Finding the right talent to drive digital transformation is more important than ever in a fast-evolving marketplace and highly competitive talent landscape.
‘Innovation’ is an overused term. But unlike other buzzwords, it will continue to exist. Innovation is not to be confused with ‘Differentiation’. Neither is it about ‘Invention’. It is the key to businesses’ and industries’ longevity and growth.
This month, we’re so privileged to have The Entheo Network and their consultant, Monika Steimle and Chief Innovation Officer, Shoba Chandran from Europe and Asia respectively, to discuss a popular topic that is the raison d’etre of Cogs and our client’s businesses. Innovation.
If you have yet to hear about Entheo, they’re a leadership innovation company that provides consultancy and training service that exists to help individuals and organisations create new products and services whilst building innovation skills, capabilities and culture.
Entheo has a unique approach to an innovation known as The Six ‘I’s®, created by Natalie Turner, CEO and Founder of Entheo. The Six ‘I’s® is an integrated innovation methodology that’s created to give individuals and organisations a consistent framework for measuring innovation skills, behaviours and capabilities and to help develop an innovative and productive working culture.
It’s by coincidence that Cogs and Entheo both operate in Europe and Asia. Because of their comprehensive work in transforming businesses, we decided to tap into Monika and Shoba’s experience and insights with their clients in their region of operation.
If you’re a company who is struggling to innovate in a saturated marketplace, we hope Monika and Shoba would be able to shed insights on how you can begin to innovate.
Cogs: Hi Monika and Shoba, with your combined work experience and current work at Entheo, how do you think companies can innovate?
M: Today, innovation cannot be the responsibility of one particular team or department, it needs to be an overall mindset. When we talk about agile, we need to equally talk about innovation. Innovation needs to be built into the culture of an organization. It’s the new ‘normal’. Innovation is something new or a change made to meet new requirements, an unarticulated needs or existing needs. Given the speed of change we encounter, innovation, therefore, has many applications internally in any organization and team as well as externally in the market place.
Too often, organizations and leaders think of innovation as ‘having a new idea’. I propose that it needs to be a mindset and part of the culture in any organization who wants to stay relevant. The Six ‘I’®s framework offers an integrated model focused around the purpose of innovation, a shared language and a way to measure innovation strengths in leaders, teams and organizations.
S: A common misconception is that ‘innovation’ equals ‘product innovation’, and that it is limited to R&D or Product Development departments. When we work with companies, they are often delighted to discover that innovation can manifest in many different forms. This means that a person working in operations, customer service, HR, accounts can also innovate. These employees may not offer products per se, but they provide services, design processes and create experiences; for both internal and external customers. Innovation can happen in all these areas. And as Monika mentioned, we at Entheo have a robust framework that enables individuals and teams to do so in a structured manner.
With reference to opportunities: opportunities can happen by chance, and they can also be created. The key difference is the ability to spot them. This requires an outward focus. Companies that are good at doing this have people who are constantly scanning the environment. They’re looking at global trends, where their industry is going, what their competitors are doing, how consumer behaviour is changing, and so on.
Cogs: There is no one-size-fits-all solution. So how do companies select a suitable innovation model to implement? What does the Six ‘I’s® do that is different from other innovation frameworks?
M: The Six ‘I’®s of Innovation framework is a meta-framework that can be combined with any design models, agile methodologies and product innovation. There are also a ton of different tools aligned with teaching the Six ‘I’®s Methodology that can support innovation.
The selection criteria of what’s needed in terms of innovation models, frameworks, programs, is determined by the purpose and the ‘why’ of innovation.
- Do you need to transform your business because your market is changing?
- Do you feel the need to innovate because you are losing market share?
- Are you expanding into new markets?
Most organizations think about innovation when they feel a threat. What if you would pro-actively foster a culture and mindset around innovation directed by your higher purpose as an organization? Change is imminent in today’s business and the more your people embrace the need to constantly think about innovative ways to improve your business (internally and your products and services) the better you can stay relevant.
It’s also important to broaden the mindset of people, teams and departments as to if and how they play a role in the innovation. Take for example a Finance team… Most likely many team members in Finance do not think of themselves as part of the innovation in their company, yet, one of the most overlooked and underestimated parts of innovation is to research financial viability of an idea or to set aside the right innovation budget. The Finance team is an enabler of innovation and as such a key partner in the innovation cycle.
S: Great question! Companies should also ask themselves these questions when selecting a suitable innovation framework:
- What do we want to achieve, and what will this framework enable us to achieve?
- How easy is it to understand the framework?
- How flexible is it?
There are many innovations and design thinking models in the market now. There are six core features that make the Six ‘I’s® of Innovation a unique model. In addition to Monika’s comments, I’ll highlight two more. Firstly, we provide the opportunity to diagnose individual and team strengths through the use of our proprietary profiling tool. As our tool is strengths-based, people can take the assessment before the intervention, and then reassess whether they have indeed developed skills post-intervention. This will provide organisations with an opportunity to demonstrate concrete KPI on training and consulting interventions.
The second unique aspect (we believe we’re the world’s only one on this!) is that the Six ‘I’s ® incorporates six different mindsets required to innovate. This is a radical break away from the idea that a separate, singular mindset is required. This has been a significant eureka moment for many of our clients!
Cogs: In closing our introduction to this series on innovation, do you think companies are able to innovate internally on their own or is it recommended to hire a third party like a consultancy e.g. Entheo?
M: Well, it depends. If an organisation has a good track record of innovation and/ or has an innovation mindset and spirit embedded in its culture than they can certainly work out their strategies internally. If the organization has no prior experience with innovation working with an external consultant is recommended. Our goal with the Six ‘I’®s Methodology is to teach and enable organizations to drive innovation from within.
Today many organizations have the need to develop innovative digital strategies. The setup and activation of an innovation lab is often the answer. And that is definitely one approach to take in infuse innovations into an organisation. What we find is that an organisation hires a number of high-stakes innovation specialist and digital gurus, but then they are troubled with implementing and driving these new initiatives through the organization. A shared framework language and understanding of how innovation happens, what the mindset needs to be can be very helpful.
S: Certainly organisations can innovate on their own, and we encourage this. There are also a lot of resources that exist that can help organisations wanting to do this themselves. Natalie, my business partner and the founder of the Six ‘I’s ® of Innovation has written a book for individuals and teams wanting to innovate, serving as a step-by-step, practical ‘how-to’ guide. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that plug!)
A slightly more elaborate answer: To draw a parallel from a different industry – top athletes all have personal coaches. Why? The athletes are already good, and they want to be better or be the best in their class. Organisations too, recognise that they might already be good, but willing to find a partner that can get them to the next level. That’s when they look for us!
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This 3-part interview will take you through the innovation process. We begin with discovering opportunities and strengths, how to implement innovation and sustain it to tracking progress and defining success.
Do hang on for:
Part 2: To be Published
Part 3: To be Published
If you’re seeking transformative talent to support your innovation ambitions, reach out to your local Cogs office here.
Monika Steimle is an Executive Coach and Purpose Guide for leaders who want to lead with purpose and foster innovative and agile business cultures. Monika is the first True Purpose® Coach in Germany. Prior to starting her own consulting practice, Monika was a human resource and organizational development leader in a leading global digital transformation agency, Publicis Sapient. Her work with Sapient span across three continents and partnered with business leaders to build high performing, values-led leadership teams. Between 2012 to 2016, Monika lived in Singapore where she was responsible for their APAC region.
Shoba is the Chief Innovation Officer of The Entheo Network, where her primary responsibility is to design and deliver solutions that meet the needs of Entheo’s clients, partners and networks. Before striking out on her own, she worked for several years as an in-house innovation consultant at the Ministry of Defence (Singapore) where she and her team introduced policies, systems and structures to enable the organisation to innovate. She is currently a Certified Competent Facilitator (CCF), Scrum Master and CTI trained coach, with almost two decades of experience in the field of innovation and transformation. She formed part of the team to create a book on facilitation called “Collaboration by Design” released late 2017.