On the second day of FEI Vienna, we hosted the action-packed workshop “Strategy Tools – in action” with 40+ global innovators and executives. Intense, fast-paced and incredibly exciting day in Vienna.
Before kicking off our workshop we attended Holger Nils Pohl’s workshop in visual strategy thinking. Holger is our friend, advisory board member and visual genius. He thought us some great new visual strategy tools witch is perfect for mapping out the strategic future for a company. The timing was perfect because many of the speakers on the first day talked about the importance of creating a strategic map. It also complements our Strategy Tools for the Next Generation. Thanks!
Workshop by Engage // Innovate: Strategy Tools – In Action
After lunch we were ready to start our workshop “Strategy Tools – In action”. One of the key challenges we help our clients tackle, is developing new more innovative strategies. A part of our mission is to change how the world works on strategy and innovation. Hosting workshops like this to teach global brands and innovation managers how to use our strategy and innovation tools is a big step on the way. We had participants including Lego, Aribus, Bayer Business Service, Kuwait Oil Company, European Patent Office and Louis Vuitton. Around the tables in Vienna we heard a lot of good discussions on why we need new strategy and innovation tools.
See the presentation, photos, graphic recordings and feedback from our workshop in Vienna.
While many of our oil and gas clients back in Norway are currently struggling with industry shifts, several of our workshop participants in Vienna brought up similar challenges when working on our tools. Many stated that it wasn’t a lack of ideas that had put them in a slow-moving situation, but old tools and poor processes internally.
“Excellent session. This is what I came to Vienna for”
Earlier this month we attended the 9th annual Front End of Innovation conference in Vienna (FEI EMEA). FEI is a global event brand that has become the annual meeting place of the most seasoned innovators across the globe. The conference is packed with innovative companies and thinkers, great keynote speakers, workshops and field trips.
“It’s not about ideas, it’s about moving the company in the right direction the next 10 years”
Ed Hebblethwaite, Seymourpowell
The first day started with some great keynote speakers from Google, Disney, Shell, Shackleton Energy and Zaptec to mention some. Two of our friends from the space & energy industry gave us a real brain stretch. Both Jim Keravala from Shackleton Energy and Brage Johansen from Zaptec were invited to speak about their missions in space.
“Every company should have a space program”
Brage Johansen, Zaptec
Jim talked about the worlds three big coming challenges: energy, fresh water and communication, and how their mission in space will help solve these problems. It is safe to say that the audience was mesmerized by his talk and perspective on the industry.
“It’s just like building an oil rig, only in space”
Our own Christian Rangen moderated the last session of the day and we got some great presentations from Christopher Chapman, Global Creativity & Innovation Director at The Walt Disney Company, and Michele R. Weslander Quaid, Chief Innovation Evangelist at Google.
“Find your purpose”
Christopher Chapman, Global Creativity & Innovation Director at The Walt Disney Company
Christopher focused on the humane aspect of innovation. He was a great storyteller, as we would expect from a director at Disney. Michele from Google gave a great presentation where she talked about how they worked with innovation within Google. She also stated that the three biggest barriers to innovation is culture, policy and technology.
“Give people freedom, they will amaze you”
Michele R. Weslander Quaid, Chief Innovation Evangelist at Google.
The evidence is abundant. The world needs new strategy tools. The process of strategy; how companies shape their own future is rapidly changing. Yet the challenge remains; how do we solve tomorrow’s challenges using yesterday’s tools. Well, simply put. We don’t. Most of the strategy tools in actual use around the world were built for a time of slower change, less integrated markets, a more stable industry structure and a far longer life-time of most large companies.
This is just the reason we are in need of new tools, new thinking and a fundementally new logic around strategy. We’ve been proposing this for a number of years through “Two Lenses on Strategy“.
With this background in mind, we found McKinsey’s recent “What the Strategists Need: A Meeting of the Minds”, to be an incredibly valuable contribution to the field. In a lenghty conversation between Strategy Officers, CEO’s, Strategy Professors and McKinsey’s Head of Strategy Practice, we get a great look into the current thinking around ”the state of the discipline,…with an emphasis on innovation in a changing world”.
We’ve chosen a few sections for summary of the talk (in italic) and our own comments below.
Old tools are actively misleading
”Yes, I think we may need new tools or frameworks. When the environment changes profoundly, the maps with which we navigate it may need to shift as well. For instance, from telco to healthcare to computers, sector boundaries are changing or dissolving, and new business models are redefining the competitive landscape. So tools such as Michael Porter’s five forces, created for a more stable, more easily definable world, don’t just lose their relevance—they become actively misleading”
This is a crucial point. The stable industry structure most strategists are comfortable with is increasingly getting challenged. Rita McGrath suggests “arenas” as fields of competitive thinking. A failure to acknowledge and understand these forces, will lead executives to view the world through wrong and directly misleading lenses.
We use what we know
”One reason our frameworks often seem out of date is that managers persevere to the point of desperation with the familiar things they learned 10, 20, or 30 years ago”
This is something we see often with clients and workshop participants – and it also explains why the field of strategy is moving slowly in established companies. Today’s top executives went to school 20-30 years ago, and the theories and tools they learned were already getting out-dated. It’s no wonder, and quite a natural explanation on “the stuff we learned, is the stuff we feel comfortable using”.
Our tools are getting out-paced
“A major problem is that the theoretical and empirical research in strategy has moved so quickly… that its distillation into intuitive concepts and frameworks applicable to strategy-making processes of firms has lagged far behind”
Yet, the challenge is not only the executives learning slowly (see our previous point). It’s also very much a problem of academy moving too slowly. A typical strategy research project can take years to design and complete, and yet several more years and multiple reviews to get published. In the meantime, the research and emerging tools simply get out-dated. Erik Wilberg, a senior lecturer on strategy at BI – Norwegian Business School and a long-time researcher on the media industry stated, “by the time my research gets published, it’s already out-dated”. Yet, this is changing. Crowd-sourcing, built on an open, global platform is now driving speed in academic research and time-to-market. The best example has been the “The Capitalist’s Dillemma“, with it’s unique approch to research. We can expect to see more creative, disruptive models of research in the future.
First, think. Different
My view is that we need …to help executives rethink what they do”
A key starting point for any strategy process; what’s our mind-set.Our starting point is always to help explore existing dominant logics and thinking modes. Without this, most teams simply fall into the mental trap of “more of the same, within our hidden, predominant view of the world”, i.e. trapped deeply in the box.
There’s a superb selection of books, helping Strategy Officers challenge their existing mind-set. We recommend: Creative Confidence, by the Kelly Brothers Creating Minds, by Howard Gardner Mindset, by Carol Dweck
Questions drive creative thinking
”Framing questions is the other tough challenge, and it’s one of the most important yet underappreciated parts of strategy development”
Yes! A core skill for any Strategy facilitator, Strategy Officer and CEO, is the ability to find and ask the right questions at the right time. The skill to ask mind-opening, exploring and energizing questions, while most people around the table simply expect another PowerPoint presentation is a trigger for good stratey processes.
Strategy is fundamentally a creative excercise
”A strategy is not the obverse of an analysis. It usually comes from some creative insight”
Gary Hamel, Clayton Christensen, Rita McGrath, Bill Fischer, Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, Costas Markides, Scott Anthony and Mark W. Johnson are just a hand-ful of the strategy experts arguing strategy being a fundementally creative excercise. Yet, few executives are trained in the skills and tools to make this happen. Yet.
Strategic innovation is challenging
”…but it’s darned difficult to create truly innovative strategy options.”
We see the field of strategy moving from “a linear plan” to “juggeling a portfolio of overlapping and competing business models”. Rita McGrath calls this “balance a transient portfolio” of business models.
Developing a series of strategy options is one thing. Developing and running a series of business models, and reinventing the company again and again around these various business models, that’s a whole other challenge. Today, Amazon and Apple are the two leading examples. Tesla Motors is emerging as another. Yet, the truth is, for most strategy executives today, ”…it’s darned difficult to create truly innovative strategy options.”
This is why we find our work around Strategy Tools for the Next Generation to be highly energizing and a fantastic challenge. The world is learning to work differently with strategy – and we hope to contribute to that movement. The McKinsey Roundtable is another great conversation on the topic and we will see more of these in the future. For us, the next will be in Vienna, in November, we’re we’ll be joining the 6th annual Global Drucker Forum, The Great Transformation. With many of the world’s leading strategy academics in session, we’re looking forward to the conversations on changing how the world works with strategy and innovation.
Welcome to the MIX. The global Management Innovation Exchange.
Mission: reinvent manangement
Today is the final day of entering this round of the global innovation competition; Innovating Innovation Challenge. Set forth by Harvard Business Review, McKinsey and the MIX, the competiton gathers global thinkers and doers around innovation for mutual learning and inspirations. Among Norwegian firms, Statoil has been duly noted in 2012. This year, Finn.no and our client Peanuts have both entered the MIX. We’re proud and delighted to see more Norwegian firms entering this global innovation network.
We’re also delighted to share that Strategy Tools for the Next Generation is now featured as one of the “Hacks”. Read more.
Can we design a precise Innovation Index metric? Can we design an Innovation Index that is both valid and actionable? Can we measure and develop innovation as we do leadership, employee surveys and strategy?
These are some of the questions the team at Engage // Innovate are currently working on. We firmly believe engaging leadership and innovation will be crucial areas for organizations in the future. But just like strategy in the late 1960’s and the quality movement in the 1980’s, we still don’t have the right tools for it. But we are getting there.
Building on the research and methodology* from one of our previous consulting firms (KMC), we have developed these ideas several steps further.
1) Leaders are role models
In today’s and tomorrow’s organizations, leaders need to be role models. Period. Leading by example is the only way to lead. Leading by example is a pre-requisite for employee engagement. And employee engagement is a pre-requisite for building innovation capabilities in firms.
But that’s the easy part. We know how to measure, manage and train leaders who want to lead by example. It can be tough. It can be challenging. But we have the tools, metrics and training programs for it.
2) An Innovation Index metric
Developing an Innovation Index metric, the first question is: Purpose; what is the goal of the metric? What do you and your team hope to achieve as a consequence of using this?
For an academic, the goal is publication. This, of course, requires advanced methodology to the highest academic standards.
For most practitioners (but not all), the goal should be action. The goal should be more innovation. Better innovation. A change in attitudes and behaviors among employees, leading to more innovation and better business results. These goals do not conflict with academic goals, but it does require major differences in questions, communication and process.
Project managers need to make their choice and be clear about what their end goals are.
Current literature on innovation contains ranges of innovation metrics. But compared to metrics in sales, marketing, leadership, employee and strategy, the field of innovation metrics is still in its infancy. In the book, “The Innovator’s Guide to Growth”, the authors do a good job of outlining the current practices. Anthony, et.al. suggest a mix of metrics across three categories:
– Process and oversight-related
Strategos author Peter Skarzynski and Rowan Gibson follow the same structure in “Innovation to the core”, suggesting a ‘comprehensive matrix of metrics’. Using Whirlpool as an example, the authors underline the need for companies to find their own metrics to match their strategic fit.
Too much of a good thing…
But for most companies, this is too advanced. Most firms need a basic starting point to build on. So, we ask, “Can we develop an easy-to-use, common, actionable Innovation Index that helps companies get started on innovation?”
Inspired by previous successes, we are now working to develop just this. A few, basic metrics to develop an Innovation Index; then focus on implementing this in the organizational DNA and train leaders in how to master it. We believe an Innovation Index can be a strategic tool for firms in years to come.
But first it needs to be fully developed.
Today our early draft is shaping up with a strong focus on what Anthony, et.al, call “Management and People-input measures”. These are metrics looking at attention, training and focus on innovation in the organization.
More than measuring output, i.e. # new products and services launched in the last three year, these metrics look at how and how much the organization works on innovation. We believe these “Management and People-input measures” should be the starting point for companies developing their own innovation strategy.
The Innovation Index
We label this draft version 0.2. It’s an early draft. But rapidly evolving. During the fall of 2011, we will test, refine and explore it in collaboration with innovative teams and organizations.
If you are curious to join, learn more or simply stay in touch, feel free to contact us. We are actively looking for more adventurous managers to test the Innovation Index in their teams. Do you want to improve innovation in your team?
*See the books “BusinessIQ – måling og utvikling av kunnskapsbedriften”(2004) and “BusinessEQ – Verktøy for å utvikle engasjerende ledere”(2006).