Enabling Continuous Innovation

June 12, 2019 Focus area: Continuous Innovation

As a consultant at BlinkLane, I work with large organizations in different industries that are looking for fast and effective ways to deliver innovative solutions. Many organizations are investing heavily to achieve continuous innovation but are still unable to really capitalize on their innovation activities because they are unable to embed innovation in their organizational culture. Based on established principles from multiple scholars and my personal experience, in this series of blogs I will discuss 8 practices that I believe will help to achieve continuous innovation.

Innovation can be defined as the commercialization of technological and intellectual advancements to generate economic or social growth[1] [2] [3]. In order to turn an idea into an innovation, the invention needs to undergo a lengthy process consisting of ideationvalidatingscaling and embedding in the organization. By understanding the following practices and applying them in your innovation process, you will be able to take the next steps towards continuous innovation.

  1. Turn problems into actions
  2. Innovation requires a ‘flowing’ system
  3. Market validation is the only validation
  4. Stimulate interdisciplinarity & challenge existing norms and paradigms
  5. Focus and keep it simple
  6. Build and enable self-efficacy
  7. Balance quite solitude with co-location and collaboration
  8. Inspire people with ambitions and opportunities.

Practice 1: Turn problems into actions

Every innovation starts with an idea. To make it a success, one needs to act upon this idea[2]. By conceptualizing improvement and asking the right questions, problems or ‘wastes’ in your process, service or product can be identified and turned into real measurable value.

All great innovators have been successful by asking the right questions[3]. Einstein stated that a properly formulated question is the key to finding a solution. Trigger questions and dare to express problems and mistakes, so opportunities for innovations can be spotted and acted upon. Structurally analyzing these problems and opportunities can lead to breakthrough ideas and inventions. However, just an idea itself doesn’t add value. Generating ideas is just the easy part of innovation; execution is the hard part.

At the client I hear a lot of great ideas, but only a few have the courage to walk to their superior or peers and say: ‘I’ve this idea and I will validate it because I believe it can be really valuable’! Doing just that makes you stand out and will offer you the opportunity to be an innovator. Leaders and managers on their behalf can then provide time and resources to act and establish the platforms and ‘marketplaces’ where ideas can be shared and validated. So only the people who take action have a shot at generating value, just an idea has no value.

In the second part of this series I’ll explain the second practice: Innovation needs a flowing system and can be found here. Do you want to know more about continuous innovation? Visit the Continuous Innovation Framework website to find more information about establishing continuous innovation.

[1] Krishnan, V. et all (2019) HarvardX, Launching Breakthrough Innovation

[2] Drucker, P. (2014). Innovation and entrepreneurship. Routledge.

[3] Schilling, M. A. (2018). Quirky. Findaway World, LLC.