Innovation

I am on my way back from visiting a company in Israel that had hard core innovation, as a core strategy. This is a tale of all dreams. Here is why.

WHY is not a strategy

During the last day I have had an interesting conversation with leaders of Innovation in Sweden, about the difference between purpose (vision) and strategy. Funny enough we all agreed. Strategy is, simply put, the actionable plan to reach the purpose, in its turn the answer to why we are doing it. Whatever it is.

The conversation took part while I was visiting a high-tech company in Israel, undergoing purposeful change. The company mother had had its challenges and a group of entrepreneurs had acquired this subsidiary and turned it around, as companies are turned around. Interesting enough this was not their purpose, this was their strategy. The purpose was in all means to reach a much higher altitude, aspiring to solve a true world challenge. This was their “why”. Innovation was their strategy.

Their core business was now healthy enough, but they were far from their target. They now aimed at disrupting, challenging and transforming more than one industry. They were ready to bet it all, on a “play to win” strategy.

A dream team

As we sat down for the opening presentation, the dream team to carry out the strategy was introduced to us. Over 100 years of experience in a rapidly developing field crystalized in front of me and the inno-venture team I was with. They knew it all, they were researchers, entrepreneurs, practitioners and leaders- all with their specialities.  Yet, interesting enough, they claimed they were not there to invent. They were there to innovate.

The whole team worked together on a plan to continuously develop the solution and albeit their experiences, they were to trust an open approach allowing their technologies to be developed anywhere and applied, implemented and deployed by them. Apply, implement and deploy – this is our mantra at Googol. I was amazed.

Apply, implement and deploy – this is our mantra at Googol

All types of innovation

I saw a team that, likely without having studied Keeley et als. 10 types of Innovation, naturally worked in just this way. New materials, new technologies, new business models etc would at all times affect and have effect their solution, so rather than betting on a given solution, they are betting on the solution being given over and over again. The core of the beauty, to me, today, was that they applied a process of development, rather than a technology. High tech company or not.

I am so looking forward to the continued journey of this very interesting venture. And who knows, I just might share their progress at a later stage.

Innovation

Vi arbetar med att skapa och utveckla nya “s-kurvor”. En av de signifikanta utmaningarna är timingen hos våra klienter. Hur navigerar vi då fram ett mod i ledningen? Jo, med insikter. Mod skapat av insikter.

Beroende på var ett bolag befinner sig i sin egen livscykel, eller egentligen var de uppfattar sin position, finns olika mognadsgrad för behovet av såväl disruptiv innovation som mängden och takten av de kontinuerliga förbättringarna. Hur många sitter inte fast i gapet mellan “vi måste bara först..” och “vi måste absolut..”. Det absoluta brukar få stå i farstun och vänta på att alla andra saker skall bli klara först.

För att förstå vikten av att hålla rätt takt och sedan agera på den, behövs insikter. Insikter kan också skapa mod, det tycker vi att de skall göra. Nyfikenhet är givet, men mod?

Kan man evidensbasera kundernas behov, matcha dem mot de trender vi bedömer kommer att påverka vår marknad och därtill testa kontinuerligt lösningar med kunderna. Ja, då kan vi misslyckas billigt och snabbt och istället dra verksamheten mot att investera mer träffsäkert. Att säkerställa att vi har kontroll på misslyckandena och effekterna av dem, hjälper oss att våga ta steget, att göra satsningar. Det är alltså ett sätt att skapa mod.

Att misslyckas är ett måste. Det är en del av processen. Men att inte DG_risk-reward2misslyckas, är ett misslyckande i sig. Att misslyckas är egentligen ett sätt att satsa om och nytt, på det som är relevant och fungerar.

Att lyckas är en annan sak. Det är så att säga ännu viktigare. Framgång föds ur motgång. Därför behöver vi studera var våra kunder misslyckas med att känna tillfredsställelse, att anticipera var de kommer att misslyckas i framtiden- och att lösa detta. Gör vi det dessutom med kundernas medverkan ökar träffsäkerheten. Gör vi det med sådana som inte är kunder ännu, kan vi öka vår marknadspenetration. Lyckas vi mer än vi misslyckas- och vi kontrollerar kostnaden för misslyckandena, ja då har vi en fungerande ekvation.

Sedan kan vi mitigera risk genom samverkan med andra, exempelvis genom att adaptera lösningar som för oss är banbrytande, men för andra är vardagens salt. Då vet vi dessutom att vi har större chans att lyckas, eftersom metoden är beprövad. Så kan vi hoppa från en produkt- och livscykel, till nästa utan att nödvändigtvis behöva korsa risk-risk nivån, utan röra oss i framgångsnivåerna. Se bilden, som illustrerar detta.

Vi tycker att man kan kombinera olika delar av innovationsbredden, och på så sätt skapa högre träffsäkerhet, differentiering, lägre risk och ändå få stark differentiering. Detta, är jag helt passionerad för.

#innovateeverything

Innovation

In todays inspiring conversation with Mikkel Bondesen of Ufuse, I found myself again discussing the need to tear down the Taylorian models of constructing hierarchies. Actually, not only tear down, we need to remodel how we work within our organizations. We are slowly destroying the ability to create new business. As we say, there is no business, like No Business.

A few years ago I spoke quite a bit about the commonalities of Innovation hurdles in the organizations I had had the opportunity to work with. I explained this as the effects of a stroke. The damage of the stroke itself, being usually one of the hurdles, makes little difference in itself. However the swelling around this damage will likely for ever destruct the power and ability of the brain. It is the same factors that come into play with an organizations abilities after the first damage of size has been done. The fault in itself might be of insignificant value, but the long term effects will slowly rotten the business of doing business.

Central challenges of Innovation, Dariush Ghatan, Googol
Central challenges of Innovation, Dariush Ghatan, Googol

A non performing culture can be recognized as an organization only thinking big, demanding big, expecting big and therefore betting big. There is nothing proving that this strategy of betting big forms a working portfolio in itself. Betting often, fast and confident can be better.

Projects also need to iterate in a creative process and must be allowed to establish its form over time, as value is added from different stake-holder insights.

Another item Mikkel and I clearly agreed on was the way hierarchies form uncertainties though the reporting and decision making. By not allowing people to see the full picture, yes- we create a organization that will ship at high efficiency, but it will not deliver new initiatives nor drive new revenue.

Taylor meant that workers were not intelligent enough to understand the work they were involved in. Well, it’s the 21 century now. Things might have changed. And actually, they probably did understand, but didn’t know how to express it.

Mikkel said that he finds organizations where

the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing

And he is right. That is exactly what todays organizations often suffer from. The answers are there, the process to find the answers are not. This is were the need of facilitated Innovation, a little help from externals, will help.

I told Mikkel that I find it gruesome to see that many organizations don’t even have more than a left hand (or a right). I do remain   in my strong suggestion that organizations should have both a left and a right hand and that, as you know, should be ambidextrous. I say;

Many talk about sustaining their business. That’s not enough. There is no business, like No Business. We need to continiously redevelop ourselves and dare to be- and seek the disruptive.

Dariush-quote-06 (sustaining vs disrupting)

At Googol we are no working to develop further models for organizing the tasks and work force in streams of solutions. This we have found, will enable organizations to be more agile and anticipate their clients needs and respond to these in good time. We will during the symposium Innovation In Action 2013 in workshops such as Ambidextrous Organizations, held with Prof Bengt Järrehult of SCA and  me, as well as within workshops such as Big Data and Portfolio Management touch on the Why, the What and the How of this. Together this is how you form what I call a Zero-Time Company. More about this shortly.

 

 

Innovation

Under de senaste 15 åren har jag i många sammanhang anfört att sättet som vi organiserar och driver de mest framgångsrika företagen på, är ohållbart. Det är dags att ni lyssnar.

Jag upplever att några, inte få, men allt för få, har lyssnat. Vän av ordning, vill jag förekomma belackare och Janteister, med att säga att anledningarna kan sägas bero på mig. Självfallet hade jag om jag varit annorlunda, eller en annan, eller bara bättre, fått mer gehör. Men jag är inte ensam. Det finns många som med mig fört liknande talan. Även de har förvånansvärt litet gehör här i Europa. Så, ni behöver inte lyssna på just, eller bara, mig. Lyssna till entreprenörer, professorer, talare, tänkare och rådgivare, eller industrialister. Oavsett vilken form hon tar, bara ni lyssnar. Och agerar.

Långsamma bolag

Jan Stenbeck sa någon gång till mig, citatet taget av Murdoch,

 

Det är inte de stora som kommer att äta se små, det är de snabba som kommer att slå de långsamma.

Jag tänker nu bland annat på sagan om Nokia. Ett bolag som gick från att vara aktörer i en industri där de hade begränsad framgång, till att genom ett antal händelser bli globala ledare inom en industri som tillhörde en av de starkaste ekonomiska sektorerna någonsin. Dessutom en industri som stått till grund för något av de mest anmärkningsvärda entreprenörskap, utmanande och förmögenhetsskapande vi erfarit.

Sagan har nyligen tagit en helt annan vändning, då de avhändigat sig den gamla kärnan av denna affärsgren, till ett värde som ligger långt lägre än för 10 år sedan, trots att sektorn bara växer och växer och växer.

De, vi, kunderna och konkurrenterna har sett behovet av förändring sedan nära 10 år. Men ändå är känslan som lever kvar att förändringen inte var snabb nog. De hängde inte med. De hade blivit stora, från att ha varit snabba. Det var som att se en ohälsosam åldring koppla av på strömt vatten, lite lätt berusad (av framgången). Vi ropade, många gånger att de skulle ta situationen på allvar. Men Nokia och många andra drakbolag lyckades inte agera i tid, de tappade flytkraft på utandningen, började plaska förtvivlat med armarna i panik och sjönk. Jag tror att vi om 20 år kommer att se på dessa bolag som drakar. Fasansfulla, fantasieggande men utdöda. Om vi alls kan tro att de faktiskt funnits.

Narcissism

Nokia har en gång tidigare gjort omvandlingen från ett industrifokus till ett annat, men har bolaget samma förutsättningar idag?

Dariush-quote-01

2006 såldes det fler enheter av Nokias operativsystem, än något annat. Microsofts inräknat. Nokia förvärvade det ena spännande teknikbolaget efter det andra. Det såg ut som att Finland höll på att föda ett globalt mjukvarubolag. Det såg ut som att Finland skulle bli nytt skandinaviskt epicentrum för nytt entreprenörskap och företagande. Vi drog österut, träffade Rovio och en mängd spännande företag och deras grundare. Det doftade vår i Finland.

De bolag vi träffade byggde sina verksamheter på att vara oberoende, framförallt oberoende av Nokia. Entreprenörerna, som jobbade närmast Nokia, sålde till dem, samarbetade med dem och ibland säkert ägdes av dem, såg det. Kunderna som köpte produkterna såg det. Men Nokia lyckades inte se runt hörnet på sin egen framgångssaga. Nokia lyssnade inte på sin omgivning. De lyssnade enkom till sin egen röst. Detta påminner mig om sagan om Narcissus, pojken som var så fascinerad av sin egen spegelbild, att han drunknade i den.

Innovation

intra redThe entrepreneurial scene in Stockholm is boosting business inspiration. I feel very inspired after an evening with disruptive new initiatives driven by true entrepreneurial spirit. As I this past evening have taken on the role as an advisor/angel/dragon, I conclude the work day with some questions; How can I help boost women’s entrepreneurial engagements and how do I drive even more intrapreneurship to the table? How can I spread the entrepreneurial spirit to form intrapreneurial spirit, thus creating growth and prosperity?

Boosting entrepreneurship with business

It used to be a words I threw at business leaders; “..let us boost business with entrepreneurship”. Aimed at the large organizations subject to getting stale, the phrase actually had impact. Everywhere growth is needed and disruptive solutions are considered part of the solution, entrepreneurship is one of the cultural tools.

Entrepreneurship is not the Holy Grail of corporate business, but it adds vitality, drive, new paths.. and inspiration. The financial values created set aside, these are very important factors to creating the right culture for Innovation. But entrepreneurial spirit also adds to the “personal reward” factor. Our studies on intrapreneurial activities have concluded that two major forces drive peoples willingness to create; recognition and participation. The spirit of creation and active participation, engagement and responsibility is not necessarily driven by financial terms, they are driven by the opportunity to have recourses and to be valued for being part of a creation and realization process. To learn and be part of a team are also important factors. I have made this into one of my key subjects when I lecture and I can go on and on about it.

Hence, I would like to confess to something. I think it is even as important to boost entrepreneurship with corporate business. I believe that one of the true values of our large organizations is the infra-structure they offer for entrepreneurship. We can find many examples of new business initiatives that, when managed correctly, drive significant value from large corporations and in return offer even larger values to them.

The intrapreneurs dilemma

Intrapreneurs should not be afraid of anything, but they are. They are afraid to loose the only thing they have that the entrepreneur doesn’t. They are afraid to loose their job. And yet, they all say you shouldn’t be. Easy to say; Harder to meet.

You are fired!

Gifford Pinchot , whom formed the phrase Intrapreneur in the 70’s has as his first commandment “Come to work each day, willing to be fired.” Boy, have I followed his path here. When I contacted Gifford about 10 years ago, one of his comments was regarding the fact that I had been fired after 1,5 days from my first job, with the words “We have been doing this for 70 years. We don’t need another crazy guy with new ideas”. Gifford said this was probably the best thing that has happened me and I actually started to see his reasoning. I turned that failure into part of my personal path. Since then, I can’t say I don’t care whether or not a team wants me involved (I do very much), but I am not afraid of loosing my job, especially not since I made my career into forming my own job.

I have noted that Mr. Pinchot has added 6 commandments, the 16th being “Don’t ask to be fired..” which very well aligns with my opinion. You can continue to be a creator, even within. Understand the rules and play by them, just as you would have to with investors if you left your organization.

You are hired!

When a few years after I got fired, a great Swedish entrepreneur decided to hire me, it was actually with similar words; -We have been at this for 60 years, we are about to do everything differently. Join me.

Join me. Not join us. Me. Those were the words of a leader. And I did join him. And I would again. Tributes to you Mr Jan H Stenbeck, for what you did to boost entrepreneurship in Sweden and for having me around for nearly 7 years. I believe that Mr Stenbeck had more to teach us than we understand. He actually made a thing clear to me; Capable, innovative and entrepreneurial people do fit into larger organizations. And they should be ready to share value and security in exchange for this talent that they bring. Mr. Stenbeck had an unseen ability of attracting those with an entrepreneurial spirit to his organization. Many left him to form their own ventures, so again a tributes to someone who helped shape industries beyond his own business. Those that didn’t leave him and his Group didn’t necessarliy lack entrepreneurship, they continued the creation, from within.

Fire me!

Few people step into their job willing to bet their stability. Unless a bit wacky of course. Wacky or single. Or wealthy maybe.

So, do we really need to have people leave their jobs to create new disruptive initiatives? No, by all means, it is 2013, not 1972. We can find new ways of collaboration, employment, value sharing and security. Be innovative, be bold, be daring. You are about to create history and with this value to the company, ask for something in return. The models have changed, its time we do. Stability is actually only offered from your inner strength. Security might have to be accomplished with external support. The organizations need that entrepreneurial drive within. Find a way, and play by those rules. There are other rules to bend, than those that work.

I ask myself

Is there something in my work with corporate venturing and creating intrapreneurial activities that also could affect the gender ratio of entrepreneurial initiatives? Well guess what. I think so. I think I might have one of many needed solutions. I believe that corporate venturing could drive significantly more competence cross gender and cross abilities to the table.

Are you curious? Good!

Innovation

Violin bwI am an advocate of failures, my mantra being: Failure is not a result; it is part of a process. However there are forms of failure that have fatal impact and these can be avoided through leadership, focus, guts and a bit of good luck.

Failure can have many faces

One typical form of failure is that we do not find a working or acceptable solution to a given challenge or need. When a technology proves to be not working or a solution not to be accepted by the market, often enough we see this as failing projects. We can learn and iterate and solve this, or just move on.

If we move on, usually it is for the benefit of another more promising project, which is part of a contracting process forcing us to select were we spend our resources. If we redevelop and try again, we have pushed ourselves to hopefully finding a better solution, i.e. failure was a success.

Killing projects

Killing a project can be hard, but important. Making the right choice for the right reasons early on, tends to touch the efficiency curve of Innovation Portfolio management.

As we are still looking for a cost to market and revenue at market ratio and since this is to be discounted based on a limited time frame, our ability to be efficient affects the overall performance even more.

The lethal failure

Another category of failures, being that we do not have resources, strategy, stamina or guts to Innovate is the dangerous part. This trap has to be avoided at any cost; else it will cost all your revenues, customer relations and talents working for you.

Failing to innovate will over time be lethal to your organization.

When organizations like Kodak, Swedish Postal Services, printed newspapers or any other stale giant lack leaders that interpret mega trends and weak signals and guide their teams to finding solutions and offerings that fill needs and drive change, then we know we are in for a kill. And it is bloody. People lose their jobs, values are destroyed, investors lose capital, and brands are ruined and on and on… however new thinking entrepreneurs gain ground for competition- and I have to admit that I like this.

The cost of closing down, rather than Innovating, collaborating, thinking in new boxes, redesigning, shaping new business models etc., is however incomparable.

There are so many ways of innovating and it is so energizing, as opposed to the contrary. Through corporate venturing methods involving periscope investments and other innovation strategies, I have seen organizations rejuvenate their business and delivering value to all stakeholders.

Leadership for Innovation

There is no alternative in today’s business environment, than to seek and elaborate, discover new ways and continue to disrupt the common grounds.

This is a matter of leadership. Lead for success, embrace failures, and celebrate passion, engagement and efforts. Dare to build your whole organization to lead, don’t focus only on single leaders. Form your culture and operations to actually support innovation and steer its focus towards the exploration and exploitation of new findings.

Innovation

Disruptive Change
As a note, I post a pic of the article, taken from the web. This article is accompanied by two ads, the top one from investment and private bank Carnegie, asking “Where is Sweden heading”, the other from low cost SAS-competitor Norwegian, advertising low fare trips. Are media agencies getting smarter, funnier or subject to randomness?

Scandinavian Airlines has been on its knees. And still will be for some time. And so many saw it coming, but very little change was seen. More and more cost and efficiency programs were launched. New marketing campaigns were released. Staff was being taken on-board in even more catchy named change programs. Clients were involved in answering whether they preferred champagne or not. Customers continued going elsewhere. Cervenka asks for more disruptive leadership in our organizations.

Disruptive Leadership for Disruptive Behavior

I was kindly reminded of the strikingly spot-on article by Andreas Cervenka in Swedens Svenska Dagbladet. He writes about giants, in this case Scandinavian Airlines System, inability to think and act differently. Cervanka refers to the need for disruptive innovation. I would say in many ways one of my favorite topics.

Now, it is one thing to notice the need for disruptive leadership that drives actions towards disruptive innovation, another to criticize those that don’t. I would even argue that the most important question to ask in any business now, is; How do we ensure this doesn’t happen to us?

Disruptive leadership

We need to work on different aspects of this. Not all to be mentioned here. Culturally we should embrace a bit more curiosity and courage and less satisfaction. We know from previous studies that the organizations that are the most satisfied with their growth represent those with actually the least growth. Those that are constantly dissatisfied, seek new ways to constantly challenge the way they work and seek new ways to improve customers choice to buy – nota bene – not only satisfaction.

We must have leadership that challenges everything. Always. Challenge in an exciting, engaging and inspiring, yet serious way. That is leadership. Get your people to do their best to be outstanding. We all do.

Move away from navigating only in the known. Seek answers in the unknown. What are the mega trends? Is low cost the only mega trend that could make an airline “fly”. No, I don’t think so. Just as “free” was not the way to spread music over internet. Just as much as we like to share, doesn’t mean we need to share the work of others. We just might like to share our thoughts. We want to lure others into our web of choices. Into our club. Our club of personal choices.

Innovation Portfolio Management

As Cervenka states in his article, we need to move away from the short term dilemma. Now, how can this be done? Considering all factors that affect our choices in an organization. I would say that Innovation Project and Portfolio Management is the way to go. We have found as we show this approach to corporations, that the choice to search for optimal net asset value and returns, most often include putting some resources behind the disruptive ideas. Making certain they move from ideas, to the drawing table and on wards toward value creation.

I remain saying that ideas are close to worthless. Ideas that generate value, repetitively and with a margin, they are worth pursuing. They are Innovation. They should partly be disruptive.

Finally I am an advocate for long term leadership. We have to look beyond the most immediate and our personal agenda, to find the solutions that admit change.