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Educate In Order To Innovate.

Leadership Staff developmentSupplier relationship managementInnovationNorth AmericaTalent and Leadership+-

In this guest post, the fourth in a series, Procurement Leaders invites The Innovation Garage's Jon Washington to explain why business needs to take a growth-oriented approach to innovation and looks at the impact of key procurement decisions, including how technology can be the amplifier for innovation education.

 

"Companies fail by going to technology first for innovation. This is a transformation, not just a technology" - Microsoft Innovation Management Framework, 2013.

 

"Despite all our gains in technology, product innovation and world markets, most people are not thriving in the organizations they work for" - Stephen Covey

 

In the last post we discussed innovation as a system. We made a direct comparison that system based innovation is just like a well designed manufacturing process. Our conclusion was that as the leader, education and coaching of your team is the most important element to ensure sustainable innovation is alive and well where you choose to work.

 

As we meet with executive leaders, many common themes emerge related to Innovation. Many indicate they have no shortage of ideas (which is true), have tremendously creative teams (which they do), and just need software solutions to better capture innovation. The software technology needs to track ideas, manage their innovation challenges, and monitor innovation performance. With the right software, there is a belief that innovation will accelerate and drive growth, with no additional education necessary. We'll explain more as to why the thinking needs to focus in a different direction.

 

Most adults are expected to have a built in ability to innovate. This is not reality. As Sir Ken Robertson shared at his famous TED talk, the reality we must confront is many adults have completely lost the ability to innovate. This natural skill of creativity and innovation, present in children, was "educated" out of most adults. As we worked to advanced degrees and further specialized in chosen corporate professions, we were unknowingly set out to chart a course of solving problems by finding the single perfect and always correct answer. Failure in that answer was never an option. The fear of failing was reinforced daily with each progression in the education system. This reality makes it difficult for adults to re-discover and master skills that were once second nature as children.

 

There is good news. In organizations that educate first, a best practice occurs when senior leadership teams recognize that technology is the amplifier of innovation education. Leaders can then create an organization in which their teams will thrive. The technology to amplify innovation education should have the following characteristics that will:

  • Be as intuitive and as simple to use as your favorite smartphone "App".
  • Have the ability to capture results of your innovation efforts immediately. No major enterprise deployments, requiring a cadre of deployment specialists. The Best Practice is for a software as a service (SaaS) cloud hosted model to ensure a rapid deployment.
  • Provide measures that monetize your pipeline of Innovation with sales revenue and the cost savings potential.
  • Provide immediate feedback on requests for support, supplier collaboration, and the innovations monetary value.
  • Be social network connected. Solutions that work best have human AND technology interconnected channels. These channels provide direct access to like-minded and educated customers, suppliers, universities and innovation experts.
  • Provide a tiered release system, with security levels that can be adjusted to internal, external or public communities of practice. This permits a capability for company teams to make strategic decisions and selectively open innovation outside of traditional development methods.
  • Segment innovation ideas into simple categories like CORE innovations and LEAP innovations. CORE innovations continue to expand your existing and profitable product or services lines. LEAP innovations, are ahead of your current customers, taking you to divergent markets or even better, creating new markets.

The benefit promise of this approach ensures engaged teams, suppliers, and a laser-focused energy that exceeds customer's needs. Each educated group in the company delivers a strong diversity of meaningful and unique innovations. The innovations over time, creates an innovation culture that fixes the deadly cost reduction only mindset.  This drives long-term growth with a pipeline of creative ideas. Lastly, this approach delivers a scalable structure, promoting a fearless and smart risk-taking culture.  A culture that delivers on long-term growth and value, transforming companies, and most importantly, helping people to thrive.

 

Guest Blog
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