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In our Leadership+Innovation community on LinkedIn, Chris Thoen who is a R&D Director at Procter & Gamble asked the question which elements are needed in order to create an open innovation culture. Our community had an interesting discussion and I want to share the key elements that came up.
- Willingness to accept that not all the smart people work for your company. We need to work with smart people inside and outside our company.
- Willingness to strive for balance between internal and external R&D. External R&D can create significant value; internal R&D is needed to claim some portion of that value.
- Willingness to give part of the control to others. We don’t have to originate the research to profit from it. We don’t need to control everything from the cradle to the grave.
- No need to always be first. Building a better business model is better than getting to market first.
- Dismiss NIH (Not Invented Here). If we make the best use of internal and external ideas, we will win. We don’t need to own everything ourselves and keep it under tight wraps. We should profit from others’ use of our innovation process, and we should buy others’ intellectual property (IP) whenever it advances our own business model.
- Open innovation requires people with the right interpersonal management skills to manage the relationships with customers and partners. We need people with agility and flexibility skills. The “soft” skills of emotional intelligence — fundamental social skills such as self-awareness, self-fulfilment, and empathy — are needed to complement traditional IQ skills.
- Willingness to reward effort and learning. Failure is a fact of life for companies that pursue innovation seriously, and a leader’s response to it has a huge effect on company culture and therefore on future projects. Innovation leaders know that failures represent opportunities to learn.
- As part of good leadership skills, a group or entity has to be willing to be a risk taker rather than being risk adversed while having a good dose of common sense with regards to balancing the risk level.
- Open innovation requires open communication. Work around the confidentiality and IPR issues in order to create an environment build on trust.
- Develop a job rotation program in order to help your employees build the knowledge and understanding of how an idea or technology becomes a profitable business. Consider engaging partners and customers in such a program.
Besides Chris and myself, the contributors for this list are Robert Falcone who is R&D Director at Nice Pak Industries, Benjamin Chaloner-Gill who works with New Business Development at Chevron and Rakesh Sharma who heads Strategy & Business Development at the Indian Sub Continent at Philips.
I am puzzled that so few people can describe the values that guide their daily actions. Think about it. These are the fundamentals that help you become successful as an innovation leader or intrapreneur as well as in personal life. No doubt some of you have spent time helping your company define its core values, which, if followed, will drive the organization toward success. Doesn’t it make sense to also define the core values that will also impel you to success? I want you to think more about this and start working on developing a better understanding of your values.
We all have values, whether we are consciously aware of them or not. Values are traits, qualities or beliefs that we find valuable. Personal values are also implicitly related to choice; they guide your decisions by allowing you to compare the associated value of each choice.
I find this useful in this world of ours where we often seem to be condemned, rather than blessed, by choices. This is perhaps particularly true for people working in the field of innovation, which can be likened to the candy store of the corporation. With so many exciting and appetizing choices in front of you, how will you know what to choose if you aren’t prepared to make values-based decisions?
Let me share my personal values with you. They are passion, trustworthiness, integrity and the willingness to help others. I need to be passionate about what I am doing as I believe this is the only way to become very good at what I am doing and to continuously enjoy what I do over the years. Passion makes things so much easier as you become more engaged and effective when you do things you really love to do. Hopefully, these things also have a financial potential. I really try to find the passion in whatever I do.
Trustworthiness is important to me as I want to build relationships with people whom I can trust and have them trust me. Of course, this is a two-way function that is often forgotten by some people. In the long run, people who aren’t trustworthy do not achieve success in either their business or personal lives.
Integrity is hard to describe and yet quite simple. The dictionary’s primary definition for integrity is the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards. But two secondary definitions are also informative: Integrity is the state of being complete or undivided and or the state of being sound or undamaged. Taken as a whole, these three definitions indicate that if we act with integrity, we will be whole and sound.
How does one put this into action? This is where I use my stomach and gut. If I really try to feel something, then I know what the right answer is or what the right thing to do is. Does a given thing feel right in my stomach? Can I feel the passion in myself and among the other people involved? Is there a strong element of trust involved? If not, I walk away. Intuition, which is interconnected with integrity, can be trained so try to trust your intuition more often. Integrity comes when you are committed to follow this gut feeling. Not just once in a while and not always (no one is perfect) but very close to always. I believe integrity has become necessary to survive in a world that is becoming so small while presenting more options than ever.
The willingness to help and be there for others is a double-edged sword for me. I live this value out to a very high extent in my business life. I always try to help others without expecting anything in return. I have learned this works well in the long run, and it cannot be separated from my networking mindset. In my personal life this is more complicated. I know I can give more to people in my close circle but sometimes I just don’t. Perhaps I feel more comfortable with my family and friends so I do not have to make the same effort. Perhaps I have used all my mental capacity for this value at work. I sense this is a mistake, and I am working to correct this.
I believe you can only be successful in the long run if you know your values and if you know what really matters to you. Furthermore, you need to live in a way that is consistent with your values. By sharing my values, I hope I can inspire you to start thinking about your own values.
Working with innovation, we often talk about critical success factors. Have you considered developing your personal success factors? What should they be? To become successful as an innovation leader and intrapreneur–and as a partner, family member and friend–you can explore these pathways to success:
• Know your values. Often success at work is defined by others, which can cause internal conflict with your inherent values. Even if you haven’t taken time to delineate your values, you will feel stress when you take actions that go against them in an effort to please others. I assure you that knowing your values and living by them will eliminate this unfortunate situation.
• Follow your passion. As you get to know your values you will also discover where your passion is. And you can only become successful in the true meaning of the word if you can live out your passion in the majority of your life. Passion is doing what comes natural to you and with a continued desire to learn and develop within this area. How do you let your passion out? How do you get the kicks that make life great? Why not plan for them?
• Decide on your personal vision. We all know how important it is for a company to set a vision that makes concrete the results the organization aims to achieve over the long term. Similarly, you can define your own personal vision that combines your values and your passion into a brief but meaningful statement of what you desire to achieve in business, in your personal life and as a member of your community.
• Set goals. Once you’ve defined your vision, you can determine what short, mid-range and long-term goals will get you there. Share your vision and goals with the people who are important in your life to help build in accountability to your planning for success. Review your goals on a regular basis, making adjustments as you achieve progress or suffer setbacks. You will learn that working to the goals rather than achieving them is what makes you happy, so be prepared to set new goals when you reach your current ones.
• Understand and respect your stakeholders. Who will help you achieve your goals and personal vision? It’s important to identify and understand your key influencers and what drives them. These are your stakeholders and you must make sure they understand what you bring to the table and also how they can help you achieve success–and how you can help them become successful.
• Work on your T-Shape. Go deep in at least one skill area and have breadth and empathy for other areas. Thus you need to accept that you don’t know everything and have the courage to seek help and advice from others. Gain a broader perspective by learning from those whose experience and views differ from yours. If you have team members on whom you are relying to help you achieve your goals, be sure to share credit with them. Recognize the stakeholders in your personal life who make it possible for you to have the time needed to achieve success on your business goals; thank them for their role in your success.
• Stay current. While you’re working toward your own set of goals, the outside world will not be standing still. Make sure you keep on top of external developments that could impact your ability to achieve your vision.
• Communicate yourself. How do you want other people to look upon you? You might not like this, but it does not really matter much what you think of yourself. What really matters is how other people perceive you. Build and nurture your personal brand and work on your personal messages.
• Manage time. You might think that working hard for 60, 70 or 80 hours each week is what it takes to be successful. You might even think being a workaholic is a badge of honour. I have met many innovation officers and intrapreneurs who think like this. But in the recent years, some of them got reasons to reconsider how to manage and spent their time. One guy had a heart attack. Several people got divorced. Some realized that they went through life without seeing their kids grow up. They got to the other side where they understood they needed to manage their time rather than letting time manage them.
Outliers, the new book by Malcolm Gladwell is worth a read if you want to now more about success and what makes people successful.
I did loose some interest in the last chapters as they focused too much on math – not my favourite topic. But still an interesting and quick read in the same page-turner style as his previous best-sellers, The Tipping Point and Blink.
You can read more on this link: www.malcolmgladwell.com
Børsen, a Danish business journal, had a short interview with Jørgen Mads Clausen, who is the recently retired CEO – and still majority owner – of Danfoss, which is an industrial giant within heating and cooling technologies with more than 33,000 employees and annual turnover of about USD 4.5 billion. See www.danfoss.com
Jørgen Mads Clausen is really into job rotation and as mentioned in a previous blog – Do you job swap? – I really like this idea as well. What I learned from the article is that Danfoss has created a system in which all employees are categorized in green, yellow and red colours. Green is for employees having been in the same job up to four years, yellow covers four to seven years and red covers more than seven years.
Danfoss uses electronic employee-cards and this system allows them to give their employees notifications when they get a yellow card. Served as a gently reminder that it might be about time to think of how they see their next job-function.
Danfoss wants lots of “green” employees with sharp brains. I am sure the system helps them achieve this.
As an innovation leader or intrapreneur, you always have something to sell. In the end it is a product or a service, but during the development of a revenue-generator, you have to sell a vision to internal and external stakeholders.
You communicate that vision by:
• Developing a value proposition that can be adapted for various stakeholders, and then
• Capturing the very essence of the value proposition in a short and brief elevator pitch that focuses on the recipients of the message.
In Geoffrey Moore’s classic book, Crossing the Chasm, he provides the term “value proposition” as a way to choose from among what is presented to us for consideration. Options include choosing nothing at all, if there are no choices that improve our current situation.
Here are the six elements Geoffrey Moore describe as needed to communicate an effective value proposition:
• For (target audience)
• Who are/wants/needs (statement of needs or opportunity or compelling reason to buy)
• The (product name) is a (product category)
• That (statement of key benefits)
• Unlike (primary competitive alternative)
• Our product (statement of primary differentiation)3
Keep in mind that some adaptation of these elements might be required for communicating value propositions for things other than products or services. However, this approach allows you to convey all important aspects without providing too much information. It also enables you to explain your product or service in a few sentences, which is short enough for people to remember. This framework can also be used later when creating your “elevator pitch.” Here the idea is that if you can convey your message to others in 60 seconds or less, they will remember the majority of the value proposition. Since word of mouth is one of the biggest forms of communication, this is extremely important.
You will most likely never get to use an elevator pitch in the true sense, as you will almost always have more than a minute to make your case when you interact with others. However, if you think that means there is no need to do this, you’d be wrong. Preparation is the key point of value propositions and elevator pitches. The learning you gain while defining your value proposition and tuning your pitch will make you understand your product, service, or message so well that it will become much easier for you to achieve success. That creates all the reasons in the world to take this very seriously.
Picture this: you have worked on an idea that can really make a difference at your company. Nevertheless, you have difficulties getting in touch with the key stakeholders, and when you do, you keep hitting the wall of indecisiveness.
Then one day you get a break. After having given yet another so-so presentation to people who seem unable to make a decision, you step into the elevator with the person who can singlehandedly decide whether your idea is boom or bust. You know this is your big–and perhaps only–shot. Your pulse quickens. Your body temperature rises. What do you do?
Too few people are prepared to deal with such a situation. They have not given such a situation much thought, let alone prepared something to say or rehearsed saying it. So instead of capitalizing on the opportunity, they just let it walk out the door or mess it up and end up looking like an incompetent fool. Do not leave this to luck. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
That is the question asked by BusinessWeek in a recent article. The idea of the X prize contests is quite interesting and it has also showed some value as it played a key role in developing private space travelling. But can it become an important element in open innovation efforts?
Not likely, but check it out for yourself in this article: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_48/b4110054165858.htm?campaign_id=rss_topEmailedStories
I really look forward to reading Outliers, the new book by Malcolm Gladwell who also gave us Blink and The Tipping Point.
One of his interesting observations is that it takes 10,000 hours to become a true expert in virtually anything.
USA Today has an article – http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2008-11-17-gladwell-success_N.htm – in which you can read a short description on how The Beatles, Bill Gates and Gladwell himself worked their 10,000 hours to become great at their chosen task.
10,000 hours is 3 hours every day almost 10 years. Do you have the passion and persistence to continuously build your mindset and skills to become one of the best in your field?
You need to understand that the projects you run affect other people. The more people you affect, the more likely it is that your actions will impact people having the power and influence to make or break your project. This makes stakeholder management a critical discipline for you to master if you want to become successful with your innovation projects.
You can get an idea of stakeholder management by thinking in terms of three steps: identification, profiling and communication.
The first step is to figure out who your stakeholders are. Think of internal and external people who can affect your project in both positive and negative ways and people who might feel threatened or stand to gain from your project. Think not only of the obvious people such as your boss, but also on influencers who are not on a formal organization chart. Upon this brainstorming, you can make an early prioritization and place important stakeholders on a short list.
As criteria for placing people on the short list, ask yourself two questions: Does this person hold any impact on my project right now? Does this person have a high impact now, soon or late in the project?
Although working your stakeholders is important, you will often lack the time to work with all of them, so you need to prioritize them early on. However, you should always be prepared to change the status of the stakeholders and add new stakeholders when you learn of people being affected by your project.
The next step is to create short profiles of the stakeholders you have placed on your short list. You can use this information to gain a clearer picture of the stakeholder map that must be navigated to successfully complete a project.
Besides including general information such as name, job function, contact information and a short bio you should ask yourself questions such as: Is the stakeholder an advocate, supporter, neutral, critic or a blocker towards the project? Does the stakeholder have a strong, medium or weak impact on your project and is the impact now, soon or late in the project life cycle? Does the stakeholder hold a formal/direct or an informal/indirect influence on the project? What are the key financial or emotional interests of the stakeholder with regards to your project? Remember to ask yourself why this is so.
You should also look into what we can call the circle of influence. Who influences the stakeholder generally, and who influences the stakeholder’s opinion of you? To which degree are you connected with the stakeholder and his/her influencers?
The last step is to figure out what you want from your stakeholders and what you can offer them – and then communicate with them.
You might not feel you are ready to do so, but you need to communicate with your stakeholders early and often. This makes them know what you are doing and you can use their reactions to make changes that can increase the likelihood of success for your project.
People are usually quite open about their views and the best way to start building successful relationships with your stakeholders is to talk directly with them. If you have problems getting in touch with the stakeholders, you might have to use more informal approaches such as “random meetings” in which you seek out places with a good chance of delivering an elevator pitch that makes the stakeholder interested in learning more about your project.
You should do your homework before these meetings and interactions. Besides having crafted a profile, you should also know what compelling messages to use with the stakeholder and you should be able to deliver quick and concise elevator pitches based on these messages.
This is a great way to learn new things and a good approach to establish long term partnerships.
Check out this short article to learn more about how and why these innovation leaders made their employees swap jobs: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hc2R2XPvVoPxwYrItOdbFWjE6o0AD94I91V81
Why not start something similar with the partners of your company?