Standing Up An Innovation Center 5 – Look Back Along The Way

This is the final blog in a five-part series about innovation centers. The fourth blog described ways to manage strategy, innovation, change, and learning in your center. In this blog, we’ll look at two final techniques.

Looking Back

Treks are clearest when one looks back on them. We see the view from checkpoints and the destination in perspective – what worked, what didn’t, what to do differently next time. A useful planning technique is to look back along the way, and there are two ways to do this.

  1. Jump Ahead: As part of deliberations leading to any decision, jump ahead and ask where the decision will lead if made in any of several ways. Imagine scenarios and trace them up the requirements hierarchy to see if a decision pending at any level successively supports the accomplishment of requirements in levels above. Sometimes a clear advantage emerges. Sometimes jumping ahead clarifies trade-offs for decision making. Or it might identify contingencies you can prepare for as you create and recreate conditions for successful innovation. Regardless, it will help illuminate uncertainties in your planning so you can convert them into risks and improve risk management for them.
  2. Backward Map: As part of deliberations leading to any decision, start the conversation at the point where the rubber meets the road – where the decision is implemented by someone doing something. Describe the current activity the strategy contemplates changing by discussing who presently does what, when and why. State what is undesirable about the activity performed that way, and what is triggering a need to change it. Then backward map the organizational enablers and constraints that produce or facilitate the undesired activity – from the point where the activity is performed all the way up to the highest controlling policy, procedure, regulation, law or even assumption or misinformation. This will illuminate aspects of the organization which the strategy should modify to enable desired behavior consistent with organizational innovation.

While nothing brings clarity like finishing, mentally positioning yourself some place other than where you are as you deliberate and decide can help you unthink what you believe you know and rethink your trek in helpful ways.

Conclusion

Innovation is a business proposition, and the most productive innovation center offers strong support to business strategy. It envisions how innovation supports the mission. It devises ways to continuously add value for the customer and the innovating organization. And it enables people to reconnect to one other and the mission. Looking back along the way is a useful way to gain perspective on your journey.

Read my complete paper on Standing Up An Innovation Center at http://govinnovators.com/resources/. There you’ll also find papers on What Is Innovation and Creating an Innovation Strategy. Look for all my innovation blogs at http://govinnovators.com/blog/.

Write me if you have questions and I’ll do my best to respond.

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