The different innovation flavors and terms are confusing and oftentimes are only used to distract from an inability to innovate. But what is the meaning and how can you focus on genuine innovation.

Groundbreaking vs. Disruptive innovation

Those two flavors of innovation are rather close. Yet, when looking under the hood, there is a slight difference. 
1) Disruptive Innovation assumes creating a new market that will eventually disrupt existing players in related existing market segments. Noumi noodles for instance created an all-new market in Africa. The automobile is another example of disruptive innovation, creating an entire market and then displaced coaches and other transportation. Today however the opportunity to create a new market is becoming smaller and smaller. On the other side, disrupting existing markets is exponentially growing as most technologies or products reached an age that it is time to completely rethink what is out there.

2) Groundbreaking Innovation does not necessarily create a new market but breaks new ground in an existing market as well as possibly creates a new market. Groundbreaking Innovation is always also disruptive whether it is in a new or existing market. Tesla is a great example as the car market existed but is newly defined by Tesla. Same with Space-X. It existed and was developed by Nasa and others, but was newly defined through disruptive technologies by Space-X. Apple’s iPhone is another example. The phone market existed but Apple disrupted that market with groundbreaking innovation, the iPhone. Groundbreaking innovation is always also disruptive. Groundbreaking innovation is simply not limiting innovation to a specific case but genuine innovation in general. The personal computer did not disrupt the computer industry, even though it was thought it will, but created an all-new computer market. Groundbreaking innovation addresses innovation needs to disrupt a market or create new markets. A nap cafe for a 20 min sleep for instance would not disrupt anything but create an additional and new groundbreaking business segment.

Groundbreaking Innovation is not limited to new or existing markets. Radical innovation is similar to groundbreaking innovation but is focused on addressing existing markets.

Fake Innovation Flavors & their Risk

There are floating many more flavors of innovation such as gradual innovation, architectural innovation, and improvement innovation. Breakthrough innovation is described as an innovation from within a company that pushes something to the next level and can be considered similar to gradual innovation. With those flavors of innovation is a big risk that innovation is only an alibi and in reality, it’s just improvement. Gradual innovation, improvement innovation, or architectural innovation do not produce genuine innovation. Moreover, they bear a high innovation risk because they make those who are trying to innovate believe that the result is a type of innovation. However, if a competitor develops a genuine innovation, stays under the radar for a while, and is going to disrupt that market segment, the fake innovation will implode immediately and the disrupter enters the market without any problem.

Most consumers cannot differentiate between innovation types and they do not care – there is no reason to even look at it. They chose the best product for them. With large business customers, it’s a bit different but still like consumers they are not impressed.  The financial market however looks more closely than ever before what the innovation effort is as they calculate valuation based on the long-term effects of innovation. Fake innovation is not only immediately uncovered, it leads to extra distancing from the brand because the company either does not understand what innovation is or purposely faking innovation. Both have very negative connotations.

Recommendations

  1. Stay away from using gradual, architectural, improvement, or other fake innovation types. It does not help in any way and is not really innovation.
  2. Ask yourself what would be a possible disruption to your business and how can you pre-empt a possible disruptive attack? The answer is simple: Be the one who moves first and don’t allow a position of following others.
  3. Learn more about ideation, deep innovation design, the innovation duality of brilliant ideation, and relentless execution.
  4. Develop an innovation strategy that addresses the terminology, how to achieve innovation, c-level empowerment, team composition, budgets, and more.
  5. Reach out to the BlueCallom team and ask for free advice or even better participate in a free Innovation Readiness Assessment.

 

In this post, we want to go beyond the typical aspects of innovation culture-building. We simply assume you know that innovation is one of the most demanding jobs, and it needs extraordinary talents to make innovation happen. Many aspects of Motivation, Empowerment, Inspiration, Failure as a way of learning, and a clear innovation mandate are prerequisites to get results and have been discussed countless times. On the contrary, all the many playful ways to inspire people with internal hackathons, innovation days, creativity workshops, pitching contests, and many other activities have not brought a single genuine innovation forward.

Who is an innovation culture for?
Brilliant talents are not interested in playtime; they are interested in making a difference, achieving something nobody else has achieved yet, and making the impossible a reality. The goal to “make the impossible a reality” is not only a goal of intelligent innovators, it is also the dream of the CEO, the hope of early adopters in the market, and even expectation from investors. When those people say innovation, they mean it. They don’t even think of conventional improvements.

It’s all about making the impossible a reality

To make that dream a reality, you should start with a culture that can make it happen.

1) C-Level Involvement

Discussing innovation culture, innovation success, motivation, results-orientation, job satisfaction, and alike topics with innovation managers and executives, it turned out that the most ambitious and most creative people request a clear mandate from the CEO. Most people’s experience has been, that if the C-Level is not actively engaged and sees innovation as a strategic effort, nothing will get done and the career as an innovation manager is in jeopardy in those companies. The CEO does not necessarily need to be a visionary person but needs to ensure that groundbreaking innovation is happening. Highly innovative people look for companies and teams that have a high probability of creating extraordinary outcomes. Grass-roots efforts to build more innovation in a business have so far failed as far as we could see. Highly talented innovation team members, rather join insecure startups than companies that see innovation just as a marketing message and not as an effort to make a difference. And therefore, the innovation culture starts at the top with a clear mandate for groundbreaking innovation, backed by its board.

We see best results when both the innovation culture and innovation purpose comes from the top management and flows down into the relevant teams. Many executives have the hope that every employee becomes innovative. Whether this is a good idea or not is no longer important as top-down culture development automatically reaches the entire organization.

2) Team Composition

Already when assembling an innovation dream team, the innovation culture plays a strategic role. One aspect of the culture is the definition of the team composition. While conventional R&D centers were primarily experts, the ideal innovation team is a highly diverse team from diverse backgrounds. The innovation culture should include that diversity as part of the model. You will want an innovation team that comes from customer-oriented backgrounds such as sales, from a broader market background such as marketing, from an operational or administrative background, definitely from a financial background, and also subject matter experts from your industry field. If you have all engineers, you not only are limited by having more of the same but, most importantly, limited background. Understanding how ideas get created in our brain, a diverse background of experiences (not business experience) is of great importance.

Another aspect of an innovation culture and its team development concerns traits or talents; some call it soft skills. There are a few traits that all team members should share: For instance curiosity, fearlessness, abstract thinking, team spirit, competitiveness as a team, openness, and positive thinking. One mismatch can ruin the whole team. Candidates should know upfront what you are looking for and how you assemble the team. Never try to “re-wire” people’s minds that will either fail immediately or have long-term negative effects on the mindset of the respective individuals.

3) Co-Ideation Culture

Your idea or my idea? In a successful and inspiring innovation culture, it should not matter who’s ideas any given concept was from. The co-ideation culture is an essential part of the innovation culture. The innovation team must know that all ideas come from past experiences and are composed of millions of impressions, often co-produced by other people. Meetings, exchanges, and joint ideation are the sum of all brains, and the confluence of content sparks ideas. There cannot be individual ownership, and it would distract the ideation process to an unbearable degree. Teammates should be rewarded for ideas but also equally rewarded for building new ideas based on previous ideas from other teammates or anybody else for that matter. Groundbreaking innovation rarely comes from one genius individual – but in almost all cases in the past century from a group of people. Co-Ideation as a cultural element can be stimulated when the innovation software has integrated gamification and reward equally the ideation and idea confluence based on other people’s ideas.

4) Information Culture

Groundbreaking innovation is a tough but absolutely doable goal. Working in isolation, i.e., only inside an innovation lab, is a terrible mistake. Groundbreaking innovation means change. When those changes, coming out of the blue, 99% of homo sapiens will reject it as a natural process. If the innovation team is not keeping adjacent teams in the loop, success moves far away. First and foremost, the C-Level needs to be in the loop. If they don’t care, all innovation efforts are a waste of time and resources. Have a jour fix meeting with the CFO or CEO once a week or every other week for only and exactly 3 minutes. Don’t dare to make it a 4-minute presentation. You will need internal supporters, those from sales who help you work with selected customers, or from marketing who provide you with research or finance, which help you get some key insights. Keep them in the loop. Provide an update once a month for 5 minutes, for instance, the first Monday at 11:50 am sharp. Include selected customers and business partners into the process and if necessary ask for a non-disclosure agreement. An even better way to ensure success is an open innovation project where you include others from your market and even those not from your market.

For most corporations, Open Innovation is a no-go. However, it is more than worth considering it and take the necessary actions that public companies need to make in order t communicate with the outside and ensure equal information to their shareholders. The extra effort is negligible compared to the value it adds to the process and the shareholder relationship. The open information strategy represents the most visible aspect of the innovation culture and helps the innovation process band prevents copying ideas. Who will say “we too have this idea” when the idea has no proof yet? Who will want to be a follower of something that does not even exist yet? But you, with your genuine idea, can and prove the concept over time, very much like Microsoft, Tesla, Ikea, and in the past Carl Benz, Robert Bosch, Alfred Escher, and hundreds of others.

5) Performance Culture

Assuming you understand how the brain creates ideas, you will not want to wait for the magical idea or wonder if the prototype even works. You know how to compile groundbreaking ideas, how to develop a vision, how to get approval and funding, how to build your first minimum viable product (MVP), and how you get it to market. You know that any groundbreaking idea gives you a headstart of approximately 3 to 5 years. Yes, you will not want to lose a single day. Every successful startup or Unicorn is executing with relentless speed, working for recognition and growth every single day like there is no tomorrow.

In most conventional innovation centers, however, teams meditate, play games, follow all kinds of stimulation efforts, try to find random ideas, experiment, not know if an idea is working or not, and finally come out with an improvement at best. They are no competition to even mediocre startups.

The performance culture is a strategic part of the innovation culture. You and your team are in it for extraordinary results. The performance to do so and the achievement of the respective milestones are as important to that team as it is for any top-class athlete at the Olympics. Performance culture is mainly for highly intelligent people who compete against the best and brightest around the world for a solution that is thought to be impossible – they are hardly motivated by money. Competitiveness is a trait every innovation team member has to have. This culture is stimulated by serious goals and rewards that reflect the extraordinary outcome, a groundbreaking innovation. To maintain a performance culture as part of the innovation culture, team members are wired to go for a long-term effect on society, building something that nobody believed is possible. Some will try to do it on their own, others prefer to make it in a team that has already some profound resources. Innovation is the ultimate competition of the mind.  Those individuals want to be a part of the organization they bring forward. Getting recognized for their outstanding achievement, become a shareholder, have a chance to make the impossible a reality is the main motive and key to performance.

 

During the BlueCallom implementation, we provide an innovation team development program involving HR/HT Management that includes the development of an innovation culture model that will need to be accepted by the CEO.

 

On Aug. 12th, 2021, BlueCallom will host a “Creating an internal innovation culture” event, part of the Innovative Minds Series. In this Innovative Minds event, gain insights into how to stimulate innovation culture-building from the middle up so it can flow down and how Innovation Leaders can best support it. Please visit to see more details and registration: https://bluecallom.com/creating-an-internal-innovation-culture-webinar/

 

In the last week of June, BlueCallom hosted its third Innovation Thought Leader Roundtable. The topic gravitates around the question: “how to become more innovative and how to inspire employees to support the innovation process.”

As you may know by now, BlueCallom’s Roundtable is a virtual gathering of selected innovation managers. Many of them work in well-known companies such as Coca-Cola, BASF, Bayer, Dormakaba, DPD, FujiFilm, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, NGK Japan, Nissan Motors, Novartis, Philip Morris, Porsche, Roche, SAP, and Sony. The purpose of this gathering is to share insights, perspectives, experiences, and potential solutions to new innovation challenges.

 

Innovation Culture

Right after opening the discussion, “Innovation Culture” within enterprises became a dominant challenge. Kevin Minier, an expert in the UK Health and Social Care Sector, explained this by saying that “cultural change is needed especially if we want to avoid the big barrier in communication between employees”. Now, it’s clear that when it comes to innovation, employee satisfaction plays a big role.

The real challenge is in the organization itself and as Jonathan Wiesman from PassCare USA, mentioned: “some companies are already providing the top-down and bottom-up meetings between the company’s employees to find out what real employees’ value and purpose is.” One thing must be clear – Innovation can’t be successful if there is a fear present and not knowing where you fit in the ecosystem. Another worrying fact is that today’s innovators are having few side jobs, which means they can not truly dedicate themselves to innovation.

Axel Schultze, CEO of the BlueCallom company, shared one example: “Tesla Inc. today is ten times more valued than Mercedes-Benz and the reason is Tesla has a stellar innovation team which makes innovation happen.”

Other interlocutors, Mikel Mangold Innovation Project Manager at Venture Lab NGK SPARK PLUG, Christian Weh Senior Director Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, and Robert Clougherty Founder at rjclougherty.net agreed that the most important thing should be creating opportunity and an environment where innovation can thrive! And again emphasis is on establishing an innovation culture that allows you to find the best talents in the organization. In big organizations, as Mikel Mangold said, there is a lack of flexibility to choose the people we want to work with and that’s why many ideas get discarded. Steffen Ohr, Vice President Innovation bei Sihl Group, added that an Organisation needs to get a clear mandate to innovate from the highest level. That’s true for all functions but particularly important in the area of innovation when you touch new and unknown areas.

If the company is not recognized as innovative, where will they get talented experts? This question was asked by Christian Weh who also pointed out that companies are losing opportunities to hire the best talents because they can’t provide them with the innovation culture. The winning combination is a passion for innovation and a clear purpose i.e. what is the role of the innovation process. As you see, all our innovation experts mentioned the team – the importance of having the right people who are willing to do the changes, to come up with new ideas and solutions.

 

Role of Employees in the Innovation Process

The second part of this gathering was devoted to employees and their role in the innovation process.

Christian Weh made a very clear point if a team has no well-understood innovation mandate. Just asking people to innovate and come up with ideas is not getting teams anywhere.  Having a mandate, Robert Clougherty pointed out “all employees have their strong sides/skills and the Innovation Manager should be able to recognize it and use it to make the solution they work on truly unique.” Open communication, building trust, prioritizing learning, and keeping humanity at the center of the work are something that is needed in every organization. Having feedback from the employees and clients gives a wider picture which will lead us to better innovative solutions. So instead of asking employees to be more creative, ask them to document problems they see in a company and problems they have with clients.

Tony Namulo, Customer Experience and Success Director at Tavale, mentioned the concept of hackathons where different people with different skills get together to work on the things they are passionate about. Hackathons are a fun way to push boundaries, encourage creativity, and in the end gain inspiration or unique ideas.

When it comes to employee efficiency, except networking and hackathons, we have to mention Think Tanks where a group of people is designated to create innovative solutions to problems. With the right mindset and sense of purpose, almost any group can operate as a think tank.

Talking about the employees’ role in the innovation, we also talked about how to boost internal innovation. Mikel Mangold once again mentioned how important communication is inside the company – colleagues have to work together, they have to organize meetings and sessions, exchange their thoughts and results will be visible.

Kevin Minier said something I was surprised with – leaders are often put on a pedestal, but in reality, none of us are perfect and it is totally ok to be vulnerable, even if you are a C-level manager. Vulnerable leaders are better able to engage with their staff and as a result, they gain trust which is crucial to forming stronger teams.

Steffen Ohr said that in the company he works for, they continuously ask for market feedback. In the beginning, to prove the value of a new product/service on the market they ask for small funding. Based on the feedback they either intensify their efforts to create a real prototype or stop the project immediately. They also prepare an opportunity sheet and demonstrate if it’s scalable. The full focus is on getting feedback from the market.

 

Keys Aspects of Being More Innovative

To summarize this Innovation Thought Leader Roundtable, some of the key aspects of being more innovative include:

  1. Innovation teams have to be full time committed to innovation
  2. Having a clear directive to either innovate or continue to improve
  3. Executive-level leadership with a clear innovation mandate is required
  4. Building a culture of innovation in an organization

The team at BlueCallom will continue the Innovation Thought Leader Roundtable exchange. If you are interested in joining our next by-invitation-only event, please send us an email: tanja@bluecallom.com

Enterprises don’t need to fear disrupters,
but the disruption in the capital market

A growing number of enterprises feel the headwind from capital markets. Up and coming businesses get valuations far above conventional businesses that may be more than ten times as big. Those warning signals all too often are simply ignored. But that could become a fatal mistake.

Innovation takes 7 to 10 years

Theoretically, enough time for any established market player to respond and fight back. But it isn’t quite that easy. If you look at the early years of the then, new automaker, Tesla, you notice that the established players sold more cars in some metropolitan cities in a month than Tesla sold globally in an entire year. Airbnb sold so few vacation rentals a year that established hotel chains didn’t even notice. Early freelancer platforms connect some inexpensive workers with businesses who had a short-term need in a way that the established recruiting firms didn’t even take the time to understand their business. Now, some people may say this is ignorance. But taking the sheer number of companies that have tried something and failed into consideration, an enterprise cannot respond at any brain spark that may happen in this world. However, one group does take that time and effort for a very different reason.

Financial Market Analysts get Extremely Smart


In the past years, top investment firms completely disrupted the financial market. Yet it went almost unnoticed. With far more detailed insights, more intelligent tools, and evolving algorithms, they are able to predict the success probabilities of a new market entrant to a degree that was unimaginable just a few years ago. CEOs, Board Members, Unions, and Investor representatives will need to shift gear when it comes to innovation. Future-oriented investment decisions drive market caps (value of a company) into new directions. It’s no longer only in the tech space but now also in all other industries like the auto industry, the tourist and hospitality industry, in the business services where a substantial shift is happening: The capital market favors innovation over profitability and size. One newcomer in that market is investment management company ARK-Invest who states on their website We Invest Solely In Disruptive Innovation. And the reason is obvious; in the next 10 years, it is more likely that those new and innovative businesses will win, than the established and slowly evolving companies.

Innovation is Entering all Industries

We randomly choose Hospitality, Automotive, and Business Services in our research. You can see how companies with rapid growth into a large industry segment, while there is no or no adequate response from the current market leaders are seen by the capital market today.
AIRBNB
2007 first 3 guests – the company was founded
2009 21,000 guests
2018 300 Million guests
2021 market cap $93 Billion *
2021 Hilton market cap $36 Billion *
TESLA
2012 2,000 or so cars
2015 35,000 cars
2020 1,000,000 cars
2021 market cap $570 Billion *
2021 Daimler market cap  $84 Billion *
FIVERR
2010 Some 1,000 jobs at $5 each
2012 estimated $6 Million
2018 estimated $100 Million in revenue
2021 market cap $7 Billion *
2021 Kern Ferry market cap $3.1 Billion *
at $2 Billion in revenue
* = June 15, 2021

Is the world insane? Then, what was with the market caps of Intel, Cisco, Microsoft, Google Facebook, and so forth. What happened to their competitors like DEC, Amdahl, Zilog, Alta Vista, AOL, or MySpace? Today the disrupters are identified much earlier and get evaluated much earlier to higher levels. Not to help them and not to kill others. The new behavior is only a logical consequence of the desire to be in a rising giant early. The advantage for established enterprises: They get a brand new early warning system. But even then, there is a potential for huge mistakes as you can see in our mini case study below.

Innovate or Get Disrupted

Trying to counter-attack a market intruder that has a disruptive business model or disruptive product, by trying to build something better is not leading to any success. A weak attempt to focus on “Gradual Innovation”, which is nothing but improvement, is definitely not an adequate response either. The only way to counter an innovation from a competitor, no matter what size or age, is by another groundbreaking innovation. Improvement is important – but it isn’t withstanding an innovation. Trying to be better than the new innovator is only an improvement and makes the former leader a follower of the new innovator.

MERCEDES BENZ CASE STUDY
The Daimler AG was an investor in Tesla. But eventually lost interest and sold the shares. Tesla was built on 5 unique aspects: 1) A very fast electric motor 2) New high capacity batteries 3) A big display giving space to all kinds of information 4) A digital experience that went far beyond the proprietary “Board Computer” and 5) A customer experience not seen from the conventional carmakers.
The competition only saw the electric motor and battery. They also did not see the timeline that it took 5 years from introducing the first Tesla to getting it at least a bit off the ground. Chevrolet killed its EV short after launch because they thought the market does not exist. Mercedes ignored it completely, then began to invest and built the EQ series. But it was only the replacement of the motor and tank for an electric motor and batteries.
Only with the EQS, Mercedes finally pushed the innovation button in many ways – BUT – chose not to really talk about it. Still, a market leader by the volume of cars they produce, Mercedes became a follower and did not push their innovation but what Tesla has since 10 years: Motor, Battery, and a “hyper display”. The digital experience and also the customer experience fell behind. And the innovation they made was not even mentioned. When the tough gets going the going gets tough.

Instead of standing their ground and continuing rejecting a large display in or on the dashboard and introducing their innovative head-up display – they competed in a space that has no future for both cars. Instead of drumming up their real innovation, they ignored it because they did not understand what customers want. The innovative MBUX system with a large display mirrored on the windshield, supported by a perfect and unique augmented reality system was not part of the competition. The leader turned into a follower and the capital market recognized it. How is this possible?

Things you can do to correct the current direction

Innovation is everything but a small club of thinking and researching innovators playing in their innovation labs.
1) It needs an innovation mandate from the CEO.
2) It needs a robust innovation strategy that is blessed by the board
3) It requires innovation managers with exceptional talents and abilities – not skills.
4) An innovation process that empowers the team to develop brilliant ideas and then conducts relentless execution.

THE FIRST STEP however is an innovation readiness assessment that makes sure you have the foundation for what is coming.
BlueCallom offers free Innovation Readiness Checks with no obligation at all.

WHY DO WE CARE EVEN BEYOND OUR OWN BUSINESS
Part of that first step is the understanding that by 2050 we will want to change our energy supply, the energy grid, or whatever we can create, we need renewable energies and tap into energy sources we don’t even think of today. We will want to create transport infrastructure for people, goods, and service infrastructure that is far beyond our today’s abilities. We need to have digitized commerce, business transactions, return services, and handling that is far more intelligent than today. We want to make sure that our health systems, health understanding, and sources for health failure are much better structured, organized, affordable, and available. While we could theoretically feed all people on earth even with a 20 billion population it works only if we can integrate those 20 billion people as contributors to our global society, economy, and humanity. Today only a handful of people seriously try to engage in terraforming mars or build a lunar station. That is far too less to be effective and far too less to prevent new monopolies.

Why is it important to define innovation? How do you measure innovation? How do you collect ideas from your customers?

These are just a few of the thought-provoking questions that came up in conversation between Innovation Managers from around the world in BlueCallom’s Innovation Thought Leader Circle (ITLC) in April. The ITLC is a virtual gathering of international innovation professionals with a diverse range of experiences with the goal of exchanging ideas and furthering learning within the discipline of innovation. 

What is Innovation and How to Measure It? 

Surprisingly, there is no one-size-fits-all definition to describe the term ‘innovation’. In the software industry alone, “there are more than 30 definitions of innovation” says Axel Schultze from BlueCallom. Without a universally accepted definition, companies will have different experiences in how they identify opportunities for value creation, develop an innovation process, and measure its success. 

Defining the concept of innovation will influence how an Innovation Manager is able to “implement the idea of innovation into the organization” as mentioned by Wolfgang Zondler from Zondler Consulting. To proactively confront challenges in considering how to measure innovation, Tony Namulo from Tavalé recommended an approach to clearly define what innovation means within your organization and relevant indicators to track its success by looking at it “what problem it is you’re trying to solve”.

 The goal is to gain a common understanding of innovation, while taking into account that variables such as industry type or firm maturity will influence the understanding of innovation, according to Alkan Dogan from Simmons & Simmons. He also added that “‘innovation should not entirely be focused on generating ideas and implementing them no matter what,” but rather for Innovation Managers to be selective about what ideas to pursue.

Kevin Minier, Health and Social Care Advisor, also recommended that your organization’s ethics should play a role in defining innovation.

Fiorella Vari Castro from Sportradar discussed how to define innovation within an organization by breaking apart the concept into three types: incremental (improvements to an existing product or service), strategic innovation, and disruptive innovation.

According to Schultze, disruptive innovation can be considered as when “you build something new…new market segments, new behaviors, or new needs.” But, defining innovation can be controversial because it depends on the perspective of the end-user, as discussed by Namulo, in judging whether something is truly transformational or not. As a result, the concept of innovation is perceived differently by alternate groups of people, just depending on their life experiences. 

Interestingly, Namulo introduced a very cool strategy to describe the concept of innovation: rather, “define the opposite of what it is not”. By providing a point of contrast and defining what “does meet the definition”, innovation can be better understood, according to Namulo.

 “What are the key performance indicators for innovation?” asked Schultze. It’s an important question because the chosen metrics or KPIs will influence and incentivize employee behavior and how innovation is managed. To provide an example, a company that measures its level of ‘innovativeness through the number of patents will incentivize employees to produce patents, but “how does this affect customer satisfaction?” questioned Namulo.

Furthermore, KPI considerations include: “Did [the innovation] improve outcomes? Did it make the company more profitable?” as pointed out by Minier. 

 

Innovation Culture is Key 

A key takeaway from the conversation revolved around the importance of cultivating company cultures to support innovation, with special attention to assembling diverse teams. “Diversity is required to protect against groupthink and linear thinking,” said Minier.  This thought was also echoed by Vari Castro, who said that “having an innovation team with background diversity helps so much to come up with different ideas.” 

But in order to reap the benefits from a group of diverse thinkers, a company should invest in building up an innovation culture that makes productive exchange possible.

Mikel Mangold from Venture Lab at NGK mentioned the need for “collisions and confrontation” to create a productive dialogue with different perspectives. Fostering an environment where creative abrasion can occur leads to more innovative thinking through diversity in thought. Of course, the challenge is then extending this innovative mindset from within the bounds of an Innovation Team and how to “foster culture within the company?” as asked by Vari Castro.

It’s an intriguing question, and one that we may be exploring during our next Innovation Thought Leader Circle on June 11. 

 

Innovation speed or perfectionWhat is time to innovate?

The time between the day when the need to innovate is recognized to the day the first version of a prototype is in the market. Innovation speed or perfection? Go for speed any time.

For instance: The need or the dream to have an internet connection in any place in the world, land, or water is as old as the Internet itself. But in 2015, Elon Musk had an idea how to solve it. In Feb 2018, he created a company called StarLink. Today in 2021, we have full coverage, and in the next few years, it will be a standard. By 2025 people will realize that over 30,000 satellites are in orbit and connect all of us any time from anywhere. Look back and wondering how this could happen. Very much how we wonder why there is only one search engine to be considered serious, one computer operating system, one super large social network, one shopping platform, and soon one internet provider. We all heard of StarLink; but so far, nobody dares to compete. Is California or Silicon Valley a time capsule in itself? Time seems to run much faster – but only because we don’t hear a lot from China, in particular Shenzhen.
Only a few decades ago, Shenzhen was a collection of quiet farming and fishing villages. Today, the city is among the world’s leading innovation hotspots—in other words, the perfect location for our Airbus China Innovation Centre (ACIC).

If you want to innovate on Shenzhen speed you got to be even faster. Does it feel impossible? Yes, it does but only due to our massive overhead. If we don’t watch it, we will end like the britsh empire in 1900 or the Roman Empire in 1600 or Egypt or Mesopotamia or or or.

Western innovation labs, where are your results?

Innovation speed or perfection. In the past 20 years, several hundred innovation labs had been incepted. Yet, the outcome is more or less nonexistent. Yes, there had been nice improvements, some fun stuff, and maybe a few marketing Giggs. But nearly no groundbreaking innovation. They came all from startups. Something major may have gone wrong in those “Lost 20 years,” as one of the top Japanese executives told me recently. Everybody looked at startups because they seem to do something right. However, we all know 90% fail, and if you look at them, you will fail too. We all heard it “Innovation needs amazing creativity, and you can’t enforce it” – ok, so make innovation playgrounds with meditation, lego play games, sing together, and do sports together.  Hmmm – the unicorns show relentless execution, amazing speed; they work under enormous pressure. TIME seems to be a silver bullet. Very much like Elon Musks demonstrates it every day. When I founded my companies and watching my peers and the hundreds of startups we worked with, the best of the best were constantly full of adrenaline.

Groundbreaking Innovation in 40 days

We wanted to know:  What is the Innovation speed limit? The answer: 40 days right now. We can create groundbreaking innovation and validate the concept and bring it to market in 40 days. While most people are driven by their schedule, which is driven by others, who drive other agendas, and so forth, we need to put a stake in the ground NOW. The Nespresso Capsul took 15 years from idea to market success. The Tesla automobile took 15 years from inception to market success. Facebook took less than 10 years, Starlink probably less than 7 years. And the upcoming generation will be even faster. The western world already lost the first race against the red dragon in China. But we are used to not give up, to not surrender – to get up and compete.

Dare to compete

Some people use pacemakers to keep their heart beating – what is your business using? In a few days, we start with the global Ingenuity Cup. The promise is to get to groundbreaking innovation in 40 days. So far, most contestants are startups. While under huge pressure to deliver a real innovation for the first time, enterprise teams are struggling to make quick decisions, get approvals, find ways to put all the other administrative work to the side, and are fearful of failing. We MUST break through that barrier.

Dare to break all barriers and walls

  • You have no time? Never say this again. Take the time for what is most important.
  • You need approval? I don’t think so, because you have a mission.
  • You have other e important things to do? Stop innovating – it’s a waste of time doing it on the side.
  • You worry about your career? 5 years without success in an innovation lab is 25% of your career wasted already.
  • The next company won’t take you !!!!

Mr CEO, tear down that wall

Make your innovation teams play by the rule of global markets, global timelines, global competitors, global speed limits, and compete against everything and everybody. Innovation playground time is over. Every unicorn on earth competes with relentless execution, other nations have no rules and no limits. If you spend more time protecting what you have than investing it into future solutions, you, your board, and investors declare the limits of your abilities.

 

Dare to join the Ingenuity Cup even last minute.

Calculating the value of an innovation

BlueCallom Equation IntroductionOne of our early objectives was to easily describe the value of our work. It is not easy as Innovation has so many moving parts and the fact that enterprises around the world are feverishly trying to find better ways to achieve groundbreaking innovation and not just improvement is a testimony for its complexity. We tried to distill our value contribution down to neuro ideation, innovation opportunity discovery, innovation-to-market method, innovation financing, reporting, Innovation KPI framework, multi-user digital canvas technology, genetic computing technology AI usage, and a few other things. One aspect recently rose very prominently in conversations with users and customers: a very close relationship between brilliant ideation and relentless execution. However, there was an inner conflict: It is described in a blog post written a few years ago: The Initial value of an idea is zero. How could something of no value sparked multi-billion dollar businesses and disrupts entire industries if it has no value? It just needed to turn on of course but what value is it then? It reminded me of something I learned in quantum mechanics, that I quantum state can be seen as having two states at the same time. Every idea can too. As we learned from neuroscience, an idea is a clearly defined “object in our brain that is composed of past experiences”.  The trick is to use it or not. Unused its value is zero and used its value turns into one. The value of one is still not a lot but multiplied with execution that leads to exponential growth makes the one incredibly valuable.  Let’s not get deeper into quantum physics as it is just an analogy but look how this concept changes our understanding of innovation.

The two key aspects, that make or break groundbreaking innovation:

  1. Finding a brilliant idea that leads to innovation

  2. Making the idea a reality and bringing it to market with relentless execution

Harnessing the duality of ideation and execution is where BlueCallom makes the biggest difference. Moreover developing the BlueCallom Equation, paved the way for making innovation predictable, creating Innovation Forecasts, calculating an Innovation Lifetime Value, and an Innovation ROI. Groundbreaking Innovation (G)  = Ideation (I) * Execution(E)².

G = I * E² 

The meaning of G

For the development of innovation processes, we needed to make a statement of what we understand by the term INNOVATION, in particular groundbreaking or disruptive innovation is not Improvement. It became even more important when trying to find a way to calculate an innovation value. There are hundreds of different definitions of what innovation means. The following definition is made to make our methods and technology clear, and also what our equation is addressing.

Innovation is the introduction of a
groundbreaking elevation in the way
people do things and ensuring
a successful global distribution.

It often results in disruption, how
industry segments conduct business.

Innovation is not the same as Improvement. For more clarity, we use Groundbreaking Innovation (G)

The creation of I

To get to groundbreaking innovation you need an amazing idea. And since we know, thanks to neuroscience, how innovative ideas get created, we can go one major step further: Making the innovation a reality. Not only by building a prototype but bringing that innovation to life in global markets. Some years ago I wrote a provocative blog post: “The initial Value of an Idea is ZERO” and that has not changed. There have been many known cases where people bought an idea for $1. With that payment, the idea had legally changed ownership. So we can assume that the buy-in of a team developing such an idea has the value of one – assume any currency. The idea is the must-have ignition to innovation, yet has no big value to anybody – yet. The value is created through execution. Every startup knows – it gets embossed in their neurons by every investor. And there is an important effect to be observed: Any successful innovation – ever created – was following an exponential growth rate. Hence the E².  But with no execution: 1 * 0 = 0 – in other words, the lack of execution makes the innovation value zero.

The significance of

  1. Innovation Timeline
    Innovative solutions take quite a while to get accepted in the market. And there is no shortcut. The larger part of the market participants is rather careful and conservative. It took a few years until the name Tesla even made it to News. It took even longer until Amazon became a household brand. The first two years, Computer 2000 and TechData had a tough start. But 10 years later both bypassed 8,000 competitors which never understood the level of disruption our business models had. Today the merged and combined company is doing nearly 40 Billion in revenue. The inflection point when the so-called “Hockey Stick” kicks in and turns the slow start is recognized as part of an exponential growth curve, it is too late for many companies to seriously compete.
  2. Innovation Management
    Managing an “Innovation to Market” process is an ART and a SCIENCE. One of the key aspects of the science part is the understanding that innovative products will never be purchased by conservative customers, which is the largest audience. One of the arts to get it to scalable results is to know when the broader audience is ready to engage. Today the function of “Innovation Management” is widely underestimated or even completely misunderstood. Innovation management could also be called “Innovation Value Management”. It is all about creating value from a disruptive innovation that has usually the DNA of a unicorn – no matter whether it is a corporate or startup unicorn.
  3. Equation
    * An idea, as a result of any kind of ideation, has a fixed initial value of zero.
    * Once a team is intending to use the idea and make it a reality, the value of such an idea becomes one (1).
    * As soon as the innovation is given to users and they see a value for them and start using the product, the value increases above 1. Here it can potentially grow exponentially based on the energy somebody puts into execution. The energy that is put into execution should become proportional to the value growth of the innovation if the execution is done right.

This also explains why some of the innovative products are perceived as “Overhyped” in the eyes of normal observers.  Only after carefully analyzing the innovation’s growth path and rate, capital markets react and may look unrealistic. This was experienced with almost every Silicon Valley IPO and afterward, those technological advances became the new normal and ever more often dominating entire markets. The   in the BlueCallom Equation can now also explain that behavior of seemingly hyped values that turned out to be valuable over time. The BlueCallom Equation is represented in the BlueCallom Deep Innovation Design model as well as in the architecture of the BlueCallom Innovation Management Software (code name ‘deep’).

 

Debunking 100+ Innovation Methods

G=I E² is more than just a formula for groundbreaking innovation, describing the duality between ideation and execution.  It is describing the foundation of any successful innovation effort or process.

* Innovation Team Structure

Brilliant innovation and relentless execution is not a job that a person can do on the side. It’s the opposite – innovation development is one of the most demanding engagements in any business anywhere in the world. The equation also makes clear what the innovation management’s responsibility is.

* Execution – Execution – Execution
It demonstrates the value relation between the idea itself and the execution process after the idea was created. It’s all about execution and that has never been even a consideration in innovation management.

* Time is of essence

It shows the importance of the factor time in the execution from zero to the max. In conventional innovation playgrounds, teams had infinite time. The outcome was zero. Unicorns ran like crazy and that made a huge difference.

* Innovation KPIs
How innovation teams achieve probability calculations, ROI, etc. to develop more robust innovation plans.  Only robust KPIs can indicate performance. The number of idea contributions, the value of the contribution, market validation, innovation confluence data, timelines, budgets, degree of disruption, adoption rates, growth pattern, and more. The number of projects can’t be one of them.

* The end of Innovation Kindergarten
The equations expose why empirical experimentation, pivoting, random brainstorming, and other “exercises” just could never lead to groundbreaking innovation. Lego games and dancing, meditation, and other relaxation is really nice – but cannot be the core of the top job of any industry leader.

 

Open innovation is a frequently-used term that brings a variety of imagery to mind: collaboration, intellectual property, startups, and co-creation. But most importantly, open innovation involves “combining internal and external ideas” to bring new business concepts to life. As an innovation strategy, open innovation serves as a pathway to integrate external perspectives (i.e., from users)  into the development of a new business offering. 

Simply put, open innovation involves accessing and exchanging knowledge between people in your organization and people working externally. The goal is to support innovation by generating new, high-quality ideas that can help create a long-term competitive advantage in the market. For an established company, open innovation can be implemented by collaborating with individual people, other organizations, suppliers, and even startups. The flexibility of how open innovation is pursued truly makes it a one-size-fits-most strategy! Do you agree? Please let us know your opinion in the comments. 

Why Pursue Open Innovation? 

Companies choose to engage in open innovation because of the various opportunities for growth, learning, ideas, and other benefits of increasing innovation activities. Also, mitigating the risk of innovation is one reason companies pursue open innovation. If the market is involved in the innovation process, achieving idea validation then ensures that a new innovation will be accepted by its market. Below are some of the key advantages of pursuing open innovation: 

Speed Up the Innovation Lifecycle 

Applying open innovation as a strategy to developing a new product can speed up the time from conceptualization to commercialization. When a company introduces the necessary external experiences into the innovation process, this combination of resources and knowledge together leads to a faster innovation lifecycle. For a product-oriented company, speed-to-market is crucial for success, so open innovation can be a great fit for this type of firm.  

Gain New Knowledge 

Open innovation is centered around gaining access to new knowledge, which can be accomplished by partnering with external organizations or individuals with a specialized skill-set. By applying new knowledge to a company’s project (or product or problem), the introduction of new ideas and perspectives can lead to new value creation and innovation. As a side-benefit, access to new knowledge and learning opportunities can help employees evolve their careers in your company. 

In the Deep Innovation Design methodology, the ideation process involves an analogous search in which innovation participants compare unrelated (but similar) industries, companies, or sectors in order to derive inspiration by translating the understanding into their own company’s dynamic. Analogous search can also be accomplished through open innovation by incorporating unrelated (but similar!) partners, suppliers, or organizations into a company’s innovation process. The introduction of a radically different way of accomplishing a task or workflow could lead to successful innovation! To learn more about Deep Innovation Design, you can check out this TED Talk or read more in this blog post

Benefit from the Customer Experience

Collaborating with selected customers (i.e., highly-engaged users) is an effective way to generate new insights about customers’ usage of your products, services, and/or perspectives on your competition. Interacting with highly-involved customers opens the doors to innovative ideas. These individuals likely have experience-based opinions around your company’s current offerings or other ideas on how to improve. Including customers in your innovation or ideation process increases the likelihood to compose and capture original ideas. Since an idea is a composition of past experiences according to recent discoveries in neuroscience, involving the experiences of the end-user can augment the ingenuity of the innovation team. Customer interaction through open innovation can lead to differentiating your company further from the competition, save time, and mitigate risk. 

Are you interested in more resources on open innovation? We welcome you to explore our upcoming webinar: The Strategic Value of Open Innovation on March 11, 2021. 

Risks to Pursuing Open Innovation 

Of course, it is important to mention the potential hazards of engaging in open innovation. Some companies may choose to avoid openness in their approach to innovating in order to eliminate the risk of revealing company know-how with external parties. As such, vetting potential partners, vendors, and collaborators is important before exposing internal processes and practices! However, the benefits and possibilities produced by open innovation significantly outweigh the risk of sharing too much information. 

Thank you for reading! What do you think are the pros and cons of implementing open innovation? Please share your ideas in the comments below. 

During the first week of February, the BlueCallom team brought innovation leaders worldwide together at the BlueCallom virtual Innovation Thought Leader Circle event. The Innovation Thought Leader Circle series provides a space where a select group of innovation professionals comes together virtually to share best practices, insights around innovation management, and advanced learning in innovation. 

To generate knowledge and share interesting perspectives around innovation in 2021, we invite you to get insights from this lively innovation circle around innovating during a pandemic, overcoming external challenges in this “New Normal,” and supporting innovation culture to prepare for future shifts in the business landscape. 

Entering into a State of Innovation in the New Normal

Technological advancements and digitization are not necessarily enough to transform an entire industry, but the innovative business models that introduce the technology are disruptive. We’ve witnessed how companies have innovated their business models, products, services, and customer interaction techniques during the global pandemic. Innovation is more critical than ever, or as Kevin Minier says, the current status quo is now entering into a “state of innovation”. 

Adapting to the “New Normal” will determine which companies simply survive and which companies thrive. How will innovation look in a post-pandemic world? As pointed out by Robert Cloughtery, companies should expand their innovation vision from short-term fixes to long-term business model innovation.

For example, Hussein Dajani, General Manager of Digital and CX Transformation for Nissan Motor Co. in Africa, Middle East, India, Turkey, and Oceana, discussed how customer experience transformation had been a crucial strategy to meeting customers’ “where they are” in today’s landscape: in their homes (due to lockdowns). “Innovation, I believe, boils down from empathy, from really listening to your customers, seeing what their real needs are, and being able to deliver on that innovatively,” says Dajani.

Shirin Kurtuldu also contributed excellent knowledge on how to capture customer-driven ideas by running a Voice of Customer program and asking your own customers what they want, what kind of innovation they are missing.  

Corporate Innovation is Key 

However, innovating strategically for the long-term in an established enterprise can be difficult, considering bureaucratic measures, regulatory barriers, and risk-averse structures that hold big companies back from implementing transformational changes.

As Hussein Dajani points out, big firms often think from a place of “revenue, dollar signs, and immediate profit,” making short-term approaches more feasible to execute. The focus on short-term profit is a signal that a company is not as forward-thinking as it should be to innovate and gain a competitive advantage over time. The company’s mindset is another key factor.

Axel Schultze, CEO and Founder of BlueCallom, says, “the culture shift from a non-innovative company to an innovative company is a massive change…it’s a significant change in mindset.” The question then becomes, how to create a culture of innovation? Facilitating a culture in which accepting “failing fast is such a key technique to helping with innovation,” says Tony Namulo.

Regardless of whether a company adopts a ‘freedom to fail’ attitude or not, half the battle is pushing a great idea from concept to creation and convincing others of its merit. Circle attendee André Lüscher says, “for every idea, you need someone to convince other people that this idea is great.” An idea won’t make it past the gatekeepers and bookkeepers at each milestone check-in without a product or service champion supporting the idea along the journey to development and commercialization. 

Turn the Pandemic into an Innovation Opportunity 

Due to the pandemic, the nature of work changed. Teams work together in an online and remote capacity. Pointed out by Mikel Mangold, “all this international collaboration that is going on right now is incredible” and is requiring innovation around online collaboration tools to make remote work accessible and productive.

Aside from virtual collaboration, remote work also enables the ability to reach a broader audience. Furthermore, companies can find talents across the global stage. A lot of companies are going to be considering “the global talent pool, in terms of being able to increase the pace of innovation within companies,” says Tony Namulo. Thus, a silver lining to the pandemic is new value creation through the various opportunities presented.

But not only are digital work tools in demand, but digital lifestyle tools are also increasingly important. For example, gyms and the fitness industry are undergoing a moment of reckoning as digital fitness services adapt to meet our new needs, as Laurent Guinand discussed.

The business of education is another industry in a moment of upheaval as online education has been thrown into the spotlight, and online education platforms’ successes might even indicate that online education is the future. Axel Schultze says that “the education system has followed the needs of the industry,” and with changing industries across all sectors, the future is in the hands of the innovators and creative minds. In this way, ‘timing,’ in addition to ‘need’ and ‘technology available’ can be considered the keys to building a successful innovation, as deemed  Tony Namulo. 

400 Million businesses (OECD) may look for a total of 100 Million Innovation Managers during this decade.

100 Million Innovation Managers

Of course, at first sight, it sounds ridiculous. Yet if you take the number of registered businesses around the world plus the enormous growth rate of new businesses it is relatively easy to imagine that 25% of those companies, no matter how small they are, will want at least one person that works on innovation concepts. The fortune 20,000 however, is more like hiring Millions on their own. Of course, there is room to debate the number in both directions. If we consider a 3% investment in innovation, the numbers could also move further up. Who would have thought just 10 years ago that in 2020 we will have 1.5 Billion websites live? And an estimated 100 Million webmasters are handling them.

Gameover for romantic ideation dreams

Now, since we know how the brain is actually composing, processing, and fine-tuning ideas, we can begin strategic innovation management. We know that no idea ever composed was by accident. We know that brainstorming can’t create a single disruptive business model. We know that disruptive innovation takes on average 6 weeks to create. It will not happen in a week nor will it take longer than 12 weeks. With amazing predictability comes manageability but most importantly readiness to invest. Constructing an innovative idea is no longer much different from architecting a new skyscraper. Both have a predictable outcome. All that is opening up new investments. 100 Million Innovation managers become more and more a realistic number.

Now is a good time to build up your experience.

BlueCallom launches its Innovations Management Academy with an orientation webinar on Jan 7 and Jan 18. https://bluecallom.com/certified-innovation-manager-orientation/ We will help innovators, managers, and executives to get their arms around the many counter-intuitive aspects of an innovation lifecycle. It’s already hard enough to find top talents. And that will get even harder in the next few years. Having experience will remain to be a top value in an innovation career. “How many innovation projects did you complete?” “What methods did you use?”. To compete with 100 Million others for a job is equally challenging than trying to get top talents competing with 100 Million other businesses. We interviewed shrimp farm owners in Vietnam, street dealers in Cambodia, car repair shops in Nigeria, and 50+ more businesses. The owners are on average 25, graduated from their local University, and are smart enough to understand that our world is changing very fast. The shrimp farmer considers an AI system to manage the population, the car repair shop an e-commerce system for parts sale, and the street dealer a mobile app to push their daily harvest of ultra-fresh food to sell it the same day. Each one of the innovative concepts is simple at first glance, yet powerful enough to force all their competitors to follow.

Starting January 25, the new BlueCallom Innovations Management Academy will offer four major programs:

Deep Innovation Design Champion – learning all about the methodology
Deep Innovation Design Specialist – applying the acquired knowledge in a project
Innovation Manager – learning to run a full-size innovation project
Innovation Executive – knowing what you can expect from your team

You will find all details here: https://bluecallom.com/imacad/

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100 Million Innovation Managers