Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | March 16, 2015

Kaizen & Innovation in 10 easy steps for Corporate Success

As a champion of Sustainable Innovation Capacity and teaching innovation to all the organizations that I encounter, while including it in my practice and Life daily — this is my Gospel.

This is my excellent advise for Big Industry and Small Business alike. This is my Innovation Advise for Fortune 500 Companies, as it is for Fortune 100, or for companies mired in Misfortune too. As it is for all the startUps and for the Middle of the Road companies too.

So now you can share in the bounty too. And as I travel the world delivering this Sustainable Innovation Capacity and the Kaizen (constant improvement) Innovation themed keynotes, and teaching my Innovation Masterclasses, and the startUp Weekend Bootcamp to hundreds of people at a time — I pause to ponder the IMPACT that I have on this world.

And am sensing that my impact is minimal in these organizations because espousing Kaizen in today’s environment of rapid change and establishing a “Sustainable Innovation Capacity” is difficult. Yet to see maximum impact and experience meteoric success and great product cycles full of Innovation and amazing Services that impact all of us by creating VALUE for the people; like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have done — the only way is to create a marriage between the practice of Kaizen [constant improvement] & Sustainable Innovation Capacity building in the organization.

And I’ve tested this method by applying Kaizen coupled with Sustainable Innovation Capacity, in building Hi-Tec Start Ups through innovative and valuable products and services. And to further elaborate on this point, I was asked to include Kaizen and the process of constant improvement towards Excellence into the Sustainable Innovation Capacity build up of the Social and Business Organizations and into our own Lives too.

Thus the marriage of Kaizen and Sustainable Innovation Capacity is the only way to support a Company & it’s Products, a Government & it’s policies, an Organization & it’s Services, and to bring lasting VALUE for all the organizations serving the Peoples of this Earth, and for the progress of our own impact people.

Act locally yet think Globally has never been more important than now that Innovation and StartUps as well a all products and services are Global in nature from day ONE>

Sustainable Innovation Capacity is also the way to maintain our competitive advantage and ultimately the health of our existing business as well… And then to remember that the Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity is actual INNOVATION at it’s core of the processes and the methodology of an Organization.

This is proven by examining the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) which proves that Sustainable Innovation Capacity supports the core Corporate business [The 80%] to function better and thus create profits that can then fund your innovation investments [The 20%]. And it is through this continued Kaizen excellence in delivery of the core value that prevents your organization from quickly going out of business (or losing market share). Because through the Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity building of constant innovation excellence in the remaining 20%, not only you prevent the organization from slowly going out of business (or losing market share), and instead growing your business and increasing your market share — but it also helps all the rest, because Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity seeps in the core business 80% and changes imperceptibly and gradually the whole.

So let’s be clear: It is obvious that You WILL go out of business, if you don’t at some point innovate and reinvigorate your products and services, but failure to maintain operational excellence is a faster path to failure than falling short of innovation excellence. And obviously, the healthier the firm is, the more money it can afford to allocate to innovation. Less obvious is that the best time to invest in innovation is when you feel like you don’t need it, because you are always blindsided by reality of other companies’ Kaizen and Sustainable Innovation Capacity, that leads to great new competing products, policies, and services, which satisfy people’s needs and the marketplace’s exchange values.

So here are the Ten Easy Ways to engage in Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity in your organization:

1. Take the Long Term View. Building Kaizen and Sustainable Innovation Capacity takes time and so you need to invest in advance of inevitably slowing sales of your product lines. But especially if your Business is broken, you need to invest in creating Sustainable Innovation Capacity now, so that it will blow some good winds to fill your sails, and propel you along as it will physically lift your sales figures too.

2. Take the path of least Resistance but start today. You can invest in Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity by fostering innovations that deepen your operational excellence. And this you must do TODAY, because if you wait too long to invest in innovation, or if you invest in just chasing bright, shiny new technologies instead of focusing on solving pre-existing customer problems, you end up in a situation where customers ultimately will drive somebody else’s innovation, not your established technology.

3. Don’t Procrastinate. There are of course other times where instead of ceding your innovation investments to focus on the core business, you actually decide to take money away from the core business and in a sense consciously cede it to the competition – just so you can “retool” and build your Sustainable Innovation Capacity. The goal here is to increase your investments into innovations that will help your organization jump back into a stronger competitive position on the next curve. But few companies are able to make this work.

4. Avoid Burn Out. Engage in Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity building when it is most difficult to do, because the most serious depletion of Sustainable Innovation Capacity is your company’s lack of commitment to innovation. If your organization isn’t committed to innovation for the long-term, don’t bother. Innovation isn’t free, it doesn’t happen overnight, and many ideas may become interesting inventions, but don’t end up being valuable innovations in the marketplace. Plus, employees can see right through executive teams that aren’t truly committed to innovation. The term “innovation” means different things to different people. Ask 100 people, you’ll get 100 different definitions. So, after getting commitment to innovation, define what innovation means for the organization, and as I speak about in my five-star book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, you must also create an innovation vision, strategy, and goals that ideally are formed with the organization’s vision, strategy, and goals in mind.

5. Built Trust. Built trust. Built Trust for the Process. You ought to built Trust in Sustainable Innovation Capacity within your organization to bring you to a better place. This is fundamental for the success of any formal approach to innovation. If trust is currently broken in your organization, you must begin repairing that trust on Innovation deficit first. Then, and only then, can you start soliciting innovation ideas from your employees. In order to maintain trust (which is very fragile), you must also have all of the pieces in place to show people that ideas are being seriously considered and that that there is a process for choosing, funding, and developing them. Usually this is because people don’t know how to innovate or don’t know where to start innovating, because they don’t even know what Sustainable Innovation Capacity is. Stoking Your Sustainable Innovation Capacity is designed to help organizations identify and remove barriers to innovation, but it also serves as a great innovation primer, if you are keen on turning around your company’s culture. Our Sustainable Innovation Capacity Kaizen method is a new innovation leader you should join up to. Email me and we’ll sort out a connection with a Master Sustainable Innovation Leader who can assist you and your innovation management peers, so they can get started on the path. And we’ll also share the Kaizen principle along the way of Innovation to bring it all together.

6. Educate, educate, educate. Permeance of Education is the key for Sustainable Innovation Capacity. This means that Innovation readiness courses down through the organization fully and it starts from the Leader CEO and then it get communicated so it can trickle down from the top. But it must also come from the grassroots because education for all of your core employees is the only proper way to educate and change the Organization starting from both bottom and from the top, in order to reach the frozen, implacable, and unmovable Middle layer of Managers and employees. Because it’s great when executives get religion and commit to Sustainable Innovation Capacity building, embracing innovation, and making it a priority, but all of your employees must also be ready to innovate, and this requires education and communications around not just what innovation is, but why it is important for the very survival of the Organization. If your employees or your middle managers don’t understand what innovation is, and why it is important to the continued success of the organization, you may find that they just sit on the sidelines and don’t add anything to the company and in many cases they undermine the process of Sustainable Innovation Capacity building, through their apathy and active dismissal. You wouldn’t expect the organization to go from 0 to 100 mph on its ability to utilize the principles of Lean, Agile, or Six Sigma, alone either, so you’ve got to educate and energize all the people. So it is that Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity, and Company Re-Invention, requires an investment in general education, organizational capability, and readiness too — but above all else it takes an investment in the Kaizen Sustainable Innovation education of all it’s people.

7. Dollars & Sense. You can daily add Valuable customer insight for your Sustainable Innovation Capacity through New Ideas. Yet as a Leader is good to know and always remember that Ideas by themselves neither lead to products or services and they certainly don’t lead to innovation success in the company either. Innovation success is determined by customers voting with their feet and their wallets, and the only way that you get them to move either way, is by developing a new solution to a problem that delivers more value than every existing alternative, or offering a Service that brings renewed vigour in their Lives. Sustainable Innovation Capacity is the system of Innovation that comes from connecting with customers in meaningful ways, and this requires that you develop a unique, valuable customer insight before you even begin generating ideas (possibly even co-creating with customers). Opening up and providing access to ethnographic research, behavioural data, and other sources of inspiration is a good place to start.

8. Build and build and build again. Be a master Builder and continue building educational processes for excellence, every day. Committing to building a Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity, often requires changes to organizational structure, rewards and recognition, budgeting, executive compensation, business unit goals, and other structural elements that the organization may not be ready for. Additionally, sometimes the organization isn’t capable of moving fast enough to realize the market potential of the innovations they are likely to create. In fast moving consumer goods this is can be a real problem, and so companies often must simultaneously accelerate the pace of change in their organization, identify structural impediments, find new ways to design and implement experiments to quickly prove or disprove assumptions or keys to success.

9. Make Money. Earn Money. Build the sustainable Returns on Investment. The ROI is always higher on Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity improvements than in simple technological innovations. Always. Got That? Of course not all innovations are equal and your innovation pipeline may not always be full of potential innovations likely to scale to a level outpacing the ROI achievable on improvements ideas focused on your current slate of products and services. And this reason is often used as an excuse, by executives not committed to innovation, for not funding potential innovations. But, the fact is that there are times when this is a valid reason not to innovate. Sometimes innovation pipelines go dry for a little while, and usually this means that you haven’t been spending as much time with customers or scanning the landscape as you should have. You must restart these efforts immediately in order to build Sustainable Innovation Capacity today.

10. It is possible to come up with a great potential Sustainable Innovation Capacity building but the individual innovations may be seen as being too early for the marketplace. As an example take Compaq which developed a hard disk based mp3 player many years before Apple launched the iPod, but “smartly” chosen not to launch this “innovation.” Surely, without the Sustainable Innovation Capacity of further creating Innovation Kaizen through adding simple design, elegant navigation, and music organization, to this MP3 player, along with the music conglomeration capabilities — it would have surely failed. But Steve Jobs starting from the same place demanded that Sustainable Innovation Capacity exceeds the precepts of the “Walkman” so that the iPod itself didn’t resemble anything like what had come before it. And yet it was credibly the successor to all these “Walkmen” and mini MP3 players flooding the market, but with the constant improvement of Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity, it brought together all the factors of Success such as Music Industry agreements (iTunes), software conglomeration, and industry alliances, that are all proven “WINGS,” that allowed the iPod to take off fully THREE YEARS after its launch. Incidentally iPod took flight fully in the marketplace and gained traction with many millions of consumers along with the launch of the Windows version of iTunes, that provided it a huge platform partner to Innovate upon. Wi-Fi and Seattle Wireless took flight together only when I shared the Wi-Fi software as an Open Source tool with Steve Jobs and Apple for FREE. No money was exchanged but huge value was created for users of Wireless Internet and for Social Network building on the edges of Innovation. Then I shared the learnings of WI-FI and wireless social network building throughout the world by apple-seeding this new thing Wi-Fi in China, Europe, All over Asia, Latin America, and all other continents freely & openly. Today it is unthinkable to have a devise that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Yet we have hardly made the same effort to innovate on WI-FI Social Networks as we have done on Mobile Applications. As an example, Online car services floated around for years, but customers weren’t ready to try them at scale until Uber added a little map showing nearby available cars and started to generate positive word of mouth. Airbnb didn’t invent the vacation rental by owner market, but they came out of nowhere against established players and grew the market by asking people to question their lodging assumptions and offering people the ability to rent a spot on someone’s couch.

So…

What is your disruptive Sustainable Innovation Capacity going to deliver?

And do you recognize what Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity is all about?

Do you have an example in your business?

Yours,

Dr Kroko

PS:

Here is one final example of Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity building inside Apple Inc. The Apple TV. The Apple TV was launched in early 2007 (EIGHT YEARS AGO) as a hobby, and while the Apple TV is shipping in large volumes today — it has failed to move the ecosystem away from just the hobbyist and the early adopters as fast as they were able to move the public and the marketplace in the mobile carrier/handset space.

Whether changes in Apple TV working with NOW, or Netflix, or any one channel or association of providers, could bring the tipping point for a power shift in the television industry from cable/satellite providers, towards mobile service providers, and from television stations, to mobile app makers — remains to be seen.

But one things is for certain: Apple is engaged in what I call Kaizen Sustainable Innovation Capacity building everyday as part of their deep corporate Culture, and they will surely nail this Innovation on TV viewing and delivery, well before anyone else…

And doing this is FUN.

Happiness is the benefit for the Organization that will include everyone in the processes of Innovation and Kaizen.

Happiness and engagement for creating Value for the Company is the end result when people are getting really happy and engaged to be going to work.

Could You Do this?


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