The ability to connect innovation, or the lack of it, directly to people within an organisation is key to ensuring that such innovation is delivered. While lots of people (Dave Pollard and Mark Madsen for example) are looking at disruptive innovation, we haven't seen much that attempts to link the innovation process directly to individuals.
We've been working closely with Allan Engelhardt at Cybaea and have been exploring the impacts of innovation, collaboration and related themes. We've recently published a joint article called "Actions for Enterprise Collaboration". Feel free to read the text online, or register and download it as a pdf. As a summary, I've added some extracts from the article below.
The business literature has recently been focusing on managing the direction of innovation, especially through the works of Clayton Christensen. However, if innovation is a car, then Mr. Christensen provides the GPS satellite navigation system to tell you how to steer to where you want to go, but gives little insight into how to start the engine.
Companies need to innovate relentlessly to even stand still in an increasingly global and competitive economy. No longer is it sufficient to deliver incremental improvements at a leisurely pace. Instead disruptive innovations of the type that fundamentally alters markets and business processes must be sought out and delivered regularly and predictably. Disruptive innovation must become a core business process.
However, substantial innovation happens in the organizational white space between departments and functional units. The activities in these spaces are almost per definition unmeasured and unmanaged, and therefore not repeatable.
[In order to link individuals, organizational white space and the innovation process directly] 4G first looks at the quality and specific dynamics of relationships and culture within the group. In particular, it is possible to not only see how existing relationships manifest themselves but also to predict the outcome of new relationships should roles and responsibilities change, or people’s work bring them into contact with new people. 4G also offers insights into different cultures and again, these can be modelled, predicted, and referenced against optimal conditions [for innovation].