Innovation for a pre-defined purpose amounts to finding effective and intelligent solutions to a known set of problems. Boundaries of innovation and its application are either pre-defined or established early in the process of innovation. But in technology companies and for technologists, innovating for the sake of producing new technologies and solutions turn-out to be an exciting opportunity.
They may have a clarity on the piece of technology or solution they are building and totally lack how it can be put-to-use to extract economic value. Some of them may be ahead of time. A few may be incomplete from deployment point-of-view. A few may not have any obvious fitment to current customer situations.
Finding a problem to solve with this innovation becomes the challenge. Monetising innovation then hinges heavily on finding those problems and customers willing to pay for the same. When it becomes too difficult to find possible problems and application areas for these innovations, the value perception fades away. This hurts further innovation programs and pursuits. Innovation efforts turn out to be happy-engineering programs.
Pursuing technology innovation is important for overall progress. New Industries and businesses are formed due to intelligent application of technology innovations. It is hardly the same company innovating on both dimensions. To realize the true potential of the value of technology innovation, product, process and business model innovations become necessary.
When you are proposing, pursuing entrepreneurial journeys within a company or outside, make sure that you are clear about the innovation dimension relevant to your company and industry you are addressing. To monetize, you have to look for options for licensing, productizing, process-reengineering and building new business models as appropriate to the dimensions – technology, product, process, and business respectively. Else, the entire value of the innovation remains illusive.
When Technology innovations are easy to integrate & deploy, specific to a set of identified users and work on simple business models, finding appropriate problems and customers might become easier. Since the value of a solution/ innovation is seen only in the use of it, finding and engaging with potential customers and users early in the cycle is very important to keep your pursuit on track and build a remarkable craft.
be a #dreamerdoer
Intrapreneurs propose and pursue new ideas, solutions, initiatives routinely. When you propose something to others without their consent, the chances of rejection is the highest. If you fail to propose due to the fear of rejection, you remain where you are if you are lucky. The difference between high-performers, intrapreneurs and the rest lies in their ability to face rejection and move forward with grace.
Rejection is everywhere. You get hate mail. You get rejected for opportunities you think you are the best fit. You get people who don’t understand you, who are upset with you, angry with you, don’t recognize/respect what you’ve done for them. You can’t hate people who reject you. Definitely, you can’t let them get the best of you. Nor you can praise/bless the people who like you. Everyone at work is acting out of their own self-interest.
The key to being on-top-of-your-performance levels is to build a strong foundation to face rejection, choose yourself and act positively. Some may say – You find strength through rejection. But, rejection hurts. Continuous hurt has to do some damage. Yielding to damage will create more hurt and damage. Face rejection. Choose yourself to win-over rejection. Know what you want from every interaction, proposal and build a base that leads to what you want. Be genuine with your approach. Pursue it with confidence. Never be tentative in your efforts. Fear-of-rejection is the biggest impediment for high-performance.
Rejection and fear-of-rejection force people to stay away from trying, from being. Unless you try, you never know what works. Those who act without the fear, tend to get accepted. Once one of your ideas is accepted, you are accepted. Courage builds Confidence. Your craft becomes remarkable.
be a #dreamerdoer
Going for too much, too fast, in too many dimensions at work can lead to overcommitment. Trying to be at your best since you want to be a high-performer, can put a lot more stress on your system. You might start ignoring several other dimensions of life – health, wealth, family and so on. Regulating your flow of work is critical to stay fit, focus better and achieve more, consistently.
Unregulated flow leads to priority-conflicts, impatience, dissatisfaction with own and others’ work/contribution, negligence, and not-so-healthy-relationships. This triggers a negative spiral that only leads to the bottom too hard to get-up.
When you regulate your flow, you will have the ability to slow-down and gain-pace as required, be more strategic, and happy-helping-hands around. Heroes are recognized and rewarded at war-time. Hero-behaviour is discouraged and ignored during peace-time. In order to regulate, you may have to say NO more often and reflect on the item on the YES list, routinely.
Budding Intrapreneurs have the urge and tendency to do too much, too fast and be busy always. While you pursue this journey, be watchful of what you are becoming through your passion. Regulate your flow and stay a high-performer, building the remarkable craft.
be a #dreamerdoer.
While you are busy working on your project, idea, initiative, it is natural to get engrossed and form opinions of what’s the best – especially for the users. Experts at work, believe they are the ones who have the liberty to decide, push and get-it-done – as they perceive to be thinking and acting in favor of the recipient. When you are the expert, you tend to ignore the feelings and perspectives of the user as you are doing the job the way it is required, in good faith of making it useful for the recipient.
You can relate to the actions of an expert doctor and reactions of a patient and his/ her family. Though patient and the family feel and resist a procedure, a specialist might go-ahead or threaten with the consequences of missing the same. As an expert, specialist, it is good to stand-in for what’s good from the technical point-of-view. But the perspective gaps this creates has an adverse effect on the whole process and mostly the result. As an intrapreneur, while you propose a solution, idea or a business that you think is the best and your sponsors, peers, and others reject the same, you tend to ask the question – what do they really know about what I am proposing? I’m the expert. Not anyone out there. You fall into the perspective gap and let your performance suffer. This affects relationships and what you intended to build.
When you encounter these perspective gaps, it is important to fill them, bridge them and cross-over. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is one way of doing it. Role-plays and one-on-one discussions help too. When you are convinced about your solution, it is important that you convince all those – who should support and receive that solution. Avoid using authority and expert label. Adopt a consultative selling approach. Remember – the value of your expertise and solution is in the acceptance and use of it. Bridge the perspective gap and make your craft remarkable.
be a #dreamerdoer
You are gifted with a few traits. You possess a set of skills, tools, and techniques. You are talented. You have proficiency in a set of areas. You are in a position to acquire some more, whenever required. This makes you well equipped to succeed in what you choose to be. But that becomes seamless only when you use them. Only when you use your ability. It is your responsibility to use your ability for being remarkable at work.
The image of your abilities, appearance, and personality in your own mind forms the self-image. It is the mental picture of who you are and what you can do. This is the reference-image that forms the basis of every other picture you draw – through words, actions, and relationships. How you perceive yourself is how you project yourself. A positive image takes you on accelerated growth/ success path.
5 steps to build a positive self-image
- Know what you like about yourself – Stop criticising yourself for everything/ anything. Build on what you like about yourself. Believe in the strength of your strengths.
- Know what you are comfortable with in wearing, reading and carrying around – Stop imitating. Start building your own portfolio of clothes, accessories, and tools. Be Yourself in every sense. Groom yourself as a winner.
- Know what you like to do – Stop copying routines of others. Build your own. Make it a routine to test what you like to do. Check how it fits building your craft. Keep what works. Clean what adds a drag.
- Know who you like to work with – Stop wasting building and keeping relationships that do not help you in your mission. Know what kind of people you like to work with – those who can supplement and complement your abilities in a respectful way. Work only with those who mutually respect and continuously improve.
- Know how to deliver value – Stop suspecting the value of your work, yourself. Deliver something of value, every day. Make sure every interaction builds trust and adds value. Be valuable, always, as much as possible.
be a #dreamerdoer
Being irreplaceable at work gives a false sense of security. Job insecurity creates defensive behavior. Working to be irreplaceable alienates you from others. You create more distance between work and result. People around you will try their best to ensure that not much of new work comes around you. When people relate you to a hoarder, chances of getting critical work becomes closer to zero. This stuns your opportunities for growth.
Let go being irreplaceable. Focus on being capable.
be a #dreamerdoer
Dream big. Think big. Act well. This is an essential strategy for building a remarkable craft and business. But while working with yourself and improving your efficiency, effectiveness, and development, you need a different approach.
Think Small. Act Small. Have only one goal at a time. Improve a little every day. Do it first thing in the morning. Let it be improving your fitness regime, writing skill, public speaking, prioritization, this works well. Personal development requires consistency. Simplicity brings consistency.
be a #dreamerdoer
Quality and quantity of dreams you nurture determine the enthusiasm required to make some of them remarkable. When failures take over the energy of doing something great, fatigue sets in. Lack of pace of progress and struggle to keep the momentum in the right direction tests the perseverance.
You need to cultivate the discipline to do things you need to do as and when they are needed to be done. This gives the capability to do things you want to do when you want to do them. Once you gain this capability, making something remarkable comes naturally to you.
The pursuit of a remarkable journey is driven by the dreams, ideas, and ventures you work with. Memories of previous failures and successes occupy most of the thinking cycles required to design and move well in the journey. The day your memories become larger than the dreams is the day you start shrinking – yourself, the journey and the overall pursuit.
Keep dreams bigger than the memories. Let them make you busy and driven irrespective of the memory bank. It keeps you in currency and charged to move-forward-full. You get the flow. Your craft becomes remarkable.
be a #dreamerdoer
Flaws are Failure Laws. Rules to follow for the failure of a system. Every business context and organization has a set of uncontested rules. Those working mostly well for the running business but creating failure drivers for innovation. Finding and fixing them in your business context creates a winning platform. A compilation is here for reference.
Flaws of Innovation
- Rejecting ideas that at first glance appear to be small. Going after only big-bets.
- Assuming that only new products count – not new services or improved processes
- Multiple groups/divisions launching similar solutions at once that confuse customers and increase internal complexity.
- Applying the same tight planning, budgeting and controls like existing business operations.
- Applying the same performance metrics and reward system like existing business operations.
- Isolating and Insulating innovative pursuits and established enterprises from each other. Creating new and rigid silos!
- Creating and differentially treating two classes of corporate citizens – those who have all the fun (innovators/ intrapreneurs) and those who slog and make the money (steady-state-business-managers)
- Allowing innovators/ intrapreneurs to be idea-hoppers than becoming new-venture-builders.
- Assuming that innovation teams should be led by the best technical people than intrapreneurs
- Assuming that all intrapreneurs learn-on-the-job than providing a head-start through coaching/mentoring in a structured way. Pushing people to their next level of incompetence than preparing them for the job of an intrapreneur.
Remedies for these flaws
- The portfolio approach to innovation – a mixture of big-bets and bouquet of mid-range ideas while supporting small and continuous improvement
- Encouraging: product, process, technology, and business-model-innovations with growth as a focus
- Controlled experiments supported by the unified Go-to-market approach
- Flexibility in planning, execution and control systems with Time and money boxing method.
- Innovation KPIs and performance measurements
- Continuous interaction and interchange of resources between existing and new initiatives.
- The democratic process of operations and periodic rotation of people between new and existing business.
- Aligning intrapreneurs with corporate objectives of creating new opportunities for growth and making accountable for incubation and development. Defining clear exit and transition methods and governance mechanisms.
- Getting the best intrapreneur to run/lead the pursuit, supported by a competent team.
- Training, Coaching/ Mentoring intrapreneurs to pursue building-new-venture as a career.
Finding and fixing flaws in your system that hinders innovation is an essential first step toward building an entrepreneurial culture.
be a #dreamerdoer