Saturday, 22 December 2012

Understanding The Art of Innovation Leadership


Innovation Leadership is an art because it involves understanding and managing 4 behavioural dimensions which have, until recently, remained hidden. Whilst we are probably familiar with Sun Tzu’s and Marcus Aurelius’s maxims on the importance of self-knowledge, the psychology of Innovation Leadership has not been available in a practical form that could help leaders and organisations, until now when we need it.

Blind Drivers of Innovation
Understanding innovation leadership is a bit like driving a car. At present, most organisations manage their psychology of innovation like drivers of cars who happen to be blind. It is possible to become relatively successful at leading an organisation through the medium of traditional performance measures. These are much like the cues that a blind driver uses to stay in the correct lane on the motorway. By listening to the sound cues of irregular bumping of tyres over cat’s eyes on one side of the car, and the screeching noise of the other side of the car grinding along the side of the oncoming traffic or stationary vehicles or building, a crude form of progress can be managed; even if getting onto and off the motorway is problemmatic. Every year, there are stories of blind drivers in remote rural areas (usually with a child or drunk giving instructions from the passenger seat) being chased and halted by astounded traffic police. It clearly can be done, and is being done, more or less: but does it make sense? And is it acceptable?

Not being in control of your own innovation leadership behaviour as a leader, is like leading your team or organization as though it is a car that you choose to drive with your eyes closed. Most people have no idea what their innovation leadership profile is. They are in effect, blind leaders of innovation. We are probably all familiar with the idea that it is not what leaders say, but how leaders actually behave that has the most impact on organisations, and that it is their behaviour that sends the strongest messages and provides the most powerful cues as to what defines successful performance in the organisation.

The key to successful leadership of innovation begins with understanding

• The 4 Innovation Leadership Behaviours (ILB),
• The limitations of where you are now (in terms of your actual ILB profile)
• The nature of the challenge (in terms of your preferred ILB profile), and
• Being hungry enough to want to change, to take control, to do something about it.

For some leaders, the idea of developing an understanding of their own ILB profiles (actual and preferred) can be intimidating, much as primitive tribes were afraid that photography would steal their souls, or that to study and seek to understand the behavioural patterns might destroy the power of a secret formula by exposing it. But as they say at the Royal Air Force’s Parachute Training School: “Knowledge Dispels Fear”. And this knowledge is essential, and if you have it then it becomes possible to ask yourself:

1.What will it take to move out of efficiency strategies into effectiveness strategies?
2. What can I contribute to making this organisation more successful?
3. What kind of innovation leadership should I be working on?
4. How can I develop myself to make a difference, and become more effective?

The 4 Innovation Leadership Behaviours (ILBs)

For innovation to occur in an organization, you need a mix of at least 4 generic types of Innovating Leadership Behaviours – Creators, Translators, Stabilisors and Navigators. When planned for, encouraged and balanced correctly they can promote and deliver continuous innovation.

They are:

Creators - Who provide the source of new, disruptive ideas.
Translators - Who connect new ideas to new opportunities.
Stabilisors - Who build quality delivery systems for products and services.
Navigators - Who anticipate what’s coming, know when to get in, when to get out, and how to manage it.

The 4 Innovating Leadership Behaviours are extreme stereotypes and usually (but not always) I find that leaders’ profiles have proportions of all four in their own characteristic “portfolio” depending on the limitations of their experience, work environment and their natural work preferences.

Understanding the implications of leaders' ILB patterns is a powerful source of information on the limitations of the existing strategy and what is going to be required to move out of efficiency and survival into effectiveness and growth, in difficult times.
Look Forward: Next Blog
In my next blog I will explain how the ILBs (CTSN) differ in terms of their focus and contextual awareness.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Overcoming Innovation Blindness in 15 Minutes

Here's a link to a presentation I gave at Computer Weekly's UKtech50 awards on 22nd November.

Essentially, I explained that whilst innovation processes are useful, innovative people are essential.

I introduced the idea that a complete social, innovation-ecology involves Creators, Translators, Stabilisors and Navigators interacting to deliver continuous innovation. I emphasised the importance of working out what's missing in yourself, and the importance of getting the right people on your "innovation bus" in order to simplify your innovation journey.

Friday, 23 November 2012

How To Spot A Zombie Organization

With the current proliferation of Zombie movies, it’s probably timely to consider what useful messages are hidden within Zombie movies as a cultural art-form and what we can usefully transfer into the way we lead and manage organizations.

To start with, what do we know about Zombies? Firstly their shared characteristic is that they are only marginally alive which means that
a) their movement is always clumsy,
b) they are always hungry for fresh human flesh and
c) they are unable to work things out for themselves (like how to open doors and drive cars).

These characteristics also apply to “Zombie Organizations”.

Zombie Organizations are clumsy because they pay no attention to their context. They are always stunned when the environment changes, the value of their current products, services and business models suddenly declines and the customer goes somewhere else, or a new high-value customer appears. Their response to change is always clumsy and tends to preserve political structures, value architectures and social narratives that justify their Zombie behaviours at the expense of the front-line.
Zombie Organisations are always hungry for “talent”, invest money in what they believe are talented people and are always surprised when the talented turn out to more ambitious than talented, the  good people leave and the supposedly “untalented” become increasingly disengaged. Their hunger for customers means that they will preserve high-volume, low margin commodity services and transactions at the expense of niche products which indicate the future forms that value will take.

Zombie Organisations are perpetually surprised by crises which in retrospect were highly predictable. Their failure to be curious, to revisit their Purpose, and to think systemically means that they purchase solutions which institutionalise their problems or tend to make them worse. A classic example is the consumption of engagement survey methodologies which lead to even more paternalistic attitudes by leaders who were originally recruited on the basis of their submissive/ deferential behaviour, who are then told to push the engagement survey dials by “aping” leadership behaviours that contradict traditional Zombie management culture. Another classic failure is the tendency to apply lean thinking to making current transactions more efficient when they are already obsolete.

The first step to recovery (as with all forms of physical and cultural addiction) is to accept that your organisation may be a Zombie Organisation (ZO) with Zombie Leaders and Zombie followers.
Further options include helping the Zombie Organisation to self-destruct or to isolate the dominant Zombie culture within its own organisation and then watch it fall apart. This can be done by pretending to be a Zombie yourself and exaggerating Zombie characteristics within the organisation (the equivalent of trapping them in a bus that goes over a cliff through offering them some live flesh to consume and then jumping out before it goes over a cliff). In other words, give them more of what they want, but use it to separate them from the parts of the organization that can be saved.

A less destructive and entertaining approach is to introduce the idea of the “Zombie Organization” and its characteristics and point out Zombie behaviours in meetings at work. This could include clumsy un-coordinated walking (with shaky asynchronous hand and leg movements) following others into meetings, wide-eyed unblinking staring combined with salivation from the corner of the mouth, mutterings of “flesh, must have more flesh” and an inability to manage the door handle to exit the room at the end of meetings.
A more systemic approach could include writing a white paper to back up legislation against ZOs or at least the management of their worst excesses; and the setting up a formal "Journal of Zombie Organizational Studies" (J4S-ZORGS) with peer-reviewed papers and a prestigious editorial board to explore the field of ZO studies. Unfortunately, this may have the effect of institutionalising the problem instead of solving it and encouraging the manufacture of specialist language that makes the topic inaccessible.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Tune Out, Turn Off: Disengage or Engage

There is a consistently-reported high level of disengagement linked to leadership in the workplace that manufactures both passively and actively-disengaged people. The level of disengagement is often quoted at up to a staggering 80% of the workforce[i]. But this problem is not restricted to the UK or USA it is a worldwide phenomenon. Leadership is routinely stated as one of the major sources of disengagement.  A quick look at Gallup’s 12 Questions on engagement show how most questions can be directly or indirectly related to leadership.

Since 1997 the Gallup Organization has surveyed approximately 3 million employees in three hundred thousand work units within corporations. This survey consists of 12 questions which measure employee engagement on a five-point scale indicating weak to strong agreement. Analyses of survey results show that those companies with high Q12 scores experience lower turnover, higher sales growth, better productivity, better customer loyalty and other manifestations of superior performance.

Q1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
Q2. Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?
Q3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
Q4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
Q5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
Q6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
Q7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
Q8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
Q9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
Q10. Do you have a best friend at work?
Q11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
Q12. In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
The Gallup Engagement Index slots people into one of three categories:

• Engaged employees who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.
• Not-Engaged employees who are essentially “checked out.” They may be in the building but they are sleepwalking through their workday. They are putting in time, but going through the motions with low enough energy or passion in their work.
• Actively Disengaged employees who aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness in their relationships with their colleagues. These workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish every day through virtual sabotage. They would rather be somewhere else, even if they can’t think of an alternative.
Results of the survey vary from country to country, organisation to organisation, age, education and gender. The results have ranged from 70% to 80% in disengaged employees over nearly a decade. Here are the results from Gallup Employee last year.  The Gallup Engagement Index in the US shows that the current trends remained relatively stable throughout 2011:
A.      Engaged = 29%
B.      Not engaged = 52%
C.      Actively disengaged = 19%
What you will notice is that the population of A (29%) is probably carrying the remaining population of B & C (71%) on their backs. An obvious conclusion is that MF Leaders need to focus on reducing the B & C population ratio and converting significant populations into A-type Engaged workers if the business is to grow and innovate.

[i] Blacksmith, N., Harter, J. (2012) Majority of American Workers Not Engaged In Their Jobs - Highly educated and middle-aged employees among the least likely to be engaged.

It's People Who Innovate, Not Processes

We either innovate or we die. We broadly accept this dictum. But what do we choose to do about it? And on reflection, do our choices make real sense?

First Story

A few years ago, I was working with the consulting arm of a national healthcare system on the issue of the low rate of adoption of innovations developed at centres for excellence into local practice. I have always been intrigued by the joined issues of the psychology of incompetence and the form that resistance to change can take, often known as Not-Invented-Here (NIH) culture.

I ran an exercise involving both local practitioners and government consultants, and we came up with some powerful and interesting lessons for accelerating adoption of innovations. Being a big fan of the rule of 3 (the idea that if you can identify the top 3 issues and resolve these, then the remainder will probably take care of themselves), I facilitated the exercise to identify the 3 most powerful influencers of local adoption of innovations:

1. Use the language of the people who are going to implement the innovation, don’t use MBA language. Consultant language has a tendency to alienate user audiences and trigger powerful NIH behaviours. If you can, employ a typical “user” of the solution who has strong links with the audience that you want to influence, and who expresses themselves authentically.

2. Demonstrate the real results gained to show it’s worth doing: ideally, try to show benefits not only to the customer, but also to the user who makes the innovation happen.

3. Recruit people who think innovating is part of everyday work. Try to employ people who want to innovate, or at the very least make it clear that work is going to involve a continual interest in improving and changing performance.

On reflection, the lessons can be reduced to 3 words: language, benefits and perhaps they are all about the psychology of innovation.

Second Story

At the beginning of 2008, I was working with the Heads of Innovation of 2 businesses which had recently been acquired. I was facilitating a series of discussions about the future shape and direction of innovation strategy in the newly-merged organisation. On the surface, these Heads of Innovation were complying, but in reality they were stressed, and naturally jockeying for dominance and succession or for golden exits. The official outcome was going to be their agreed strategy for doubling turnover through innovation within 3 years. After 2 sessions together, I found that they were playing the old scientist game of questioning me in detail about the legitimacy of the facilitation techniques I was employing, instead of focusing on the issue. Once I had resolved this, I found that we moved onto a technical discussion of stage gate innovation processes (where you segment your invention to innovation process into defined stages, and apply rules that determine progression beyond each stage). The game they wanted to play here, was to pretend that having an integrated, and shared approach to stage-gate definition and decision-making would solve the problem of innovation to drive an aggressive growth target. When I began to pressure them on the issue of innovation talent, and demolished the assumption that scientific ambition was the same thing, it became clear that creative individuals were largely marginalised and isolated within a scientific bureaucracy that was under-performing.

They wanted to avoid the fact that when it came down to people, they didn’t have the right people to deliver the kind of innovation to drive growth that the new organisation required. And that they didn’t think that it was important. Life would go on (they hoped) much as before.


Both these consulting exercises (first and second stories) had a profound effect on my thinking. I have always been a “process” man. I have developed and facilitated the co-creation of innovation processes, applied lean thinking both within and outside the automotive industry, implemented business process redesign, and even taught process leadership as a technique for making processes work within organisations. But I couldn’t avoid the obvious conclusion over time, that

1. Whilst processes are useful as a means of focusing attention and reducing the need to relearn the obvious, they cannot be a substitute for understanding the psychology of innovation.
2. Whilst history has shown us examples where innovative people with deficient processes have found a way to succeed, there are few examples of mediocre people succeeding because they had great processes.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Innovation Blindness

One of the weird things about innovation is the way practitioners find themselves focusing on what appear to be the essential components of innovation, in other words: innovation processes and stage gate decision making meetings. Ironically, they are worrying about the furniture of innovation and not the innovation behaviours that make it possible. It’s another example of how managers tend to work on doing things right even when they are focusing on the wrong things, instead of doing the right thing.

 You can have the wrong people in the room with the best innovation processes and stage gate decision making tools: and you probably will fail.  And you can have the great people in the room with mediocre tools: and they will somehow find a way to succeed.

Understanding innovation leadership is a bit like driving a car. At present, most organisations manage their psychology of innovation like drivers of cars who happen to be blind. It is possible to become relatively successful at leading an organisation through the medium of traditional performance measures. These are much like the cues that a blind driver uses to stay in the correct lane on the motorway.  By listening to the sound cues of irregular bumping of tyres over cat’s eyes on one side of the car, and the screeching noise of the other side of the car grinding along the side of the oncoming traffic or stationary vehicles or building, a crude form of progress can be managed; even if getting onto and off the motorway is problemmatic.  Every year, there are stories of blind drivers in remote rural areas (usually with a drunk giving instructions from the back seat) being chased and halted by astounded traffic police.  It clearly can be done, and is being done, more or less: but does it make sense? And is it acceptable?

 Innovation processes are useful, but innovative people are essential.

Not being in control of your own innovation leadership behaviour as a leader, is like leading your team or organization as though it is a car that you choose to drive with your eyes closed.  Most people have no idea what their innovation leadership profile is. They are in effect, blind leaders of innovation. We are probably all familiar with the idea that it is not what leaders say, but how leaders actually behave that has the most impact on organisations, and that it is their behaviour that sends the strongest messages and provides the most powerful cues as to what defines successful performance in the organisation.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Creative Silence [Brainstorming 2.0]


I have found that generating large numbers of ideas doesn't imply a larger number of potential nuggets. The free-association aspect of traditional brainstorming is often more useful as a means of mapping the preoccupations and thinking-styles of a group than in generating useful ideas.


Another difficulty is that the first idea voiced in traditional brainstorming, may prove to be the last. I have noticed that extended stress-gaps in teams, combined with a high need to produce an output, can lead to the generation of ideas long before the team has agreed and formally defined the problem. Such teams are easily led astray by the first idea. It is as though the first idea dominates or "shapes" everything that follows to develop an inadvertent “groupthink”.
The need to work on something, often anything, can mean that the first idea voiced, slants or influences the expectations of the group and can misdirect all the ideas that follow. The team embellishes the initial idea, producing variations and investing in this direction until, much too late, it realises that this area is rather unproductive but feels unwilling to abandon work that has involved so much emotion, time and effort.


Ideas can be vetted inadvertently.  I have seen facilitators scribbling ideas down onto flipcharts as the team shouted them out in traditional brainstorming style and noticed their unconscious vetting of ideas that they disliked by not writing them down.  When asked subsequently why they missed these ideas and ultimately switched those individuals off from any further positive contributions, they simply said that they had not heard the ideas. 
When revisited on video, the excluded ideas sounded just as loud as the other "acceptable" ideas.


The solution to overcome this type of "groupthink" is to introduce a new discipline to traditional brainstorming, by asking individuals to "kick-off" the process of generating solutions or ideas by doing it individually, and in silence and recording their ideas on Post-Its.
This "Creative Silence" approach leads to a significant improvement in quality and diversity of ideas. The resulting ideas are collected by asking individuals to contribute their ideas in threes, and without comment, working round the team until all the ideas are represented. This also encourages individuals to listen to each others' ideas to avoid presenting the same idea again.

I find Post-Its for individuals a very useful way of accelerating this process. I have no investments in the manufacturers, nor do I (as yet) receive a retainer for making this suggestion! Remember: One idea per Post-It, write all ideas with the same colour flipchart-pen, to disguise the ownership of ideas and reduce status-awareness. 

A minor point to remember is that ideas may need to be expressed in more than just a single word on a Post-It in order to mean something to other team-members.
Creative Silence Brainstorming - 5 Basic  Rules
                1              Two Minutes Creative Silence (at least)
                2              One idea per Post-It
                3              Same colour pen
                4              Share 3 ideas at a time, going round the group
                5              Remove duplicates, build on triggers, seek combination and improvement

 Encourage individuals to introduce their Post-Its in their own words, without comment from the team beyond checking their understanding of the necessarily abbreviated content of each Post-It as it is put on display.
Whilst this is happening, encourage individuals to respond to what they see, using them as triggers to generate further ideas (another wave) or lead to grouping the ideas into families, identifying gaps and only then introducing another wave through another phase of Creative Silence, and so on.

If used correctly, this tool will help you and your team to effectively generate useful solution in a relatively short period of time. Its success however, depends upon your process discipline!

[Extract from: “The First Discipline: Process Leadership for Problem Solving Teams”, Victor Newman, 2010,]

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Why Mind Fitness is Essential in Uncertain Times

Where are we now?

All economies and businesses go through cycles of decay and rebirth. This means that the natural tendency to plug away at doing the same stuff in the hope that the familiar old reality will return, whilst comforting, is ultimately futile. The old rules don’t quite work the way they used to.
Part of the problem of the recession is that the nature of business decay has been disguised by artificial and unsustainable levels of government borrowing that created an artificial boom in growth that has become seen as a normal state.

Innovate or Die

The current economic climate is unpredictable because cash-rich businesses are holding on to their money and not investing it, because they cannot predict where the market will go next and how low customer demand may fall. And yet we know that the old trick of manufacturing products or delivering services that people actually want to buy still works under most conditions: the long-delayed but welcome success of the British Automotive industry says it all, JLR is having problems meeting global demand. Apple is having dip in analyst expectations because its customers are not buying the current iPhone because they know that the replacement will be available in November. What marvellous challenges to have to face in a global recession!

Do the Right Thing

There’s a great quote from Warren Bennis to the effect that: “Managers are people who do things right. [whilst] Leaders are people who do the right thing”.
Under stress, organisations and individuals tend to do 2 dangerous things: firstly they focus on hygiene behaviours (tidying or focusing on cosmetic issues – hence “re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic”) that comfort with familiarity instead of coming to terms with the new situation.  This tidying behaviour under pressure often takes the form of ensuring that “things are done right” are done properly even when they are not solving the real problem that needs to be addressed. The second dangerous behaviour is the tendency to work on solving the problem they are already familiar with, which is usually not the problem that needs working on.

How Mad Do You Have To Get Before You Want To Change?

There is an old definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, and Rita Mae Brown. How much insanity can we afford? 
Mind Fit is about learning to face your current reality and deliberately changing your thinking approach in order to succeed, by learning to pay attention to new variables that determine success in a changed situation or a situation you want to change by changing your performance.

Just as Lean Thinking was a response to the 1973 Oil Crisis, a systemic methodology that focused on waste reduction by identifying forms of waste that were an accepted cost in the automotive industry and eliminating them, Mind Fit is about recognising forms of behavioural waste in your current situation, confronting them and reducing them drastically to release energy to innovate.

Mind Fit awareness is the equivalent of an athlete learning to change the self-imposed rules of performance by removing an invisible rucksack full of rocks that a careless coach made them wear, and learning to run faster, different races without it. Mind Fit is about giving yourself the freedom to innovate personally, in your relationships, and in your organisation.

As Ghandi said: be the change you wish to see in others.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


To paraphrase an old quote, insanity is the expectation that old approaches will still work when the context you are operating in has changed. If managers are supposed to do things right, and leaders to do the right thing, then a recession deepens the requirement to support today’s strategy, whilst crafting its innovative replacement.

But what do you do in the interim before the new, “effective” strategy is operating? Just as the 1973 oil embargo forced the adoption of lean thinking in the Japanese automotive industry, we need to adopt a fundamentally different approach to forms of waste that we may not at first be able to see or even characterize by creating new, dynamic way of thinking about the most valuable resource that organisations possess – their people. It is ultimately through people that growth will come.
We’ve all heard of Not-Invented-Here, and I have written elsewhere about “sticky” organizations and how closed Relational Capital protects the status quo, but understanding the problem is not the same as solving it. Ordinary people are like athletes in that both have all the innate assets needed to become innovative and succeed, but few dare to systematically realise this potential by developing a form of mental fitness that reduces expensive defensive, paternalistic leadership and its partner incompetence, in order to liberate new, hidden capability to innovate and grow.

Throwing money at the recession will not solve the problem. Telling the banks to lend money just begs the question of what exactly are they going to invest in, within a recession? So what is required in order to be worth investing in?

Current Recession Context & Innovation Credo

·    Growth in a recession will come from different and better use of current resources to innovate, chiefly through our people and their talents.

·    Champions are the product of the ability to focus and control their own minds and fears to deliver outstanding behaviours combined with a conscious use of technique under difficult circumstances.

·    Successful leaders in difficult times are able to lead themselves and also influence the behaviours of those around them.

·    The problem for leaders is how to get more and different outcomes for less, by understanding how to develop and apply a form of mental and behavioural fitness to manage their own attention in order to change behaviours and expectations, more.

One of the strategic imperatives that Clive Woodward brought to British Athletics (and he knows he will never be forgiven for doing it) was to focus investment on athletes in events where they were likely to win a medal. Successful growth in a recession requires a similar approach to mental fitness to enable innovation and growth.

On 19th September 2012, Graham Williams and I will be presenting a showcase workshop on this topic, entitled "Mind Fit - To Innovate for Business Growth" at the University of Greenwich's Hamilton House in Greenwich. Details to follow. 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Real Need for Autistic Board Members to Avoid Excessive Risk-Taking

The past few weeks have featured several articles replaying the old sex-war narrative around capitalism, on the line that a more balanced representation of women in the boardroom would have reduced risk-taking behaviour that led to the financial crash.

The Times’s Business Section, yesterday (Wednesday 28th March) suggested that this is a na├»ve, simplistic view, referencing Bundesbank research which suggested that “women board members were more likely to take risks with a bank’s finances than their male counterparts”.  Swimming against the traditional sex-war narrative, the report concluded that “women determine corporate governance of banks significantly and are not marginalised by a male-dominated board culture”.
Interestingly, it was noted that risky behaviour was generally increased by the lower age of board members, but that PhD-holders brought greater stability.
Reading Michael Lewis’s brilliant “The Big Short” on the epidemic of stupidity that drove the sub-prime disaster, a key feature of those who could see what was about to happen was their shared relative autism. That is, they all shared elements of autistic behaviour common to innovative people, as one of the key protagonists discovered when his son was diagnosed with Aspergers’s syndrome, for which the typical behaviours included a lack of:
1.       Ability to read non-verbal behaviours and eye-contact.
2.       Interest in developing peer relationships and interest in socialising with other people.
Allied with a strong tendency to:
3.       Find computers and the internet appealing because they avoid 1 & 2 above,

4.       Have hobbies and interests which are often solitary, idiosyncratic and dominate their time and conversations.

What made Dr. Michael Burry unusual was that “only someone who has Asperger’s would read a subprime mortgate bond prospectus [and understand what was actually going on]”.
In conclusion, I would suggest that we need a new model for rationality when it comes to decision-making in financial institutions (and others). We need to include people who are asocial enough to apply logic in the face of social groupthink pressure to conform, and empower them to ask the real, systemic questions that the group is avoiding.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Practical Innovation Leadership - 20th September 2012

A Flash Innovation Workshop with Victor Newman and Simon Evans, Innovoflow Ltd.
Developing Responsive Fast-Twitch Muscle Training for Rugby! 

Date: 20th September 2012 @ Hamilton House, University of Greenwich         Timing: 0900-1700


Innovation Agility combines flexible thinking about your innovation process, the willingness to exploit the full range of options outside current products, services and business models, plus the ability to learn rapidly.

Agile Innovation Leadership skills are especially valuable in turbulent markets and for developing Open Innovation strategies to work with great ideas from both inside or outside the company, and also for going to market with external partners.

 This workshop provides a model (through simulation) to help innovation leaders to develop agile thinking and the necessary decision making ability to operate successfully and meet the needs of the emergent, post-recession world.


·         A warm-up task to stimulate innovative thinking.
·         Current challenges and problems with innovation.
·         Use of simulations to accelerate innovation learning.
·         Introducing the concepts of the “Innovation Eco-System” the “Idea lifecycle” and “Agile Innovation leadership”.  Discussion.
·         Learning from experience - using simulation components to illustrate examples of failed innovation initiatives and how they could have been rescued.  Participants illustrate their experiences using the simulation.
·         Constructing an optimal innovation ecosystem with constrained resources.
·         Reverse Innovation Thinking: Identifying barriers to innovation and harvesting experience to develop antidotes.
·         Who is the custodian of the eco-system?  Discussion
·         Summing up, review and take-aways.

Learning Objectives
  1. To understand that innovation is at the core of all businesses
  2. To understand the nature of an idea and how it survives
  3. To take the broad view of innovation and ensure that ideas have the best chance of generating real value – it’s not just about coming up with ideas
  4. To recognise that innovation must be “part of the day job”
  5. To treat the innovation eco-system as something that requires feeding, watering and nurturing in order to be successful
  6. (Most importantly!) recognise that innovation is not a free lunch -  you must invest many different types of resource

Who should attend

All SMEs or entrepreneurs who care about developing innovation agility in a turbulent environment, who realise that new ideas sometimes need new ways of thinking and working, to turn them into practical products, services and business models.

Benefits to you and your business
·         Acquire a new and practical way of discussing and thinking openly about the way you innovate in your organisation.
·         Discover how to design and test a comprehensive innovation eco-system to ensure ideas are supported throughout their whole lifecycle to generate maximum value
·         An opportunity to share experiences of successful or failed innovation approaches and how to learn from them
·         Have an enjoyable learning day, much of which can be taken back to your business
·         To start to build a relationship with the Centre for Entrerprise & Innovation which could lead to other opportunities