Saturday, October 4, 2008

Accelerating In The Turns

Innovation, of course, should be embedded in an organisation's DNA, in both good times and in bad. It should be part of how a given company improves its business, on any day and every day.
Innovation should be absolutely central to an organisation's day to day operations for a number of reasons, including that in the absence of an effective monopoly, innovation is the major means of establishing and maintaining a significant competitive advantage in a continually changing world.

Some organisations might say that the present is not a good time economically, and be tempted to pull back operations and initiatives.

The present time is indeed of course a time of turmoil and uncertainty in the economy. Costs of inputs such as oil are escalating. Global and national responses to global warming are playing out in the form of formation of carbon trading markets and other measures. The financial environment is under pressure, and risk assessments are complex in the current global market.

But such a situation also presents great opportunity. Just as in a stock market depression there are many and diverse opportunities for the astute investor to pick up investments now at bargain prices for considerable profit later, there are also ample opportunities for astute businesses in the current market environment. Shifts in response to sustainability and rising fuel prices create new markets and new opportunities. Efforts to measure and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and fuel usage often lead to improved processes and management oversight, with associated cost savings.

So, what can we say about organisational innovation in such a risky and complex environment?

Innovation might be defined as activity within an organisation or institution to harness ideas and turn them into useful organisational outputs - new products, services, processes, strategies, and operational models. An approach such as an Idea Management System backs an innovation agenda with the rigorous infrastructure and processes required to systematically capture, assess, invest in and realise the benefits from the plethora of powerful ideas within an organisation.

Innovation in general - and Idea Management in particular - is particularly important right now in the current global and economic environment.

Why? Because innovation is driven by the capture and implementation of ideas from across the organisation - and ideas can be readily generated in response to a range of diverse organisational foci.

That is, essentially the same Idea Management system that can be used to effectively generate ideas for new products and services may also be used to generate ideas for cost savings and improving efficiency in a downturn. Such a system might also be used for identifying risk and developing mitigation strategies. The same system might again be used for developing sustainability ideas and initiatives.

Now is perhaps a time for focusing on what bets, activities and projects are going to best position an organisation for security now and for improved positioning after the present global financial and economic issues are resolved. But now is certainly not the time to be scaling back on investing in and leveraging a powerful Idea Management innovation system in your organisation to capture and action ideas on how to
  • reduce risk,
  • reduce costs,
  • generate effective sustainability initiatives that will reduce costs and/or create revenue, as well as
  • developing innovative new products, services, strategies and operating models that will allow you to accelerate out of this term lengths ahead of your competitors.