Why is it that organizations have no problems coming up with new ideas but when it gets to putting the ideas into practice and making them part of the business, things start to fall apart?
The biggest threat to innovation is in the execution of new ideas because conflicts happen only when you start executing the new ideas. Allocation of resources, evaluation of the new ideas viz-a-viz the existing businesses, to mention but a few, are some of the conflicts identified as well as the failure which are not apparent at the idea generation stage. Execution is always the premium when it gets to innovation.
To mitigate the execution issue identified in actualizing new ideas in an organization, a three (3) box solution could be applied.
It has been found that organizations focus only on Box #1 (manage the present). Although Box#1 is very important but there is need to allocate resources and energy to Box#2 (Selectively abandon the past) and Box#3 (create the future).
People get excited about Box#3, inventing the future, which sounds great but forgetting the past (Box#2) seems to be very difficult. Forgetting is the biggest problem because the things you have to forgot today still have value today (your strength today is what you have to forget). For instance, Microsoft came into existence and became extremely successful by selling windows and installing them on personal Computers (PCs) in mid 1990s. Since then they have missed a lot of lofty ideas such as digital music, social network and smart phone. The reason being that if Microsoft had wanted to create those ideas, Microsoft had to forget one thing; the sales of PCs which was likely to decline. It was difficult for Microsoft to forget because that was what was bringing in the revenue then.
The key leadership challenge is ‘how do you preserve your present source of income but at the same time create new ideas to help the company participate in new opportunities?’
In order to preserve your current source of income as well as to overcome it, there has to be a dedicated team. There has to be some separation between the dedicated team and the core business but at the same time the dedicated team cannot be isolated from the core business hence the need to be connected to the mother ship. Therefore, a hybrid organizational model is very crucial to being an innovative company.
It is absolutely critical that innovation starts from the top, that is, the CEO of the organization because they are responsible for today’s business and for planting the seeds that will create tomorrow as well. It is also all about courage because getting into the future is about taking steps when you do not know the answers. How do you prepare for the future that you cannot predict? It is not the job for the leaders alone but should be a practice across the organization as well.
There is always a tension between the dedicated team and the core particularly if there is potential of cannibalization and therefore the CEO has to constantly remind the organization especially when the cost of inaction is more than the cost of cannibalization.
This framework could be implemented in a small or large company, high tech or manufacturing and would never go out because it is essentially a way of managing time and change.
Author: Chinedu Onwurah
- On May 4, 2017
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