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The Future is How: For Innovation, Implementation Matters

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By: David Franke,
Director, Innovation
Autonomous cars will shepherd us safely from point A to
point B. Genotyping and smart drugs will allow for more personalized
treatments. Advanced robotics will introduce an entirely new genre of companionship
that is just as real and fulfilling as the companionship we find in people and
pets, though with the added benefits of agelessness and upgradeability.
And this could be considered the beginning of a new period
of disruption that will fundamentally alter the way people and companies
organize, operate, and innovate.
The World Economic Forum describes this period as the Fourth
Industrial Revolution, which, according to the organization's founder and
executive chairman, Klaus Schwab, 'entails nothing less
than a transformation of humankind.'
Driven by advances in and
collaborations across diverse disciplines ' from artificial intelligence to
biotechnology ' it's easy to see this transformation as progressive and
This all sounds well and good, though perhaps a little
one-sided. If innovation is, at its simplest, invention plus implementation,
the conversation around the transformative potential of innovation in this Fourth
Industrial Revolution has largely focused on the invention half of the
equation. The risk we face ' as individuals, as companies, as a society ' in
failing to prepare for and manage the implementation half is that innovation
stalls or, worse, results in net regress rather than progress.
Good ideas are abandoned due to lack of consensus or
unaligned interests. Consumers continue to suffer under antiquated systems '
care organizations
' until these systems eventually, finally, mercifully,
collapse and are replaced by something new.
To succeed in this era of rapid transformation, we don't
just need to modernize our things, we need to modernize our ways. In their
Future of Jobs,
the World Economic Forum declares that 'social skills '
such as persuasion, emotional intelligence, and teaching others ' will be in
higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as
programming or equipment operation and control.' And, according to
business leaders have started to take note by placing new emphasis on
cross-functional collaboration and fluid, project-based team structures.
Modernizing the ways in which we implement an innovation
will create a seismic shift in business. And customers are the epicenter.
However, the reality for most businesses today is that they are massive, siloed
giants. Offices span oceans. It therefore becomes easy to lose touch with the
customer perspective. The conversation shifts to brand strategy or operational
capabilities, and soon enough you're solving for business needs rather than
customer needs.
The key to overcoming this challenge is to engage with the
right people -- customers and internal stakeholders -- continuously (rather
than episodically) throughout the end-to-end innovation process. Weaving their
ideas, opinions, feedback, and experiences into the fabric of the organization
ensures that it all gets represented at the decision-making table. This
cultivates a
' one that is fixated on innovating for the needs of the people you
serve, from invention to implementation.
With the perspectives and needs of everyone ' including
customers ' as your instrument for implementation, we can become more than
collaborators. We're conductors orchestrating a score of diverse talents and
ideas ' from customers to executives ' to create new value at the intersection
of shared interests. And, we can find what my friend and artist Aithan Shapira calls 'the music in the
middle' ' the hidden opportunities within the competing, and at times
conflicting, points of view. This is the harmony of invention and
implementation, a modern innovation masterpiece.
About the Author: David
Franke helps companies find and develop great ideas that work. With nearly 20
years of experience in strategy and innovation consulting throughout the US and
Asia, David has partnered with leading companies and organizations in health
care, financial services, CPG, consumer technology and more to develop and
launch new products, services and experiences that deliver against the needs of
customers and businesses alike. Prior to joining C Space, David led insights and
innovation consulting with firms in Asia and the U.S. He holds a master's
degree in applied linguistics with post-graduate certificates in strategy and
negotiation from Harvard.

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