Technology innovation and illusion of value

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

Fear of rejection is the biggest impediment

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.

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Regulating your flow is critical to achieve more

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.

Finding and nurturing the potential

What do you know about a subject before taking it in your course? What do you know about the feel of driving your dream car without getting in one and really driving it? What do you know about the terrain and the taste of firmness on the ground while climbing a mountain, without stepping on one? What do you know about the potential of a person in your team without assigning that task, job or a challenge and letting them perform at their best?

Potential of a person can be seen through their willingness to perform, ability to learn,  adaptability to changes, ability to work with ambiguity, ability to provide clarity in the context of complexity, ability to work with the resources available and ability to challenge the status-quo subtly by results than talk.

You will be able to identify high-potential people in the team easily. If you have to put a lot of effort to find it, maybe you are looking at a wrong person or using a wrong lens. Change the frame-of-reference from what they are doing today or what they did yesterday, to how they will be doing the next level task. You will see the best in people. But to nurture that, you need to get this potential show-up in regular work. Treat them the way they will be functioning at the next level. You may be pleasantly surprised with how they perform.

When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.

~ Johanna Wolfgang von Goethe

People who are willing to perform will always find a way to deliver best results irrespective of their capability and context. You should make yourself assume/accept challenges of doing what you have not done so far, routinely and deliver the best. As an intrapreneur, you will need your potential converted to kinetic act and have the ability to find and make-use-of potential of others too. This makes you resourceful and effective. Your craft becomes remarkable.

be a #dreamerdoer

Perspective gaps are critical ones to fill

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

How to make collaborations work

Collaborations, everyone agrees is essential to move-forward, achieve-greater-good and be successful. Collaboration is all about working with someone to produce something remarkable. For an intrapreneur, collaborations are the critical element of the system to build a remarkable craft.

Collaborations succeed when the contributions and associated value-additions from all parties are mutually respected and recognized. Though well-intentioned, many-a-times, you end-up meeting people, partners, and peers who tend to overvalue their own contributions and undervalue those of others. Many professional relationships disintegrate when people involved, feel that their partners are not giving them the credit they deserve or doing their fair share.

Responsibility bias – exaggerating our own contributions relative to other’s inputs has to be curtailed for making collaborations work. Cut the desire to see and present yourself positively at every possible opportunity. Instead, learn to be factual and make your partners’ contributions shown and perceived positively, at every possible opportunity. 

You naturally have more access to information about your own contributions than that of others. You will see all your efforts, but will only witness a subset of partners’ efforts. When you think about who deserves the credit, you have more knowledge of your own contributions. To make collaborations work, develop insights into partners’ inputs and contributions; understand their constraints and dependencies too. Develop mutual respect and extend-helping-hand in all steps of collaboration. 

The multiplicity of the value of contributions makes your craft, remarkable. Keep that as the core purpose of collaboration. It helps in keeping responsibility bias away and information deficits at check. Build bridges than barriers for collaboration to work.

be a #dreamerdoer 

Keep dreams bigger than memories

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 of innovation

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

  1. Rejecting ideas that at first glance appear to be small. Going after only big-bets.
  2. Assuming that only new products count – not new services or improved processes
  3. Multiple groups/divisions launching similar solutions at once that confuse customers and increase internal complexity.
  4. Applying the same tight planning, budgeting and controls like existing business operations.
  5. Applying the same performance metrics and reward system like existing business operations.
  6. Isolating and Insulating innovative pursuits and established enterprises from each other. Creating new and rigid silos!
  7. 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)
  8. Allowing innovators/ intrapreneurs to be idea-hoppers than becoming new-venture-builders.
  9. Assuming that innovation teams should be led by the best technical people than intrapreneurs
  10. 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

  1. The portfolio approach to innovation – a mixture of big-bets and bouquet of mid-range ideas while supporting small and continuous improvement
  2. Encouraging: product, process, technology, and business-model-innovations with growth as a focus
  3. Controlled experiments supported by the unified Go-to-market approach
  4. Flexibility in planning, execution and control systems with Time and money boxing method.
  5. Innovation KPIs and performance measurements
  6. Continuous interaction and interchange of resources between existing and new initiatives.
  7. The democratic process of operations and periodic rotation of people between new and existing business.
  8. 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.
  9. Getting the best intrapreneur to run/lead the pursuit, supported by a competent team.
  10. 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

Seizing opportunity and Resisting Temptation

You live In the world of instant gratification. Fear-of-missing-out, the social-anxiety creates the urge to be tempted towards every chance to continually connect and collect.

This creates a haze around what is an opportunity and a temptation, a distraction. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs need to develop a lens that helps to clear this haze, quickly and completely.

An opportunity helps you build something useful for yourself and your customers. Temptation pulls you to try something and use it for yourself. An opportunity will take multiple dimensional efforts to make it real v/s temptation provides you a perceptive position of a quick win, a short-cut to fame. Devise a method in your own context to help you distinguish the two.

Seize opportunity while resisting temptation.

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Working your way joyfully to be at your best

Work should bring the joy in your life. For that, you should work joyfully. Anyone who isn’t earning money and making progress joyfully is at stress. Some of the working principles of working your way joyfully include the following.

Eliminate minimum return activities from your to-do-list. Learn to develop, outsource and make-use-of-resources at your disposal. Keeping too many housekeeping activities takes away time, energy and opportunity to work on what matters the most.

Upgrade the value of your time. What you create determines your value. Instead of working on tasks just to complete and move on, find what is the best way of doing it. Make it very useful for the next guy or the consumer. Let there be zero rework for you and others. Let it be clear and simple so that you don’t have to spend more time explaining or correcting it. Upgrade the value of your job. This upgrades the value of your time. You get the flow and the joy flows.

Learn to bring yourself in full. Don’t send your virtual twin to work. You can control your thoughts and emotions when you bring yourself in full. Use the right tools, understand the processes that make your work help others without your further intervention and for you to progress further. Always take action in the present moment. When you send your twin, there’ll be delays and postponement of action.

be a #dreamerdoer