Innovation

The brilliant innovation list

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As anticipated in my article last week, following long and bruising arguments, Megan and Potter came back with their own list of requirements for brilliant innovations, after deciding they could improve on a similar list offered elsewhere.

Megan, in her best political-speak, described their “robust debate” over the original list*.

So here is our new list: 10 principles and four blinding flashes of the obvious. It’s a platform for disciplined strategic innovation that works, shines, rewards and sustains leading companies.

Every organisation finds its own distinct innovation focus. There is no unique recipe.

Treading the paths of quality, one can follow known best practices. The innovation paths require more home-grown imagination, ingenuity and originality.  

Innovation can be incremental (small) through to radical/breakthrough (large) and large is usually followed by a series of smalls.

The wide open spaces of innovation offer many paths with both short- and long-term rewards.

Innovation can involve anything a business does; the most common types are product, process, organisational and technological.

See previous tip.

Capable leaders must show the way.

Start by securing board level and leadership team buy-in. Read Lao Tzu, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Leaders, (or another good model) and contemplate personal innovations.

Innovation requires deep understanding of customers, markets and the strategic context.

This is the relatively easy part. The tools, techniques and data are available.

A culture and system of innovation can become fully embedded in a firm’s DNA.

Beware the “innovation and creativity is all you need” gurus; cultural change takes about three years to achieve and seven to embed.

Innovation requires organisational agility and calculated risk-taking.

This comes with a planned mix of cultural and structural change.

Innovation often requires collaborations with supply chain and other external parties.

Keep a confidentiality agreement with sharp teeth in your back pocket, sip coffee with lots of frogs, and when you start kissing beware of backsliding princes and princesses.

Innovative firms tend to attract the best people, including creatives and entrepreneurs who enhance your innovation capability.

A lot of upside here! True creatives require special management; people with entrepreneurial talent are among your best commercialisation assets.

Good governance with a sustainability focus goes hand in hand with innovation.

Accountability and integrity matter.

Effective management of quality underpins systematic innovation capability.

The easiest solutions to the tensions between the mindsets and practices of quality and innovation are structural, especially when a culture of innovation is not yet in place.

Innovation is not free. It requires investment in capability building.

True, but you will be amazed by the contribution and creativity of your people once you start.

Successful innovation delivers significant benefits.

The benefits can involve productivity, competitiveness and are always reflected in superior financials. The best research, piled ever higher and deeper, proves it over and over again. (Megan likes the hidden pun)

Innovation delivers more benefits when shaped by an innovation strategy

After the thinking, analysis and open debate; a compelling two-page strategy /policy statement should do.

(Megan and Potter, who were looking a little ragged, were rewarded with time off for their after-hours efforts.)

*The lists that started the Megan-Potter debate are in a leaflet It’s all about innovation brochure [PDF 664KB] published by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. They are based on a 2010 study, Innovation for business success: Achieving a systematic innovation capability [PDF 623 KB] by Melbourne University professor Danny Samson.

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