Innovation Capability – Three Interlocking Platforms

by Paul Hobcraft

A little while back I was reading somewhere an academic paper and it triggered a thought, so I set about capturing it for this post, then it somehow got filed away.

So this is the reworked opening thought to record the idea to ‘capture’ it, so I can reflect later on, about how I should build on this further. I show a number of hyperlinks to help in pulling this together.

Linking capability through interlocking platforms

We are in need of a different “sustaining” capacity build around innovation as its continuous core, constantly evolving, adapting, learning and adjusting, in perpetual motion.

How? Innovation has many ‘touch points’, a myriad of dimensions that need to be aligned and integrated. How can we achieve this more holistic view, so innovation management can make a significant advancement on where we are today?

Making the business case for innovation to change is not easy but essential

Innovation management is today, mostly standing outside organizations operating structures. Due to this, innovation is often missing the critical line-of-sight from top management and it often suffers accordingly. The numerous resource constrains, a lack of cohesion, alignment and seen creation value are becoming a real performance drag against rising expectations and needs. Capabilities, capacity to innovate well, and the competences are sub-optimal. We need to achieve a greater line-of-sight into the make up of these for raising the potential from our innovation activities.

Innovation needs to be more central in core process thinking or we are in danger of staying with the same as it seems sort of comfortable. We actually do need much to shift, a more radical thinking in our future innovation design, all getting possible through technology and the wonders of the cloud.

Do we grab this shift in incremental bits or push for a more radical redesign of the innovation process? I would argue we can grasp the opportunity to redesign it through our understandings of what we have learnt about innovation to date, bring in the solutions through technology that offers innovation so much and find solutions that can deliver innovation into the core of organizations, so it becomes seamless and the critical enabler or driving ‘engine’ of the business going forward.

One critical design thought I have been having is having three mutually supporting capability building platforms interlocking.

Within an organizational setting you need to have in place three supporting building platforms: 1) organizational supporting, 2) knowledge and competency gathering abilities and 3) a clear innovation process to channel themselves through, as final products or new services. All three need to be in place. They stack together.

If you have these three platforms in place you can begin to move from more of an ad hoc set of capabilities through to a more integrated, synergistic and interlocking set of capabilities.

A complete picture of where you can see and exploit differently, a holistic view of capabilities so when you are needing existing capabilities to be brought  together differently, you can explore  combine different combinations that are unique, constantly evolving as new ways to build capability. Well that’s the theory.

Organizational support platform is made of proving clear leadership and commitment to building capabilities, set in place an infrastructure that accesses, anchors and diffuses capacity so it not just flows but is constantly creating and exploiting for new economic and social value. You need to make sure the conditions for a trusting environment and climate are actively worked on and supported, and finally provide the resources and ways to measure this to support and re-enforce the value of each corporate initiative. You should take a look at a earlier blog here: https://bit.ly/mV7zjP.

Knowledge & competency platform is where you permit time to discover and absorb what is being made available. The key absorptive capacities mentioned above. Deliberately allowing the time to explore both the external world and the internal world, and then setting about to capturing this ‘new’ knowledge through clear consolidation techniques and technology is vital. Knowledge should focus on a given core and context of what the organization is looking to achieve and want to learn from/about. You need to explore explicit and tacit knowledge. See my recent blog on value of tacit knowledge: https://bit.ly/sthlG1)

Innovation Process platform lies at the heart of your innovation capability needs. This I have called the Innovation Business Architecture within work I completed with Jeffrey Phillips of OVO and can be viewed here https://bit.ly/ggKQCs . The process needs to have in place the capability to explore, to converge, to keep moving through the innovation pipeline a portfolio and be able to consistently consolidate and further exploit the ‘raw’ material of ideas and concepts by designing in some controls and risk management. Other thoughts for thinking through the innovation process are discussed here https://bit.ly/ikgR4f as well.

Moving from ad hoc to an integrated, synergistic and unique state

It is not just simply having in place the three platforms outlined above; each is a building block on top of one another, dependent for the ‘strength’ of the interlocking structure, to achieve a ongoing momentum that reduce many of todays ad hoc capabilities, often hidden and undervalued into to this integrated state where the flow and connecting can enable a much higher level of performance through greater line of sight and then applying more the appropriate resource inputs and training.

The need is to recognize that you do move, over time and dedicated effort, from ad hoc availability into a more formalised and recognized capability building process, it covers a more broad-based structure where the three building platforms become tightly integrated to gain a more synergistic effect. Then those that participate can see and to learn from this growing innovation capacity feeding into the three platforms. It over time will also provide increasing self-governance as it becomes visible to all.

This growing capability for increased innovation maturity can offer much.

I need to think what makes up each of these platforms in greater detail and understand all the points where they interlock and feed into each other. That is another stage of thinking to be undertaken to validate what seems a ‘good idea’ into something that will work.

If you want to find out more, keep tuned in or simply track me down. This is some of my early thoughts so as I said previously stated, as a work-in-progress.

I keep looking to finding the ways and the means for building innovation capabilities and capacities. It is my passion and focus within what I like to do across my innovation activities.

What triggered this thought was based from an academic paper from H E Essmann & N D du Preez advancing the view of maturity application and innovation models.

image credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

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Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities. Find him @paul4innovating

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