A methodology expert will help you implement the right strategy for innovation.
The phrase, “Companies don’t innovate, people do,” holds true today as it always has. But how do we get our people to innovate more effectively and efficiently? Is it through systematic pursuit of opportunities or flash of genius? Flash of genius can happen, but this is mostly considered optimistic bias. We need a reliable system that builds mind blowing concepts on consistent basis and not leave it to chance.
The esteemed Professor Peter Drucker once said, “Innovation occurs in business through systematic pursuit of opportunities.” Systematic would refer to some form of system or methodology where opportunities are identified, prioritised and tested. So what would be the advantage of structured innovation process?
The famous saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it,” comes to mind. Aggregation is one form of measure. We aggregate all our lives, when we reflect, when we manage our businesses and when we measure our lives. We have a finite mind and without aggregation of our invoices in business, our data in life, we will battle to measure success. This is the reason why the law of the conservation of modularity exists, according to Christiansen¹. Every system requires some modularity or structure to function effectively. Innovation is no different.
The other reason we need to aggregate is due to the level of complexity and overcoming psychological inertia. Psychological inertia implies an indisposition to change – certain “stuckness” due to human programming. It represents the inevitability of behaving in a certain way – the way that has been indelibly inscribed somewhere in the brain². This human programming affects the solution space and our ability to explore new solution spaces and come up with radically different solutions. Figure 1 (below) demonstrates the solution space (orange box) created by our knowledge, our assumptions of what we believe how the world works, and the real boundary solutions. Psychological inertia prevents us from exploring solutions “outside the box” in new solution spaces resulting in always coming up with similar solutions to a problem.
Overcoming psychological inertia is a key battle in innovation and affects time to market. A structured method will go a long way to overcome psychological inertia. But besides overcoming psychological inertia, a structured method is repeatable and reproducible and hence allows certain steps to be repeated and iterated thereby strengthening the ideas and concepts generated. Most importantly, a structured method allows for a common language in your team which is critical in fostering innovation in a corporate setting.
So if your company is battling with stale ideas, week concepts and a poor team synergy, a structured methodology is exactly what you need to be released from these shackles of innovation mediocrity. To be successful, you need to “walk the path that many are not prepared to take”. This may involve working with an innovation coach which will enable you to cement a methodology that works for your company. If you don’t have the skills, seek the best methodology expert to take your company to the next level. Look for a methodology expert who has invested many years of research in testing and proving tools and methods for building the innovation capability of an organisation. If there is something sports stars have taught us it is to always seek the best mentor one can find. Tiger Woods and Roger Federer are top of their class in their respective sports, yet they each make use of a coach to learn the finer points and get the right balance. They each use a mentor strategically to refine their approach and challenge their methods.
It is a huge task for any organisation to roll out innovation, build internal capability whilst still meets its operational targets. Select a methodology expert and make them a strategic partner in the roll out of structured innovation in your company. It will be the best move you can make in maximising your organisation’s innovative potential.
Dimitri Markoulides is the SCP and Innovation Practice Leader at BMGI, www.bmgi.co.za.
This article appeared in the November 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.