Tag Archive for: enterprises

Rethinking innovation from the ground up.

Enterprises around the world have been challenged with becoming genuinely innovative, trying to elevate their effort from improvement to innovation. With over 90% of groundbreaking innovation coming from startups, enterprises are trying to understand what startups do differently. Turning an enterprise into a truly innovative business has been globally one of the biggest challenges across all industries. It is time to completely rethink the act of innovation from the ground up – starting at the very top. Innovation is a CEO mandate because only CEOs together with their board can make the important decisions about TIME, CAPITAL, and STRUCTURE.

Time

The time it takes to get to new innovation. This is a paradigm shift we all need to be aware of. With the new data and processes, we know that in five years from now, you will need to completely start from scratch again, referred to as the innovation continuum. Think of discovering the next innovation opportunity, and find again new ways to satisfy customers. It is a continuum for building one innovation after the other and becoming a Generation Project that is set forward for the next leadership generation. Each time it takes five years to achieve broad market acceptance. That means you have a maximum of five years to innovate and compete or be out. The new mantra: innovate fast or get out. Once that innovation hits the market, there is a five to ten-year timespan, from idea to recognized market leadership. Important long-term decisions to continue investing in those innovations and the innovation continuum require the CEO and their board.

Capital

The capital market has radically changed in the past ten years. Companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, and Uber were considered overhyped but then achieved global market domination. Competitors could not compete because they did not know why those companies took over their market share. It is becoming more and more difficult to catch up with the market. Conventional companies are trying to fight their competitors with legal attacks, just because they don’t know how to compete with their innovation. The old game was competing with new improvements, which no longer works. Capital markets, its savvy investors, analysts, and fund managers have long understood that fighting innovation, when not even knowing how innovation works and how much is required to invest, is a very bad position to be in. Hundreds of millions of investments are necessary to get an innovation from early concepts to success in a global market. Successful innovations consumed more than $100 Million in funding. Unicorns, per definition, consumed roughly a billion dollars, some reached into two-digit billion-dollar investments. Only the CEO together with the CFO and the board can make financial commitments of that magnitude.

Structure

The pressure to innovate has risen dramatically in the past 10 years. Managers look at startups and think they can learn how innovation works. Innovation centers ended up becoming kindergarten-like playgrounds, an esoteric group of “thinkers and tinkers’’, hunting for the inspiration they hoped would come their way. Random experimentation and hoping to find a great idea never leads to groundbreaking innovation. Innovation is an outcome – not a desire. Without exception, the most innovative solutions were created to solve a specific and very present problem. Innovation success is not about an idea creation team and taking it to market by the existing organization. It is about creating an innovation center independent of the corporate organization that is responsible for identifying a viable innovation opportunity and bringing it successfully to market. This independent innovation center requires a highly diverse team of exceptional innovation talents that will get the job done. The team and a decision to create a separate innovation center independent of the corporate organization can only be made by the C-Level.

 

In conclusion, the innovation mandate is the strategic decision from the CEO to become innovative with certain guidelines regarding the long-term goals and designated audience for the innovation. The mandate is typically addressing innovation management and other corporate management functions with time, capital, and structure all taken into consideration.

 

For more information and how to set innovation in motion, download the latest whitepaper, “Innovation is a CEO Mandate.”

Enterprises around the world are struggling to create groundbreaking innovations, watch the latest Innovative Minds Event from Thurs. Oct. 21 “Innovation is a CEO Mandate” and hear from leading organizations about their struggles and why they feel it requires a top-down approach to be successful. Available to watch here.

Most innovation centers failed to genuinely innovate – Now let’s fix it

What worked for startups can now also work for enterprises. While the innovation process, purpose, and reasoning should be the same, the leadership structure is very different. Over the past four years, we learned so much about the difference between innovation in corporations and in startups that today realize: Enterprises had no realistic chance to be innovative – even when acquiring a startup. That difference requires an understanding of how innovative ideas are created, getting your c-level involved in crafting an innovation mandate, and redefining your innovation process to focus on your customer’s true needs and dreams. It’s time to rethink the act of innovation and pursue genuine groundbreaking innovation. 

How ideas get created

Neuroscience had the single biggest impact on our modern understanding of innovation. One key aspect is the realization that ideas don’t come randomly and there are no “magic ideas out of the blue”. The brain composes ideas from past experiences and those compositions represent the power and the limit of our creativity. We cannot have ideas about situations that we have never experienced. Every successful innovation started by observing and understanding an existing problem. If there is no problem to solve, there is no success to be gained. When we know how innovation is created, we can request certain results, we can request insights, and measure and manage the effort. Most importantly executives, now know what they can expect or request from an innovation effort. This understanding drives an entirely different ideation process and calls for a very different innovation process in general: it requires CEO and customers involvement.

Innovation is a CEO mandate

Genuine Innovation is a long-term engagement. It usually takes less than six months to create an innovative solution, but on average 5 to 10 years to be recognized as an innovation in the market. Innovation is the duality of brilliant ideation and relentless execution. Even the fastest startups took 7 to 10 years to become market leaders. Moreover, most of today’s innovations of significance consumed more than a billion dollars to become successful. Capital requirements of that size cannot be decided by an innovation department. With today’s knowledge of how innovative ideas can be stimulated and how those ideas could be brought to market, repeatability, the act of innovation is changing profoundly – even for startups. With that, another key consideration needs to be made: An innovation team that comes up with a new idea must also bring it successfully to market. The existing sales, marketing, production, and logistics departments do not offer any leverage – it’s the opposite; they cannot bring a highly innovative solution to market and sell conventional products to conventional buyers. It’s about Time, Capital, and Structure decisions that CEOs together with their boards can only make.

For more information and additional insights download the “Innovation is a CEO mandate” Whitepaper.

It’s all about the customer

By working with thousands of startups, we learned that innovation success stemmed from a deep understanding of the customer’s problems. This knowledge, combined with our understanding of how innovative ideas are composed, made us realize there was a need for completely rethinking innovation. While corporate innovation labs either spend lots of time finding ideas, experimenting or randomly ideating, the top unicorns developed brilliant ideas based on their research and moved on to relentless execution. Corporate innovation labs try to solve problems they believe exist. They follow the model of “wouldn’t it be cool if we could…” and they love to play all kinds of “thinking games”. They heard about “fail and fail fast”, “pivoting” and “experimenting” without ever questioning if that is actually delivering results.  They copy the 90% of startups that fail without even knowing. 

Successful entrepreneurs look intensely into what their designated audience is doing, what they like and dislike, what they think, and how they see their future. They may not build what their customers asked for, but develop and deliver a solution that is in their dreams. 

Stop looking at what others do

find out what your customers are dreaming about.

Solve the problems they have that others could not solve yet.

 

You can catch up with the market to survive by following what others do. But the financial market will recognize it accordingly. A follower won’t beat the innovator. Rethink the act of innovation – define the innovation culture at the top, listen to your customers and stop being a follower.

Authored by: Alyssa Wengi

Corporate Innovation Labs – Counter-Intuitive

Ingenuity – The corporate innovation teams are typically composed of brilliant minds, top-notch experts. If they can’t solve a problem, nobody can. Is that wrong? Seriously would you expect a sales manager to sit down and innovates and finds a new algorithm? Certainly not. Or maybe a financial controller who may know how to deal with algorithms, should they come up with a new way of building the next generation rocket system? Not very likely. Or?

Experimentation – It is globally understood that it takes a huge amount of creativity to come up with truly groundbreaking ideas. And since creative outcomes cannot be ordered, innovators get a great deal of freedom to experiment with all kinds of ideas and try new ones whenever something seems to make no sense. In other words, experimentation is a key in innovation design. How else?

Competing Ideas – Of course, once an idea is born and needs to hit the road to the market we need them but first, we need an idea, a prototype, and so forth, maybe approvals,  certification, and so forth. And that is expensive. Therefore the decision needs to be made that only the best, most plausible, most viable, most promising idea gets chosen. Right?

Realization – And once it is chosen we do what needs to be done to build and make the first small production batch to surprise the market. And since that is expensive. the other ideas that are too risky won’t make it. Correct?

Startup Mania – All the cases we see and hear about disruption, come from startups. Therefore we need to understand what they do, how they do, how they come up with those innovative ideas, and learn for our own innovation labs. So far no enterprise has put another out of business based on any disruptive idea. Buying or investing in startups looks like a good idea. Is it?

I’m sure you noticed that all the above is today’s normal, yet I was trying to provoke you and kind of question everything.

For more than 6 years, we ran a startup accelerator based on our experience of starting, growing, and successfully exiting companies. We also thought all the above is sort of a logical approach. But it is not. We came to the realization, that innovation and the rise of startups are loaded with counterintuitive steps and behavior.

  • Innovation lab packed with experts? The worst thing that can happen.
  • Experimentation? Once we understand how ideas are created, experimentations step back.
  • Competing ideas? Actually guarantees that innovation is not happening.
  • Parth of realization? Not even the richest enterprise can afford that path.
  • Not a single startup that was acquired or invested in bringing any kind of significant innovation

The Hidden Enterprise Innovation Power

Analyzing the main differences between a startup and an enterprise (I had the pleasure to be in both 2 enterprises than 4 startups) opened my eyes but it took 30 years. Enterprises have an inherited massive advantage over startups only that they don’t use those qualities in a way that makes them truly innovative. And when we are using the term “innovative” we mean groundbreaking innovation either as product innovation, and organizational innovation, or a business model innovation – ideally all three.

Talents
Large enterprises have many extraordinary people, superbly educated, top talented, well connected. However, the skills that are needed to become a top innovator. are never captured, never developed, and maybe oftentimes too understood.

Market Access
What startups need to explore in a painful process, enterprises have on a silver plate: customers with needs and dreams. The focus on efficiency, effectiveness, employee utilization, and more clogged the single most important access to innovation-relevant information.

Ideation Power
The top talents of any trait, diverse and far-reaching experiences, high level of qualification, and intellectual capacity are resources of an enterprise that dwarf any startup on the planet. How to leverage that power is completely unknown inside the enterprise organizations and only unfolds themselves by the sheer urge to survive in the better startups.

Realization Power
Laboratories to play and experiment in the final stage of the innovation journey map are a piece of cake in any corporate innovation environment. Startups build their MVPs with the most rudimentary tools. Sound really interesting and maybe is seen as the better solution. But only to the day when enterprise leaders get the idea to make a radical and strategic shift.

Financial Power
Almost needless to say that enterprises have no problem at all financing the first steps of an inner startup. Again a huge advantage over startups – but already in the next steps when first market tests and prototypes are complex and stretch the boundaries of physics, money runs out in enterprises. This is when VCs only begin and have no problem putting hundreds of millions in their startups. Yet a new car cost billions to develop.

What is the real problem?

When we look into the enterprise versus startup discussion, we simply look in the wrong direction. Every single successful enterprise has been an equally successful startup 20, 50, or 200 years ago. And even relatively young tech startups that have successfully completed their IPO and crossed the $5Billion revenue range almost forgot what happened when they were innovative year over year.

After four years of research, we realized: Enterprises had no other chance than fail. The way an enterprise is managed is structured in a way that the operation is optimized, employees best utilized, and every aspect of sales, marketing, production, logistics, engineering finance, and so forth is woven together in a way that leaves no room for anything else. And in the past, there was nothing else. But today there is: Every innovation triggers two new innovations, which trigger two new innovations. The innovation explosion – which only now is part of the competitive advantage – is simply not part of the enterprise management Carta.

How do you use all those discoveries?

You need to turn the counterintuitive situations with your current corporate innovation environment, on its head and redesign your thinking and innovation itself:

  1. Find ways to identify, develop, empower and stimulate the best available talents
  2. Leverage the market access to understand the needs and dreams of their customers
  3. Going far beyond brainstorming and leveraging “neuro ideation” getting to truly groundbreaking innovation
  4. Again leverage the market access to validate the extreme ideas that come out of the best possible ideation
  5. Trying to redesign business models based on all inputs to find their “disruptive moment”
  6. Create a long term “Staged Funding” plan before a penny was burned through experimentation
  7. Now build the MVP while going to market, creating “Market Born Products”
  8. Once the product is stable, scaling the operation as fast as possible.

And once done you start all over – never stop innovating, never stop producing, marketing servicing, and crafting a dominating corporate innovation strategy.  Enter into the “Innovation Continuum.”

For me, finding out how innovation is actually created and making it a repeatable process was the most exciting business journey in my life.

Let me know what you think.

How about Innovator or Innovation Design Manager or Innovation Paradigm Executive?

Find out what suits you best:

The pressure to be more innovative is big. This pressure comes from various sources at the same time. Customers want better, easier, more useful solutions. Investors want to see the company they invested in more agile and more innovative. The board simply amplifies the pressure from the market onto the executive bench. Top talents want to work in innovative companies and the competition from fast-growing and scaling young companies on top of all that. A CEO of a global enterprise cannot be the same innovator as the CEO of a startup. But the enterprises can look for innovative talents who may perform that role without taking the entrepreneurial risk of starting and driving their own business.

The Innovator

The title says it all, the person innovates. However, in our today’s complex business organizations, we need to not only think of innovative solutions for customers but also innovative solutions internally. Many marketing departments conduct their business in more or less the same way, with the same KPIs and the same methods as 25 years ago. Marketing innovation can have extremely positive effects on a companies market presence. Innovation itself is another even more dramatic challenge. How can a perfectly organized company with a top-level employee utilization craft out time for innovation? Whether for internally or externally faced innovations, the innovator is a top talent that has a wide-open mind, is a stellar listener, and amazing observer. That person has lots of experiences with which they can compose new ideas and are trained to “play” with their brain and produce groundbreaking ideas. The innovator is the person who literally produces innovation without being the expert that actually builds the product or service that will rock the market. The developing and building process remains in the engineering or other specialists’ hands. The innovator typically would report to a Deep Innovation Design Manager.

The Deep Innovation Design Manager

We all learned that the value of an idea is zero. The value of innovation grows with its distribution throughout global markets. The Deep Innovation Design Process needs managers with a 360° view of all aspects, steps, processes, stakeholders, and activities who can navigate and moderate the process with whole teams, partners, contributors, and other stakeholders. He or she is the Innovation Success Manager and would typically report to an Innovations Paradigm Executive or directly to the CEO in smaller organizations.

The Innovation Paradigm Executive

In large enterprises with different business units, countless departments and many products need an executive-level person to craft a corporate-wide innovation strategy, work with the C-Level of the company, coordinate the innovation engagements across all business units and ensure the financial engagements and capital distribution throughout the various projects, run by the Deep innovation Design Managers.

In the new world of Innovation Paradigm Models and Deep Innovation Design methods, innovation is demystified and turned into predictable and manageable activities that can be planned, budgeted, and managed. And to do so, businesses need talents to perform these new jobs.

If this should become your career path, join one of our free online events.

 

In the past four years, we were attempting to understand how innovation is actually created and analyzed how we were building startups that became ten years later billion-dollar companies. We were also exploring how other startups that became billion-dollar companies created their ideas and successes. We found striking insights about the difference in innovations power between startups and established billion-dollar enterprises – who were startups themselves just a few decades ago. Also, we explored the difference between invention and innovation.

From invention to innovation

The automobile evolved from INVENTION to INNOVATION. The disk brakes moved from INVENTION to IMPROVEMENT. The first electric BMW car made it from INVENTION to an EXPERIMENT, while Tesla made it to INNOVATION without even having it invented. A self-driving Mercedes S-Class made a 1,000-mile journey from Munich to Copenhagen and back in 1992! It was already using computer vision and computers to react in real-time. The autonomous car achieved speeds exceeding 110 miles per hour (175 km/h) on the German Autobahn with nearly no human intervention for 95% of the distance. It drove in traffic, executing maneuvers to pass other cars. Also, here, all the necessary inventions have not been taken to innovation but ended up in drawers. Analyzing the reasons is equally complex and interesting but exceeds the purpose of this post. We will do this in another post.

Invention vs. Innovation

In most enterprises, we may find hundreds if not thousands of geniuses with fabulous ideas but no way to go. There is this massive difference between INVENTION and INNOVATION. INVENTION is the act of having and documenting an idea, maybe building a prototype, and perhaps even being granted one or more patents. Unfortunately, the invention is of no value at all. Bringing such an invention to market, scale the business or business unit and make it a global success is when we talk about INNOVATIONS. The full cycle of invention, prototyping, market validation, product-market-fit, funding, marketing, testing, producing, launching, more funding, branding, selling, customer engagement, servicing, business model optimization, more funding, going international all the way up to being a global player in that segment is a successful innovation. Innovation is neither a product nor service nor the marketing or sales effort to make it big – INNOVATION is the result of a series of activities, engagements, teams, and market conditions that lead to groundbreaking new solutions for a larger group of users.

The value of innovation grows with its distribution!

The good news, pretty much every large enterprise on earth is struggling with being innovative. Even enterprises that came just two decades ago with highly innovative solutions to market, now struggling to be innovative. The bad news, more innovative startups, than ever before in history challenge any size enterprise. The question arises: Is the lifecycle of the innovation, the future lifecycle of a company in general?

The five biggest mistakes

  1. The company never developed a comprehensive plan to identify the brilliant ideas, which their employees already created, usually based on their experience with the problem. Inventors are mostly not communicative managers but more introverted engineers!
  2. Seeing the brain spark of an invention already as innovation and wonder why it is not successful in this highly competitive global economy.
  3. Completely ignoring the fact that innovative businesses require a lot of funding to become that innovative business everybody is dreaming about.
  4. Running innovation alongside and hoping for magical growth and market disruption.
  5. Management teams never asked themselves where these ideas are actually coming from and how they can be harnessed.

What to do

  1. A great starting point is to see the act of invention as an ignition point that triggers a comprehensive process of innovation.
  2. It is far better to develop trust in the “Innovation Potential” of the company’s employees than looking into startups.
  3. Rationalizing that any major innovation is also a significant investment, and there is no difference between a startup and a global enterprise.
  4. Creating a serious effort to include customers into the innovation process and stop looking at what the competition is doing.
  5. Stop hoping that employees think like startup entrepreneurs. If they would, they would be long gone, and if they stayed, they much better contribute to an enterprise-level innovation process.

We will share more findings and more insights as we progress.