“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” — Michael Porter
Innovation excellence needs a good innovation strategy. A good strategy is clear, transparent, and well-communicated. Without a good strategy the likelihood of a constant stream of innovative products and services is low, even with a highly creative staff and a pipeline full of ideas. This sounds self-evident, but in practice it is not so obvious. Much too often the R&D groups in chemical industry spending too much effort on the existing product portfolio, working on incremental, evolutionary improvements instead on the service offers for tomorrow. Much too often, the scientists in R&D are separated – if not isolated – from the customers or markets they are supposed to serve. Much too often the focus is on purely product and (chemical) process innovations instead of widening the scope towards a full spectrum of innovation, e.g. different channels to the market or different business models. Much too often, organizations loose the engagement or motivation of their highly qualified employees in R&D, when change initiatives are implemented across their heads.
I service my customers through the whole process of Innovation Strategy development and implementation within the organization. What I do add to the process are – besides methodology – more than 12 years in the field of chemistry R&D – both as research chemist and as technology leader – that help me to guide you through the decisions to be made on the way. I know the hurdles and pitfalls of organizational change in a creative environment by my own experience, and therefore master the skills to overcome them. I developed a four-stage model (RITE) for this process and I guide you through this process.
Innovation happens when human beings with ideas find the right environment to develop them into a commercial product.
I strongly believe, that human beings drive innovation, in opposite to the widespread process centered approach. This is what I lived as an innovation manager, this is what my work as consultant is based on.
To create innovation, there must be the right culture, a culture where ideas are welcomed, where people encouraged challenging the status quo. Freedom leads to inspiration. Inspired people create ideas.
The Innovation Strategy Development process is designed for innovations managers, heads of research and technology departments, VPs or CTOs in the process industry or the chemical industry, who want to develop a clear innovation strategy in alignment with the company’s business model as well as for future viability.
- With a clear strategy, you are focused on innovation success: more projects commercialized in shorter time, with higher return.
- Your strategy will be set for the future: you have clear guidance, which actions need to be started now to make your business unit successful in 3 to 10 years.
The result of a clear strategy is a focused project portfolio. The people work on or with innovation has a clear goal towards they strive to. Resources are channeled to the projects that matter for the future. Criteria are set, when to start or to stop a project. The probability of commercial success is increased, for innovations that really matter.
The RITE Process
To know where you are heading to, you must know where you are.
Step 1: Re-model. The process starts with an analysis of the situation. Now it is time for a honest evaluation: What is the current status of innovation? How many innovations you brought to the market in the past 5 years? Where these disruptive or evolutionary innovations? What are the most successful new products or services? Which one failed? How is your workforce prepared for new technologies or for new cultural challenges? Which drivers and trends impact your markets: now and in future? How are you set up in comparison to your main competitors?
The second part is to set the right goal, goals that are aligned with the overall corporate strategy. Changes take long in chemical industry. The life-time cycle of assets and knowledge is longer than in other industries. In the process of defining the goal and making it as clear and transparent as possible, we together evaluate questions like:
- Where should the organization be in 10 years from now?
- What need to get done now to reach this goel?
- What does the organization need to perform now?
- What can all stake-holders do to make the organization better NOW?
In this phase you also define the indicators you will measure your success on the way to implement the new strategy.
“Everyone likes innovation but no one likes change” — M. Twain
Step 2: Ignite change. According to my experience, incumbent organizations are rather resistant towards change than welcoming it. This is very understandable, because the back-bone of the day-to-day business is to be as effective and efficient as possible in fulfilling customer orders. Especially in chemical industry, organizations are driven by tight process compliance to ensure productivity, cost and environment, health and safety goals. In this environment, deviation is the enemy. But innovation, by definition, is based on deviating from the status quo.
To ignite the transformation, there must be a defining, “magic” moment. This might be an inspirational speech, where a corporate executive speaks in clear language about the consequences of keep doing what is already done. This might be an event where key employees on all levels interact with senior management to explore the desired new strategy to become future change agents driving the organization towards that goal. In any case we will find an individual solution for your organization, that I support and facilitate through.
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” —A. Einstein
Step 3: Transform the organization.
To set the path for a future innovation strategy, the old organization need to change and adapt. Processes that don’t serve the new goals anymore need to get altered or abandoned. New rules of the game need to get implemented. This transformation needs some time, presence and facilitation. Focus on the goal, clear communication and fast pace are the key elements in this phase. There should be no room for insecurity. Also, the people should be enabled to re-focus as fast as possible to their real work whilst the organization is going through change: ideation, innovation, experimentation. But same time, there should be room for self-steered initiatives on how the new structures and processes should be formed.
It is part of my understanding as consultant to stay closely in the project during this phase and accompanying that phase with my expertise and attention.
Step 4: Engage the workforce. As every innovation starts with a human with an idea, it is crucial to engage the workforce in the transformation process. It is often an underestimated or forgotten piece. The experts, the chemists, engineers and technicians in your organization are the carrier of any innovation. Their motivation is key. Usually, these experts are strongly intrinsic motivated. They are full of ideas and they are passionate to put them into an innovative product or service. I will work closely one-to-one with the key experts to fully onboard them to the newly developed innovation strategy.
For more information or for an appointment to introduce the Innovation Strategy Development process in more detail: give me a call or contact me per mail.