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Innovation

COMBINING COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE WITH CONTINUITY

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GOOD IDEAS DON’T JUST HAPPEN

"Innovation is no guarantee against failure, but without innovation failure is guaranteed." - this statement from product and organization developer Stefan R. Munz puts it very aptly: The pressure to be innovative has never been as high as it is in today’s age of digitalization and artificial intelligence. The problem: Few companies have clear responsibilities and procedures in place to master the balancing act between day-to-day operations and striving for innovation.

 

The best way to have a good idea is to have many ideas.

According to a McKinsey study, 84% of the executives polled said that innovation plays a key role in their company's growth. At the same time, only 6% of them were satisfied with their company's innovative strength. Nevertheless, very few people realize that innovation is not the result of ingenious individual ideas, but of a continuous and systematic approach that integrates different perspectives.

 

CORE ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL INNOVATION PROCESSES

A functioning exchange of knowledge across organizational boundaries is one of the most important factors governing successful innovation processes. However, such a process should never be chaotic and uncoordinated, for example with ‘creativity’ being used as an excuse for sloppy work. The core elements of good innovation management include

  • Consistent orientation towards customer benefits
  • A systematic and continuous approach
  • Willingness to obtain rapid customer feedback
  • Diversity within the company and teams
  • Diversität im Unternehmen und Teams
  • An innovation-friendly corporate culture
  • Management support and innovation budgets

INNOVATION AS THE RESULT OF COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

We empower companies to set up innovation processes and integrate them in the company. Amongst other things, we provide very specific support to individual teams in the context of concrete pilot projects.

To the uninitiated, innovations often look like the result of a single, brilliant idea. In fact, innovations are usually the result of continuous innovation work, a holistic approach and a systematic procedure. This includes two important ‘basic building blocks’:

1. Innovation Methods and Processes

  • Use of appropriate innovation methods and formats
  • Interdisciplinary and hypothesis-based thinking and working
  • Development of testable prototypes that can be quickly validated or discarded
  • Consistent integration of internal and external perspectives, especially the customer perspective

2. Innovation Culture in Action

  • Development and communication of an innovation strategy
  • Targeted development of innovation and technological competence
  • Strengthening a culture of innovation and tolerating mistakes
  • Allowing alternative, interdisciplinary perspectives; establishing links with research facilities
  • Management support and backing
  • Identification and removal of internal company obstacles

As a consultancy for strategy and organizational development, cidpartners has an extensive network of innovation consultants, partners and experts from different disciplines at its disposal. We use this know-how to support our clients in designing innovation processes, building an innovation culture and developing concrete prototypes.

COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE BEATS INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE

Regardless of whether we are talking about product, process or business model innovation, our experience is that innovations seldom succeed at the first attempt and are rarely based on a single individual’s brilliant idea. In our work we focus on collective intelligence and the use of networks. This means bringing together people in the company, users, suppliers and external experts from different disciplines (including technology and research).

 

There are more people who capitulate than those who fail.

Innovations often fail because too much time is spent on developing ideas before consulting the user or customer. This is time-consuming, cost-intensive and often frustrating. It is important to involve the customer in all innovation phases, be it in the phase of idea generation, when hypotheses are set up or during the development and testing of initial prototypes.

 

ESTABLISHING SUSTAINABLE INNOVATION PROCESSES

In the field of innovation consulting, we provide support to companies from a wide range of industries in successfully establishing innovation processes within the company and creating an innovation-friendly corporate culture.

The first step is to identify internal company obstacles (cultural, structural or organizational). Then we initiate individual pilots and programmes - and build up a suitable set of methods as well as suitable processes within the company one step at a time with the aim of achieving a sustainable increase in its innovative capacities.

REASONS FOR LACK OF INNOVATION IN A COMPANY

  • Lack of vision and innovation strategy:
  • If the company's vision is unclear, it is difficult to identify the fields in which the company should strive for innovation. Yet precisely these areas are the starting point for developing an innovation strategy and avoiding the trap of chasing every trend.
  • Invisible necessity: "Why do we have to be innovative? We're doing fine." – this opinion is often heard in many businesses. If management and employees do not see the necessity for innovation, innovations have no chance.
  • Organizational obstacles: Innovations need space. In many companies, internal hurdles make it difficult to develop prototypes and test them on the market.
  • Lack of customer orientation:In many companies there is no systematic approach towards integrating customer and market data. Even established companies sometimes work for months or years on product ideas without consulting customers.
  • Too little focus and resources:Innovations are still an uncertain investment in the future, whilst day-to-day business is what visibly generates revenue. This means that preference is often given to the routine business and innovations are all too often treated as an unimportant sideline rather than being seen as a strategic goal.
  • Unsystematic approach: Innovations come from systematic and continuous work. Without a systematic approach, the probability of developing real innovations decreases dramatically.
  • Lack of tolerance of mistakes: If the failure of an idea in the company leads to implicit or explicit sanctions, while maintaining day-to-day business is given high priority, this inhibits the willingness of managers and employees to innovate. ‘Successful failure’ always creates new, useful insights.

Conversely, these ‘traps’ that lead to a lack of innovative capacity can be transformed into success factors by finding and implementing suitable solutions.

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The passion of Swantje Allmers is to make sustainable success in organizations and teams.

Swantje Allmers

Partner

+49.228-25 90 85.0

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INNOVATIVE CORPORATE CULTURE

Quality through reliability, order and precision - these were and are the strengths of some of the most successful German companies. Not least because of this, products that are ‘Made in Germany’ have enjoyed an excellent reputation worldwide for decades. Because Germany is not rich in raw materials, wage levels are high and market pressure is increasing due to globalization and digital networking, German companies will have to come up with something to assert themselves and their products in the future. But other nations are aware of these aspects as well: They are developing new and ever better products, are already at the top in certain areas and they are also creative, innovative and flexible – which seems to put the legend of ‘German thoroughness’ somewhat into question. The old German recipes for success no longer seem to offer a guarantee of success in global competition. At least not if companies concentrate entirely on the production and sale of their products.

WHICH FACTORS PROMOTE INNOVATIVE STRENGTH?

In order to take a genuine step forward and become more innovative, companies need to think about which factors currently support or hinder their innovative capacities. It can be helpful here to review the strategic orientation, processes and structures. In many cases, however, further development of the company’s own corporate culture can prove to be highly effective. Wherever new things are to be created, space must be made to promote creative thinking, inventiveness and commitment. Concrete approaches for such further development can be developed by means of a targeted cultural analysis, for example. This will help management to create the framework conditions for staying ahead in the innovative thinking race.

HOW COMMUNICATION AND COOPERATION promotes AN INNOVATIVE CORPORATE CULTURE

An important component of an innovative and creative corporate culture is efficient and effective communication and cooperation. This allows for the knowledge that exists among employees and managers in different areas to be pooled. This is, however, easier said than done, because knowledge in companies is usually distributed decentrally - despite the organizational structures. For management, this means making the most of the available options in enabling and actively promoting cooperation across the company organization. Close networking of organizational units and the involvement of internal experts unleashes previously unused potential and contributes significantly to a company’s success. The same applies to the employment of and integration of external consultants, but also of consumers, for example via new platforms in Web 2.0.

MANAGERS AS ROLE MODELS FOR CROSS-OVER COOPERATION

However, the integration of new actors can only work if the responsible managers know how to establish and manage cross-functional cooperation in a meaningful way. They provide their employees with orientation through the definition of clear objectives, processes and interfaces - and at the same time they create the necessary mental space for new forms of cooperation such as Design Thinking, that in turn allow creativity and innovative power to unfold.