4 Ways to Amplify Digital Innovation in 2018

Four Suggestions Digital 2018 v1Learn 4 Ways to Amplify Digital Innovation in 2018

Alignment, Team Diversity, Knowledge & MoshPits

The challenges facing innovation leaders, as we confront the reality of 2018 is — how do you integrate new digital capability?

This is not innovation as we once knew it. This is not your Dad’s innovation. It’s not even Your Innovation of five years ago.

How do you innovate across your entire value chain? If you’re just focused on products you’re going to miss the boat.

How do you integrate all this new fancy stuff into strategy and ideation to create actual projects? Why is this challenge so different from previous innovation challenges?

Has there ever been a moment in time when so many new technologies are washing over us all at once? AI, Analytics, IoT, Big Data, Cloud, Mobile, Social Media, Sensors, Robotics, Augmented Reality, Voice Recognition… and the list goes on. It’s daunting. No, it’s scary.

This post has four suggestions for digital integration, and a bonus idea, but first…

The elephant in the room is that the new technology requires a truly different approach. Classic innovation frameworks and IT-centric team composition are not going to get it done. Innovating with digital technology requires a blended approach, truly diverse teams, training, and new ideation methods.

Why? Because it requires unique thinking skills to understand what’s possible technically, and, think up meaningful-to-consumers inventions and applications. IT can’t do it alone — they don’t typically understand consumers well enough. A team without IT involved won’t be able to do it either, because marketing-centric teams don’t know what’s technically possible. I’m generalizing but the point is the old style teams, and methods, aren’t well suited.

My four suggestions below are built around addressing these shortfalls.

Thinking about 2018, here are…

Four Ways to Amplify Digital Innovation in 2018:

  1. Get internal alignment. Be certain that there is alignment from the top down around the desire to integrate digital tech and get projects underway. This is not as simple as it sounds because you’ll need resources and involvement across the silos in your organization to enable the projects. Get this alignment and mandate, or, risk projects stopping dead in their tracks due to lack of top leadership support, or, watch projects fail because of incomplete understanding of need states and technical possibilities. The alignment needs to include the idea that the project might happen in a different way than before, with new ways to ideate, prototype, and test. Don’t be held back by a restrictive innovation process model; be flexible on new ways to innovate.
  2. Have a cross-domain, diverse team. Once alignment is in place, broaden the innovation team to include more people from across the organization. Teams need to be cross-silo, cross-functional, because digital tech ideas and projects spread across the entire value chain. Diversity means more than just cross-function, it also means getting people who think very differently than the norm involved. Of course, this new team will make for interesting dynamics (read: conflict). But you’ve got to do this in spite of conflict. This is conflict you need to work through! If you focus on the project, you’ll get through conflict by keeping the end in mind.
  3. Learn and understand the technology. You need to learn more about digital technology. You have to understand how this stuff works in order to think creatively about how to use it. You can’t think up ideas for something you don’t understand. If you have a more diverse team, this helps in coming up with ideas, but get training, and/or hire expertise. It’s difficult to keep tabs on what’s going on — and this is a big topic, but your research function probably needs enhanced.  Consider buying strategic research. If you do this well, you might spot opportunities early. If you don’t your competition will. Or a start-up will be born. That start-up could steal your business from you.
  4. Concept blending in how you get out of the box. Ford is currently using tomatoes to develop new plastics for cars.  Ford did a concept blend, mashing up the concept of bio fibers, with a need for more environmentally suitable types of materials. When you get to the point of ideation, further broaden your teams thinking deliberately by looking at Outside-Your-Industry concepts. Assign the team to bring insights about trends, materials, and un-thought of or un-examined digital tech. Then Mash-Up these items with your challenges and opportunities. Digital tech related ideation presents unique challenges to innovation project leaders and facilitators. What’s required is an approach that leverages Design Thinking and/or Lean/Agile and, in addition, does deliberate concept blending (what I call a MoshPit) of your challenges (and IP assets) with outside-your-garden-wall Domains of Knowledge (including digital tech, but also new materials, and current trends). You’ll think up ideas you wouldn’t have had by force fitting outside concepts; it will lead to fresh creative combinations.

A Note to CIO’s:  While the innovation jargon of the day isn’t what you usually trade in, realize you innovate all the time.  Suggestion #4, stated a different way is: Digital tech extends it’s fingers so far beyond the IT silo and typical areas for systems development that the normal approaches CIO’s use aren’t going to work well. IT professionals (as part of broader cross functional innovation teams) need to start coming up with ideas that reach across functions, and, outside the company completely. Broaden horizons and explore trends, customer behaviors, materials, and technologies — because if you do you’ll have better ideas.  When you bring those non-IT concepts, and the input of other people, into your development process — and clash them with your challenges — you’ll come up with truly fresh ideas, real innovation, and IT can lead the charge.

So, get alignment, broaden the team, get education, and do concept blends. If you’re combining new digital capabilities with your current assets, and applying them to focused challenges and opportunities, you are likely to find breakthrough innovation.


Innovation Intensive — Workspring Oct. 27

Innovation Intensive How to Create Continuous Innovation at Your Organization Join Gregg Fraley at Workspring in Chicago — on October 27th for this high value workshop. Register: gregg@greggfraley.com Workshop Overview Is your organization innovating? How would you assess your innovation culture? Are you happy with your results? Are they sufficient to sustain and grow your organization? This half-day intensive course in innovation theory and practice provides a roadmap. It’s a hands-on workshop for project managers who are heading up innovation projects. Blending theory and practice, the content provides deep background, and the tools, techniques, and frameworks that will accelerate your progress. Learn how to avoid common pitfalls and increase your chances of growth-oriented results. This course enables leaders to start-up

Read More..

Seven Ways to Prepare for Effective Brainstorming

Want an Innovation Breakthrough? Prepare, Then Brainstorm Most brainstorming doesn’t work. The literature bashing brainstorming is extensive. Sessions often fail, and there are many reasons. Ideas are still needed to fill pipelines! I’m going to focus on one problem with brainstorming in this post: lack of preparation. The Boy Scouts have it right. Be Prepared. There is not enough mental preparation done with participants before brainstorming/idea generation sessions. Nor is there enough attention paid to planning and facilitating the exercises and stimulus in the session itself. Start thinking of idea generation as a project that takes a few weeks, not a one day session. Use Diverse Springboards to Scaffold Thinking. Fresh combinations of concepts are what creates breakthrough ideas. This

Read More..

The Billion Dollar Breakthrough You Missed

Why and How are Billions in Potential Innovation Left On The Table? Innovation is Fresh Combinations  What’s Needed: Sophisticated Tools to Deliberately Make Fresh Connections Across Domains (see MoshPit, a new offering from GFi). Fresh combinations of technologies, processes, materials, people, trends, concepts, and other factors are what creates innovation. From the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (chocolate plus peanut butter) to the iPod (MP3 player combined with a buying system, iTunes) nearly any innovation combines existing things or concepts. It’s interesting that large organizations with lots of intellectual property don’t systematically examine what they can combine to innovate. Maybe it’s because concept blends across very different domains are not intuitive. Deliberate concept blends, combinations, are not a defined part of

Read More..

The Innovation Imperative, growing culture and capacity (GFi Keynote)

The Innovation Imperative… growing innovation culture and capacity If you want an organization to survive, you must innovate. But innovation is more than survival, it’s the heart beat of an organization. What you make, what you do, and how you do it — is the lifeblood of who you are. Staying in business means reinventing as markets shift. In this inspirational speech Gregg Fraley answers the Why Innovation question, and informs as to what innovation means to you and your group. It advocates that innovation is an exciting part of everyone’s job, not “extra work.” The stories of great innovation moments, overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles, and inventive breakthroughs will leave audiences empowered to innovate. The content is about how the

Read More..

Nine Questions CEO’s Should Ask About Innovation

Nine Questions CEO’s Should Ask About Innovation “Tell me what I should be thinking about.” The man asking the question, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, was dead sincere. We were at a social event. We were chatting about the weather when he’d asked me what I did, and when I told him I was an innovation consultant, his eyebrows raised. Then he popped the question. This question, mercy, an open door to summarize my philosophy, is not one I get asked every day, especially by someone as empowered as a CEO. Clearly a savvy gentleman, I wondered for a moment if he was testing me or putting me on, but his eyes said he really wanted to know.

Read More..

Training is an Innovation Accelerant II

Do You Wish To Accelerate Innovation? Get Training! When I step into a room to facilitate an innovation, strategy, or idea generation session I always find a great deal of energy. What I also often find is inexperience. Inexperience in: the kind of divergent thinking necessary to innovate, in specific meeting behaviors and facilitation skills, and in innovation process, approaches and frameworks Here are details regarding a half day Innovation Intensive course I’m conducting at Workspring in Chicago on October 27th, 2017. Energy, motivation, and inspiration are important factors in getting innovation rolling. But none of them, or all of them together, are enough to overcome untrained thinking, poor session facilitation, and an un-anchored or non-existent innovation approach. Your innovation

Read More..

Free Workshop at Workspring Chicago — Creative Choices, Innovative Results

Notice: Gregg Fraley Speaking at Workspring Chicago Wednesday August 2, 2017 — 8 am to 10 am The free workshop at Workspring Chicago will focus on creative behaviors that enhance creative effectiveness. The habits/behaviors and associated tools and techniques apply to both personal and business roles. As the graphic says, you’ll learn approaches you can immediately use. Highly useful for innovation teams, team leaders, and anyone who wants to enhance their creative effectiveness. This will be presented by Gregg Fraley, author of Jack’s Notebook, co-inventor of IdeaKeg, and originator of MoshPit Innovation. RSVP with Workspring: rsvp@workspring.com Cheers.

Read More..

Innovation Training in Denver, CO

Denver, Colorado — Innovation & Facilitation Training — Two Public Courses In late August I’m co-hosting and delivering two public courses on Innovation in Denver. Working with Kim Smoyer of Smoyer & Associates, a Colorado based consultancy that focuses on non-profits. My experience is mostly with corporate innovation, so, we’ve got perspectives and insights for both contexts. We’re holding the courses at the Community Resource Center (CRC) in downtown Denver. The first course is a one-day Innovation Intensive Overview, targeted for executives. It’s theory, practice, and how to get started, or improve your innovation process. If you take this course you’ll know why and how to move forward with results oriented innovation projects. The second course is a 2.5 day

Read More..

Disaster: CEO’s Ignoring Digital Innovation

Does Any CEO Have the Luxury to Ignore Digital Transformation and Innovation? Gregg Fraley and Karen Kirby, copyright 2017 Innovation + Business + Technology = Digital Leadership Turnover of CEOs is already high, about 14.9 % a year as of 2016*. The demands of digital leadership and the enterprises of the future could dramatically accelerate that rate in the next few years. The conversation CEOs need to be having, to remain in the shrinking 85.1%, is about how to integrate digital technology and seize new pathways to industry leadership. In HBO’s Game of Thrones there has been that recurring foreboding phrase, “winter is coming.” For years, the phrase has been whispered in the ears of CEOs “digital is coming”. They

Read More..