Are You Innovating on How You Innovate?

It’s no secret that companies must innovate today to remain relevant, especially with the rapid pace of technological change.  But even with this knowledge, most are just addressing todays challenges and obvious opportunities instead of doing what really needs to be done to create or even just deal with disruption

A story I read recently on resonated with me on this issue.  In it Chunka Mui commented that “too few [companies] are being innovative in how they innovate.”  He referenced Douglas Englebart’s framework for the “ABCs of Organizational Improvement,” which supports his assertion that “the key to long-term viability of an organization is to get better and better at improving itself.”  

The framework outlines 3 types of business activities:

A) Activities are “business as usual” - the company’s core activities, including customer support, product development, R&D, marketing, legal, manufacturing, etc.

B) Activities are those that improve how we do business as usual - adopting new tools, conducting research, planning, etc.  This can also include more systemic continuous improvement initiatives like Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen, which typically focus on how to make A Activities faster, better, cheaper.

C) Activities improve how we improve - systematically improving B Activities and how they improve A Activities.  C Activities, which are too often missing, are the key to enabling employees to think big and create disruption.

Has your organization struggled to keep up with the pace of technological change or to deal with/create disruption?  If so, you might ask yourself, “What is my organization’s system for innovating on how we innovate?”