Welcome to Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Corporate Forward Thinkers
Innovative SMEs, big business and government all need to adjust their mindsets to break down generic barriers to innovation take-up and deployment
Published 08:00, 23 June 11
The press is regularly (and unfairly) criticised for seeking out bad news. In my experience bad news comes to the press. That's because people are at their wits end having failed through official channels to stop unfairness, abuse, or just incompetence.
Conversely, when you come across good news it's always surprised me how reluctant people can be - they too often want publicity, but "not just now".
This new blog is a catalyst for change. To do that it actively seeks out examples of success - of how innovators have overcome generic barriers and succeeded in getting their innovation, especially cutting edge innovation, into large organisations and government. This will mean calling some bluffs but the success this blog roots out will be used to promote change.
In an ideal world there should be no need for this blog
In the real world it's not enough to prove that your innovation is faster, better, and cheaper for it to be adopted in an enterprise.
That's because there are many non-technical barriers to adoption. The more an innovation moves up the scale from “me-too, but incrementally better” to really groundbreakingly new, the higher those barriers become.
That's because all innovation impacts the status quo.
The more disruptive any innovation, the more likely it is to get blocked, if not by gatekeepers jealously guarding their power and reward bases, then by internal processes poorly designed to accommodate innovation, or by unhelpful corporate cultures or low risk appetites.
It's one thing to build and prototype an innovation - government, agencies and universities provide help there. But deploying it is a bit like giving birth: you've had plenty of pre-natal support but when the baby arrives you're in a different world and pretty much on your own.
There's Still a Chasm to be Crossed
The nature of the world they're thrown into is well analysed in Geoffrey Moore's ground-breaking 1991 book “Crossing the Chasm”, which pinpoints the discontinuities in innovation adoption. That's still the key “must-read” for any innovator - go for the 1999 revision though.
That book was published two recessions ago. We're now in another and need innovation more than ever to pull us out. However, the paradoxes and discontinuities of adoption are still with us in spades, especially in the UK.
It takes broad mindsets to maximise opportunities right now
We're in a period of hugely disruptive change right now. Just look at:
the deployment of consumer capabilities into business;
cloud computing bringing new business models - e.g. from capital IT spend to pay-as-you-go
the shift from fixed to mobile communications;
paradigm shift in software development from waterfall towards agile.
These changes, and the innovations they are inspiring, demand a series of mindset changes, not only in enterprises and government but among those at the heart of the new technologies.
We'll be looking at Generic Barriers to Innovation Take-Up
Some of the current paradoxes obstructing innovation uptake are well summarised by Manchester Business School's Prof Jikyeong Kang. Drawing on this and other inputs, some of the generic barriers we'll be addressing include:
Cash flow: tackling unpredictable costs of sale; payment delays and worse.
Prime contractors: supplier gatekeepers who block innovation that threatens a lucrative revenue stream
Over cautious business managers: narrow mindsets and low personal and corporate risk appetites
Referenceability: fears that case studies will give away too much competitively useful information or admit to a having a problem
Financial due diligence: being asked to prove, say, a 2-year financial viability when the order will assure that innovator's future
Impact on the status quo: disruption to personal empires, skill sets, reward structures, or a comfortable routine
Big is beautiful: large companies don't have the monopoly on big thinking and big ideas: many smaller companies were founded by highly capable senior high flying refugees from large organisations.
Finding Risk Takers: mavericks are sometimes essential for championing innovation into their organisations but they can inadvertently get it sidelined too
Mindsets: getting a meeting of minds between those in large organisations who see the future in terms of the past, and external innovators who see the future in terms of the future.
If you have first hand experience of encountering and overcoming any of these or other barriers I'd very much like to hear from you.
To sum up, this blog aims to:
1.To alert innovators how to overcome generic barriers to take-up by large enterprises and government
2.To highlight examples of large organisations breaking new ground in building a climate for innovation internally
3.To provide the practical evidence to help industry groups, trade bodies, and lobbyists push for processual changes in large organisations and government so that they can adopt and deploy innovation more effectively.