What’s In Your Innovation Operating System?

In this post, we look to provide some guidance and approaches that encourage company leaders to focus on their Innovation Operating System.

A key question we always ask is What’s in Your Innovation Operating System?

As a review from past writings, to amplify success with Innovation, we advocate five key steps:

  • STEP 1: A commitment from leadership team to INNOVATE for GROWTH.
  • STEP 2: TAKE THE LEAD, to drive value for the business across the enterprise with Innovation.
  • STEP 3: Develop and deploy an Innovation Operating System. Start with an “educate-first” mindset. Educate your leaders, team members, suppliers, and customers on your innovation operating system. Use learning labs to practice the new skills that have been taught.
  • STEP 4: Add Technology as the amplifier of the education. The technology is the capture mechanism for ideas, the idea value in revenue or savings, and allows you to manage the innovation portfolio.
  • STEP 5: Cascade the Innovation Operating System,  it’s methods, language, and systems to key customers and suppliers creating your very own GLOBAL Open Innovation Network.

How do you cascade your Innovation Operating System to your suppliers AND customers?

The leadership team must focus a wave of education to the most trusted business partners, customers and suppliers.

The net result is to building your very own open innovation network.

The topic of open innovation has garnered much exposure with key successes in development of unique solutions to create leap innovations.

Leap innovations are the ideas that are out ahead of your customers needs. It’s the offering that they don’t know they need, but is so cool they are enticed to buy.

Some leading global companies like Proctor & Gamble, Toyota, Apple, Samsung and others innovate and solve customer problems by working closely with others.

How can you have similar success?

One key we’ve observed is that the mindset is of the leadership team is what is the most important.  The leadership team needs to have an abundance mindset.

Abundance mindset means that that the business environment that the leadership team has created is one of high trust and low fear.

Practically speaking, this means wanting high engagement of your internal teams, your key customers involved in your development process and suppliers in your supply base to be whole, profitable and successful.

Recognizing that there are a few forward thinking customers that are brave enough to try something new, QUICKLY, and will provide instant and honest feedback to improve your product or services offering.

The leadership team also recognizes that there is an untapped pool of resources to scale and move to market faster, if the right types of supplier and customer agreements are in place.

Here’s an example of how this actually does work, with all the players in the value chain.

Marketing teams have defined a product or service need that is a revenue growth opportunity.

Supply Chain and development teams come together to conduct an 8 week quoting activity with the supply base.

But there’s a challenge, the engineering specifications are not complete and the internal engineering team only knows 50% of the answer to the marketing requirements.

Supply chain team, don’t wait and don’t worry.

Send out the quote requests knowing it’s incomplete.

Ask your suppliers to fill in the blanks.

You might be surprised what you find out. Most likely, you will get a better solution, much faster than you thought.

We’ve conducted these activities several times with clients and have established some best practice methods of how to ask your suppliers, that we share here.

Objectives for the teams look like this:

  •  Supply chain team:  Quote the solution needed with a 50% complete specification. The bidding event event is presented to a pool of about 6 suppliers.
  •  Suppliers: Fill in the blanks on the remaining 50% with your best technological solution, build an alpha prototype, and demo the proposed solution in a compressed timeframe.
  • Customers: Include your most forward thinking customers in the quoting event and the development process, asking for test environments, and instant feedback.

What are the benefits?

For Customers – They are provided with leading edge technology, it won’t work perfectly, but they will be first to market with some new innovations. The solution is delivered significantly faster (in some cases 70% faster), at a lower cost, and with higher performance.

For Suppliers – Extremely high collaboration early in the process that strengthens the customer/client engagement.

For the Leadership Team – The benefit promise is free resources, diversity of thinking, and solutions created that you didn’t think would exist.

The Overall Benefit –  The company that chooses to embrace an Innovation Operating System gets higher profit margins than their competition. Driving sustainable and long term growth to new and diverse markets that did not exist before.

Jon is Founder & Proprietor of The Innovation Garage, a business Innovation Firm driving long-term growth of companies and non-profits, from start-up to fortune 1000. Visit: http://www.the-innovation-garage.com or email: info@the-innovation-garage.com to learn more and request real world deployment case studies. For upcoming workshops and education opportunities visit here.

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