Combination mining in the year 2017

How to unleash the innovativeness of any organization

Not a day passes without one hearing about some new combination of technology, people, and business models. We call it innovations, but in fact, it is just another combination of what was already there in the first place. In a sense, innovation is a discovery process — the Gold Rush of our times?

Finding new combinations of technology, people, and business models (or at least choosing those that suit you best) is not always easy though. A lot of organizations do not know where and how to facilitate their innovation. At the same time, it is important to keep up — not only to stay relevant on the market, but also to retain the keenest employees and foster an enabling culture.

When enabling a group of people to innovate, being able to sense and listen are important skills. Rather than bringing some ready-made innovation process — bring a toolbox of different ways to coax and accelerate the inherent innovativeness of each organization. Sometimes you will find new tools along the way — sometimes you will realize that you need to discard some of the old ones.

Anyhow, taking the customer’s perspective and systematically, yet curiously, work with empathy and open eyes, could be called cornerstones of a typical innovation process. Almost instantly, hypotheses and “aha experiences” occur and pretty soon, the task to figure out what will be tested first and what will give the greatest effects, becomes enjoyable. Implementation and prototyping must then happen quickly and during a limited period of time.

Some typical pitfalls are:

• Focusing on design only, without understanding the “boring” core processes

• Focusing too much on the customer — forgetting about your own business and culture

• Getting stuck in the ‘ideal state’ and forgetting to prototype and test

In a time when “everyone knows everything” but not all organizations have the structures to unleash their innovative potential, it could be worthwhile to engage an external party as a catalyst in the process. Like the conductor of a symphony orchestra, such a catalyst partner could then lead groups of employees who do not always exchange experiences in their day-to-day life. Suddenly something almost magical happens. With simple means, the constellation of people has together unlocked doors they might not even have known existed!