Overcoming the Hurdles to Achieving Innovation

When Innovation Changes an Organisation

One of the things we like about innovation is the ability to drive change in an organisation. When you can take an organisation turnaround, gross profitability, better employs people, and it delivers services to customers, it’s a great deal of satisfaction from that sort of environment.

We’ve gone into organisations that were struggling to survive had CEOs sort of been threatened that if the results were the same next year write yourself a check and go. And be able to go in there and actually look at what the problems are, come up with creative solutions to solving those problems and actually see a turn-around of results in 12 months is something that’s very self-satisfying.

So that’s sort of the thing, it’s also, I guess, looking at new ideas, always creating new strategies, and testing the boundaries of what we can do. They’re all very creative. It’s all very enjoyable. It’s new ideas. There’s always something different so there’s probably a lot of things there that really we find enjoyable about innovation.

When a CEO Recognises a Problem

The type of CEO that can take advantage of “The CEO Innovation Blueprint” is probably a CEO who recognises that they have a problem. And a problem recognised is a problem half-solved. We often get people saying “Well, we’ve implemented innovation very well.” When we sort of dig into it we say, “Well, you might’ve implemented a technology but have you got the results? Is it driving profit? Is it driving growth?”

And when CEOs recognise that we’ve got a problem, you know, seven years of that growth, profits really only coming in from cross-cutting, we’re having trouble defending ourselves against digital disrupter, there’s new market challenges, etc., when they recognise that they’ve got a problem then they’re open to ideas and opportunities. And this book really helps them think differently about ways of tackling those problems.

When Communication Stops Innovation

“The CEO Innovation Blueprint” highlights a major issue in the organisation in that communication stops innovation. There’s a number of factors behind it and a lot of it has to do with the way we assess people that come to us with ideas.

In the past and in the status quo sort of way, we deal with experts is somebody that deals with something that’s been done in the past and have very qualified and experienced in that knowledge. And we measure them to be an expert in that field.

Somebody’s coming up with a new idea is not an expert because you can’t be an expert in a new idea. It hasn’t been around for long enough. So how do we assess that they are qualified to talk to that idea? And that’s a real big challenge.

So we look at organisations, it’s amazing that people that are on factory lines or working in areas that don’t have skills and knowledge can come up with the greatest ideas for the business. But because they’re not qualified or seen as experts, we sometimes don’t listen to them.

So really, the difficult challenge is for somebody who’s got expertise in the field to actually take a deep breath and stop, and listen to somebody who’s not an expert in the field actually come up with some ideas that could give them a different perspective on the situation or come up with some fresh ideas that could actually totally revolutionise how you compress that idea with that process. And when you see organisations that have adopted crowdsourced idea generation where they’re actually looking at getting ideas from completely different industries just try and force a different perspective on the problem to find completely new solutions.

When Innovation Is Seen as a Risk

One of the things with innovation is it’s about risk. It’s not necessary that it’s risky but it’s actually doing something that people are uncomfortable with because it’s something different and therefore they perceive that there’s a risk around it.

One of the hard parts, if we got back to the concept we talked about beforehand about Exploiters and Explorers, Explorers are people that are more prepared to take risks, they’re more prepared to step beyond the boundaries. Exploiters are more comfortable in dealing with what they already know.

So you have a problem where you might have an executive who has an Exploiter personality being told by an Explorer personality; “What about doing this?” and there’s a communication gap about risk. The Exploiter is going to be immediately uncomfortable with the concept of there’s something different, and there’s a risk, and they feel that the Explorer personality hasn’t really considered the risk. The same time is the Explorer personality is sort of, “You old Fuddy-Duddy, you’re out of date. You don’t move with the times because you’re not prepared to look at new ideas.”

It’s actually an issue that probably requires a bit of both changing their ways. Explorer personalities need to recognise that people are concerned about risk, they have to go back to stakeholders and say; “Look here, we’re not risking your investment unnecessarily.” So as an Explorer, putting an idea forward requires that you’ve actually stopped and thought about the risks. But it’s also for the Exploiter personality to not immediately react to a new idea and say, “Oh, that’s risky.” To actually first consider is it as risky as we thought?

And it’s very interesting sort of scenario the moment that in the environment that have become very risk averse after financial global crisis is that we’re losing lots of opportunities because we just refuse to actually just even start thinking about the risk. And we shouldn’t be risk averse but actually be focused on managing risk.

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One comment on “Overcoming the Hurdles to Achieving Innovation

  1. Perhaps our representatives on Capitol Hill – including the GOP – could show equal backbone ?

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DAVID JORDAN