Innovation is a term overused by leaders and often bemused by employees. Many organisations have the term within a value or objective, yet they fail to sustain a consistent effort of the endeavour. A contributing factor is an innovation being in addition to something rather than being within everything. Organisations who are sporadic with their innovation endeavours have seen their innovation muscle waste a little, making the reintroduction awkward, they fumble. If your organisation is seeking to ‘reintroduce the practice of innovation’, avoid the term and try focussing on these six areas:
Be obsessed with work that is impossible to eliminate and explore automation opportunities. Initially consider those tasks that are high volume and are not complicated; challenge the current thinking how they completed. Could the task or a portion of it be automated? Those working in technology, consider browser-based solutions initially rather than mobile applications, make the experience consistent across mobile phones, tablets, and PCs. This simplicity enables scale.
These are often overlooked and localised by teams. Localisation creates complexity, and this complexity is usually due to organisational customs rather than criticality. It’s challenging to develop scale and consistency when processes are customised due to local customs. These customs often result in a business doing business within it and distracting themselves from the customer. Uber emerged as a result of frustrations regarding access to taxis; the process was simplified and digitised. Uber created a business that did not require vehicles; instead, the drivers joined the service as the barriers to entering the industry were removed. This process was so simple that it was globalised and rapidly adopted by consumers. This consumer adoption occurred as fragmented taxis’ competing local ‘custom processes’ within cities were confusing.
Organisations capture, manage, and refine data. Very simply, there are two types of data: useful and not useful. The data may or may not be BIG and may or may not be within a data lake, and sometimes both things confuse the intended outcome of why data is essential. Often, organisations know what data is useful; however, the non-useful pollutes it, distorting efforts. Teams keep cleaning data rather than analysing it for insights. Seek to develop an intelligence capability beyond the practice of data management; rather than considering the amount of data under control, consider the intelligence gleaned from the data.
Data and digital are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably by non-technical executives who think that data is digital; however, it’s not. It may help digital, but it is not digital. Digital is the merging of the physical and digital worlds, space and place. Simplification, process standardisation and intelligent data will assist with the identification of digital opportunities. Their integration could remove barriers that directly contribute to successful digital outcomes of customers intimacy or removing dependencies on external parties who fragment the potential of a digital platform, an ecosystem.
There is a considerable amount of investment within many global technology companies; initially explore areas that intersect or overlap with existing services or products implemented. Share problem areas; ask partners how they could solve these challenges. Also, avoid being tempted to reinvent partners areas of expertise your organisation is unlikely to have their R&D budgets. Digital business models are enabled by the automation, scale and intelligence, explore with your partners what could be relevant to your industry.
Reduce the isolation of employees and partners and seek to integrate people across the organisation who may have different reporting lines by setting a common objective based on a shared area of work. Ask the integrated team to identify some shared goals, potentially based on the earlier topics shared. When an objective becomes the overwhelming sense of a group’s collective purpose rather than their reporting line, different things happen.
Many associate innovations with technology, however, it is people with their thought that determine how best technology can be applied. Problems are the source of innovation; a scarcity of resources, an insurmountable challenge, a series of unexpected events, these are all areas of inspiration. People and teams that have achieved something different were obsessed with resolving a problem. Leaders, rather than dictating an activity, enable teams to choose as choice creates a sense of energy, and people own the movement this way. ‘Problem hunting’ is the direction provided by leaders; this will reignite innovation.
David Banger is an adjunct professor, digital advisor, and founder of CHANGE lead | Practical Digital. David works with organisations, their executive and technology teams to realise their digital potential. He is the author of DIGITAL IS EVERYONE’S BUSINESS | A guide to transition. For more information about how David can help you visit www.davidbanger.com.