DO IT RIGHT & GET IT DONE is Organizing4Innovation’s tagline. It certainly is not meant to say that you have been doing it all wrong when pursuing novel opportunities and bringing these ideas to practice. There is no one right way to innovate.
What we would like to convey, is that pursuing novel ideas is hard – especially when you have never done it before. There are soooooooooo many things that can go wrong, that it is actually kind of a miracle that there are innovation teams that are successful.
Ahead of the rest
One simple example of what makes innovating difficult, is that when you have an idea in your head, it will start to grow on you. From that first second, you are ahead of everyone else when it comes to your idea.
Innovating is in that sense like writing an essay. As the author, you know what the story is about, the message you want to convey, and what is important. That is a very different experience from that of the reader who will go word by word through your essay. As a creator, it is your task to make sure your audience understands your message in the way you convey it. That is difficult, because when you are the creator or actor of the story – it is not easy to remain objective and look at what you have created from a fresh and outside perspective. It is the reason why you have editors to help writers, producers to help actors, etc.
When innovating, it is no different. Any time you spent pursuing a novel opportunity gives you a leg up on your audience. That is great – as you will be recognized as the expert on the topic. But it can also be problematic – as you may lose your audience because they may not be able to follow you and fail to understand what you are talking about.
Leaving the pack behind
I have made the mistake of leaving the pack behind too many times. Including when launching Organizing4Innovation. While I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do – create a program that would make it easier for people to pursue a novel opportunity successfully – very few understood what problem I was solving and what I was trying to accomplish. While intuitively I was right, conceptually I was wrong. As a result, my messaging about the T4 program was disastrous.
It took me years to realize that what I knew about managing innovation projects was irrelevant. Clients appreciate that I have lots of experience with bringing ideas to practice. Yet, that was not what makes them willing to pay our program fees. In truth, I know nothing more about pursuing their novel opportunity, than they do.
Our clients are successful innovators
Many of our clients are innovators themselves. They have successfully brought an idea to practice and have been recognized for these efforts. Now they are asked to repeat their success on another innovation project or as innovation managers.
That was how I began too when I enthusiastically started guiding others and sharing my experiences. In hindsight, the advice I gave back then came from a good heart, but unfortunately, may have been wrong more than a few times.
Over time, I figured out what it takes to set up innovation teams for success. However, it took me a while to see our T4 program offering for what it is – a program to help teams learn while on their innovation journey. It explains why I struggled to express the value that the T4 program offers.
Are you a fortune-teller?
The problem is, unless you possess a working crystal ball or are a fortune-teller, it is impossible to predict the future. There are no certainties in our jobs as innovation facilitators. We cannot tell if an idea is great, we cannot guarantee that an innovation project will be successful, we don’t know when the solution will be delivered, and cannot predict how much revenue will be generated by pursuing this novel opportunity either. No matter how many innovation projects you have guided, these things are unknowable at the start of an innovation project. You can opine about it, but in my experience that has limited, if any value.
The job to be done
What I intuitively understood when I started Organizing4Innovation, but failed to recognize for a long time, is that I am not in the business of managing or even organizing for innovation, despite our firm name.
Instead, as an innovation facilitator, I am in the business of organizational learning. We enable individuals, project teams, stakeholders, and organizations to understand what the future could look like and what it will take to make that scenario play out, one scene at a time.
Sharing past experiences is often not helpful for other teams
My task as a facilitator is therefore not about advising innovation teams what to do, based on my own past experiences. What worked for me, may not work for you. In fact, what worked for me, is very unlikely to work for anyone else. Innovating is not like learning math – where there is one best way of doing things.
Instead, my task is to enable each team to learn as an innovation team. To be successful, innovation teams must figure out their own innovation journey. The T4 program we offer delivers value by enabling teams to go through their own learning process. We do so, among others, by assisting teams with discovering the unknowns and setting up experiments to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible to color in all the white spots on their map.
Every team has to figure out what is the “right way” for them
By offering a method that enables teams to learn and figure out their own innovation journey, we have managed to set up teams for success consistently and speed up innovation. It is the journey that matters, and the T4 program we developed is a vehicle to guide each team on their learning journey.
That is the value that we bring at Organizing4Innovation. We are not wiser, or more “right” than you or any other innovation facilitator when it comes to bringing a particular idea to practice.
The “do it right” is about focusing on organizational learning, asking the right questions at the right moment, analyzing team dynamics, and knowing what teams should focus on while on their innovation journey.
To support such organizational learning, the T4 platform offers online, tailored, project & team-based learning that is uniquely combined with project management and innovation management.
As an educator at heart, it is what I intuitively knew innovation teams needed, when I started facilitating such teams now more than 20 years ago. However, back then, I did not have the insights, processes, or tools to guide teams effectively.
No silver bullet
The track record and performance of innovation teams in our T4 program are not driven by chance, past performance, magic, or a silver bullet. Instead, it is based on years of teaching, mentoring, and especially observing innovation teams.
We cannot do the learning for a team – it is their journey. Teams must figure out their own path. We cannot and won’t be able to tell a team if they should pursue their idea or what their solution should look like, because every opportunity and innovation experience is unique.
Instead, the value we add is by enabling teams to learn faster and succeed sooner, giving teams insights into their own learning process, and speeding up innovation. The T4 program we developed is about enabling teams to figure out their own innovation journey and do so as quickly as possible.
Moving forward, that is what we will be selling: The T4 program enables talent to pursue novel opportunities and learn quickly if they are on the right path.
Our T4 platform is a tool that enables innovation facilitators to guide talented individuals and innovation teams on their learning journeys.
In August 2022, we started our Academy, a Master Innovator program/train-the-trainer program. In this program, I share all that goes on behind the scenes to help teams in our T4 program to learn faster and succeed sooner.
I started offering this Master Innovator program because I wanted all innovation managers to learn from my mistakes. Never could I have imagined that thanks to our platform, these facilitators are able to start guiding their own innovation teams within 2 weeks!
A testament to: Do it right & get it done!