Institutionalised Innovation

There are no old roads to new directions.”
The Boston Consulting Group

It seems apparent to me that the most successful companies are also the best at harnessing innovation. I guess there is no commoditisation at the bleeding edge. And by “harnessing,” I mean establishing an environment where innovation activities are not just ad-hoc or part of some business units, but the cultivating of ideas from every available resource within an organisation.

It also seems apparent that CSPs ceded control of the innovation baton around the same time that they started de-funding their research labs and nudging outside suppliers to do their innovating for them.

To cope with the increasing speed of change, organisations need to institutionalise change so that every good idea, no matter how big or small, will find its way into the innovation funnel.

EMC has been one organisation that has harnessed the power of innovation, including the EMC|ONE initiative that mines EMC’s internal social media tool for ideas and then builds teams to collaborate and develop ideas. Data mining and social selection mechanisms identify the key influencers / connectors / leaders that are most likely to be able to bring an idea to fruition.

Some of the outcomes developed by EMC are as follows (referred to in this link):

  1. We have been running a longitudinal study of idea incubation progress. This study allows us to measure collaboration (or lack of collaboration) that moves (or doesn’t move) ideas forward.
  2. We have measured the evolution of idea submission trends over time, and recognized that our employees do not have an easy way to explore previous ideas and how they relate to new ideas.
  3. We’ve created global social network graphs that highlight idea collaboration and idea quality. We’ve also identified boundary spanners (ideators whose influence spans countries).
  4. We identified clusters of innovators and understood the culture that made them successful.
  5. We analyzed word count on idea submission and informed our employees that more well-thought out and articulated ideas have a higher success ratio
  6. We discovered that successful ideation programs in a given region quite often have a robust innovation framework in place.
  7. We studied clique size and the impact on idea effectiveness

I believe that a similar product is waiting to unleash powerful learning into your OSS.

In such a product, the social media tool facilitates collaboration on faults, orders, network health, network designs and so on, learning as it collects more data. Then it also analyses the connections made within the solution and proposes development of the most viable ideas.

More tomorrow.

We’ll also talk soon about incorporating gamification concepts into the innovation loop.

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