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Essential innovation


It seems that time after time reports investigating the innovation preparedness and performance of UK companies are finding the same things.  The latest investigations into innovation by two large consultancies (McKinsey & Co and Logica) have once again concluded the same:

  • Innovation is viewed as essential - especially now - but lack of readiness is crippling;
  • Leadership need to focus on the key social roles of effective sponsorship and client-ship;
  • People need to collaborate in ways that harness differences and release everyone's creative potential; 
  • That innovation is a cultural issue.  Getting the climate right is essential.

What remains disappointing is that the fixes for these are well known and established.  For over 55 years the Creative problem-solving group have been researching how to release human creative talent to achieve innovation.  A key model for understanding and viewing explores the 4Ps:

  • People - do they have the right skills and tools, how do they solve problems and do they know their social role and execute it;
  • Product - do you know what the desired outcome looks like, feels like, what needs is it optimised to;
  • Process - is there a flexible robust and non-bureaucratic process that is fully scalable.  Does it deal not only with the technical development process but provide a way of thinking about and productively managing human interactions.
  • Place - what is the environment and context? Does it support innovation and risk-taking?  What needs to be done to the physical and social environment to ensure it does? 

These are flexible, pragmatic and universal - true principles that form a way of thinking about the thinking process - so called 'meta-cognition'.  Now not only do we know what we need to do but their research provides the knowledge and skills to do it - and for surprisingly little investment. It is used by many of the most innovative companies in the world but why isn't its application more widespread so we can put an end to these reports telling us what we need to do while they go on being viewed as superstars.  By application of a few simple principles and learning a few solid skills, tools and techniques many companies could easily and very cost effectively put these issues to bed.  The real barriers then are:

  • pride,
  • the worship of the superstars and 
  • the thought that actually it should be more complicated than it is.

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