February 19, 2015

The brave vs. the slow – how to nourish innovation?

Ideas can be generated in workshops. However, true innovations often form organically in everyday situations when different people and viewpoints meet. When was the last time you experienced a "Eureka” moment?

Great ideas are born in very different situations. A few weeks ago, I experienced such a moment during dinner. My friend and I were discussing the challenges of wellness technology and personal training from two very different points of view. A completely new idea was sparked in the middle of our viewpoints.

Another exceptionally insightful idea was created during an after-work dinner at a Chinese restaurant. My designer colleague and I were talking about a design challenge in converging physical and digital worlds; obviously, we were approaching the situation from opposing perspectives. Once we realized that we had completely misunderstood each other, our misinterpretation actually ended up in a totally new idea!

Diversity feeds ideation

It has been found that a group’s diversity has a direct impact on the amount of qualified ideas it produces. An engaged group of people from different cultures, working environments, and backgrounds is fertile ground to generate truly new thoughts and ideas.

These days, companies establish individual innovation programs which adapt start-up principles. These programs are crucial when it comes to leveraging an organization's tacit knowledge and idea potential. However, one cannot ignore the value that comes from combining internal views and thinking patterns with external and cross-disciplinary methods of working. There are huge business opportunities in the middle points between industries that are yet to be discovered.

Open and transparent innovation ecosystems which involve an organisation’s clients, consumers, partners, start-ups, and other stakeholders increase diversity considerably and thus deliver new ideas. Something new is created when industries, organisations, and know-how collide. However, developing this sort of environment requires a new kind of attitude and a good amount of courage.

Characteristics of an agile innovation ecosystem

Innovation requires quick ways to separate viable ideas from the noise. This means there are three core requirements for innovative ecosystems.

  1. Valuing transparency over secrecy
    An organisation operating within an innovative ecosystem must be open to transparency. Validating new ideas at an early stage with clients, users, and consumers helps the organisation cast aside poor ideas and focus on developing valid concepts at an accelerating speed.

    For example, People People’s Transparent Speaker openly made use of communities and social media when developing their product. However, there are conflicts related to transparency and open dialogue, which means it’s crucial to find a good balance.

    So, a company's culture must change. Taneli Tikka from Tieto calls for creating a new type of company culture through such innovation ecosystems.
  2. Choosing shared business models over competition
    Collaboration truly has more pros than cons. Instead of separated businesses, we need to focus on identifying more potential ways to collaborate.

    Concepts such as an insurance company operating as a hospital or a retailer moonlighting as media are refreshing. However, instead of launching competition in a totally new industry - which is time and resource constraining - it may be faster to utilize existing service ecosystems and develop business models that enable best players to co-create value for customers.

    It’s vital to evaluate whether collaboration could help deliver more value to customers. Innovations are built on existing ideas, and new services nourish the upcoming innovations at an accelerating pace.
  3. Favoring innovation over business objective conflicts 
    If innovations are driven by the same objectives that drive conventional business, it’s not unusual for business objectives to become obstacles for innovation. These days, companies are testing various types of models to deploy innovation strategies. One way is to differentiate these strategy concepts from their current business. Often, this means setting up units that work like start-ups and have their own objectives.

In larger organisations, leadership must steer the creative process according to their company's strategy to ensure that their ideas develop into innovations. The ideation process is essential and projects must get enough support from the leadership.

The CEO of Tieto, Kimmo Alkio, stresses the same in his blog post.

The views mentioned above are crucial for bringing innovation capabilities to the global level. This change in business culture can sometimes be challenging. At Tieto, we are solving these challenges by launching a Tieto Experience Hub program. Tieto Experience Hub supports transparency and cross-industry innovation.

Tieto Experience Hub takes a step outside tradition to offer an environment for our clients where they can create and validate innovative business models and concepts.

A large organisation has all the possibilities to create new and revolutionary businesses.

Katarina Segerståhl is Head of Strategic Design at Tieto. You can follow her on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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