A key question when investing in expensive innovation projects is to make sure that one is addressing the right issue. In academic research, this issue is often referred to by the theory on managerial problem formulation as (avoiding the) “error of the third kind”, i.e. solving the wrong problem or testing an irrelevant hypothesis.Today’s column can recommend three insightful blog posts on exactly this issue: ROI is not enough – what is the cost of the problem? The second reminds us of The power of the old marketing question: What business are you in? and the third shows us how some innovators succeed by Studying the problem, not the solution.
Study the problem – not the solution
Differentiating between strategy and business model innovation seems to be an ever-relevant discussion. One way to argue that the two differs is at the level of abstraction: I.e. a business model is the conceptual ‘how?’ of the realization of the strategic ‘what?’, with respect to value creation and appropriation. If you think that sentence just made it more confusing – check out these blog posts at Blogging Innovation on how to handle the concepts. My favorite is when John Steen, a business school strategy lecturer, asks himself: Is business model innovation just another name for strategy? Also noteworthy on the same blog are some inspiring examples of business model innovation and there is one blog post that claims that a lot of what we call business model innovation is really not at all. Check it out.
Working for a startup is not for every innovator. Do you have what it takes to work at a startup? Do startups have what it takes to give you a good offer? Here are two good posts that might help you answer such questions. And while you’re at it, check out these ten inspirational TED-talks for innovators and entrepreneurs.
If people don’t tell you that your goal is impossible, you won’t be innovative
I would like to recommend some posts related to building long-term innovative capabilities in a large organization. Here is one about the managerial creation of context for innovative work. Uncertainty and ambiguity are two related concepts that have long been recognized as important to understand decision making in innovation and entrepreneurship. HBR has a post on the importance of grooming leaders to handle ambiguity to build innovative capabilities. McGrath (known for discovery driven planning) discusses the benefits of managers “thinking the unthinkable” when handling decision-making under uncertainty. Which also brings to mind this provocative post claiming that “If people don’t stop and gasp, and tell you that your goal is impossible, you are settling for the art of the possible, which won’t be innovative”.
Also check out this post on the big picture of innovative capabilities and why creativity is just a small part of such a capability.
When should you invest resources into innovation? To provide an answer to that question, Scott Anthony discusses the innovator’s paradox, as per usual from the implicit perspective of disruptive innovation.
Finally, here are some miscellaneous posts that stood out from the rest, although not belonging to any particular theme: How to create more consumer value by providing half finished products – “The IKEA effect”. Some thoughts on how to graciously enter a creative project that’s already halfway through. A good book summary and review of Roger Martin’s The design of Business (2009). Three basic strategies for “seeing future innovations”. A typology of 5 types of “snake oil innovation consultants.” How Xerox Monetizes Non-Core Innovation.
What problems should you crowdsource the solution to and which should you solve in-house? Without using the technical jargon of opportunity costs, this blog posts explains how to think about the issue. Finally, I think the ideas expressed in this blog post are quite novel and could potentially create a significant improvement to many businesses’ knowledge management systems, if properly implemented.
To round off, here is a blog post which might help some of you in your everyday work-life: Lateral action offers some ideas and opinions on how to keep up creativity and work quality when getting kids.
Do you have any comments on the links presented here? Are some of them broken or not accessible from your network? Would you like more focus on peer-reviewed journals or more focus on pure blogs? Do you know of a blog post that you would like to see here next time? Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.