The Innovation Without Tears Manifesto • Derek Cheshire5 min read
Many visitors to this blog will have encountered Simon Sinek. He is famous for the phrase ‘Start with the Why’. It would therefore seem arrogant not to take his advice. So here is the Why, How and What of my Innovation Without Tears manifesto.
If you want to know more about the Why, How and What of Innovation, then please read on. If you are impatient then go straight to the Why? page on this website and book a consultation with me.
Before I go too far I wonder if any of the issues listed below are familiar.
“We are stuck and don’t know what to try next”
“COVID has devastated our business.”
“We’d like to innovate but we don’t know how.”
“We’re not sure we can afford Innovation.”
“We are under increased pressure to produce results.”
“We do not understand Innovation.”
So what, you might be saying. Yes, we all have issues but it is the action we take that matters. I firmly believe that the answer lies with Innovation and Reinvention. The difference between the two lies not in the attitudes, behaviours and actions we take but in the scope and extent of what we do.
Let me give you an example. During COVID many teaching and learning establishments swapped to online learning. The scope was not large at the start, moving a few courses online and the costs and effort involved were not that large. This was Reinvention or what some might call incremental Innovation.
Then there were individuals and companies who began streaming their activities, appearing more like broadcasters. They had offerings for both online and face to face. They had introduced ways of collaborative working, assessment and marking so that any client, anywhere in the world could buy their services. There are those that have gone even further with the scope and intensity. All these people have been Innovating.
The above examples purely illustrate a point. You can apply Reinvention or Innovation within any industry you like, no matter how creative or regulated it may be.
This is in effect change, but why is it better? First of all, it allows you to change your course of action and thrive (or at worst survive). Usually, you create competitive advantage because you are making better use of the people within your business and tacit (internal) knowledge is not easily copied. It is also fun and fits neatly into hybrid working and portfolio careers.
You might also be tempted by business advisers who tell you to stick to what you know and be a bit more logical about your approach. If you take the logical approach then once you have tried all the things that are familiar to you then the next step is to start with some of the unfamiliar. It is therefore logical to be illogical! However this unfamiliar territory is not as scary or risky as some of the larger consultancies would have you believe.
The benefits are easy to see but here is the real Why? If you can find ways of easing the pain and removing the stress of making these changes, help people feel less lost and confused by dividing things into tasks that are easily doable, then it is much less scary. In some cases, we can change what you deliver and make use of your current delivery mechanisms.
So let us keep it simple, pain and stress free and communicate every step of the way. That is why I personally use the expression Innovation Without Tears.
The route to Innovation Without Tears is to break things down into manageable chunks and reduce risk (and sometimes cost) by obtaining as much information as possible about your business and how it works so that we know where your Innovation potential is at its highest and where any development activities need to be carried out.
In order to make this simple, I created my Innovation Equation which breaks Innovation down into easily measurable (and hence manageable) components. Read more about Innovation Measurement.
In order to challenge the status quo and make your interventions pain free, all information gathering is completed electronically with simple questionnaires. There are no pencils and computer scoring of multiple choice questions. As much demographic information is collected as possible so we can assess potential at different levels, within business functions or across geographic locations.Find out more about How?
Before any projects or programs get underway you must determine exactly where you stand right now. If necessary this activity can be undertaken again to measure the difference.
All of this information is combined with any background information previously supplied by your business and turned into a comprehensive picture (or report if you like) of your current position.
Any reports should be totally clear and transparent, no waffle, just a presentation of the facts along with any assumptions that have been made. This will ensure that as many people as possible are on board when things begin to change. This need not just be senior management, anyone with an interest should be encouraged to take a look.
Planning is of course key, but to get a good plan in place when lots of people are involved? The answer is to gather input via storyboards (or similar) and by expressing plans in a format that everyone understands. As your business is working with a little ambiguity then plans will reflect this. Maybe costs will be plus/minus 5% or profit within a range.
Everything must be brought out into the open so that there is nothing unexpected.
Click on the link to download an example of Derek’s work Selther Case Story.
The link above will provide a short document that will give you an idea about exactly what I do (and what others should be doing for you). In summary, you need a way of analysing Innovation potential as a useful starting point for your Innovation or Reinvention program. It will also save a lot of time and effort by focusing resources on the places where they are needed.
Your company board should be given this information directly so that decision making is made simpler.
What comes next is variable. I can use my Project management experience to help with project or program management, and deliver workshops and seminars to help with cultural change alongside change agents (think ripples spreading out on a pond). Domino Knowedgware and Intelligent Growth are just two of the methods that can be used here.