Tag Archives: fitness landscapes
Here, we are searching for the dynamics within the innovation system, that once recognized, can be constructed for a more dynamic innovation fitness solution. We are looking to improve the innovation performance engine within organizations.
These dynamics are made up of the capabilities and competencies that reveal and clarify what is required as the relevant traversing points needed to achieve improving innovation success, to move you more effectively towards your strategic innovation goals and build a fitter, more responsive and dynamic organization around its needed innovation capacities.
The lead explorer to walk you across this innovation terrain is Paul Hobcraft
By exploring and modelling the mutual dependencies you get to see how the existing and alternative future innovation system will behave as you begin to map out and recognize the different emphasis points that make up your innovation system. You can begin to identify what are the more important dynamic ones that require a more dedicated focus and placing more of your resources behind, while others can evolve at their own pace or simply improve as they are far more dependent on the dynamic ones than you realized initially. These can get simply get ‘pulled along’ and rise equally in their performance.
There is a complementary set of forces; improving one often triggers improvement in another. What you have to guard against is possibly ignoring one might equally impact negatively on others. Recognizing dependencies is critical and their triggering effect makes innovation evolution even more dynamic.
We are looking for the ‘combination’ effect of a dynamic set of capabilities and competencies that generates improved performance. The issue is to know what and which ones?
The combination effect to gain a greater innovation fitness effect comes from managing this over four stages shown in the above visual of the journey of innovation fitness dynamics.
The four stages will be described in more detail in future blogs but briefly are:
- The goal within these stage is to identify the key dependencies relevant for improved innovation within your organization to discover
- what are the mutual dependencies that will have a more dynamic impact on your innovation system so you understand
- what consequences come from this and how the changing environment will behave so as to consider the effect, that then leads to
- what recognition and implications this has so as to put in place an ongoing, evolving set of innovation dynamics that keep you fit to perform innovation on a sustaining higher performance basis.
Again I want to emphasis here, this is an evolving journey but the critical recognition here is, for innovation to continue to be the driver of future growth and wealth, it clearly does need to have a greater understanding and recognition of its management potential within organizations.
This site www.innovationfitnessdynamics.com is determined to push beyond today’s accepted, often ‘lagging’ performance from innovation activity, and raise the innovation performance engine up within organizations. I feel we do have this critical need to have in place a growing clarity of the factors needed to consistently deliver a more ‘leading’ position of knowing what does actually have real dynamic impact, both on an organizations innovation performance and the individual contributions that contribute towards the required strategic goals and objectives.
This I feel states our journey and how we are planning this out to traverse across the terrain towards better innovation solutions, that make up the dynamics of innovation and provide a ‘fitness’ solution that is unique to your needs. Care to share and join the journey?
Mail to : paul*AT*agilityinnovation.com
Understanding Absorptive Capacity and how it works
“Absorptive capacity” is a term introduced through some academic research by Cohen & Levinthal, back in 1990 to describe an organizations “ability to recognize the value of new, external information (knowledge), assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends”. Since then there has been significant academic contributions for exploring and validating this, in order to improve innovation performance and competitive advantage, yet it is still not well integrated into our innovation process. Why is that?
What we do need is to do is improve our HR management and network systems to build a more efficient transfer of knowledge throughout the organization so as to acquire and leverage new knowledge . This is part of applying the principles of absorptive capacity as we increasingly use more networks, external partners and collaborate with others we are accessing wider skills, inputs and competencies. We need to invest and learn what this does provide, to aid the innovation process. The theory goes that the more we understand, the more the innovative behaviour and capability does goes up in potential and the more we have available a richer innovation choice .
The Model of Absorptive Capacity explores potential and realized knowledge.
The need for a distributed organization innovation knowledge system
In some studies by Van den Bosch et all (2003) they suggested the need for three combined capabilities to manage and absorb the flow of knowledge coming into the organization
- System capabilities that are used to integrate explicit knowledge
- Co-ordination capabilities that build upon teams that establish the routines for structuring communications
- Socialization capabilities that begin to share a ‘certain’ ideology, understand the potential of new paradigms and work towards interpretating tacit information for the good of the community.
When organizations are acquiring new insights, new knowledge that is not as closely related to their existing knowledge base there needs to be a very active set of efforts to manage this new incoming flow. The aim here is to extract all its potential value, to absorb it and disseminate it across the relevant parties within the organization. Having the three capability parts structured clear helps establish different areas of capability focus and embed it more fully as an organizational approach to learning and gaining understanding.
Can you imagine where we have the need for rapid learning of leading-edge knowledge that is required to be absorbed within the company, these require dedicated structured learning, and these cannot be left to individuals or ad hoc measures. When you are learning anew you are searching for cognitive structure, managing implicit, often un-codified knowledge (tacit) that is difficult to transfer and also increased complexity, where you need to absorb a greater range of ‘components’ and apply new‘ architectural’ knowledge. The difficulties multiply if you do not recognize the needs to structure knowledge as well as organize it so it can be explored in more open unbiased ways that you gain from, in diversity of thought.
The ability to use external knowledge has three sequential processes.
A) Exploratory Learning- recognizing and understanding the potential value of the new knowledge that lies outside the organization
B) Transformative learning- dispersing and assimilating the valuable new knowledge
C) Exploitative learning- using the assimilated knowledge to create something different in knowledge or product and seek to exploit this in commercial ways.
The more open Absorptive Capacity Process leading to understanding and outcomes
The call for managing the effective use of knowledge
One of the central drivers of the competitiveness of organizations is its effective use of knowledge. It is the generation, acquisition, integration and application of (new) knowledge needs managers to manage learning. Knowledge underpins innovation, the more it changes, the more it becomes complex to discover, the more we have of this real need to upgrade how we experience, experiment and absorb learning. This needs structuring.
As we absorb more external knowledge from our collaborators the need is to organise this increasingly. We need to sort information into knowledge that becomes useful and actionable. Absorptive capacity needs to be looked upon as something that should go beyond good theories into increased application through its application.
Absorptive capacity is an integral part of an organizations innovation capabilities and its healthy development is a real significant dimension of innovation management. I suggest we all need to consider its place within our fitness regime to achieve a growing more ‘dynamic’ set of fitness capacities.
Two people could be standing up on the mountain, looking out across the same landscape but see the journey in different ways.
The question is how do you see the journey to achieve innovation fitness through two different ‘cloud’ maps
Or do you see this journey totally differently, not what it needs to cover but the route and challenges it will need to work out?
Irrespective the terrain can look rugged and challenging. Are you ready to begin your journey?
When you climb mountains, the fitter you are the better you climb. Equally the higher one wants to climb (innovation ambition), the harder it becomes to climb to those new levels. Our ability to climb required two clear points of understanding.
Firstly what we are trying to achieve so we get a rough idea of what we want to achieve, in strategic objective, in our innovation goals and in aligning them. Secondly we require knowledge, a clear working knowledge of how innovation can work for us. We learn by exploring, the more peaks we cover we improve our knowledge and experience. We build our knowledge landscape. The more we understand each other, the more we can collectively climb and scale our innovation fitness. The more we learn and scale the more we can explore sub peaks on smaller, experimental levels, all contributing to our growing knowledge and fitness to innovate.
Exploring the rugged terrain early helps.
The terrain is identifying the opportunities or possibilities a ‘field’ holds for us. The more we can survey, the more we pick up patterns, insights and understanding. As we begin to map these out we begin to appreciate the height of the efforts (in this case our mountains) to clarify the intensity and ruggedness of the terrain we have to traverse and manage to get to that peak. The number of peaks we wish to scale or need to can tell us how diverse a challenge this might become. The more we can map these out, the more we can identify what we need in making this happen. Knowing the correct innovation type, the capabilities and capacities to build and deliver certainly helps makes us more effective, especially when resources are scarce.
The more we have insights for innovation the more we can build the right fitness models or regimes. Equally the more we survey, the more our competitors come into clearer focus, the better we can predict what they are doing themselves.
This adds up progressively to a fitness map to innovate
All of this adds up to identifying the fitness to innovate. The level of appropriate capabilities and capacities needed to support this venture. We help identify the correct type and number of activities that are appropriate through different protocols, workshops and techniques
Mapping out your innovation capabilities to the task at hand enables you to understand and relate to what is needed. Innovation Fitness Landscapes identify the opportunity spaces on where you need to focus your efforts- the appropriate resources to navigate the terrain. The greater the ‘fitness’ transforms your landscape potential into accelerating opportunities into tangible outcomes.
Higher value potential and rate of intensity determines need.
These critical factors give higher value potential or ‘peaks’ that are more valuable to your needs. The more ‘rugged’ the landscape can also determine the greater fitness for the rate of innovation. The height of the peaks in these landscapes illustrates how intense the innovation challenge is, and the number of critical peaks shows how diverse it potentially is. The ability to identifying the emerging patterns provides the need to act and invest, making adaptive walks, so as to move you to the higher fitness points where innovation viability is enhanced and needed to be so as to resolve the challenges faced. Greater fitness equates to more value creation potential. The ability to inter-couple landscape entities and exploit individual interactions alters your dynamics to innovate and improve repeatable cycle times.
Fitness landscapes provide increased understanding of not just your existing position but ‘point’ to where to place your resource to improve your innovative capacity. Mapping these clearly and knowing the innovation rugged terrain you have to travel provides the appropriate focus and intensity you require closing the gap and achieving peak performance.
Do we know what the dependencies and complementaries for building and sustaining innovation success are? How do you sustain innovation, is it more through the structuring of everyday work, by creating a particular set of social rules and resources that foster specific routines? Really, that does seem to me as sounding a little too easy, or we all would have got to this point but we haven’t,when it comes to managing innovation. Innovation seems to conflict with everyday work.
The reality is we can’t ‘create’ rules or specific routines when it comes to our need to constantly innovate, there is a host of constantly changing variables, risks and conflicts that need constant adaption to those specific circumstances, yet we can learn more on the underlying principles and approaches. So how do we manage this in everyday work, inside organizations hell bent on managing efficiently. Certainly I buy the argument that Innovation should become part of everyone’s job on a daily basis so they have the space and potential to work on it constantly but what does this require? This is part of our journey within seeking innovation fitness through its dynamics.
Here we begin….
Is the debate then, “dynamic” or seeking “routine” for sustaining innovation success?
For me the argument points to the capacity to build “dynamic capabilities for innovation” around the critical situation we are all finding ourselves in, of rapid ongoing change. ‘Rapid change’ calls for constantly developing and leveraging dynamic capabilities and this need to be fully understood so the appropriate resource and commitment can be placed behind them. The world of innovation is based on consistent, never ending competition, a constant price/performance rivalry, increasing quest for improving returns and the ‘creative destruction’ of existing competencies all certainly contribute to rapid change without doubt.
What are the firm-specific capabilities that can be sources of real evolving but equally lasting advantage, and how can combinations of competences and resources be developed, deployed, nurtured and protected? These need to be difficult-to-imitate combinations and integrative enough to give new sources of competitive advantage to stimulate new growth and financial return.
Strategic innovation often changes the ‘game’; what it explores and exploits to stay dynamic.
What are dynamic capabilities?
Dynamic capabilities are those skills, process, routines, organizational structures and disciplines to build, employ and orchestrate intangible assets that are nor replicated easily by others and constantly change to meet customers’ needs.
Dynamic Innovation Capabilities need to advance knowledge creation and absorption, extend and integrate what is learnt into something more worthwhile, something new. These capabilities need to learn how to modify constantly the way we operate, reconfigure and redeploy. This involves the dynamic of sensing, seizing and transforming (Teece et.all) at the three interdependent levels of the individual, firm and network to coordinate/ integrate, learn and transform constantly and to reflect constant change that is taking place.
Two different academic views but does one lead to the other?
Dynamic Capabilities are defined by Teece, Pisano & Shuen in their different papers on the subject as “the firm’s ability to integrate, build and reconfigure internal and external competencies to address rapidly changing environments so as to achieve new and innovative forms of competitive advantage”.
Everyday Dynamics are where people know what is expected of them and what to expect from others and have a common ground for negotiating collective action in particular situations that create an ongoing social fabric, where innovation naturally flows. Zollo & Winter suggest a dynamic capability “is a learned and stable pattern of collective activity through which the organization systematically generates and modifies its operating routines in pursuit of improved effectiveness”
Both definitions require learning and exploring
Both of these ‘dynamics’ arise from learning and constantly adapting within organizations and these aremore likely to come from systematic methods or they become to chaotic. Innovation nearly always requires structure, process and being worked through in systematic ways unless you perhaps are a sole inventor/ innovator or responding to a real crisis that is novel. To work with others successfully you need a certain structure.
Capabilities for innovation are complex, they are structured and multi-dimensional and have a constant flow of energy. Often today organizations strive to keep these far too much in “equilibrium” (zero level) but the reality is that our markets being served are not in this ‘equilibrium’ and are constantly being disruptive, more ‘dynamic’ than ever.
We cannot keep a ‘business as usual’ mindset ,we need to recognize we are operating in potential set of constant unstable circumstances. This is a complex adaptive system and we need to treat innovation and building capabilities within this so they are both dynamic and everyday. We require adaptive organizations constantly modifying and remodelling their innovation capabilities to antiscipate and react to consistently changing market conditions.
We need to become far more aware of the dynamics that surround us that are needed for innovation to work constantly. We need our journey to evolve, we need to walk on.
Let me firstly outline the REAL challenge I see with innovation.
Knowing what are the critical factors and their dependences for sustaining innovation success is vital to understand so that an organization can place the appropriate resources behind them. The questions are: which are critical, which naturally occur when others begin to be put into place, which seem to have limited or no real effect on changing the dynamics of innovation? Knowing these answers and having these clearer to achieve a higher ‘return on impact/investment’ (ROII) has a real business value.
Today, we lack a clear system model that brings the critical innovation factors out and gives them their appropriate values of importance so resources can be allocated accordingly. Also if this can further be extended to provide the ability to model different future states and conceived future scenarios through different impact-investment simulations, this would certainly provide a strong relational tool, for assessing business and innovation allocation, with the appropriate resources. to achieve a greater ‘fitness and impact’ in innovation to focus upon within their capability build.
Approaching innovation in the this more dynamic, fitness orientated way we are suggesting on this site, does lead to greater understanding, a cohesion and a clear direction and purpose. The end result is raising your organizations fitness to innovate to do the jobs the strategic goals call for. You align innovation to these strategic goals. Your fitness to innovate is designed to produce the results wanted.
The real need is for improving the business relevance of anything that is new. To quantify this, in general this should include to enhance, reduce, eliminate or improve:
- Increasing flexibility and efficiency.
- Managing knowledge effectively through the adaptive capacity framework.
- Increasing productivity and reducing time to market.
- Facilitating teamwork.
- Enabling online gathering of marketing information and strengthening customer dialogues.
- Improving relationships with suppliers, partners and those within your extended network.
- Integrating differing sources of customer information though social media designs.
- Making client relationships more effective and engaged in two way flows.
- Eliminating redundant processes and legacy systems on a consistent manner.
- Reducing costs by implementing IT-based solutions that integrate and are highly visable.
- Reducing bureaucratic tasks (those that did not add value).
- Using e-learning to improve capabiities, investing the necessary discovery time.
- Exploring through participating on platforms, external relationships to gain alternative opinions to challenge your own.
- Increasing the market range of goods and services in consistent ways that deliever value to the customer to achieve the job they are wanting to be resolved.
- Improving relationships with employees by deepening the trust, openness and recognizing the value contribution they are making.
Any selection must consistently focus upon what is going to increase the competitiveness and uniqueness and improve the value and investments made for higher returns.
What outcomes can you expect to create particular advantages for a firm that is trying to compete in today’s economy:
- Strengthen the innovation knowledge management within a firm.
- Foster creativity as a key ingredient in the innovation process.
- Increase ability of the business to react quickly to change, without a big impact on efficiency.
- Promote human resource management as a strategic area within the business.
- Improve the gathering of updated and valuable market information.
- Promote co-operation and teamwork, build diverse capability and competency.
- Foster networking and the construction of external support systems.
- Take advantage of the internet and other social media communications technologies.
- Emphasize a global-oriented approach (internationalization), highly outwardly looking.
- Accelerate and shorten the time-to-market in innovation projects as a constant need.
- Encourage entrepreneurial initiatives and its spirit.
- Integrate science, technology and market understanding in fluent adaptive systems.
- Increase efficiency using more advanced information technologies that give improved knowledge.
Let’s mix the theory of fitness landscapes with your innovation objectives
- By firstly mapping out your innovation capabilities to the task at hand enables you to understand and relate to what is needed- we call that the context for innovation. Innovation Fitness Landscapes helps in this task by identifying the opportunity spaces on where you need to focus your efforts‐ and apply the appropriate resources to navigate the terrain. The greater understanding of the ‘fitness points needed’ can transform your innovation landscape potential, or in business parlance, achieve your goal.
- Achieving this fitness accelerates your opportunities into final tangible outcomes. Here is a little bit of the theory: you look for those critical factors that will give higher value potential or ‘peaks’ that are more valuable to your needs. The more ‘rugged’ the landscape, the tougher the innovation challenge, can also determine the greater fitness for the rate of innovation. The height of the peaks in these landscapes, the greater value placed upon them, illustrates how intense the innovation challenge is, and the number of critical peaks shows how diverse its potentially is to provide the appropriate resources.
- The ability to identifying the emerging patterns provides the need to act and invest, making adaptive even exploratory walks to provide the appropriate resources needed so as to move you to the higher fitness points where innovation viability is enhanced and needed to be so as to resolve the challenges faced. You need to experiment, to take these exploratory ‘walk’s to realize the potential and learn how to scale accordingly.
Making it more dynamic in its nature
- Greater fitness equates to more value creation potential. The ability to inter‐couple landscape entities, to constantly combine the different capabilities in different often unique ways and exploit individual interactions alters your dynamics to innovate and does improve repeatable cycle times from this constant recreation potential.
- The key is to know what these capability points are- by dynamic linking those that are important and ignoring those that are not.
- By learning from these experiments or adaptive walks you can quickly operationalize routines that can be quickly absorbed across the organization and so reduce uncertainties and strengthen the capabilities.
- The ability to create ‘natural tensions’ from this fitness learning triggers the need to further explore and search out different combinations, this adds even further to your dynamics of innovation understanding.
- Clear distinctive capabilities emerge; these are your dynamic points for innovation.
By taking a more systematic approach to any innovation you achieve a greater understanding over time of what is involved.
Firstly you have to ask what you are trying to achieve, is it incremental innovation, distinctive, disruptive or even radical white space innovation? Do you approach innovation differently for each of these? I would argue you need to learn and build from one to another as you learn on the way, this is my going up a curve that increases in complexity and its scope/ outcome.
How do we embed innovation in all its forms needs what I feel is a unique approach that I have called the Pathway Curve Methodology
Getting a thorough understanding of what it takes to move up what I call this Innovation curve, does takes time, and growing a deeper understanding of how one step is followed by another in experience and understanding needs working upon. This is rarely understood and practiced in this structured way and that lack of understanding often creates the disappointment and frustrations that an organization is not achieving that innovation success they desire. The more you move steadily up this curve the more you can explore the different types of innovation with growing confidence and success.
The five different curves to travel along
There are five separate curves of learning- 1) dealing systematically with obstacles, 2) building capability and capacity to move methodically up this curve, 3) the building and understanding of different approaches to innovation for growth building, 4) recognizing the organizational impact and knowledge needed and finally, 5) a discovery and transformation curve.
Let me illustrate one of these five learning curves to provide a little more of an understanding by taking the aspects of needed learning for organizational impact, gaining improved return (ROI), controlling of costs and increased visibility.
Recognizing and working upon the five learning curves together is important
You need to be very structured in this approach, it may look like a slow build but in any ‘fitness’ requirement you build in a methodical way. What is it to achieve, is it incremental, distinctive, radical, disruptive and how do you manage this in a clear way to support any initiative.
Understanding your fitness, landscape and dynamics for innovation is essential to travel along these five pathways