Innovation Is About People, Not Technology

Say the word innovation and technology comes quickly to mind. Technology keeps organizations current and provides new capability. And procurement often encourages technology buying.

But innovation changes organizations right down to their business model. To the way they’re structured and operate to deliver on their mission.

Different combinations of technology and business model change produce different degrees of innovation. Change one or the other and innovation will be incremental. Change both and innovation can be radical or disruptive.

Either way, officials must manage both to innovate effectively and successfully.

The Relationship Between Technology and Business Model

In “Making Innovation Work,” the authors identify three types of technology change:

  • Product and Service Offerings
  • Process Technologies
  • Enabling Technologies

The first involves changes to a product or service that the government offers customers. The second enables an organization to deliver its products and services faster and cheaper. The third enables an organization to execute strategy faster – not just products and services, but strategy. This means meeting the mission better, faster, and cheaper.

The authors also identify three types of business model change:

  • Value Proposition
  • Supply Chain
  • Target Customer

The first redefines the value you deliver to a customer. The second changes the supply chain that delivers that value. And the third asks you to consider if your target customers have changed since a program’s inception.

So technology enables and accelerates change to the business model. And changes to the business model deliver better value to customers.

To Manage Both, Think People

People are the force that binds technology and business model change together. People invent and manage technology. People also invent and manage organizations. People make things better, when they can.

To innovate, to do something different that gets a better result for your customer, organizations must create a space for people to figure out what that something different might be. To see if they can get a better result for their customer.

That space can be created in a number of ways:

  • Lead a conversation about who your customers are, what they value, and what the organization can do to deliver that value to them
  • Develop a high-level innovation strategy that supports the organization’s business objectives
  • Solicit innovation project ideas that accomplish innovation goals and improve how the organization adds value to its clients
  • Use a new technology acquisition or deployment as an opportunity to experiment with changes to the business model

Creating space can tap the powerful aspiration people have to make a difference. It can generate learning. Give people a positive story to tell. And help people reconnect to the mission. That’s how you ignite innovation and make it stick.

Empower people to do something different and protect them from harm, and you might find that those famous for resisting change are just as famous for producing change.

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