If innovation happens at all within an organisation, it is frequently a fluke or part of a skunkworks project. Commentators like Steve Blank suggest that while Skunkworks projects epitomise innovation by exception; to survive, organisations need innovation by design.
In my previous posts (‘Kill the Chicken’ and ‘Kill the Chicken 2’ ) I spent some time on why true innovation typically fails within most organisations. The key questions for the Change Leader in Steve Blank’s statement is: What does ‘Innovation by Design’ look like? And how to do that?
Before even attempting to get our heads around that, the Change Leader has some other questions: Where or what are the priority areas of the business (the most Valuable? Risky? Expensive? Resource-Hungry)? What needs to change? How do I stimulate and direct innovation in those areas? I’m proposing the Change Leader now has a simple, inexpensive way of achieving that. It revolves around Information Supply Chains.
Traditional (best practice) approaches to project and change management typically become a substitute for innovation, which see months, even years of detailed analysis, prioritisation, business case development, project design, sign-off, implementation, scope change, roll-out with the inevitable and fraught ‘sell’ to the business who must use the change.
Information Supply Chains are similar manufacturing supply chains. They identify all the people, process, system and data elements that interact to transport and transform information through an organisation from source to the staff who need it. Capture and visualisation is very fast (days, rather than months); the insights are profound (quickly identify the most valuable, most expensive, most risky parts of the business along with all the people, process, system and data elements involved). It can ring-fence a specific area of change while maintaining the wider business context. In doing that it answers the earlier questions: Where or what are the priority areas of the business? What needs to change?
From an innovation perspective, Information Supply Chains identify quickly and explicitly ALL the people involved in the area you want transformed and in doing that at the start, the Change Leader has a mechanism to encourage and direct innovation in the specific area of focus.
In providing that innovation by design vehicle, Information Supply Chains provide what every leader craves; an unlimited capacity to manage continuous change.
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