The Innovation Mode [Preface]
How to Transform Your Organization into an Innovation Powerhouse
After years of conceptualizing, designing and synthesizing, my first book, The Innovation Mode, is now publicly available. The book takes a holistic view of corporate innovation — by examining the role of people, culture, technology, and processes: Innovation is seen as a fully integrated function that is powered by people and streamlined by technology. While it emphasizes the importance of culture, “The Innovation Mode” also presents how modern digital technologies can redefine the ways companies innovate.
At the time of writing, it is estimated that there are 4.5 billion active Internet users along with 30 billion connected devices. We live in an era of unprecedented access to knowledge, talent, and digital resources. Our modern times are characterized by a massive, ongoing transformation that impacts every aspect of human life — from education and healthcare to entertainment, travel, and transportation. In the business world, digital technology drives an equally dramatic impact by changing the way we work, how we build products, and operate services.
This revolution is the result of breakthrough innovations in many fields such as hardware, software, networking, and technologies like big data and artificial intelligence. The Internet and the Web empower the formation of online communities and distributed teams that collaborate in entirely new ways. Movements such as the open-source, open innovation, and open collaboration reshape the way we think about business. At the same time, flexible and remote working models emerge in the so-called gig economy, while entrepreneurship and startup initiatives are on the rise. This cultural shift, along with the general availability of some of the greatest technologies of all time, set the stage for radical innovation across sectors and geographies — and this stage is available to all, enabling relatively small companies, startups, or even individuals to disrupt the status quo and challenge established services and companies. Typically, these “outsiders” see the world through a digital lens and are faster in adopting the latest technologies; as a result, they tend to be more innovative when designing products, services, or business models. Consequently, established companies are at risk of being disrupted and outperformed. Corporate leaders realize that innovation is the only way to stay relevant and stay in business.
This “new order” in terms of technology, culture, and connectivity creates tremendous opportunities for both incremental and radical innovations. At the same time, the process of innovation itself is now faster than ever. Companies that have both the knowledge and the willingness to innovate have a distinct advantage over the established ones that take a more risk-averse position. Innovation-led organizations have the chance to stay ahead of the game and thrive. Companies that overlook the value of innovation or treat it frivolously will eventually get disrupted. Leaders need to transform their organizations toward a new model that incorporates innovation as a fundamental capability — fully embedded in operational v aspects and well-aligned to the purpose of the company. To stay relevant, companies need to adapt fast and reset the way they work, communicate, collaborate, and pursue financial success.
The purpose of the book is to help business leaders rethink their corporations as agile, innovation-led organizations. At the same time, it aims to guide innovation leaders on how to design, initiate, and execute a robust transformational program. Through concrete proposals, original ideas, and best practices, it offers actionable guidance on how to drive the cultural and technological change through a structured transformation program and a continual innovation improvement process.
The book takes a holistic view of innovation — by examining the role of people, culture, technology, and processes. Innovation is seen as a fully integrated function that is powered by people and streamlined by technology. While it emphasizes the importance of culture, it also presents how digital technologies can redefine the ways companies innovate. The book introduces a robust innovation framework, a set of capabilities that empower the company to systematically capture market signals, spot opportunities, and react wisely through streamlined innovation processes such as ideation, prototyping, and experimentation. Furthermore, it presents a detailed innovation transformation program — a masterplan of workstreams, events, and activities that help the organization move fast toward the innovation mode — the state where great innovation happens naturally, in an optimal balance with operational activities. By adopting the innovation-led model presented in the book, organizations can become more innovative and eventually gain competitive advantages. The content is organized into four parts.
Part I presents the fundamentals of innovation. The main goal is to provide clarity on terms such as innovation and novelty. The first chapter presents the modern meaning of innovation and its basic typology. It analyzes the importance of these terms and introduces new definitions, including the innovation function. The next chapter sets the focus on people — it presents the core values that form a solid basis of a good innovation culture and then analyzes the typical innovation blockers — what usually prevents capable individuals and teams from engaging with innovation. Following the discussion of common innovation blockers, the book proposes techniques and strategies to remove them and gradually change the culture toward a state of openness, sharing, and creative collaboration. Beyond culture, Chap. 4 introduces the innovation framework — the set of components and capabilities that empower companies to streamline innovation and integrate it with the core business processes. It explains how this framework helps teams to obtain signals from the broader economic environment, identify opportunities, react and adapt through innovations, in a “continuous” mode.
Part II introduces effective methods for managing ideas and discovering innovation opportunities. Chapter 5 presents the universal idea model as a more effective way to capture, intake and distribute ideas. Chapter 6 helps organizations to design an end-to-end ideation process that benefits from agile principles. At the core of the process is a robust assessment model that evaluates the potential of ideas and accelerates the discovery of opportunities. Chapter 7 proposes a blueprint of an always-on ideas channel — that uses the universal model of ideas and the proposed ideation process to offer a unified ideas store for the corporation — where ideas live, evolve, and get discovered in the right context. Part III presents how to generate and act upon ideas. It introduces improved variants of brainstorming and provides a thorough guide for organizing corporate hackathons. Chapter 10 explains how to set up a prototype factory — an entity that allows the organization to convert innovation opportunities to functional prototypes and expose them to users for testing. It covers the makerspace as a place for experimentation and technology exploration and explains how design sprints can benefit from the enhanced prototyping capability of the organization. Chapter 11 goes beyond prototypes: it introduces the basics of agile product development and describes how those successfully tested innovation opportunities can be defined as great products, using the agile approach and the notion of the minimum viable product.
Part IV explains how to reach the “innovation mode.” It proposes a measurement framework as the means for better orchestration of the innovation function and the basis for steering the innovation transformation program. The final chapter of the book combines everything into a single, detailed masterplan. It provides innovation leaders with actionable guidance on how to start and how to get there. It begins with the architecture of the transformation program and then it uses a roadmap of six phases, blending all the technological, cultural, and process-level activities and work streams that need to happen to get to the “innovation mode.” It presents how to put everything into action, in the right order, and accelerate the transformation journey. This book is intended for business, technology, and innovation leaders. Readers will find essential information and unique insights on technologies, processes, and methodologies that can help them embed innovation into their corporate reality. Engineering managers can use this book to identify the technological components required to empower fundamental processes of innovation such as ideation, idea evaluation, innovation measurement, gamification, and knowledge management. Innovation and digital transformation managers will find practical advice, ideas, and recommendations on how to design a winning innovation transformation strategy, inspire people and grow a vivid community of innovators. Corporate leaders will get answers on how to measure success and orchestrate the end-to-end innovation process.
Excerpt from “The Innovation Mode — How to Transform Your Organization into an Innovation Powerhouse” Krasadakis G. (2020)
Discover more at The Innovation Mode website