Monday, April 30, 2012

You need Innovation Strategy and Innovation Technology to Succeed!

If your organization is prepared to embrace innovation as a core value of your company, then you have to pursue two parallel approaches.  These two pillars of innovation are your Innovation Strategy and the Innovation Ecosystem.  They’re in a symbiotic relationship providing the strength to hold up your company’s future.

The two halves and how they work together explained:
As I’ve professed in the past, the Front End of Innovation requires the support of a technology framework.  This means an innovation ecosystem, a place for all your smart people to assemble, to be challenged, to collaborate, to post and enrich ideas.  

Your organization also needs an innovation strategy.   
This means 
  • a commitment, 
  • a steady flow of messages encouraging everyone to engage, 
  • a welcoming place for your people to contribute, 
  • and a firm encouragement for the team to participate.   
To support your innovation strategy you need to put together the two puzzle pieces of Innovation Strategy with Innovation Ecosystems

Without this Innovation Strategy you might find everyone at your company is afraid to post their ideas or comments for fear of being harshly judged by others.  Employees might hold back on their postings until their thoughts are completely flushed out instead of getting those notions out there and letting EVERYBODY flush out the idea.  Without a proper Innovation Strategy your team leaders might be inclined to screen those who want to get involved and let in only certain, trusted people.  

The two sister approaches of a culture of openness coupled with a friendly, versatile technology are both required to successfully deliver on the promise of innovation.    

The Four Parts to the Innovation Circle of Life
(The role of Innovation Strategy coupled with an Innovation Ecosystem)

If you approach new ideas with the notion of “Research and Development”, then think of the Front End of Innovation as the Research Phase.  The very best ideas that result from this collaboration can later move to Development.

The Seeding Stage:  Here’s how the "two sister approach" can work together in the Research Phase.  Both contribute to driving adoption and engagement.  Your Innovation Strategy is supported by the tactical tools in the Innovation Ecosystem.

The Innovation Strategy gets the message out: The Company wants employees to put in time for innovation.  Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Let it be known that their comments, while still respectful, are encouraged to be frank.  The innovation ecosystem offers email integration so it’s easy to invite others and to make certain good behavior is acknowledged.  

Strategy decides to send out a monthly innovation newsletter describing exciting events (and URLs) to be found within the new innovation environment.  Ecosystem makes sure the landing page for those URLS are interesting and it is obvious where the user should look and click in order to participate.  This stage will provide you focus.

The Feeding Stage:  Once Organizational Engagement has begun the two sisters go to work to encourage ongoing collaboration.  Innovation Strategy conducts workshops, events, symposiums or sending out interesting cultural artifacts or invites guest speakers to Inspire people.  The Innovation Ecosystem enables Innovation Managers to moderate discussions, to let people with common areas of interest discover each other and institute social science monitoring and course correction to keep the discussions on track.  The Ecosystem hands it back then to Strategy to promptly and properly communicate success.  This stage encourages collaboration.

The Weeding Stage:  When you successfully get everyone engaged, collaborating together, happily participating, actively contributing, you’ll need the two sisters to manage the tremendous amount of innovation social network activity going on.  Your strategy for innovation will guide your idea flow…which ideas are plucked from amongst the automatically promoted results.  Innovation Strategy will steer the choices made to enrich those ideas.  The Innovation Ecosystem will identify and facilitate the merging and clustering of like ideas.  It will help identify experts to include in the analysis of strengths and weaknesses associated with the ideas and assign a numerical score.  This stage keeps information flowing.

The Harvesting Stage:  If you’ve followed this gardening metaphor so far, this is where you get the payback of harvesting those greatest of all ideas resulting from the collaborative process.  Your clear Innovation Strategy will guide those who select project candidates.  The Innovation Ecosystem helps prepare the final assessment: did we do a cost analysis; did we do a market survey; is it a strategic fit with our other endeavors?  The symbiotic sisters of sustainable innovation help your organization execute on all the hard work that came beforehand.  This is where you execute!

There are two parts to the Front End of Innovation.   
  1. The Innovation Strategy guides your hand.   
  2. The Innovation Ecosystem lets you play that hand.   

Forward you must go if you have any chance to compete in the challenging economic climate in which we all find ourselves.   When you get ready to move forward, you’ll need an expert Strategy partner to share best practices; to bring in experts; to convince everyone to adopt and engage; to help you architect your program.  

And you’ll need Strategy’s symbiotic sister, an Innovation Ecosystem, the technological component that allows everyone to assemble, to collaborate, to capture the quantitative attributes of the chaos and disruption required to make change happen.  Good luck!

If you’d like to see an example of how Innovation Strategy & Culture Consultants work hand in hand with Innovation Ecosystem Technologists, Visit CogniStreamer, and our Partner Cloverleaf at our booth at the coming FEI Conference on May 15 &16 in Orlando.  Come see us in booth 17.

Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation ecosystem.  CogniStreamer serves as a Knowledge Management System, Idea Management System and Social Network for Innovation.  You can learn more about CogniStreamer here

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here)

CogniStreamer® is an idea management software tool.  It is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external partner companies or knowledge centers join forces to create, develop and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected areas. The CogniStreamer® portal is an ideal collaborative platform that invites users to actively build a strong innovation portfolio. In addition it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge sharing.  The CogniStreamer® framework is used by industry leaders such as Atlas Copco, Bekaert, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Phillip Morris, Picanol and ThyssenKrupp. CogniStreamer® represents the best use of adaptive collaborative technology to harness human skill, ingenuity and intelligence.

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