Tag Archives: goals

Five Steps to Digital Transformation Success

Five Steps to Digital Transformation Success

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Digital transformation is increasingly becoming an integral part of businesses in the modern age, as companies seek to leverage technology to gain a competitive edge. But, while the potential benefits of digital transformation are tantalizing, it’s not always easy to make the transition. To ensure a successful digital transformation, here are five key steps you should consider.

1. Understand Your Goals

Before you begin your digital transformation, it’s important to understand your goals. What do you want to achieve with your digital transformation? Do you want to improve customer service, create a more efficient process for managing data, or something else entirely? Being clear on your goals will help you to focus your efforts and ensure you’re making the most of your digital transformation.

2. Develop a Strategy

Once you’ve established your goals, you’ll need to develop a strategy for achieving them. What technologies and processes will you need to implement? What resources and personnel will you need to make it happen? Having a clear strategy will help to ensure success, as you’ll have a roadmap for getting from A to B.

3. Focus on the Customer Experience

Digital transformation should always be focused on the customer experience. How will the changes you’re making improve the customer experience? Will they make it easier to purchase products or services? Will they make it faster to access customer service? By focusing on the customer experience, you can ensure your digital transformation is successful.

4. Invest in Technology and Resources

Digital transformation is an investment, and you’ll need to invest in the right technologies and resources to make it successful. This could include investing in new software, hardware, personnel, and training. While these investments may be costly, they’re necessary in order to ensure the success of your digital transformation.

5. Plan for Change

Finally, it’s important to plan for change. Digital transformation can be disruptive to your business, so it’s important to plan for the changes and prepare your team for the transition. This could involve training staff on new technologies, creating a communication plan to keep everyone in the loop, and establishing processes for dealing with any issues that may arise.

Digital transformation can be a daunting process, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. By following these five key steps, you can ensure your digital transformation is successful and that your business can reap the rewards.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Forming Good Entrepreneurial Habits

Going from Said to Done

Forming Good Entrepreneurial Habits

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Are you trying to change and practice entrepreneurial habits? Science can help and here’s how.

As you progress in your career, it often gets harder to ask for help in reaching your goals and staying accountable to yourself to achieve them. If you’ve reached a career plateau, this author recommends three strategies to hold yourself accountable to your goals:

  • Enlist an accountability partner
  • Go public in declaring and sharing goals
  • Change your environment

Here are some new entrepreneurial habits that might contribute to your success and change your innovator’s DNA gene expression:

1. Put 5 books on your nightstand that you read for 30 minutes before going to bed. William Osler suggested it for doctors but it should work for entrepreneurs, too. Yes, you can read 50 books a year. The new twist on the concept is the 5 hour rule.

2. Subscribe to 5 newsletters completely outside of your field to find new sources of innovation and inspiration. Most true innovation rarely comes from inside.

3. Write 500 words about anything, anywhere every day. It can be in a journal. It can be on a Pulse post, It can be an evolving book or it can simply be on your iPad. Perhaps the biggest gap in my formal education was in writing. The only way to overcome that deficit is to discipline yourself to practice, practice, practice.

4. Invite at least one person every day to join your linkedin network who you think you can help.

5. Practice random acts of kindness when someone asks you to do them a favor that does not compromise your integrity. It’s good for your karmic bank account.

6. Watch children play every now and then. Like Jobs said at Stanford, be playful and stay hungry.

7. Use vacations as a way to create new habits. Change the rewards and cut yourself some slack instead of practicing incessant self denial. Productivity decreases when you reach a certain numbers of hours of work in a day. Try to do more in less time by eliminating unproductive distractions, overconnectedness or finding when your creative, imaginative biorhythm kicks in. Aim to work 20 hours a week.

8. Set goals with your spouse.

9. Have a fun fund. Not an emergency fund. Not a retirement fund, A fun fund you use to reward new and constructive behaviors. Don’t make it too small or too large. Just enough.

10. When your inner voice says no, create a space between the stimulus and your response. Say yes more often and try new things. Say no more often to things and people that are not aligned with your goals.

11. Train your brain to have patience and leave more time for Type 2 thinking (slow) instead of Type 1(fast) that leads to bad decisions based on intuition and bias.

12. Think positively to act positively. Here are 10 ways to do it

13. Keep a daily log of your small accomplishments each day and congratulate yourself. Nothing succeeds like success, not matter how small.

14. See things differently. Great creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs look at the world in ways that are different from how many of us look at things. This is why they see opportunities that other people miss.

15. Move from self-awareness to self-improvement

16. Join communities that a have employees set aside time for work that is important but not urgent. We call this proactive time or pro-time.re different from one another. Balance generalism with specialized focus.

17. Set aside time for work that is important but not urgent.

18. Practice gratitude.

19. Prune

20. Practice the power of negative entrepreneurship

21. Learn something new every day

22. Do something that scares you every day

23.Make these 6 practices a habit

Changing your morning routine might help. Mine includes reading, thinking and writing articles like this one.

Take advantage of the science of happiness by doing these four things.

Here are 5 more habits to future-proof your brain.

There are no short-cuts along the entrepreneurial journey. There are only habits that take time, repetition and the motivation to develop. You should focus on a few critical behaviors that have:

Implementation criteria include:

  • Actionability: Are people able to perform the behavior?
  • Degree of visibility: Can people see others performing the behavior?
  • Measurability: Can you measure (preferably objectively) whether people are performing the behavior?
  • Speed of results: Can people performing the behavior deliver results in the short term?
  • Ease of implementation: Given the current organizational environment, how easy/difficult will it be for people to perform the new behavior?

Some of these principles apply to organizations as well. When it comes to turning strategy to action, pay attention to this check list

Here are some ways to turn insight into execution by rewiring your brain and your team’s too.

These new habits will probably take several months to create. Here are some tips, backed by research, for forming new healthy habits.

Part of surgical training involves creating patterns of behavior that are habit forming. While, on the one hand, it helps to standardize care, it also can lead to making Type 1 and Type 2 technology adoption errors and faulty diagnostic thinking because it precludes other possibilities. The same applies to entrepreneurs.

Try to avoid what your basal ganglia is telling you to do when it makes sense. Like the man says, you’ll like how you feel. But, like they say, innovation and entrepreneurship is much easier said than done. Habits will set you free.

Image credits: Pixabay

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Creating a Culture of Continuous Innovation

Creating a Culture of Continuous InnovationIn this economic downturn there is more pressure than ever on executives to find new sources of growth, and as a result leaders are increasingly talking about innovation. In some organizations the leader may say “we need to be more innovative” or “we need to think out of the box” and stop there. While for other organizations it may become part of the year’s goals or even the organization’s mission statement. Only in a small number of cases will there be any kind of sustained effort to enhance, or create, a culture of continuous innovation.

By now everyone has probably heard of six sigma and continuous improvement, and maybe your organization has even managed to embed its principles into its culture, but very few organizations have managed to transform their cultures to support innovation in a sustainable way. For most organizations, innovation tends to be something that is left to the R&D department or that is thought of on a project basis. Some organizations create new innovation teams, but it is rare for an organization to invest in transforming their entire culture. There are many reasons for this:

  1. Support from top leadership is required
    • Challenge: Most executive teams are focused on short-term results and transforming organizational culture is a long-term investment of financial and leadership resources.

  2. Clear goals and guidance are needed
    • Challenge: This is a bigger barrier than you might think. Most organizations struggle to understand how to set innovation goals and to provide a vision for employees on how they might get there. Goals to ‘be innovative’ or ‘think outside the box’ are not specific enough to be successful.

  3. Every organization is different
    • Challenge: The starting place, needs and barriers to creating a culture of continuous innovation are different for every organization – making easy implementation of best practices impossible

  4. Most companies lack a shared vocabulary for innovation
    • Challenge: People in different parts of the organization use different terminology, methodologies, frameworks, and have different understandings of what innovation is. The lack of a shared vocabulary prevents organizations from achieving shared success.

  5. Change is painful
    • Challenge: Creating a culture of continuous innovation threatens the power base of a critical few, and disrupts the way people think about their jobs and the organization. Even if change is for the better, people tend to want to avoid change.

    Accelerate your change and transformation success

  6. Change needs to be managed
    • Challenge: This means pulling employees off of their day jobs or hiring consultants to commit to the leadership and communications surrounding the change effort. This investment may prove challenging in the current economic climate.

  7. Change takes time
    • Challenge: Organizations seeking to create a culture of continuous innovation must realize that the transformation will not happen overnight. People can only absorb so much change at once. The transformation will likely have to be broken up into separate phases with discreet goals (don’t try to do it all at once).
      • Make sure to stop and share the successes of each phase, and also to identify what you’ve learned that can be implemented in the next phase.

  8. Visualize the outcomes of participation
    • Challenge: Often people withdraw and choose not to participate in organizational transformations because they don’t believe that their participation will positively impact their daily lives. If those who choose to participate don’t see an impact from their early efforts, might choose to disengage as the process continues.
      • You must celebrate participation and highlight the impact of individual contributors throughout the process.

  9. New systems and processes may be required
    • Challenge: To innovate continuously, you need to be open to receiving great ideas from anywhere in the company, and must have systems and processes to manage idea gathering, evaluation, and development. Often this requires a financial and personnel investment.

  10. Change efforts require lots of communication and storytelling
    • Challenge: You have to bring the change to life for employees. This requires involvement of employees early and often in the communications surrounding the goals and outcomes of the cultural transformation
      • Create a story that is easy and fun to tell – this will make it easier to cascade the change downwards through the organization

This should give you a better idea of why very few organizations embark upon the difficult work to enhance or create a culture of continuous innovation. It may not be an easy or a short journey, but creating a culture of continuous innovation is the only way to increase your chances of avoiding organizational mortality.

Successfully creating a strong culture of continuous innovation also represents a huge opportunity for an organization to attract the best talent, to lower costs, to continuously add new revenue streams, and to better achieve competitive separation.

Is your organization ready to invest the hard work towards achieving the rewards of a culture of continuous innovation?

Build a Common Language of Innovation

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Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 10, 2012


“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

– Steve Jobs


“While an innovation vision determines the kinds of innovation that an organization, and an innovation strategy determines what the organization will focus on when it comes to innovation, it is the innovation goals that break things down into tangible objectives that employees can work against.”

– Braden Kelley


“Innovation is creativity with a job to do.”

– John Emmerling


What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 9, 2012


“Innovation, I think, should be about the balance between discipline and play. If we put too much emphasis on discipline, we risk of losing ‘inner creativity’.”

– Eric Antariksa


“Just as managers and employees need goals to know what to focus on and to help them be successful, organizations need innovation goals too. Clear innovation goals, when combined with a clear innovation strategy and a single-minded innovation vision for the organization, will maximize the instinctual innovation that emerges from employees and the intellectual innovation that occurs on directed innovation projects.”

– Braden Kelley


“Customers are innovating behind your back. Turn around.”

– Jason Fried, 37 Signals
Submitted by Jason Williams


What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 8, 2012


“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

– Jack Welch


“An innovation strategy is not merely a technology roadmap from R&D or an agenda for new product development. Instead, an innovation strategy identifies who will drive a company’s profitable revenue growth and what will represent a strong competitive advantage for the firm going forward. Under this umbrella the innovation goals for the organization can be created.”

– Braden Kelley


“Innovation is part of a process that involves creating something new (invention), figuring out how to commercialize it (innovation) and then actually getting to adopt it (marketing)”

– Noah Brier, Percolate
Submitted by Jason Williams


What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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Innovation QuickStart Guide

Innovation QuickStart GuideYou know how sometimes when you order a product you get this inch-thick instruction manual that you never read, but also how there is sometimes a QuickStart Guide of 5-10 simple steps to get you up and running quickly?

Well, Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire is the instruction manual that an increasing number of organizations are ordering for teams to help them with their innovation efforts. But, I’m sure companies could also use an Innovation QuickStart. So, here is one you could use (excerpted in part from my book):

10 Steps to Get Your Innovation Efforts Off to a Good Start

1. Conduct an Innovation Audit

How can you know where you are going to go with innovation if you don’t first know where you already are? For this reason I created a 50 question innovation audit and linked it to an Innovation Maturity Model from Karl T. Ulrich and Christian Terwiesch of Wharton Business School.

Innovation Maturity Model

2. Define What Innovation Means for Your Organization

Here is a simple exercise you can do next time you get together in your organization to talk about innovation. Have everyone in the group write down what their definition of innovation is, and then compare that to the official definition of innovation for the organization (if you have one) and the innovation definitions of others in the group. Defining innovation as an organization is important because it helps you determine what kinds of innovation you are focusing on as an organization, and what kinds of innovation you ARE NOT focusing on.

3. Create a Common Language of Innovation

Creating a definition of innovation is the first step in creating a common language of innovation. The importance of creating a common language of innovation is that language is one of the most important components of culture. If people in your organization don’t talk about innovation in a consistent way and see communications reinforcing the common language, how can you possibly hope to embed innovation in the culture of the organization? Ensuring consistent language in presentations, emails, etc. and having people read the same book on innovation or taking the same training courses are just some ways to help create and reinforce a common language of innovation.

4. Define Your Innovation Vision

A startup begins life as a single-minded entity focused on innovating for one set of customers with a single product or service. Often as a company grows to create a range of products and/or services, the organization can start to lose track of what it is trying to achieve, which customers it is trying to serve, and the kind of solutions that are most relevant and desired by them.

Jack Welch, CEO of GE once said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Vision is about focus and vision is about the ‘where’ and the ‘why’ not the ‘what’ or the ‘how’. A vision gives the business a sense of purpose and acts as a rudder when the way forward appears uncertain. An innovation vision is no less important, and it serves the same basic functions. An innovation vision can help to answer some of the following questions for employees:

  • Is innovation important or not?
  • Are we focusing on innovation or not?
  • What kind of innovation are we pursuing as an organization?
  • Is innovation a function of some part of the business?
  • Or, is innovation something that we are trying to place at the center of the business?
  • Are we pursuing open or closed innovation, or both?
  • Why should employees, suppliers, partners, and customers be excited to participate?

When people have questions, they tend not to move forward. For that reason it is crucial that an organization’s leadership both has a clear innovation vision, and clearly and regularly communicates it to key stakeholders. If employees, suppliers, partners, and customers aren’t sure what the innovation vision of the organization is, how can they imagine a better way forward?

Pre-Order Nine Innovation Roles Card Decks

5. Define Your Innovation Strategy

Many organizations take the time to create an organizational strategy and a mission statement, only to then neglect the creation of an innovation vision and an innovation strategy. An innovation strategy is not merely a technology roadmap from R&D or an agenda for new product development. Instead, an innovation strategy identifies who will drive a company’s profitable revenue growth and what will represent a strong competitive advantage for the firm going forward. Under this umbrella the innovation goals for the organization can be created.

An innovation strategy sets the innovation direction for an organization towards the achievement of its innovation vision. It gives members of the organization an idea of what new achievements and directions will best benefit the organization when it comes to innovation. As with organizational strategy, innovation strategy must determine WHAT the organization should focus on (and WHAT NOT to) so that tactics can be developed for HOW to get there.

Innovation Vision Strategy Goals

6. Define Your Innovation Goals

Just as managers and employees need goals to know what to focus on and to help them be successful, organizations need innovation goals too. Clear innovation goals, when combined with a clear innovation strategy and a single-minded innovation vision for the organization, will maximize the instinctual innovation that emerges from employees and the intellectual innovation that occurs on directed innovation projects.

While an innovation vision determines the kinds of innovation that an organization, and an innovation strategy determines what the organization will focus on when it comes to innovation, it is the innovation goals that break things down into tangible objectives that employees can work against. Let’s look at P&G as an example to see how these three things come together at the highest level:

Innovation Vision

  • Reach outside the company’s own R&D department for innovation

Innovation Strategy

  • Create a formal program (Connect + Develop) to focus on this vision

Innovation Goal

  • Source 50% of the company’s innovation from outside

The 50% goal gives employees and management something to measure against, and it sets a very visible benchmark that the whole organization can understand and visualize how big the commitment and participation must be in order to reach it. It is at this point of communicating the innovation goals that senior management also has to communicate how they intend to support their efforts and how they will help employees reach the innovation goals.

7. Create a Pool of Money to Fund Innovation Projects

Product managers leading product groups and general managers leading business units typically have revenue numbers they are trying to hit, and they will spend their budgets trying to hit those numbers. As a result, there are often precious little financial resources (and human resources) available for innovation projects that don’t generate immediate progress toward this quarter’s business goals. As a result, many organizations find themselves setting money aside outside of the product or business unit silos that can be allocated on the future needs of the business instead of the current needs of the product managers and general managers. This also allows the organization to build an innovation portfolio of projects with different risk profiles and time horizons. But, however you choose to fund innovation projects, the fact remains that you need to have a plan for doing so, or the promising projects that form your future innovation pipeline – will never get funded.

8. Create Human Resource Flexibility to Staff Innovation Projects

Some organizations allow employees to spend a certain percentage of their time on whatever they want, but most don’t. Some organizations allow employees to pitch to spend a certain percentage of their time on developing a promising idea, but most organizations are running so lean that they feel there is no time or money for innovation. Often this is true and so employees sometimes work on promising ideas on their own time, but they shouldn’t have to. And if you make them do so, it will be much more likely that they will develop the promising idea with others outside the company and the organization will gain nothing from these efforts.

Don’t turn your motivated intrapreneurs into entrepreneurs.

You must find a way to create resource flexibility. Organizations that want to continue to grow and thrive must staff the organization in a way that allows managers to invest a portion of their employees’ time into promising innovation projects. One model to consider is that of Intuit, which allows employees to form project teams and to accumulate percent time and then schedule time off to work on an innovation project with co-workers in the same way that they schedule a vacation. This allows the manager to plan for the employees’ absence from the day-to-day and allows the employee to focus on the innovation project during that scheduled leave from their workgroup. But that’s just one possible way to create human resource flexibility.

Pre-Order Nine Innovation Roles Card Decks

9. Focus on Value – Innovation is All About Value

Value creation is important, but you can’t succeed without equal attention being paid to both value access and value translation because innovation is all about value…

Innovation = Value Creation (x) Value Access (x) Value Translation = Success!

Now you will notice that the components are multiplicative not additive. Do one or two well and one poorly and it doesn’t necessarily add up to a positive result. Doing one poorly and two well can still doom your innovation investment to failure. Let’s look at the three equation components in brief:

Value Creation is pretty self-explanatory. Your innovation investment must create incremental or completely new value large enough to overcome the switching costs of moving to your new solution from the old solution (including the ‘Do Nothing Solution’). New value can be created by making something more efficient, more effective, possible that wasn’t possible before, or create new psychological or emotional benefits.

Value Access could also be thought of as friction reduction. How easy do you make it for customers and consumers to access the value you’ve created. How well has the product or service been designed to allow people to access the value easily? How easy is it for the solution to be created? How easy is it for people to do business with you?

Value Translation is all about helping people understand the value you’ve created and how it fits into their lives. Value translation is also about understanding where on a continuum between the need for explanation and education that your solution falls. Incremental innovations can usually just be explained to people because they anchor to something they already understand, but radical or disruptive innovations inevitably require some level of education (often far in advance of the launch). Done really well, value translation also helps to communicate how easy it will be for customers and consumers to exchange their old solution for the new solution.

The key thing to know here is that even if you do a great job at value creation, if you do a poor job at either value access or value translation, you can still fail miserably.

10. Focus on Creating a Culture of Learning Fast

There is a lot of chatter out there about the concept of ‘failing fast’ as a way of fostering innovation and reducing risk. Sometimes the concept of ‘failing fast’ is merged with ‘failing cheap’ to form the following refrain – ‘fail fast, fail cheap, fail often’.

Now don’t get me wrong, one of the most important things an organization can do is learn to accept failure as a real possibility in their innovation efforts, and even to plan for it by taking a portfolio approach that balances different risk profiles, time horizons, etc.

But when it comes to innovation, it is not as important whether you fail fast or fail slow or whether you fail at all, but how fast you learn. And make no mistake, you don’t have to fail to innovate (although there are always some obstacles along the way). With the right approach to innovation you can learn quickly from failures AND successes.

The key is to pursue your innovation efforts as a discrete set of experiments designed to learn certain things, and instrumenting each project phase in such a way that the desired learning is achieved.

The central question should always be:

“What do we hope to learn from this effort?”

When you start from this question, every project becomes a series of questions you hope to answer, and each answer moves you closer to identifying the key market insight and achieving your expected innovation. The questions you hope to answer can include technical questions, manufacturing questions, process questions, customer preference questions, questions about how to communicate the value to customers, and more. AND, the answers that push you forward can come from positive discrete outcomes OR negative discrete outcomes of the different project phases.

The ultimate goal of a ‘learning fast’ approach to innovation is to embed in your culture the ability to extract the key insights from your pursuits and the ability to quickly recognize how to modify your project plan to take advantage of unexpected learnings, and the flexibility and empowerment to make the necessary course corrections.

The faster you get at learning from unforeseen circumstances and outcomes, the faster you can turn an invention into an innovation by landing smack on what the customer finds truly valuable (and communicating the value in a compelling way). Fail to identify the key value AND a compelling way to communicate it, and you will fail to drive mass adoption.

Click the image to download a PDF flipbook:

Summary

When you start with an innovation audit and creating a common language of innovation (including a definition of innovation), it sets you up well to create a coherent innovation vision, strategy, and goals. And then if you build in the financial and human resource flexibility necessary to create a focus on value creation, access and translation – and support it with a culture that is focused on learning fast – YOU WILL have built a solid foundation for your innovation efforts to grow and mature on top of. Are there more things that go into embedding innovation into your culture and creating sustainable innovation success? Absolutely. But, if you work diligently on these ten items you will get your innovation efforts off to a strong start.

What are you waiting for?

Image Credits: Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire


Build a Common Language of Innovation
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Innovation Quotes of the Day – April 10, 2012


“Failing doesn’t make you a failure. Giving up, accepting your failure, refusing to try again, does.”

– Richard Exley


“We must create clarity in innovation language, vision, strategy, goals, and participation for a continuous innovation culture to be created.”

– Braden Kelley


What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.