Capping IT Off

Capping IT Off

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

So, how do “you” drive IT Innovation? A quick summary of everything!

In a world where more and more speed and new capability rules how do I attain my competitive position? Clearly a question that is key to many of my colleagues as well as to my clients.

It is a simple enough question, however the answer is not so straight forward as it depends on what scope and context you are referring to. Before I can answer the core question I first need to define the word innovation:

Innovation in a broadest sense is a new idea, device or process [3] Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in articulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society.

Innovative in an IT context means that I / We have created, identified, build or implemented a new idea, device or process which provides increased value for money for us internally and/or for a client. It means pursuing new and radical business opportunities, exploiting new or potentially disruptive technologies, and introducing change into the core concept of your business.

It can sometimes difficult to agree on what is innovative and what is not and it can be very surprising to learn what people perceive by “being innovative”. At the end of 2005 we asked the then CIO of a large government department which technology advances he considered most innovative. To our big surprise he noted that for him our RACI [6] model was very innovative. The other extreme is also true – for some clients innovation is BAU and it can be very hard to agree and measure what innovative ideas/solutions one has provided.

Next to the definition the scope is also important. Innovation for me the scope of innovation is “usually” (so not always) related to technical and semi-technical innovation.


As noted before Innovation for me is pursuing new and radical business opportunities, exploiting new or potentially disruptive technologies, and introducing change into the core concept of your business. Innovation is related to finding something, or developing something that drives real value to us and/or to our clients.
 Easier said than done as often there are barriers to innovation:
  • “I never seen / heard and new ideas”;
  • “Innovation is easy, just pick up a new technology and implement it”;
  • “We tried some new initiatives but they failed and we don't have the time nor the energy to try again.”;
  • "How do I innovate? I don't really understand what my business / client / customer does and therefore cannot assess what would be beneficial for him/her";
  • “We can’t afford the risk of innovation: we need to focus on operational stability”;
  • “We don’t have the funding to start any innovation”;
  • “We have plenty of new ideas but we can never action them”;
To address these barriers and to drive what I call continuous innovation, you will need to move along an innovation maturity model.

Level 1: Basic Level Innovation
At the basic level the following characteristics are apparent:
  • People: people do not feel empowered to innovate; individual objectives do not refer to innovation as a target;
  • Process: no innovation related tool(s); no idea generation, validation or testing process; no overall innovation framework; no person managing innovation across the LoBs (Line of Business); no innovation related funding; no innovation focused board;
  • Other: innovation is not part of the company strategy; no internal and/or external reference to innovation; no overall innovation sponsor; innovation is ad-hoc and reactive; no innovation related success stories
Level 2: Emerging Level Innovation
At the emerging level the following characteristics are apparent:
  • People: people do not feel empowered to innovate; selective individuals have innovation related objectives set as a target;
  • Process: some innovation related tool(s); no overall idea generation, validation or testing process; no overall innovation framework; no person managing innovation across the LoBs however a dedicated lead in a particular LoB; innovation related funding only on LoB level; Innovation board that covers the only a single / particular LoB scope;
  • Other: innovation is not part of the company strategy however is being referenced in LoB strategy; no internal and/or external reference to innovation; no overall innovation sponsor; isolated innovation related success stories
Level 3: Co-ordinated Level Innovation
At the co-ordinated level the following characteristics are apparent:
  • People: people feel empowered to innovate; most individuals have innovation related objectives set as a target;
  • Process: innovation related tools in use; no overall idea generation, validation or testing process; overall innovation framework; single person managing innovation across the LoBs; innovation related funding; Innovation board that covers the entire company’s scope;
  • Other: innovation is not part of the company strategy however is being referenced in LoB strategy; no internal and/or external reference to innovation; no overall innovation sponsor; number of innovation related success stories;
Level 4: Enhanced Level Innovation
At the enhanced level the following characteristics are apparent:
  • People: people feel empowered to innovate; all individuals have innovation related objectives set as a target;
  • Process: innovation related tools in use; one overall idea generation, validation or testing process; overall innovation framework; single person managing innovation across the LoBs; innovation related funding; Innovation board that covers the entire company’s scope;
  • Other: innovation is part of the company strategy; internal and/or external reference to innovation; overall innovation sponsor; number of innovation related success stories;
Level 5: Top Level Innovation
At the enhanced level the following characteristics are apparent:
  • People: people drive innovate; innovation is part of the companies DNA;
  • Process: top in class innovation related tools in use; one overall idea generation, validation or testing process; overall innovation framework; single person managing innovation; innovation related funding; Innovation board that covers the entire company’s scope;
  • Other: innovation is key in company’s strategy; strong internal and/or external reference to innovation; overall exec innovation sponsor; significant number of innovation related success stories;
Many answer the question “How do you drive Innovation” with presenting an innovation process – typically as a funnel where ideas being created, validated and then successful ideas being implemented. However, this is only part of the story. Successful innovation comes with a continuous innovation program that drives people and process.
 
Driving continuous Innovation means achieve at least level 3 or higher. Many organisation are targeting level 4 or even level 5. There is no hard and fast definition on where exactly you have to be as each environment and each company is different. Key is thought that there is a clear understanding and an appreciation of where / what Level the company is, what Level should be targeted and that there is a continuous innovation program (CIP) that move it along the maturity levels.
 
As an example to move from Level 2 to 3 the program should incl:
  • Define & install Innovation framework incl funding, the use of yammer, process etc;
  • Set up and run an company-wide innovation board;
  • Set up innovation brown bag/coffee’s/innovation tech talks/innovation staff focus times;
  • Make use of some top in class innovation accelerators like Capgemini’s Co-Innovation Labs (see here)
  • Set out clear innovation related KPIs to measure success and progress;
  • Extend innovation circle to cover all of Infra (communication);
  • Assign LoB level exec sponsor for Innovation;
  • Define a clear set of innovation related objectives for all key staff;
  • Set out and install a clear innovation reward system;
  • Define and communicate a clear innovation strategy as part of the target operating model
These activities are just the steps that are needed. Next to these you will have to also focus on the critical success factors :
  • Use start-ups as input channel;
  • Establish a connected innovation framework;
  • Share everything (internally) without having all answers to all questions;
  • Encourage and allow for blue sky thinking;
  • Look everywhere but be clear about the scope;
  • Make it easy to connect ;
  • Invest €;
  • Market the fact that we take innovation seriously;
  • Don’t be afraid taking risks and most importantly
  • Allow, encourage and reward people coming up with new ideas – regardless if it fails or not.
To find  more details on these I would suggest to read [11]. Its an excellent summary of Google’s lessons learned. 

As I noted before you cannot “just do innovation” you need to understand where you are; you need to decide where you want to be and establish the activities to move and keep you at the level you believe need to be. This is a continuous cycle and not just a one off!

Thanks for Reading. 

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Appendix :
[1] Future of Infrastructure - Disruptive Technologies (see here)
[2] Today 's IT Outsourcing – Emperor's new clothes or the Real NEW Deal? (see here)
[3] Harvard Business Review, www.hbr.org, Gary Hamel the how of innovation management.pdf, 2006
[4] MITSloan, Management Review, The Link between Diversity and Resilience, 2005, Patrick Reinmoeller, Nicole van Baardwijk
[5] Capgemini Technovision 2015, Ron Tolido (see here)
[6] RACI = Responsibility, Accountability, Consulted, Informed
[7] Capgemini Co-Innovation Lab (see here)
[8] University of Cambridge, How to implement open innovation, Lessons from studying large multinational companies, 2009
[9] Google, Google's Secrets Of Innovation Empowering Its Employees
[10] Cisco, Unleashing Inclusive Innovation at Cisco Management Innovation eXchange
[10] Google, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/8-pillars-of-innovation.html

About the author

Gunnar Menzel, VP Enterprise Architect
Gunnar Menzel, VP Enterprise Architect
3 Comments Leave a comment
Good articulation of thoughts on innovation. Everyone, everywhere seems to talk about in bits and pieces but this article has merged almost all thoughts on the subject of innovation. Thanks for precisely putting it here.
Mr.Gunnar The article is excelent.Very innovation and successful for you.
Congratulations on the excellente article. The systemic approach, objective and aligned with the current scenario in contemporary companies thus their competence in identifying and enchancing innovation and the various levels , stages and environments correlated with their scope. Votes health,luck and success.

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