Full Blown Innovation

 “All life is problem solving”

Karl Popper

 

The full blown innovation framework

Seven essentials for building a culture of innovation and exploration

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The ongoing viability of any organisation is dependent on its ability to continually innovate. The ones that get it right are rewarded, but most struggle to build the culture that can be relied on to yield a stream of successful innovations year-on-year.

Our research and over two decades of on-the ground experience has led us to conclude that the leaders who have the strongest innovation track record do not rely on innovation metamorphosing out of ad hoc and stand-alone efforts — each competing against one another across the business for time, money, attention, and accolades.

Rather, organisations with a strong culture of innovation successfully master seven essentials which together we call

Full Blown Innovation:

  1.  Balance the business

  2. Create shared understanding and ambition

  3. Reward curiosity

  4. Everyone participates

  5. Create capable and accountable innovation leaders

  6. Expansive Innovation

  7. Measure what matters.

 

Organisations that focus on these seven areas venture successfully on the journey towards creating a culture of innovation. We must stress these seven elements are just the start. Building a culture of innovation is a long-term commitment. 

 

These seven elements prepare the soil and the climate your organisation needs to cultivate innovation. 

Seven essentials for building a culture of innovation

Innovation is not that dissimilar to growing new life

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A little over fifty years ago, under the inspired leadership of John F. Kennedy, humanity placed a man on the moon. It took four-hundred thousand engineers, scientists, and other experts nearly a decade to achieve the impossible. Right now, your washing machines have more computing power than the scientist had available back then, yet we’ve never gone back. What happened?

 

It is related to leadership and innovation. They are compatible, but are also two very different things. Leaders are not appointed. Leaders are followed and good leaders create the environment where people can put their ideas together and converge existing with emerging technologies to go after moonshots. Good leadership gives innovators the freedom to dream.

 

Indeed, innovation is not that dissimilar to growing new life. It’s a delicate thing. You must do everything to create the right environment. You put fertiliser into the ground. You give it warmth and sunlight, but not too much. You give it water, but not too much or too little either. Get it right and growth flourishes. Get it wrong and growth withers away. 

Your responsibility as a leader delivering innovation in the Fifth Industrial Revolution is to ask the question: What is the right environment in which innovation will thrive?

To assist with the answer, this paper takes the mystery out of innovation and puts forward seven practical steps which any leader can use to create a culture of exploration and innovation. We include exploration alongside innovation because together they exemplify the spirit of adventure needed to successfully innovate.

Here, you will discover an assimilation of the components of innovation that will best fit the unique nature of business in the Fifth Industrial Revolution. This paper will show you:

  • How to embed innovation into your organisation’s DNA

  • How to discover problems across your value chain and ecosystem

  • How innovation can become everyone’s job

  • Why building innovation into your organisation’s DNA is the result of focusing on aspects which at first may appear counter-intuitive. The ideas and frameworks have been formulated from TomorrowToday Consulting’s extensive research and our experience, spanning over twenty-years across almost every industry sector with clients in more than fifty countries. 

Innovation is culture

When Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google’s innovation lab known simply as “X”, set out to design a self-driving car, he was not trying to build a better car. Thrun was exploring a very personal problem. His solution, a radical new concept in mobility.

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At the age of eighteen, Thrun lost his best friend to a road accident. This had a deep and profound impact. He decided to embark on a quest to save a million lives every year — each year over 1 million people die worldwide in road related fatalities — Most of us do not think about a world without road fatalities because there’s a part of us that doesn’t believe it is possible. Having a DNA of innovation means caring enough to believe it is possible.

Sebastian’s caring curiosity led him to realise that the solution was not a car with more airbags or crumple zones, but rather an autonomous vehicle - a radical new concept in mobility.

So, let’s confront an important misconception. Innovation is not a process, it is culture; a culture of caring  combined with a culture of curiosity. No company ever became more innovative because the CEO sent out a memo or the “innovation department” held a brainstorm session.

At its core, innovation is about caring enough to solve problems that matter to your stakeholders. Innovation is not  about idea generation. My dog comes up with at least two good ideas before breakfast, that doesn’t make her innovative. 

When leaders focus on freeing up people to be critical thinkers who care enough to discover problems to solve, then innovation becomes the norm. Here’s our top tip takeaway: The most innovative companies are geniuses at discovering problems nobody else has even clocked.

Steve Jobs said: “Some people say give customers what they want, but that's not my approach. I think Henry Ford once said, 'If I'd ask customers what they wanted, they would've told me a faster horse.' People don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.” 

That is also why Apple, Google and Tesla are the most valuable companies in the world. It’s not their ideas, it’s their leaders and culture that cares enough to discover the problems not yet on the page. Those problems most important to their stakeholders. 

Innovation should not be seen as a bolt on activity. To be successful a culture of caring curiosity must be central to your organisation’s DNA.  

Seven essentials for building a culture of innovation