Agile innovation Processes

Innovate thoroughly. Collaborative engineering. (1)

People, or, in business terms, human resources are the fundamental wealth of a company. The culture of a company are the people who in the course of time have been accumulated facts, achievements, failures, major milestones, changes, etc.

A group of college students are working on the mechanics for a robotics and drone project in university.

The greatest influence are top managers, which are observed by everyone, but interpersonal relationships and the way that the company relates with its employees and collaborators also have a decisive importance.

Today we know that not all cultures encourage innovation. Therefore, sometimes, innovation projects cost much more to get to reality and succeed in a company than another.

Moreover, to succeed in innovation continuously, sometimes you have to change the culture of the company and create an ‘innovation culture’. Innovative culture is created with inner and outer opening, removing barriers, collaboration, partnerships, process orientation, customer focus and taking risks in the most controlled way possible, but risks after all. Penalizing errors and learn from them is not frequent to new ideas and innovation barrier.

Innovative culture is created practicing, generating ideas and projects, leading them to reality, continually learning, with open to foreign teams, with hits and time. Changing a culture in a company requires effort and leadership, generates resistance and requires a minimum of 3 years to complete and sustained.

If the individual goals are consistent with those of the company, there will be a positive synergy. If there is less hierarchy, less bureaucracy, more collaboration, clear vision and projects, there will be more motivated and thus another positive synergy.

An innovative culture lends vital importance to promote individual skills, to have trained teams through training and continuous practice. The adequacy of skills to technological resources and training for this are also vital.

Collaborative engineering has this sense: build teams, highly efficient and prepared from different backgrounds and specialties, to hold them accountable processes and projects. The company must therefore continuously train people and have a process of team building.

The weak link

What that stifles opportunities, reduce the results of the entire company, projects fail, wasting money and resources? Who forgets to cooperate and compromise the efforts of all?

  • First, vertical silos, a hierarchical and departmental organization born at the time of the division of labour and Taylorism, very effective at the time, but a barrier in the current environment. In the absence of transverse equipment, everything is complicated and lengthened. Instead of functioning as a supposed ‘string’, isolation and only scattered efforts, they can hardly be coordinated at a higher level.
  • The lack of clarity, understanding and acceptance of the vision and core objectives.
  • The lack of openness to the outside i customer.

These are the weak links, and then we have to overcome them. Usually they are a constant in companies and organizations with more years and history, who have succeeded at the time and is now torn between the renewals or continue as usual. Dysfunctions and difficulties to innovate arise primarily from two causes, often associated with each other.

  • A lack of vision of the company, or at least lack of communication to all employees. This confusion about what is important generates confusion about the direction to follow in all the small day-to-day decisions. A clear and well-communicated vision is a central element. Built by direction, and communicated to shareholders, customers and staff, in a clear and precise way, provides a basis for designing and developing strategies and value proposition. All staff should be engaged in the same logic of behaviour, derived from sharing the same goals, and this in front of customers, suppliers and all stakeholders. A company without clear and well-communicated vision is exposed to internal schizophrenia and will be driven to chase several hares at once.
  • The “vertical” organization. Functional silos.The division of labour, time ago organised companies in departments, each one specialised by functions. This remains true today just to maintain the best training and skills in specialties and functions. However, functional organization is no longer valid without process orientation. Processes that are multifunctional and focused into customer. Departmental organisations install rules of behaviour that pose real barriers to customer focus and innovation. Tools such as total quality or other are more difficult to implement. Continuous improvement or just improving is limited to a narrow scope and departmental objectives sometimes are conflicting with each other. It all depends on good will, a strong leader or someone expert in firefighting.

It is necessary to provide horizontal processes, led by multifunctional teams to break this dynamic, and it is not easy.

Finally, these processes have as a goal and target the customer, but also as a principle. Processes that listen to the customer and the environment, using ‘strategic intelligence’, opening to the outside and able to generate ideas and projects, collaborations and partnerships.

In all these cases, we must recommend a strong awareness of the situation, seeing the roots of collective behaviours, establishing a dynamic of change, implementing solutions that gradually eliminate barriers, and building a new culture.

Evolution of collective behaviour

The necessary change in behaviour towards true ‘innovation culture’ , takes place through the individual change, the organization by competencies based on the company needs, creating functional teams, the organization of the basic processes and collaboration focused towards the vision and with clear objectives. Developing talent, capacities and potentials for action. In addition, to develop a collaborative environment, to focus and quickly reach the identified professional and personal goals.

The development of high performance teams goes through three important steps:

• Each process defined and structured in the company, starting with the basics (strategic, operational, innovation, customer focus, etc.) it is more important than its content. The content consists of tasks and responsibilities. If used properly, it will generate the correct answers to the challenges of the organisation and will give sense and direction.

• The organization has a collective intelligence, more effective to generate and manage processes, more powerful than the sum of the individual intelligence of its members.

• The release of individual and collective potential is the best guarantee of the ability of the company to survive in hostile environments and in a context of constant and rapid change. The release of potential is therefore a priority whether it is in a time of crisis or just as a goal to improve performance. It can only exist in an environment of ‘shared meaning’, common understanding and acceptance.

 

Author

Francesc Guell is the owner of this site. He was CEO and director of international companies in specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The last 12 years was associated with international consulting groups, providing advice and support to businesses on topics such as innovation and agile innovation processes, operational excellence, knowledge management, change management, strategy and integrated business management. Currently creates and presents courses and workshops on these topics. He graduated as a chemical engineer, postgraduate from ESADE Business School in Business Administration and Master in Knowledge Management. He participated in numerous programs, seminars and ESADE, IESE, EADA, APD and MCE (Management Centre Europe). He is author of articles, presentations and courses on innovation in strategic management, integrated business models, knowledge management, performance measurement, change management and excellence in business processes. See more in: Professional Profile