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INside INnovation - Book Review

1 December 2023

Dr. Moria Levy

Inside Innovation: A Closer Look from Within is a collection of essays by Allex Bennet and Rajat Baisya, slated for publication in late 2023. The articles may seem unrelated regarding innovation's level, scope, perspective, or writing style. However, carefully reading reveals that they form a cohesive and integrated mosaic. This comprehensive understanding yields a fresh and profound insight into innovation.


The book comprises the following articles:

  1. The Age of Agile Innovation

  2. Igniting a Kingdom Innovation Culture

  3. Planning on Customer Engagement in the Digital Era

  4. Integrated Innovation Strategy and Framework in the Power Section: TATA Power Company Limited

  5. Catalyst-Strategies: A Study in Small Business and Organic Innovation

  6. The BIOTECH Innovation Path of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)

  7. Science & Technology Policy and Diplomacy for Innovation and Competitiveness in Developing Countries: The Case of India

  8. OrgZoo Creative Metaphor: A Story of Creativity and Innovation

  9. In_Novation, a Great Native Dynamic Way Toward Successful Performance

  10. Crystallizing the Symphony of Passions

  11. The Innovative Journey from the MAKE to the MIKE

  12. Exploring the Depth of the MIKE: An Intellectual Capital Practice-Based Study Program


The summary provided encapsulates the key ideas but does not encompass the entirety of the narrative. It lacks examples and the full richness of the source. I highly recommend reading the book for a more comprehensive understanding.


The Age of Agile Innovation: Preston Campbell

In this chapter, the author, an innovation expert, delineates a systematic process for fostering continuous innovation, cultivating it into an organizational culture. Innovation is defined as "Realizing creative ideas and applying them to create value," with critical values encompassing creativity, confident openness, experimentation, risk-taking, feedback, learning, and flexibility.


The preliminary infrastructure involves establishing a clear vision and intention for the organization regarding innovation. The proposed systematic process, demanding executive discipline, includes the following steps:

  1. Identification and delineation of the subject of innovation.

  2. Establishment of a supportive infrastructure system incorporating methodologies, partners, and accompanying forms.

  3. Setting the challenge.

  4. Embracing a mindset of innovation as an ongoing process rather than a one-time effort.

  5. Opening one's mind to potential possibilities for addressing the challenge.

  6. Divergence.

  7. Analyzing ideas and selecting a leading solution (convergence).

  8. Testing, measuring, making adjustments, and validation.

  9. Application and framing.


In today's ever-changing world, avoid seeking experts who claim to have all the answers. Instead, it is more fitting to nurture a culture of continuous innovation, transforming the organization, its employees, processes, and resources into an innovative and renewable entity.


The author illustrates this proposed process through two case studies (satellite development and cyber) and imparts several tips for success:

  • Scrutinize developments worldwide and among other organizations; study the needs from your perspective and in the eyes of various stakeholders; collect supporting data.

  • It is crucial to be flexible and allow for adjustments; this does not rule out the idea of long-term planning.

  • Many parallel innovation processes, integrated among themselves, will enable continuous and decentralized innovation.

  • In analyzing problems, look for the root problem, representing the actual need.

  • Consider our conative biases as human beings.

  • Use MVPs both to validate capabilities and to improve risk management.

  • Foster cross-organizational collaboration and DevOp development.

  • Use AI and machine learning to enhance decision-making.

  • Sometimes, limited schedules and resources lead to better results.

  • Most importantly, look for problems whose solution creates value!


In conclusion, anyone can learn to be an innovator, and any organization can establish an ongoing innovation program. It is a worthwhile pursuit.


Igniting a Kingdom Innovation Culture/Joyce Avedisian

In complementing the systematic process approach proposed above, the author places significant emphasis on cultivating a culture of innovation and establishing an "innovation kingdom."


The author outlines three levels of organizational innovation:

  1. Incremental innovation – incorporating additional capabilities or process changes to existing products and services.

  2. Breakthrough innovation – introducing new methods of executing operations that lead to significantly enhanced performance or even entry into new markets.


Disruptive innovation – capable of permanently changing the world, potentially creating a new market that didn't exist before.


A culture of innovation consists of three key components:

Leaders:

  • Develop a vision and values that foster a deeper emotional connection between employees and the organization, emphasizing its significance.

  • Consistently exemplify values rooted in universal truths.


Values:

  • Incorporate organizational leaders into the culture.


Knowledge Sharing:

  • Encourage collaboration.

  • Facilitate continuous information flow processes (e.g., problem-solving, lessons learned, knowledge transfer).


Cultural "Heroes":

  • Reflect innovative thinking, embodying values, skills, and competencies.

  • Act as a coach to others.


Tips for success in innovation:

  • As leaders embody humility, vulnerability, and curiosity, consider how you can serve others, not just yourself.

  • View your employees as a resource and a creative engine essential for innovation and organizational change.

  • Proactively invest in approaches and processes that integrate knowledge and its products into collaborative workflows.

  • Value everyone in your ecosystem, including employees, customers, and other stakeholders; ensure decisions benefit everyone, building trust for adequate information flow.

  • Prioritize communication.

  • Concentrate on understanding customers and their needs.

  • Thoroughly identify customer needs and devise solutions based on cross-unit collaboration and teamwork.

  • Utilize prototypes to assess the suitability of proposed solutions swiftly.

  • Effectively manage risk.

  • Implement and measure systematic processes.


Planning on Customer Engagement in the Digital Era/ Chulatep Senivongse

This article offers a distinctive perspective on innovation, precisely honing in on a critical stage: determining the consumer segment for a product or service. The author argues that the traditional method is ineffective and introduces an alternative approach, jobs-to-be-done, to comprehend needs. Each customer group is scrutinized based on their tasks, extracting the capabilities supported by those tasks and developing products or services accordingly.


The conventional approach to consumer analysis, predominantly relying on demographics and external characteristics, falls short of adequately considering the tasks and challenges encountered during these activities. Consequently, offering products that meet real needs and are likely to be purchased becomes challenging.


The author substantiates this argument with several case studies illustrating the shift in perspective that leads to a deeper understanding of needs. For instance, a milkshake store faced challenges with standard customer analysis. Detailed analysis revealed that the main purchase times were early morning and afternoon. Further investigation uncovered that customers buying in the morning, on their way to work, did so alone, focusing on milkshakes to pass the time in traffic and boost energy. This understanding prompted adjustments to the morning product's consistency and health components.


A similar analysis for the afternoon group led to recommendations for changes related to time spent with children. This analysis, rooted in understanding what consumers do and how the product provides value, bypassed regular demographic segmentation. Instead, it highlighted segmentation based on different needs at various times, allowing for a tailored value proposition for each hour.


Utilize Multiple Linear Regression for quantitative analyses to pinpoint the parameters influencing consumer decisions. Employ Conjoint Analysis to select combinations that ultimately distinguish you from the competition.


Tips for Success:

  • Segmentation by customer work is a dynamic process that needs periodic repetition as needs evolve.

  • Achieve a robust job analysis by examining consumer behavior, conducting consumer interviews, or employing a combination of methods.

  • Avoid drowning in data. Prioritize the most influential aspects; skip the rest. Ensure that the retained parameters are genuinely significant to the consumer's decision.

  • Before developing a new solution, it is highly worthwhile to cultivate preliminary empathy by engaging with consumers who intend to use it. Only decide for them if they are involved in the process.


Remember: Jobs-To-Be-Done, Multiple Linear Regression, Conjoint Analysis – these three professional methods, when combined, lead to success in understanding consumer needs and optimal development.


Integrated Innovation Strategy and Framework in the Power Section: TATA Power Company Limited/ G. Ganesh Das, Rajat Kanti Baisya

TATA is among the world's largest conglomerates, with TATA Energy being India's oldest and most significant energy company. In an era marked by a transformative shift in the energy sector (disruptive innovation), the renewal challenge is formidable for any company, particularly one like TATA, which is deeply rooted in history and committed to providing cost-effective consumer services.


Renewal in the energy sector encompasses various areas, with the primary ones being:

  • Renewable Energy

  • Internet of Energy (IoE)

  • Energy Storage

  • Blockchain

  • Energy as a Service

  • Distributed Energy Resources

  • Demand-side Management

  • Quantum Computing

  • Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

  • Power to X (P2X)


TATA Energy has adopted a decentralized approach to oversee the process of renewal through its subsidiaries. The central office synchronizes and integrates all processes through the collaborative and innovative function, reporting directly to the CEO.


The development of an innovative culture is a designated responsibility of the central function, involving the following key aspects:

  • Formulating a strategy aligned with the company's goals and growth strategy.

  • Encouraging conceptual processes and implementing pilot projects.

  • Promoting the use of TATA's conceptual platform.

  • Establishing relationships with external companies and institutions to enhance learning, idea generation, and implementation.


Additional responsibilities encompass managing deep technologies, conducting applied research, and fostering an environment conducive to research and development. The company engages in processes for developing ideas and innovation across broad fields (open innovation) and in response to known problems requiring solutions (problem statement).


Moreover, there are semi-annual, quarterly, and monthly survey follow-up processes to ensure the progress of decentralized processes within the subsidiaries, generally and in alignment with the defined strategy.


Catalyst-Strategies: A Study in Small Business and Organic Innovation/ Jim Burke

This case study complements the preceding one, delving into innovation within a small enterprise named Catalyst-Strategies (Cat-Strat). The bedrock of innovation within this company rests upon a conceptual framework meticulously crafted through profound customer relationships and interactive engagement. While this perspective may challenge conventional business teachings, there is irrefutable evidence that innovation has been the linchpin of the company's efficacy and triumph for over two decades.


The innovation process commences with the exploration of what-if questions about the development of new services. Should these questions indicate a promising positive direction, the company promptly and nimbly brings the new idea to fruition, making necessary corrections and adjustments.


A pivotal aspect across all innovation endeavors is that financial gains are not the primary motivating factor. Income is viewed as a means to "cover the bills," beyond that, the company prioritizes actions that customers will find valuable and supportive of their objectives. Pursuing a line of activity that doesn't exclusively maximize financial profits is feasible, given that the company, managed by two spouses, is not publicly traded.


Tips for Success:

  • Promptly launch new solutions, maintaining a continuous learning approach and remaining open to surprises in both action directions and customer responses.

  • Experiment with non-traditional tools; for instance, consider abandoning sales measurement for each salesperson at the customer. This unconventional change, implemented a year earlier, resulted in a twofold increase in total sales for that customer.

  • Foster collaborative work and sustain high customer interaction throughout the idea development process.

  • Prioritize deep recognition and trust with a select group of customers, even if it means sacrificing multiple customer relationships. Encourage customers to discuss vulnerability, facilitating a more open dialogue that uncovers real needs rather than just stated desires and requests.

  • Resist the urge to recycle previously successful tactics. The couple actively avoids this to explore "what will work this time continually?"


The couple contends that their innovative approach has yielded business benefits and positively influenced their marital relationship and personal development as individuals. Indeed, it is a distinctive and unconventional case story.


The BIOTECH Innovation Path of UPLB / Marivilla Lydia Bulan Aggarao, Alex Bennet, Ronald Vatanan- Thesenvitz

A case study explores an innovation lab at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). The study meticulously examines the driving factors, capabilities, and organizational components contributing to the success of this laboratory.


In the laboratory, innovation is defined as technological innovation, signifying an organizational innovation that significantly impacts consumers within the relevant community. This innovation encompasses both new product development and incremental innovations.


The foundation for innovation in the laboratory is established on the high level of education and experience possessed by its personnel.


Factors driving innovation include:

External influences:

  • The country's exposure to numerous natural disasters

  • Social challenges in fostering thriving and sustainable agriculture

  • Integrated laboratory and field development (fields)

  • Funds and entities interested in investing in technology development

Organizational factors:

  • Organizational structure, encompassing formal and informal elements, management style, and soft skills of employees

  • Organizational culture, including mechanisms to examine and ensure that resources are optimally invested for their intended purpose and teamwork that supports innovation

    Organizational values centered on technological advancement and appreciation for those involved in the craft.

Personal competencies:

  • Employee competence in innovation, covering skills in research, creativity, management, leadership, and altruism (yes – this is not a writing error! M.L.). These skills are cumulative and enable the development of advanced skills, such as problem-solving and critical analysis.


Tips for success:

  • Gratitude functions as an emotional state consistently serving as a motivating factor for meaningful change.

  • Excellence doesn't solely arise from professionalism but is also rooted in a commitment to something more significant. In the case of this innovation laboratory, it involves preserving, caring for, and protecting natural resources.


Science & Technology Policy and Diplomacy for Innovation and Competitiveness in Developing Countries: The Case of India / Rajat K Baisya, Madhusudan Bandyopadhyay

As mentioned in the introduction to this summary, the book explores innovation from various perspectives. Following the discussion on innovation in a university laboratory, the book dedicates a chapter to developing scientific and technological innovation in one of the world's largest nations – India.


Innovation at a national level manifests through diverse tools and mechanisms, including:

  • Adoption of Science and Technology Policy and Indicators

  • Establishment of infrastructure for research and development

  • Development of personnel with relevant skills.


Defining innovation within a sector involves realizing ideas for improved products and processes, commercializing them, and disseminating them in the market.


Technological innovation is a dynamic and complex process that transforms research results into commercial capability, leading to positive change in a given market.

The authors discuss the positive impact of innovation on competitiveness, highlighting that a country's success is currently measured not only by output but also by the education system, employment, and costs. As global competitiveness increases and product life shortens, innovation becomes crucial in achieving business excellence. Additionally, innovation is identified as one of the three overarching competitiveness indicators by the World Economic Forum (WEF).


When India focuses on strengthening scientific-technological innovation, it considers its characteristics:

  1. Strengths: Telecom investments, productivity, science graduates, robotics, and the technological stock market.

  2. Weaknesses: Scientific-technological employment, rigid contracts, internet infrastructure and connectivity, exposure to pollution, and overall work performance.

  3. Opportunities: Skilled workforce, low employment costs, the dynamism of the economy, a sound higher education system, and positive attitudes.

  4. Threats: Trade disruptions, difficulty returning to high GDP after COVID-19, asset monetization, fundraising for infrastructure investments.


The critical efforts undertaken by India in various aspects of state innovation include:

Adoption of science and technology policies and indices:

  • Prioritizing legislation.

  • Conducting diplomatic policies promoting overall economic development and focusing on Research and Development (R&D).

  • Engaging in dialogue and forming alliances with other countries on these issues.

Creating infrastructure for research and development:

  • Providing financial support through investments and tax incentives in all matters related to R&D.

  • Establishing the infrastructure to support entrepreneurs and industry.

  • Promoting cooperation by fostering productive collaborations between universities and between them and the private sector.


Rewarding researchers and inventors in the country for their contribution to the development and implementation of technologies.


Supporting educational, educational, and research institutions.


The factors contributing to success are outlined as follows:

  • Well-defined policies.

  • A comprehensive and supportive administrative structure with a focus on science and technology.

  • A robust national innovation management system.

  • A skilled workforce proficient in science and technology.

  • Support for a dynamic community of entrepreneurs.

  • A culture deeply rooted in innovation.

  • A broad base of production capacity grounded in innovation.

  • Widespread distribution and recognition in various countries facilitated by diplomatic efforts.

  • A liberal policy concerning international technologies.


OrgZoo Creative Metaphor: A Story of Creativity and Innovation / Arthur Shelley

The case study presented in this chapter stands out distinctly from its predecessors. It recounts the evolution of a creative idea over the years, narrated from the writer's perspective, who, with community involvement, developed this idea over time.


The idea revolves around using illustrations featuring different animals in various work-related situations to facilitate discussions on ideas, difficulties, conflicts, and issues related to organizations. The selection of animals is intentional and meticulously designed over time. It encompasses animals with "familiar" characteristics, as well as those that can be identified in diverse ways.


The discourse, mediated through discussions about animals, creates an open environment that encourages people to discuss topics more openly and effectively, especially those that typically pose challenges for honest and authentic discourse. The situations portrayed can be intricate, the images rich in detail, and the freedom to choose adds a dimension of flexibility that aids the process.


Over time, individuals who experienced using the tool sought to apply it themselves, forming an international community of "organizational zoo" ambassadors. These ambassadors discovered more ways to utilize the tool for mentoring, coaching, counseling, leadership development, conflict resolution, raising awareness, and discussing relationships and cooperation.


Subsequently, the writer linked the "organizational zoo" concept with another concept developed – the spiral of collaborative discourse. Today, the zoo continues to evolve through various realizations (e.g., game cards) and regular feedback and sharing from a creative community characterized by deep inner trust and a shared passion for the core idea and its developments.


What contributed to the success? A combination of several factors, with the main ones being:

  • Identifying initial success

  • Willingness to invest at different stages (e.g., by adding characters or illustrating complex situations)

  • Feedback

  • A diverse community


Remember, smiling, laughing, and having fun work wonders. Don't give up on them.


In_Novation, a Great Native Dynamic Way Toward Successful Performance / Florin Gaiseanu

This chapter presents a uniquely different perspective on innovation, focusing on the brain's internal workings. The author delves into the components responsible for managing information from within and extends the analysis outward.


The human body, concerning knowledge management, is structured around the following seven layers:

  1. A sensor system that perceives the external world through various senses and transmits information to the information storage center (memory).

  2. Processing information in the decision-making center and issuing commands for actions.

  3. Emotions, linked to the brain's limbic system, significantly influence decision-making.

  4. The information management system derives energy from food, water, and air to meet our needs.

  5. The genetic information transfer system communicates with the nervous system.

  6. The production of genetic information that drives bodybuilding and vaccination processes.

  7. The information relationship system is responsible for choosing between certainty and uncertainty and determining our trust based on experience. This system serves as a safeguard against errors.


Examining personal family history, the author introduces a concept of information development within the human body, where growth is initiated by:

  • Commencing with the genome transmitted by the parents.

  • Personal creativity begins to evolve with awareness, documentation of the environment, and the commencement of adaptation to it.

  • The dynamics of learning from mistakes assist in transitioning between states of knowledge and will.

  • Building upon these foundations, we formulate criteria and assessments of certainty and function as information operators for identification, thinking, reasoning, and response.

  • Success in response yields victories, fortifies the cognitive system and further contributes to its ongoing development.


Our ability to harmonize judgment and emotions emerges as one of the most crucial elements influencing our effectiveness in exploration and innovation. Life, both on an individual and familial level, presents challenges that act as opportunities for innovative thinking and action.


In the end, innovation becomes integral to our definition:


We =

Our knowledge + our desires + our loves + what we create + the genetics according to which we were made + our beliefs


This is a point worth contemplating.


Crystallizing the Symphony of Passions / Johan Cools

This chapter explores the crucial role of intention and passion as driving forces for innovation, drawing from the writer's introspection:


The environment in which we are raised and the interests of our educators play a crucial role. A rich environment instills numerous impressions and sparks our curiosity. In the early stages of life, we establish vital foundations that shape the potential for creativity.


A robust intention catalyzes creativity. Creativity can intensify even further when intention evolves into passion, albeit sometimes accompanied by an incubation period before reaching fruition.


Significant deficiencies, untapped love, and extreme events or drama are sources of inspiration (as observed, for example, with artists’ work). These factors can also propel us out of our comfort zone, opening windows to new realms of knowledge and areas of activity we may not have explored previously.


At times, introducing another person into the equation is necessary, allowing all motivating and compelling factors to converge and manifest as a practical project. This realization transforms innovation into a tangible creation.


Bottom Line:

Intention and passion hold significance. A synergy of intentions and desires, at times singular and at times in partnership, can propel us forward, each contributing its unique "melody." While we may not actively seek difficulties and challenges in life, when they arise, we can undoubtedly endeavor to harness them for creativity and subsequent innovation. Stay optimistic!


The Innovative Journey from the MAKE to the MIKE / Alex Bennet

Exploring the Depth of the MIKE: An Intellectual Capital Practice-Based Study Program / WB Lee with Eric Tsui

The final two chapters explore the MAKE Award, initially founded by Rory Chase and later evolving into the MIKE Award.


What makes this story most intriguing is that, in my opinion (M.L.), the award itself is the secondary aspect of the entire narrative. Chase devised a conceptual framework for exemplary knowledge management, suggesting that organizations can be assessed based on this framework. The purpose is to evaluate themselves and their standing relative to other organizations, enhance their shared language, and glean insights from each other.


The award was initially named MAKE: Most Admired Knowledge Organizations and focused on the following components:

  1. Knowledge-based organizational culture.

  2. Knowledge worker development through senior leadership.

  3. Development of knowledge-based products, services, and solutions.

  4. Maximizing human capital.

  5. Creating and preserving an environment for knowledge sharing.

  6. Creating and maintaining a learning organization.

  7. Value creation based on stakeholder knowledge.

  8. Turning organizational knowledge into value for stakeholders.


The perceptual framework transformed. After 20 years of implementation, it was discovered that knowledge-driven organizations significantly outperformed other organizations.


In 2017, MAKE reached its culmination. According to the author, interest in knowledge management waned as other trends were introduced. However, before this decline, it can be asserted that MAKE positively impacted the transition from organizations emphasizing individual to organizational learning in the broadest sense.


Following an intermediate stage featuring an award and an associated concept, the decision was made to transition from MAKE to a more contemporary concept, MIKE, emphasizing innovation — Most Innovative Knowledge Enterprises. Simultaneously, with the retirement of Rory Chase, Dr. Vincent Ribiere, Director of the Far East Innovation Institute, joined and later (in 2021) assumed leadership of the new competition.


The new concept is complemented by a platform where information from various organizations is uploaded to facilitate comparison, sharing, and learning.


The competitions are conducted in two stages: country/region and global, encompassing for-profit business organizations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.


MIKE comprises the following updated components (constructed on the foundation of the initial framework, coupled with studies on cognitive factors):

  1. Knowledge workers: Empowerment for innovation.

  2. Leadership: Strategy and Vision.

  3. User needs: Creating expectations, needs, and experiences.

  4. Networks: Developing internal and external organizational sharing networks.

  5. Culture: Fostering a culture of corporate innovation.

  6. Products and services: Investing in and developing knowledge-based products and services.

  7. Systems: Implementing knowledge experiences and support systems for knowledge creation.

  8. Creativity: Establishing a virtual and creative environment that generates value for stakeholders.


Commentary:

  • The award underscores innovation and the value it delivers at the organizational and business levels.

  • An analysis of the performance of the winning organizations reveals that components 1, 2, and 5 are perceived as the most crucial among all the others.


Summary:

As noted, this is an extensive and inclusive book with various chapters. You may opt to read one chapter per month, absorbing knowledge gradually. Alternatively, you can regard each chapter as an independent piece that adds to a broader mosaic, facilitating a deeper comprehension of the innovation world through collaborative learning. It's a valuable endeavor.

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