It's true that many of the projects will "die" along the way - however, the value of ideas in "Define" that are waiting to take their place is a multiple then again....so the future is bright.
It's also true that these jobs don't happen instantly. In fact, academic research finds it takes 1 to 3 years for meaningfully unique innovations to reach market. However - the good news is the ideas that take longer are often worth the investment of time as their greater meaningful uniqueness gives them the potential to generate a more significant improvement in the companies profitability.
The bottom line is - we have collectively created a reliable system for transforming the mindset of cultures from a world of reactive cost cutting to a mindset of Proactive Innovation! Getting to this point has been a long time coming. Working together we've done it! Though Innovation Engineering is a new field of academic study taught by universities - though it's filled with education programs - it's most importantly a real world program used by thousands to transform their companies, colleges, communities and countries.
HOWEVER - with this victory comes a responsibility.
A responsibility to FOCUS ON THE FUTURE. We need to challenge ourselves to continue to innovate ourselves. There are many who still struggle - who can't sell it, lead it, or understand it. We must simplify, improve, redesign, transform and make the transformation of mindset happen faster and more effectively.
We must continue to DREAM of the FUTURE! To that end I've pasted below a post by Maggie Nichols COO of the Innovation Engineering Institute where she speaks to the need for us to Dream of the future. It's reprinted from the Brain Brew Black Belt Blog - a private blog for those who are in the Innovation Engineering Black Belt certification program.
So often when it comes to business planning it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking what you have today and improving and iterating it forward into the future. But if you don’t take just a moment to think about the long plan, you’ll never get anywhere new. In fact, creating a compelling vision for the future can and should have significant impacts to the work you do and the decisions you make today.
Here’s a left-brained and a right-brained example to bring this concept to life.
LEFT BRAIN EXAMPLE - Dreaming of the Future is practical and helps you gain efficiencies.
A progressive multinational company did an Innovation project with us. Rather than work to take their existing products and figure out the “next generation” of them, we took the long view and skipped a step. In fact, we created ideas for not what next year looks like, but what would be products they would offer 5-10 years out (a very very long view in their fast-paced industry.) By having that longer-term focus, 3 things happened.
- They created some truly patentable meaningfully unique ideas.
- They realized that once they broke down those big ideas down into their components and Death Threats they could actually deliver 80% of it within 2 years, rather than 5 or 10.
- And they realized that if they wanted to really deliver the long-term ideas, there were things they could adapt in their current projects that set them up for the bigger ones.
RIGHT BRAIN EXAMPLE - Dreaming of the Future lets you look back without remorse
A few plane trips ago I sat next to a very nice couple. They were in their late 80s I’d say and were headed back to their Florida home after visiting with family. Normally, I’m not much of a talker on planes but the man kept looking over my shoulder and marveling at my mac and whatever work I had open at the time making comments. One comment led to another and 2 hours later I found myself on the ground in Orlando having chatted with them the entire time. Turns out, he was the owner of multiple manufacturing businesses in Kentucky. After hearing of all the things they’d done, homes they own, donations and endowments they fund it was clear they’d done well in their life. I heard story after story of the businesses they built - him the entrepreneur and his wife his personal CFO. They created proprietary technologies, used them to make things and then caught the eye of the major player in the industry. He sold at least 5 businesses that way. It was clear he loved it. His wife would often look at him lovingly as she recounted when he’d run with a new idea or get them into another businesses.
At one point I said something like, “Wow, with a work life behind you like that it sounds like there aren’t room for any regrets. Are there any things you didn’t do?”
The man responded, “Well no, there is one. And it’s a really big one that I carry with me today.”
Turns out his final business was his biggest and it still operates today. He retired 10 or so years ago and left the business to his sons.
“I regret that I never taught them how to lead the business. All while I was there I had them to manage the business and get things done, but I still did all the thinking about the future and where we were headed. I never showed them how to do that. I never taught them to look into the future. I’m sad that the business - and more importantly, my sons - are at a loss without a vision of what to do next and how to create one.
If I’d thought about it first and created a vision, I would have seen that. I would have taken my last 5 years in the business to let them lead with my guidance. Now the business is a shadow of what it could be and I’m an old man without the energy or ability to change it.”
As a management coach and leadership - it’s worth taking even a little time to think way out. For some businesses that’s 2 years. For others it’s 15. Whatever it is in your industry, spend a little time to do a deep dive on what your business is and does then. A short CREATE session could get you started. Because painting that clear vision today can help you and all your employees make the right decisions today to help you get to there - maybe even a bit faster than you expect.
By Maggie Nichols
A Challenge to Everyone in the Innovation Community
Over the past 3 months the Innovation Engineering Institute team -- at the Eureka! Ranch and the University of Maine - working with those that are Deploying Innovation Engineering: NIST MEP, Matrix, Universities and companies large and small -- have been doing lots of thinking on the future. I can tell you -- it's awe inspiring what ideas are currently defined in the innovation Engineering pipeline -- Ideas ranging from new Teaching Technologies to New Tools to New Operational Systems to New Business Models.
But given the importance of the mission - I don't think it's enough -- we need you to challenge us. What would be a WOW! Think BIG - BOLD - DARING! Post your dreams for the future for what the Innovation Engineering Institute team can do for your company, college, community, country or consultancy on this blog. Or email them to Maggie or I separately.