream - an indispensable item in every bathroom, and so over generations. We have a couple of local cosmetic brands that seem to have understood this as well.I do agree that the market needs innovations, especially in the technology-related sectors.However, as usual, you have to answer one crucial question: What customer need am I going to satisfy?For marketers to remember: launching new products is YOUR need. For consumers, the world is usually just as fine with and without your new product. With a few remarkable exceptions, of course.Just add a pinch of humility to your innovation recipes.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

Daniel, I agree that innovation generally applied as a capability is not too beneficial for creating business value. In addition to your two points, here are two other thoughts to consider around focusing innovation on creating business value.1) Innovation should be customer focused, meaning that the the end outcome should be something that customers need, value and can't accomplish with current technologies, products or approaches to business. One of the oldest conventional wisdoms you hear shared from great entrepreneurs is, "I saw a need and figured out how to fill it." The Wii was a great collection of innovations all centered on creating a video game platform that mom's would love to have in the home for their kids.2) Innovation doesn't have to be about bigger, faster and more feature rich. Many companies have thought about innovation as a way to extend their products or services into "next generation" versions that cost more and have more, new capabilities to justify the higher price and margins. This can lead to over-engineered, over-built and costly solutions for customers. An alternative some market leaders are following today is to focus innovation on how to simplify things, make them less expensive, easier to use, but often with better profit margins. You can see this happening in healthcare with Kaiser's health clinic model, the Flip video camera vs. camcorders, and the popularity of netbooks.Innovation focused on solving customer needs and done in the name of simplicity are two trends that are worth considering as companies develop their 2010 and beyond strategies this year.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

I'm not sure if this will show up as one of the innovation trends - but it is something that I feel is very important for companies to focus on.This is how companies manage innovation ideas that fail. Very few companies do a good job of understanding and dissecting the ideas that fail and learning from it. The focus in most companies seem to be on finding that one great idea that works and the feedback mechanism on the ones that don't seems to be non-existent.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

Many companies have been dabbling in innovation for years, but the pressures of the past year of financial uncertainty seem to have been a useful catalyst. I am seeing an emerging global trend of innovation rebirth in companies. What makes this trend interesting is that rather than another cycle of mere innovation chest beating, companies are coming to a realization that they must make innovation a value driving core competency in the enterprise. They are also open to leveraging innovation software to make innovation a sustainable and repeatable process.Many innovation initiatives of recent years have been focused on idea collection and management. But these initiatives have been built on a shaky foundation—continuing to prop up the antiquated idea first model of innovation. Now however, many companies have come to understand that accepting the old 3000 to 1 ratio of ideas to successful ideas is a sucker’s game. There is a better way, and these statistics are not indicative of the results when innovation best practices are established.More than ever, companies are moving to the adoption of the needs first innovation paradigm. These companies are finding that putting customer needs first and foremost in the innovation equation helps dramatically improve the effectiveness of innovation programs. In order to achieve these benefits, organizations are rethinking their innovation processes and infrastructure.Many organizations are finding that managing tons of idea is not the most effective path to driving innovation if those ideas are shallow and immature. This has caused a movement of focus to generating fewer, high quality ideas and then quickly vetting those ideas to define a set of viable concepts that may be further refined and qualified.The innovation best practices employed help companies lower the cost of fast failure and cull out weak concepts early, and thus focus their resources on the concepts that have strong potential for success. The infrastructure these companies adopt is one that fits the needs of the different innovation constituencies in the enterprise, supports the specific roles these workers play in the process, and enables their success by connecting them to the critical knowledge sources they need from both inside and outside the enterprise.In the end, this trend in corporate innovation program direction will prove to be very significant. The companies going through this shift today are redefining what it means for a company to be a best in class innovation leader.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

In the last 10 years there has been a clear trend towards building a breakthrough innovation capability. This capability take years to build and 10 years ago there were at most one or two firms that had developed it. In recent years we have seen Intel, Bose, HP, IBM, Corning and many others build this capability into a core competency that gives them a competitive advantage. These firms recognize that during tough economic times, your capacity to innovate is constrained by external forces, and they adjust their businesses accordingly.Unfortunately one trend that will not go away is paying lip service to innovation. No matter how much CEO's talk about innovation, most of them are unwilling to spend the time and money to establish the processes and infrastructure needed for innovation to thrive.

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

Wow, I am impressed.Thank you all for your excellent comments. In my next post I'll provide our readers with the key takeaways of this blog challenge. So look forward to it!Because of your strong engagement and the fact that this was the very first blog challenge I decided that you ALL will receive a free copy.Thanks again and I look forward starting the next blog challenge.Hope to see you then again.Daniel

re: Introducing the blog challenge on innovation trends

Daniel,Sorry for missing the deadline. I completely agree with the two trends and perspectives you outlined and also see some other important and related trends such as:1) Increased corporate demand for Innovation Metrics2) Innovation integration with broader corporate performance management/dashboards3) Increased need to classify and categorize innovation ideas and have tailored implementation processes and management for execution of different types of innovation4) New organizational roles and responsibilities and configurations being tried to manage and capitalize on the new tools and processes of open innovation.5) Increased recognition that the people and skill sets required to drive and manage innovation projects and programs may be different from existing internal staff and resources.6) New efforts to involve and engage customers, partners, external resources, and employees in co-creation of innovation beyond the idea stages.Thanks for the invitation to contribute to the discussion. I look forward to staying in touch.Jennifer