To Know. To Bet. To Grow. To Select. To Realize.
In the last post I wrote about the risk of being rigid and slow to react in face of the growing rate of change. I suggested that organizations must first become aware of the existence and severity of the risk and then mitigate, or better yet, manage it by employing an adaptive paradigm. In this post I will start describing the Strategic Elastic Innovation methodology, we developed to do exactly that. It has 5 steps: To Know. To Bet. To Grow. To Select. To Realize.
To Know – Radical Innovation can come from anywhere
In Pixar’s 2007 masterpiece, Ratatouille, the food critic Anton Ego, after being “rocked to his core”, capitulates to Gusteau’s moto “Anyone Can Cook” and states: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” In a sense this is the realization that is demanded from corporate leaders – since radical innovation and disruption can come from anywhere, we must be vigilant and invest in being current. The “flatness” of our world, the hyper-connectivity, the access to information, knowledge and education (Udacity, EdX, Coursera, Khan Academy) as well as to resources (TechShop, Github, 3D printing service bureaus) the reduction and sometimes elimination of barriers for incorporation, PoC development and access to the market, all these mean that “great artists” can come from anywhere! The implication is that the innovators’ space is now limitless. New radical ideas and inventions can come from anyone, anywhere and at almost any age or background. It could be stealth-mode startup in Japan, a graduate student who never even published yet, your supplier, your competitor, your customers – today, disruption and radical innovation can come from anywhere.
Your own little NSA
The first thing to do is to broaden our scope and know as much as we can on as many potential sources on innovation and disruption as possible. To do this we need to setup a small team of intelligence officers. I mean exactly what you are imagining – a mini-benevolent-“NSA” focused on mapping and exploring the sources-of-innovation space. A good start would be to map the usual suspects. i.e., startups, leading academics and competitors. Then we can map the incubators, accelerators, VC funds, government programs etc. All those are easily found. The next step is to combine of-the-shelf tools such as mention and SocialMention with tailored crawlers and algorithms (that, today are very easy and cheap to develop) can help a small team to sift through huge amounts of public data and extract potential leads such as stealth-mode startups, independent researchers, semi-professional individuals and others. The main point is that the acumen of and tools for collecting intelligence already exist and are well developed and inexpensive. This intelligence team’s purpose is to generate a continuous flow of relevant targets, fast enough for it to be relevant.
Another aspect of To Know is to employ a non-specific reach-out programs inviting innovators to introduce themselves. Open challenge programs are a great tool for attracting new sources of innovation. OpenIDEO, IDEO’s open innovation platform, Stratasys’ Extreme Redesign contest and Citi’s Mobile Challenge are great examples of such programs that have attracted a record number of submissions and have already produced large-scale pilots, spin-outs and real tangible value.
More on the Elastic Innovation Framework in future posts.