Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Recipe for Innovation Proficiency
Rita Mcgrath Newsletter

Sound familiar to the MDG fans

Here is a list of the ingredients needed for the recipe:
An appropriate governance and funding mechanism.
A balanced portfolio across different levels of uncertainty.
A mechanism to identify and test assumptions, at the absolute lowest cost.
The ability to stop or redirect ventures .
The ability to learn from intelligent failures.
And, essentially, these three competences:
1. Ideation (getting good ideas)
2. Incubation (nurturing them into an actual business concept) and
3. Acceleration (bringing them to market with the mainstream business)

Monday, November 09, 2015

Why Organizations Don’t Learn
Francesca Gino
Bradley Staats
Harvard Business Review,  R1511G-PDF-ENG

Great article. The following are the challenges they found., Their recommended actions to resolve these issues are in the article.

Why do companies struggle to become or remain “learning organizations”? Through research conducted over the past decade across a wide range of industries, we have drawn this conclusion: Biases cause people to focus too much on success, take action too quickly, try too hard to fit in, and depend too much on experts. In this article we discuss how these deeply ingrained human tendencies interfere with learning—and how they can be countered. 
Bias Toward Success
Leaders across organizations may say that learning comes from failure, but their actions show a preoccupation with success. This focus is not surprising, but it is often excessive and impedes learning by raising four challenges.
Challenge #1: Fear of failure.
Failure can trigger a torrent of painful emotions—hurt, anger, shame, even depression. As a result, most of us try to avoid mistakes; when they do happen, we try to sweep them under the rug.
Challenge #2: A fixed mindset.
Individuals with a growth mindset, who believe that intelligence and talents can be enhanced through effort, regard mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve. By contrast, individuals with a fixed mindset, who believe that intelligence and talents are innate and unchangeable, think mistakes signal a lack of ability.
Challenge #3: Over reliance on past performance.
When making hiring and promotion decisions, leaders often put too much emphasis on performance and not enough on the potential to learn.
Challenge #4: The attribution bias.
It is common for people to ascribe their successes to hard work, brilliance, and skill rather than luck; however, they blame their failures on bad fortune. This phenomenon, known as the attribution bias, hinders learning (see “Why Leaders Don’t Learn from Success,” HBR, April 2011). In fact, unless people recognize that failure resulted from their own actions, they do not learn from their mistakes. 
Bias Toward Action
How do you usually respond when you are faced with a problem in your organization? If you’re like most managers, you choose to take some kind of action
Challenge #1: Exhaustion.
Not surprisingly, exhausted workers are too tired to learn new things or apply what they already know
Challenge #2: Lack of reflection.Being “always on” doesn’t give workers time to reflect on what they did well and what they did wrong 
Bias Toward Fitting In
When we join an organization, it’s natural to want to fit in. But this tendency leads to two challenges to learning
Challenge #1: Believing we need to conform.
Early in life, we realize that there are tangible benefits to be gained from following social and organizational norms and rules. As a result, we make a significant effort to learn and adhere to written and unwritten codes of behavior at work. But here’s the catch: Doing so limits what we bring to the organization

Challenge #2: Failure to use one’s strengths.
When employees conform to what they think the organization wants, they are less likely to be themselves and to draw on their strengths

Bias Toward Experts

Beginning in the early 20th century, the scientific management movement introduced a rigorous approach to examining how organizations operate.

Challenge #1: An overly narrow view of expertise.
Organizations tend to define “expert” too narrowly, relying on indicators such as titles, degrees, and years of experience

Challenge #2: Inadequate front-line involvement.
Front-line employees—the people directly involved in creating, selling, delivering, and servicing offerings and interacting with customers—are frequently in the best position to spot and solve problems.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Bran Ferren on the Art of Innovation
A celebrated proprietor of R&D ateliers explains how companies can cultivate the rare people who create miracles.
by Art Kleiner and Juliette Powell

This is a GREAT article to read. The following excerpts are intended to stoke your intreest…

As we teach in class, innovation is taking something new and bringing to use. Invention, is bringing something new into being.: the iPhone — a communications-centric computer, designed in the form of a smartphone. There wasn’t a lot of new invention involved in it. Instead, it brought together inventions that already existed, that had evolved independently of one another. I was not an insider, but we all know what was involved. It required a high-resolution display, bright enough to read, and lithium batteries that could provide enough power in a small enough size. It needed thermal and chemically tempered glass, which Corning had developed. It needed a multi-touch touchscreen, which meant the appropriate capacitive conductive screen technology. It needed wireless digital networks — cellular telephony, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi — but also the ability to surf the Internet. 
The iPhone and the Newton [Apple’s failed handheld device, released during the mid-1990s] essentially started with the same idea: a personal digital assistant. But the difference between them was profound, because the Newton existed without the Internet as we know it, and without voice and digital communications, and it was too big and heavy. A personal digital assistant that wasn’t networked was basically useless.
If you had shown them the iPhone 10 years ago and said, “This will be the future of how civilization works,” they would have said, “No, it won’t.” In fact, some companies looked at this space and elected not to pursue it.
This is because their innovation process doesn’t give their leadership a context for thinking about profound innovation. In a conventional company, an innovation process is often a substitution for creativity and thoughtfulness. Companies have come to us and asked for something like “disruptive innovation.” It is fashionable and they’ve read about it; they don’t know why they need it, but they hope it will help. However, they are seldom prepared to embrace what’s necessary to actually do this. 
They tell their engineers to think outside the box, and the engineers dutifully respond by immediately designing a new box. They take the boxes they’ve already got, the products and processes already with them, and they usually make those boxes brighter, shinier, lighter, and more efficient. The result is usually more of the same with incremental improvement at best. The business leaders are obsessed with getting the right answer, but they’re not willing to put the energy into making sure they’re asking the right questions. 
A good innovation process establishes context. It sets up a dialogue among the most capable people you can attract. So, should you have a revelation, you can recognize it and say, “That’s it!”…. 
… the heart of [the art of leading a company] is the ability to identify an idea, conceptualize it, bring a team of people together, execute it in a way that’s effective, and course-correct as you go. According to Steve, the iPhone was originally a tablet project. Partway through the R&D process, he said, “Hmm, we can make a phone out of this.” After the launch, many people rewrote history and said that the purpose of the iPhone was to reinvent the future of telephony. 
Suppose you had been at Research in Motion (RIM) — the creator of the BlackBerry — at that time, thinking about inventing the future of telephony, with no holds barred. Suppose you conducted market research with your most expert BlackBerry users and asked them, “What do you crave in a phone?” You would tell them to assume no boundaries or constraints, to just ask for something so great it would change their world.
What devoted BlackBerry user would have said, “Get rid of all the keys. Give me a screen three times as big, and it needs to be multimedia capable. I really need a music and video player, and multi-touch would be nice. I’d like one-third the battery life, and make sure that battery isn’t interchangeable, so when I run out of power, I can’t put in a new battery. Make it really thin, because I really care about thinness. And please give me apps (whatever they are), and I really need an online store where I can go buy those apps.”