Firstly you have to start out with why you feel a freshening up should be required, should this be radical, distinctive or incremental. What do you actually want to achieve that takes you closer to your aspirations, not just immediate goals? Can the way you conduct innovation today meet that strategic challenge? Does it ‘advance’ on your current position?
There are a host of reasons ‘renewal’ might be needed. Today, when markets are especially tough, looking long and hard at what you have and jettisoning what you don’t need becomes essential to reposition yourself as leaner and more flexible. There are many pressing needs why you have to ‘shape up’. Don’t ignore the need for renewal.
Meeting competition in today’s market or positioning for the ‘forces’ swirling around global competition as it constantly changes the fortune for many does not simply arrive announced. You need to be prepared, to be alert, and to be agile and fit. We have to create our right environment and now is the time to question many of the ‘established’ approaches. We need to challenge them with fresher, more up-to-date thinking based on the multiple changes taking place around us constantly as much in our markets is certainly becoming more ‘fluid’, so renewal needs to be thought through irrespective.
Renewal needs some thinking through; here are some important referencing points:
- If you have placed innovation at the heart of generating any new growth, it becomes important to determine that all your energy gets focused, really focused on those areas that offer growth through new activities (products, services etc). Innovation needs to become a core capability. This cannot be simply determined or approached in any half-hearted way. It means ensuring that you achieve an absolute alignment of innovation to the strategy and don’t simply brush over existing weakness or vague possibilities, sweep them away.Be laser-focused on what and which innovation generates growth that meets your stated strategic needs and drive that through the pipeline.
- You must also make that important first step of a ‘hard’ assessment that evaluates your current position, question even the sacred cows. Build this understanding not just on internal observation but on external evaluations- talk to customers, to trusted contacts. Separate opinions and facts, highlight potential weaknesses, and look to rapidly address these. Achieve as clear a picture as you can, then set about the aspects that need renewal.
- Managing through innovation change needs a clear, dedicated focus in clarifying plans, thinking through new systems and practices. You need to commit to training and constant support, providing feedback and managing the inherent stress this can cause. You need to provide the building blocks of commitment and shared identification. It takes time and recognizing that this also requires a ‘sustaining innovation engine’ that needs well resourcing and built into your thinking.
- Innovation regeneration needs setting new visions, new directions and goals, providing essential resource and support to promote new culture and capabilities needed. You need to construct the appropriate action plans, track results, update and re-adjust from fresh knowledge and learning so these begin to restore a growing sense of identity and corporate value and building the communication plans to cascade these throughout the organization. Let everyone feel, hear and see the changes- to wake up and ‘smell the roses’.
- Plan any cultural or structural shifts so as to provide the learning platforms for investing in new competencies and skills that place a ‘premium’ on acquiring this new knowledge as essential to learn and needed to be adopted as new approaches. Use the practice of open consistent communications and a networking approach that identifies, informs and promotes the emerging vision of why we need to do innovation differently. Why we need to renew.
- Focus your energies on those crucial aspects of the business that constantly assesses, realigns, restructures and redeploys around the three critical aspects of knowing and leveraging your core business through your innovation offerings: a) making the customer the centre of your thinking b) fixing your products and service quality and responding at the new innovation speed expected, c) to build increasing agility, flexibility and anticipation that is required to meet the new market needs. The customers’ needs become the centre of your renewal efforts.
- Seek out those pockets of resistance that are constantly just below the surface or even deep seated, address the critical issues through a change resistance grid and resolve the obstacles through a variety of methods and techniques with a real sense of urgency. Address this clearly and squarely so any renewal can begin to gain the momentum it requires.
- Crafting the story in a clear, logical way will gain that greater identification and commitment. Explaining that our future is not waiting for others, but we have to place our innovation destiny in our own hands by renewing ourselves on our terms so at least the majority of people begin to recognize renewal as necessary to meet the future.
There is always a need for making the case for renewal and charting the path towards the solutions is no different than any other corporate initiative. Making change is hard, really hard. Calling for ‘renewal’ sometimes makes it even more difficult to gain the required identification when many are comfortable in the present ‘ways’.
The rewards come through an organization that emerges from today’s ‘uncertainly’ equipped to be more resistant, flexible and agile. It has a greater chance to seize emerging opportunities quicker, at tomorrow’s new innovation speed. Renewal is not an easy journey, but becoming more and more critical to do on a regular basis.
Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.