Moving along the path to innovation fitness

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

The Journey Roadmap for Traversing with Innovation Fitness Dynamics

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.

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Innovation fitness dynamics – to engage with and recognize the need to change.

Working through the innovation fitness lense

Working through the innovation fitness lens

There is a continuing need is to build the management of innovation into a clear organizational capability, where innovation becomes a continuous effective innovation process.

To this end I have produced a conceptual model of what constitutes the ‘make up’ for providing an ongoing innovation performance engine- the innovation fitness landscape and the dynamics– that determine the appropriate capabilities and capacities available & required. I felt it needs a dedicated website to be the ‘go to’ source of reference. It is a work-in-progress so please recognize this when you visit it here:

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Layers that shear against each other are full of tension.

IFD Tension

“Slow constrains quick, slow controls quick”

There is so much built in tension, bias, barriers, mindsets, mental model conflicts, and all types of friction seemingly going on around us, you must sometimes think all our organizations can only be totally dysfunctional.

IFD The Scream
The Scream by Edvard Munch
for Dysfunctional Organizations

Has anyone not come across some or all of these?

Dysfunctional leadership symptoms and those typical warning signs of dictatorial leadership, no feedback on performance, personal agendas, more ‘political’ compensation than ‘performance related ones, inefficient use of resources, empire-building practices, unequal workload distribution, too much management, fragmented organization efforts. There is simply just too much talk, ineffective  and incessant meetings, a lack of collaboration across departments, ‘selective’ low productivity when you are working way beyond the normal, feeling in a constant crisis mode, watching a morale deterioration take place before your eyes, the,  backstabbing, starving projects of essential resources and finally, working in highly stressful workplaces.

A pretty depressing list isn’t it? I’m sure you can think of a few more besides.

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The AC components that deepen the capacity to innovate

Generally, absorptive capacity should be focused on the capacity to make use of existing knowledge both internally and externally, placing the emphasis on the capacity to assimilate and transform it (often differently). It deepens the capacity that lies within an organization for exploring innovation further.

The importance is to develop the ability to achieve “new value recognition”in new and different ways.

How do you go about to recognize value when it is not linked to existing thinking?  Absorptive capacity can be a paradox. You require more external knowledge to ‘push’ beyond your existing knowledge learning and so absorbing from it; you are demanding more absorptive capacity to be in place.  Equally you need to combine this with the need to break down that “prior related knowledge” radically differently, so it can stimulate breakthroughs in your thinking. Absorptive Capacity can pose significant challenges to the organization. How you deal effectively with the absorption of knowledge determines it’s potential to be transformed for new innovative ability and this will be determined partly by  how you structure the attractiveness for a learning environment so it ‘takes hold’ and can be absorbed differently, for different needs.

Absoptive Capacity- Knoweldge Adoption Framework.

Explaining the key components shown in the above diagram

These components make up the essential elements of a ‘knowledge adoption’ innovation system.

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Understanding Absorptive Capacity

IFD AC only

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 behavior 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.

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Cultivating Absorptive Capacity

The flow of knowledge as our alternative currents

The flow of knowledge as our alternative currents

We need to cultivate Absorptive behaviour and allow it to flow.

We need a system to capture and allow knowledge to flow. For me the adoption model seems to be one worth investigating. If we want to achieve the goal of distributed innovation we need to have in place this possible framework around absorptive capacity to encourage different learning behaviours.. Nesta ( produced a useful report some time back called “Innovation by Adoption” and I feel this has a good framework that support distributed innovation.

The report argues in a place with a strong absorptive capacity three main outputs subsequently result from the flow of external or distributed knowledge: (1) the creation of new innovation; (2) the creation of new knowledge; and (3) that it does lead to new economic and social value.

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How do you see your innovation journey?

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

Your journey to innovation fitness-view one

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?

The alternative possible view of your innovation fitness journey

Irrespective the terrain can look rugged and challenging. Are you ready to begin your journey?

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