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The critical aspects for an innovation vision

Posted by Paul Hobcraft on Jan 20, 2016 4:00:00 AM

When we consider developing an innovation vision it's easy to get bogged down in details as we craft and then re-craft this to reflect our realities. Most of our discussions are internally related.

We can miss some different and crucial components in building the vision, which reflects on many of the intangibles surrounding any view. It is critical for us to address how to embed the vision and relate the essential parts that need to come together. I believe we have to work harder at closing those many disconnects’ that surround our innovation understanding. We have to ‘set about’ the informing by creating a cohesive and consistent innovation purpose.

The power of the innovation return is determined not just by all the efforts applied to generate successful innovation outcomes by the people involved, but also by applying the right innovation mechanisms and frameworks. We need a clear and well thought through integrated approach, and we also must consider a number of intangibles that need determining.

One great visual paints a thousand words

I came across the visual below some years back, and for me, it's outstanding in providing the feedback loops that go into developing the right innovation vision by recognizing the value in exploring the intangibles within each of the loops that can contribute to or restrain the vision. To get to a definitive end point of having an innovation vision you are faced with some complex challenges. These are well shown here. Each influences the other and constantly loop back.

continous_improvement_chart.png

The critical feedback need for constructing an innovation vision

The different challenges seen in this terrific visual depiction can trigger and provide the sort of dialogue and efforts that needs to go into ‘crafting’ the innovation vision. It is hard, thoughtful work.

Let’s look at each of these a little more:

The Time Challenge

We get caught in annual planning cycles that leave little time for ‘considered’ opinion and debate. The annual plans all come in a deluge and this is plainly wrong. Creating a vision needs a lot of time to consider all the aspects. The ‘time gap’ seriously impacts the visions success and clarity of purpose.

The Diversity Challenge

Not only within the same board room do you have a diversity of opinion, you have that up and down any organization. Getting the views out in the open, then managing the conflicting aspects and dealing with the ‘polarization effects’ is difficult. This is where a dedicated focus, a Chief Innovation Officer, can really make a difference. To get people to talk about the vision, what it should stand for, what needs to happen, does eventually lead to greater clarity.

The Relationship Challenge

Managing the relationships both within and outside the organization when it comes to the right thinking on innovation is hard, converting doubters, drawing out differences, improving the quality of any conversation around innovation (ideally with facts not conjecture) and raising the enthusiasm to engage is crucial to moving towards the right vision.

The Vision Cap Challenge

There is a reality to what and where you are and the perceived gap that needs addressing. This  is something we tend to be very poor at; holding a ‘creative’ tension that can stimulate and create a vibrant and exciting innovation vision. We try to dampen the divergence in opinions far too early so we can (quickly) get to a convergence. This ‘keenness’ to take away the creative tension tends to replace it with a potential set of destructive ones, which can quickly lead to the making of barriers to innovation. People resent not being listened too, or not being allowed the appropriate time to develop their arguments.

The Vision and its Success

If you get people to ‘freely’ talk about innovation, its importance, its impact and can ‘paint’ the future in broad brush strokes, they achieve a growing clarity and enthusiasm and that missing critical component a sense of shared identity.

Innovation is complex; it deals with formal and informal mechanisms. There is an awful lot to constructing a solid innovation vision but believe me, it is even harder to understand the right components that make up the innovation strategy, so it does eventually become a well-articulated innovation strategy and become an integrated innovation framework.

More on this integrated innovation framework in the next post.

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