While many organizations desire to be innovative, it is rare to find organizations that deliver innovation on a continuous basis. While there are myriad reasons for this, some of the challenges include perceiving innovation as something extra (and indeed, in the past, when the pace of change was slower, this might have been sufficient) rather than an integral part of every individual’s role.
Our story is based on our experience of cascading innovation to every employee’s role in simple terms (what do I now?, what do I do next?, how should I develop?) in a manner that marries clarity with flexibility.
In driving the innovation agenda in any organization, the leadership must deal with following problems:
- How to cascade innovativeness to all levels of the organization? People may withdraw for many reasons (“I am not creative”, “Creativity is not my job”, “I will get into trouble if things go wrong so better not rock the boat”, etc.) and unless they can be brought on board, the organization will not reap the full benefit of their potential, and moreover certain innovations may fail because of the lack of support. [ALL ABOARD]
- How to balance control and agility? It’s tempting to communicate job role expectations with laser beam focus, but making things too rigid would hinder limitation; while leaving it too open is a recipe for anarchy. [BALANCE]
- How can the organization actively articulate and communicate the skills and capabilities to enable both current and future job roles of an individual and actively manage the development process. [CAPACITY]
- How can all above aspects are linked across the organization, progress assessed and reshaped on a continuous basis to underpin the innovation agenda whilst serving current business demands. [MOMENTUM]
Unfortunately a typical Job description and a annual performance evaluation cannot find answers to above questions.
The corner stone of the solution is a simple 2x2 grid that captures and communicates a team member’s role in a single page.
THE TWO DIMENSIONS
Known domain/ Experimental domain
This dimension differentiate between what is already known within the company in form of knowledge, skills, practices, technology etc. (the Known domain) from what has to be acquired, learnt, developed and experimented (the Experimental domain). The primary assumption on this perspective is that any innovation program must attract “new” knowledge, skills, practices, technology etc.
Current role/ Growth role
This dimension articulates expectations of the current role and the expectations of the currently envisaged future role. The primary assumption in this perspective is that every job role will change its context and shape due to the evolution of the innovation agenda of the company and the team member must be ready to play a different role in the future.
While the current role would encompass the next period (e.g. quarter, but can be longer), the Growth role would capture the 2 periods following that. Together with the evaluation at the end of the period, the next 2 periods need to be reviewed (and revised if necessary) and another period tacked on.
How the role is distributed amongst the quadrants will vary based on factors such as job expectations (e.g. a R&D role will have much more emphasis on the experimental domain), stage in job cycle (e.g. a new recruit would have more emphasis on known domain), etc:
IN EACH QUADRANT
The space in the each quadrant must articulate the following
- Key tasks/ expectations
Describe what is expected from the role in brief (of course within the scope of the quadrant )
- Key Performance Indicators with weightings.
How the tasks or role outputs would be measured. The percentages shown above could be used as guidelines for the sum of the KPI weightages within a quadrant.
- Development needs
Describe the development need to fulfill expected role the from knowledge and skills perspectives. This information’s will stem from matching the team members capability to the role expectations.
In implementing the innovation agenda, first it must be broken in to periods (e.g. a year plan can be broken into 4 quarters, although based on business needs and organizational readiness, a period might even be 6 months).
The innovation agenda must be carefully cascaded to all the roles at different levels. It should encompass both current roles and growth roles.
The cascaded role must represent its space in both value creation process and in the innovation agenda. The role must represent the ambition and not the person associated with the role. The clarity check must ensure both vertical and horizontal integration of the strategies and encapsulation of both the short and the medium term ambition of the organization. The task descriptions, KPIs must be adjusted to communicate laser beam focus to the team member and probable role evolution within the innovation agenda.
Ensuring momentum is begun, when the weekly/ monthly management process is actively driven along the articulated agenda including resource and time allocation for people development. The chief innovation officer must ensure these are woven in the management culture of the organization.
At the end of each period, a formal evaluation of role performance of each team member must take place, together with revisions for upcoming periods and adding a new period – the further away we move from the present, the more ambiguity we must allow.
Notice that in this case, innovation is measured as part and parcel of the overall performance measurement – because the fruits of innovation are not treated as something additional to the role of the person.
If we assume that the innovation agenda is running smoothly, the next 4IQ articulation must showcase the following.
- Some of the tasks detailed in experimental domain should shift to known domain.
- Some the tasks detailed in growth role should shift to current role.
- Some of the tasks detailed in current role may become irrelevant as organization does not operate at that level or shifted to another lateral role or delegated down.
Each round of evaluation will provide following insights and opportunities to the organization.
- Realities of the innovation agenda in motion.
- Bottlenecks and trouble spots
- Pace of development of people
- Space to adjust the agenda or infuse changes to the agenda or its components or to implementation strategies.
- Introduce learning’s from previous failures.
- Select an innovation agenda that will last 12-24 months with very specific milestones.
- Map the innovation agenda with all the roles for 3 quarters. Ensure alignment and integrity between business case, strategies, priorities, resource allocation and organizational culture.
- Make sure to test each 4IQ Canvass for comprehension and buy-in.
- Execute the plan and ensure development of people.
- Carry out end of period evaluations, give and get feedback and rearticulate next round.
My collegue Sifaan Zavahir and the rest of the team memers of 361 Degree team.