[Journal] Governance research notes and feedback (live, as of Feb 13, 2024)

A running journal sharing the state of my research into innovation governance

[Journal] Governance research notes and feedback (live, as of Feb 13, 2024)
The current version of my Credible Innovation Governance map (v1.10)

TL; DR

I'm researching innovation governance. As I do, I learn. I turn out to be wrong. Hypotheses change.

Here is a place where you can follow my evolving perspective.

The newest updates are at the top, just below this intro. They get older the further down you go.

(This used to be a post. But for logistics reasons I moved it to over here. Sorry for any bother.)

This is inherently work-in-progress. If that's not your thing, simply have a look at my other writing. You'll find final versions there are I create them. You won't miss out. 😄

Also worth noting: This whole body of work freaks me out a bit (in a good way?). I have no idea where it will take me. I have no idea how much time I can or need to dedicate. If you don't know, I already have two day jobs, as startup leader and consultant. Time eked out for this is precious and may appear in irregular intervals. Can I even pull it off? To come. Please be gracious and patient.

That said: If you want to help out to make it go faster or better, let's talk!

Why share a research journal at all?

People often hide such learning, not only out of self-consciousness, but also because they rightly assume that many people might not be interested in work-in-progress.

But the downside of researching in private is that nobody can learn from the process itself. And updates only reveal themselves occasionally.

Instead, I am researching in public, unless there ever comes a reason to change that decision.

Here then, are ongoing notes about what I learn. Not all the sordid details. But enough to keep you up-to-date with the latest.

Note: I will keep adding to this post rather than issuing new ones. If this topic interests you, come back here or just ask me about the latest.

Caveat

⚠️
This is practitioner research. Don't expect academic research.

Academic research is great for rigor and precision. And I will reference a bunch of it. But it is also super-specific (aka narrow), often not directly applied/ practical, and sometimes non-existent yet. Not everything has been researched.

By contrast:

  • I am researching for practice: Partial and tentative answers are better than no answer. If we have to act anyway, any insight helps.
  • I come at this work with the main lens of a strategist and cross-functionally-trained manager: I am comfortable with and see the value in leading with hypotheses. If need be, we can change them later.
  • This is work in innovation: We value prototyping and then testing and iterating. Being wrong "in good ways" is a feature, not a bug. You will see me changing course, which, yes, will have meant I was wrong. The alternative is not "being right to start with." The alternative would have been "being so hazy that something is not even falsifiable" (aka useless).

On to the good stuff!


Feb 13, 2024: Cleaned-up design principles for great innovation mandates

Finally, here's an overview of the design principles I found and described below:

A stylized, multi-colored list of the 11 design principles for great innovation mandates listed below

They are:

For mandate structure:

  • Compress your mandate to its essence
  • Think 5 to 8 years longer than operators in your space

For mandate choice:

  • Acknowledge the mandate type that's right for you
  • Prioritize cause-driven mandates (if you can)
  • Initially build big portfolios, with humility

For mandate implementation:

  • The craft aspects
    • Put the effort it takes into mandate crafting
    • Embed mandates in a great environment
    • Avoid both aimlessness and rigidity
  • The human aspects
    • Offer near-in value, for legitimacy
    • Don't overload your org with newness
    • Customize your implementation to your org

The sources I consulted in creating these design principles (in addition to my own research) are:

  • Bahcall, S. (2019). Loonshots. St. Martin’s Press. https://books.google.com/books/about/Loonshots.html?hl=&id=b55xDwAAQBAJ
  • Belsky, S. (2018). The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture. Portfolio. https://www.themessymiddle.com/ 
  • Bergerskogen, V. A. R. (2021). Organizational legitimacy in innovation units with radical mandates: An exploratory case study unpacking the role of New tech lab in the DNB organization. Norwegian School of Economics]. https://openaccess.nhh.no/nhh-xmlui/handle/11250/2771928.
  • Bezos, J. (1998). Amazon.com Letter to Shareholders 1997. https://s2.q4cdn.com/299287126/files/doc_financials/annual/Shareholderletter97.pdf
  • Bezos, J. (2004). Amazon.com Letter to Shareholders 2003. https://s2.q4cdn.com/299287126/files/doc_financials/annual/2003_-Shareholder_-Letter041304.pdf
  • Bezos, J. (2007). Amazon.com Letter to Shareholders 2006. https://s2.q4cdn.com/299287126/files/doc_financials/annual/2006.PDF
  • Cording, J. (2023). How To Stop Overthinking, Overworking And Overgiving At Your Job. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jesscording/2023/09/14/how-to-stop-overthinking-overworking-and-overgiving-at-your-job/?sh=b4947273f7fc
  • Desai, J. (2013). Innovation Engine: Driving Execution for Breakthrough Results. Wiley. http://books.google.com/books?id=jrRuMAEACAAJ&hl=&source=gbs_api 
  • DiGangi, J. (2023). The Surprising Neuroscience of Keeping Resolutions: A neurpsychologist clues us in, and guess what: It’s all about your feelings. https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/health/a46121686/neuroscience-keeping-resolutions/
  • Ferguson, D. (2019). Beyond The Prototype: A roadmap for navigating the fuzzy area between ideas and outcomes. Voltage Control. https://beyondtheprototype.com/ 
  • Gudowsky, N. (2021). Limits and benefits of participatory agenda setting for research and innovation. European Journal of Futures Research, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40309-021-00177-0
  • Henderson, R. (2020). Innovation in the 21st Century: Architectural Change, Purpose, and the Challenges of Our Time. Management Science, 67(9), 5479-5488. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2020.3746
  • Hobcraft, P. (2023). Constructing the innovation mandate. Paul4innovating. https://paul4innovating.com/2023/04/24/constructing-the-innovation-mandate/
  • Hobcraft, P. (2023). Deepening the Thinking Around the Innovation Mandate – part two. Paul4innovating. https://paul4innovating.com/2023/04/26/deepening-the-thinking-around-the-innovation-mandate-part-two/
  • Leadbeater, C., & Winhall, J. (2021). System Innovation on Purpose. Interventions. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/632b07749e5eec1fde3510bd/t/636103f0d48540058bdf7619/1667302400573/SII_SystemInnovationOnPurpose_2021.pdf
  • Manzoni, M. (2021). Invincible company of the month: Bosch. Invincible company of the month. https://www.strategyzer.com/library/invincible-company-of-the-month-bosch
  • O’Connor, G. C. (2018). Institutionalizing an innovation function: moving beyond the champion. In Handbook of Research on New Product Development. Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781784718152.00013 
  • Souder, D., Bromiley, P., Mitchell, S., & Reilly, G. (2017). Does Investing in the Long Term Pay Off for Firms? Rutgers Business Review, 2(2), 191ff. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3014700
  • Välikangas, L., & Gibbert, M. (2005). Boundary-setting strategies for escaping innovation traps. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 33(3), 101-101. https://doi.org/10.1109/emr.2005.26770
  • Vikkelsø, S., Skaarup, M. S., & Sommerlund, J. (2022). Organizational hybridity and mission drift in innovation partnerships. European Journal of Innovation Management, 25(5), 1348-1367. https://doi.org/10.1108/ejim-09-2020-0384
  • Wesseling, J. H., Larue, P., Janssen, M. J., WanzenbĂśck, I., Penna, C. R., Goetheer, A., Weber, A., Frenken, K., Hekkert, M. P., & Hill, D. Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy workshop series: Observations from workshop 1 – Scoping an Agenda setting. In Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy workshop series. Mission-oriented Innovation Policy Observatory (MIP), Utrecht University. https://www.uu.nl/sites/default/files/MIP%20workshop%20report_scoping%20and%20agenda%20setting.pdf


Feb 12, 2024: Iteration on the design principles for great innovation mandates

Today, I have more design principles, (hopefully) a cleaner, simpler, and all-around better structure, and some iteration on relevant vocab:

Vocabulary for innovation mandates:

  • Cause: The steady, eternal, almost philosophical reason for an organization to exist, beyond merely "earning profits." Exceptions aside, causes exist at the level of the organization. That means that the current core business and any innovations one might pursue typically relate to the same cause. Not every organization has a (good) cause. [Alternate terms: Purpose, Identity]
  • Trigger: Something that changed and caused the steady-state system of the organization no longer to be right and/ or enough, resulting in a need for innovation. [Alternate term: Urgency]
  • Mandate: The Mandate explains why an organizations innovates, why those reasons are must-do's, and what the organization plans to do about it (the Agenda mentioned next). The mandate exists because the current business is not/ no longer right and/ or enough for pursuing the Purpose, in other words, in response to the trigger. [Alternate term: Response, Ambition]
  • Rationale: The part of the Mandate that describes why the organization innovations and why that's a must-do. [Alternate term: Cause, Intent]
  • Agenda: The part of the Mandate that describes not the rationale but the action. In other words, it describes what innovations one will pursue, to fulfill the mandate. [Alternate term: Action]

💡
Putting it all together into a mad-lib, one might say:

- Our organization exists because of [Cause].
- In the past, we pursued this Cause via [our core business].
- But then, [Trigger] happened, and now we need something else/ new.
- Specifically, that "something" else/ new that we need now is [Mandate].
- The reasons for this [Mandate] are [Rationale].
- We will pursue this mandate via [Agenda].

Now, is this necessarily right? No. But hopefully it's helpful for wrangling a very fuzzy concept into a practical step-by-step approach.

Is it necessarily novel? Also no. It's an evolution of the classic "movie trailer"-style agenda mad-lib. It just enhances the prior version with the elements I found in my research. Subjectively, it feels more structured/ less fuzzy. That way, it doesn't replace the prior version but offers additional guidance to teams that look for it.

Updated design principle structure

I added a third category to the design principles mentioned before. They now are:

  • Mandate structure
  • Mandate choice
  • Mandate implementation

Updated design principles

Mandate structure:

  1. COMPRESS YOUR MANDATE TO ITS ESSENCE: Innovation mandates make the case for change. Stating them in a minimalist form is truly possible and helps to focus on the essence of your point.
    1. Intrinsic purpose: Identity + Intent + Action [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021]
      1. "Purpose combines identity with intent. What and who you care about is a matter of identity. It's fundamental to who you are. Yet purpose also expresses what we want to achieve and who we are becoming. That intent needs to be made real by being acted upon; our purpose should propel us forward in the world.
        A real sense of purpose is anchored in identity (who we are, what matters to us), intent (what change we want to bring about) and action (how we can make this change demonstrable). You do not shift the purpose of a system by coming up with a good slogan. A shift in purpose involves putting in question our sense of identity and our commitment to act on intent." [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021]
    2. Extrinsic trigger: Must-address change + resulting unmet need [My synthesis]
      1. "Innovation is ultimately about changing stable systems. There is no need to change business systems that function optimally and operate in ideal circumstances. So, some change, some inciting event or trend must have occurred that led you to conclude that change is either newly necessary or newly possible.
        But a change can lead reasonable to people to reach different conclusions for how to react to it. So, it's not enough merely to point out the change that requires us to change. We must also spell out what unmet need results in the world, often for our users or customers. After all, a change only requires new innovation if existing solutions can't already meet the resulting needs." [My synthesis]
  2. THINK 5 TO 8 YEARS LONGER THAN OPERATORS DO IN YOUR SPACE: Research and practice show: Thinking long-term reaps rewards ... so long as you don't overdo it.
    1. You must distinguish between mandates for present vs. future business (i.e., for working improving your current system vs. evolving the system). [O'Connor 2018]
      1. "While corporate entrepreneurship sometimes succeeds in companies due to cultural and leadership factors, most firms struggle in their attempts to create new businesses for strategic renewal. [Here], observations are offered from an 11-year research program on managing breakthrough innovation in large established firms. The results indicate that expertise development in breakthrough innovation ... is in its infancy and some of the management practices that plague these attempts are ... (a) a lack of distinction between current strategy and strategic intent, which influences evaluation criteria used to judge project progress and success... ." [O'Connor 2018]
    2. "Long-term" timeframes are valuable and offer financial and strategic benefits for up to 5 - 8 years beyond the timeframe on which your industry normally focuses, likely a total of 7 - 10 years into the future. [Souder et al 2017 and Bezos 1997, 2003, 2006, 2011]
      1. "Holding all else equal, firms with horizons 4 or more years shorter than their industry average have predicated return on assets(ROA) under 1%. Predicted ROA increases to 3% for firms close to average horizon levels, and reaches 4.5% for horizons 5 years longer than average. The positive association between horizon and performance tops out when a firm's horizon exceeds its industry average by 8 years. A small number of firms appear to take a good idea too far, as predicted returns for horizons longer than 8 years fall short of the observed peak. However, this scenario occurs rarely; more than 95% of firms we studied have horizons in the region where increases in investment horizon result in higher predicted ROA... .
        Our results show that firms with impatient stockholders have even more to gain from lengthening thier time horizon than do firms with patient stockholders... . Put bluntly, firms that do not resist short-termist pressures from impatient investors pay an extremely large price... .
        Most firms indeed have an opportunity to improve performance by giving more weight to the long term – because short-termist tendencies have kept them from the best possible outcomes. The most severe performance shortfalls appear in the firms with very short investment horizons, while firms with unusually long investment horizons experience diminishing returns that can even turn negative at extreme levels. By understanding how a firm's investment horizon compares to its peers, its managers can find ways to strike a better balance between the short and the long term, thus improving ROA." [Souder et al 2017]
      2. "It's All About the Long Term: We believe that a fundamental measure of our success will be the shareholder value we create over the long term. This value will be a direct result of our ability to extend and solidify our current market leadership position... . Our decisions have consistently reflected this focus." [Bezos 1997]
      3. "Long-term thinking is both a requirement and an outcome of true ownership. Owners are different from tenants. ... We emphasized our long-term views in our 1997 letter to shareholders, our first as a public company, because that approach really does drive making many concrete, non-abstract decisions. ... As we design our customer experience, we do so with long-term owners in mind. We try to make all of our customer experience decisions–big and small–in that framework." [Bezos 2003]
      4. "At Amazon's current scale, planting seeds that will grow into meaningful new businesses takes some discipline, a bit of patience, and a nurturing culture.
        In some large companies, it might be difficult to grow new businesses from tiny seeds because of the patience and nurturing required. In my view, Amazon's culture is unusually supportive of small businesses with big potential, and I believe that's a source of competitive advantage. ... We have many people at our company who have watched multiple $10 million seeds turn into bullion dollar businesses. That first-hand experience and the culture that has frown up around these successes is, in my opinion, a big part of why we can start businesses from scratch. The culture demands that these new businesses be high potential and that they be innovative and differentiated, but it does not demand that they be large on the day that they are born." [Bezos 2006]
      5. "If everything you do needs to work on a three-year horizon, then you're competing against a lot of people. But if you're willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you're now competiing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. And just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavours that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We're willing to plant seeds, let them grow. We say we're stubborn on vision and flexible on details. In some cases, things are inevitable. ... You can do these things with conviction if you are long-term-oriented and patient." [Bezos 2011]
    3. Even a long-term agenda for future business/ evolving your system will only be treated as legitimate if your org can see and recognize ongoing, near-in, tangible value from your work [Bergerskogen 2021]
      1. "One key finding of this thesis is the importance of the innovative unit's ability to provide tangible value that is visible to the members of the organization. The thesis finds that by engaging in activities and collaborations that create value for the main organization, radical innovation units can generate attitudes and relationships that support their legitimacy in the organization." [Bergerskogen 2021]

Mandate choice

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE MANDATE TYPE THAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU: There are just two kinds of innovation mandates (and resulting agendas) that work: Cause-driven and opportunity-driven. [My synthesis]
    1. Choosing between them depends on whether you have a must-do cause (then go cause-driven) or not (then go opportunity-driven).
      1. "Being stuck in the middle with a supposed "cause" that is not really a must-do simply exposes it to failure once the inevitable problems appear, for example in the form of Safi Bahcall's "3 Deaths." [Bahcall (2019), Me]
    2. You can't invent/ fake a cause. You must already have one to use it.
      1. "Purpose is often confused with the mission and goals, targets and outcomes that make it real. A purpose is deeper and more enduring than a mission. When President John F. Kennedy launched the Apollo programme, the mission was to land a man on the moon. The purpose was to project US technological and military power in the context of the Cold War. One danger in systems is that the mission can be seen as if it were the wider purpose." [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021]
    3. It has to be an authentic "must-do." [Henderson 2021, and My Synthesis]
        1. "There are a number of mechanisms through which the adoption of a shared purpose plausibly increases the odds that employees are intrinsically motivated. ... This is an enormous literature ..., but it is deeply thought provoking and, taken together, suggests, I believe, that the employees of purpose-driven firms are likely to be significantly more productive, happier, and more creative than those at more conventional firms. All these qualities plausibly make it easier to embrace architectural innovation." [Henderson 2021]
        2. "You are fairly unlikely to succeed at system change if it’s at all optional from any perspective. So your purpose must be critical, urgently-needed, and set up for success. ... Both the team's very existence and the purpose for each project has to be truly unavoidable in the here-and-now. Even if a stakeholder were not to like any of what the team prioritizes, they should still grudgingly have to admit that it's utterly necessary." [Me at https://credibleinnovation.com/the-essence-of-credible-innovation/]
    4. It must be ~80% clear. [Desai 2013]
      1. "In our experience, most managers are very likely to mobilize an idea if they have 80% clarity about it. No organizational system provides absolute clarity regarding what is possible. If such a discipline were available, most managers could make even faster decisions–right or wrong. There is plenty of historical data in organizations but not enough clarity regarding what is possible about future opportunities.
        Clarity means deeply understanding and empathising with what hte end customers' unmet needs are today and what might be emerging as a need in the near future. It is not just about finding ideas to solve today's problems but having the insight to define new problems before others do. [Desai 2013]
    5. Given a strong purpose, innovation agendas can emerge from other, e.g., portfolio-driven work. [Implied by Henderson 2021]
      1. "Does purpose in fact lead firms to identify opportunities that others do not and to greater strategic alignment? [Despite strong theoretical research,] empirical work in this area is still at a preliminary stage.
        [But, among others,] Gartenberg et al. (2019) present compelling evidence drawn from more than five million employee surveys to suggest that when purpose is closely connected to the strategic goals of the firm, it is correlated with financial performance.
        [Also,] managing architectural change requires the ability to build and modify new relational contracts on the fly--something that is likely to be, I believe, much easier in an organization characterized by authentic purpose." [Henderson 2021]
  2. PRIORITIZE CAUSE-DRIVEN MANDATES (IF YOU CAN): True must-do causes are best ... but you can't fake something being a "must-do."
    1. Mandates driven by explicit causes appear to yield better results than "purely" opportunistic/ portfolio-based approaches that just have monetary goals. But more research and practice is needed. [Henderson 2021, Wesseling et al 2021 (?)].
      1. "I have spent more than 20 years studying the problem of architectural innovation in a wide variety of firms and have come to believe that the single most important determinant of whether a firm is able to master it successfully is its commitment to a shared purpose or to a goal beyond simple profit maximization.
        Does purpose in fact lead firms to identify opportunities that others do not and to greater strategic alignment? [Despite strong theoretical research,] empirical work in this area is still at a preliminary stage.
        [But, among others,] Gartenberg et al. (2019) present compelling evidence drawn from more than five million employee surveys to suggest that when purpose is closely connected to the strategic goals of the firm, it is correlated with financial performance.
        [Also,] managing architectural change requires the ability to build and modify new relational contracts on the fly--something that is likely to be, I believe, much easier in an organization characterized by authentic purpose." [Henderson 2021]
      2. "Mission-oriented Innovation Policy is regarded as a potent approach to tackling today's wicked societal challenges. The approach is however still in its infancy and requires further development through learning-by-doing." [Wesseling et al 2021 (?)]
    2. We have litmus tests for recognizing must-do mandates. [Henderson 2021 and Bergerskogen 2021]
      1. Going beyond mere profit maximization (which is a "duh!" for a for-profit organization. BTW, feel free to substitute in "mission maximization" for mission-driven non-profits. Same idea.) [Henderson 2021]
        1. "What does it mean for a commercial firm to have a purpose? There are almost as many definitions of purpose as there are papers about it in the literature, but as a first step, let me suggest that a company is purpose driven if it is publicly committed to a goal beyond profit maximization and if it routinely sacrifices short-term profits to the pursuit of this purpose. This is not to suggest that the embrace of purpose necessarily implies accepting lower levels of profitability in the long run. As I argue, there is good reason to believe that the embrace of purpose brings with it a range of advantages–particularly with respect to the pursuit of innovation–that are often sufficient to compensate for the cost of having a purpose in the first place." [Henderson 2021; underlining added by me for emphasis]
      2. Public commitment to them [Henderson 2021]
        1. "What does it mean for a commercial firm to have a purpose? There are almost as many definitions of purpose as there are papers about it in the literature, but as a first step, let me suggest that a company is purpose driven if it is publicly committed to a goal beyond profit maximization and if it routinely sacrifices short-term profits to the pursuit of this purpose. This is not to suggest that the embrace of purpose necessarily implies accepting lower levels of profitability in the long run. As I argue, there is good reason to believe that the embrace of purpose brings with it a range of advantages–particularly with respect to the pursuit of innovation–that are often sufficient to compensate for the cost of having a purpose in the first place." [Henderson 2021; underlining added by me for emphasis]
      1. Routinely giving up short-term profits and accepting other "hard" downsides" [Henderson 2021]
        1. "What does it mean for a commercial firm to have a purpose? There are almost as many definitions of purpose as there are papers about it in the literature, but as a first step, let me suggest that a company is purpose driven if it is publicly committed to a goal beyond profit maximization and if it routinely sacrifices short-term profits to the pursuit of this purpose. This is not to suggest that the embrace of purpose necessarily implies accepting lower levels of profitability in the long run. As I argue, there is good reason to believe that the embrace of purpose brings with it a range of advantages–particularly with respect to the pursuit of innovation–that are often sufficient to compensate for the cost of having a purpose in the first place." [Henderson 2021; underlining added by me for emphasis]
      2. Not having gotten distracted, either by something else ("ad hoc overload") or self-inflicted blockers ("not invented here" attitude). [Bergerskogen 2021]
        1. "The findings of this research project suggest that three main factors affect the legitimacy of these [innovation] units – structural requirements, actions by the unit, and distractions. The findings are used to create a framework that shows the relationships between these factors and outlines the importance of elements such as managerial support, autonomy, and clear innovation mandates, as well as identifying the core behaviors that support the legitimacy of these units. ...
          [T]here are forces that need to be considered in terms of erosion of legitimacy. These forces, called Distractions [here], can potentially weaken the legitimacy that the unit has worked toward obtaining.
          [Two types of distractions can potentially weaken the legitimacy of the innovation team: 'Not Invented Here' and 'Ad hoc Overload.' ]
          The first one can be described by the term not invented here – a mindset that can exist in organizations, or parts of them, where the existing skill level is very high, and external actors, such as radical innovation units, are supposed to provide feedback and contribute new solutions. This mindset can undermine the legitimacy of the innovative unit, as they can be viewed as redundant, or encroaching on the domain of the expert unit. Lastly, having the radical unit being caught up in too many ad hoc projects, also called firefighting by the respondents, can weaken the focus on the unit’s core tasks, and subsequently weakening its efforts to build legitimacy." [Bergerskogen 2021; underlining added by me for emphasis]
      3. You can shift it somewhat if needed to start [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021]
        1. "Purpose creates a framework for thinking about how a system should work to achieve the outcomes it seeks. ... Encourag[ing] the system to reimagine itself ... shift[s] how people inside and outside the system [think] of their purpose ...; how they need to work ...; and what success amount[s] to .... By reframing the purpose [one] propel[s] a collaborative effort ... . In the process, unforeseen solutions emerg[e], new relationships are form and resources flow in new ways. ... Without a shared purpose, collective innovation efforts lack meaning and coherence. Shared purpose breeds commitment and coordination and resilience and innovation across a coalition of actors.
          Yet the power of purpose is a double-edged sword. Once a system becomes established around a purpose it can be enormously difficult to dislodge it."
          [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021]
      4. You must keep the mandate fresh and up-to-date, inline with your commitment and focus [Hobcraft 2023]
        1. "In my opinion, an innovation mandate ... evolves, expands and gains momentum. Keeping the innovation mandate fresh and up-to-date is essential, it shows constant commitment and focus." [Hobcraft 2023]
  3. INITIALLY BUILD BIG PORTFOLIOS, WITH HUMILITY: Within your agenda, maintain "portfolio-mentality" for your actual initiatives/ projects. [Bahcall 2019, Bosch/ Strategyzer 2021, O'Connor 2018, My Synthesis]
    1. Don't get caught by over-confidence. A sufficiently large and diverse portfolio starts with more initiatives than you might think necessary (though many will be eliminated quickly and only a small share will continue and eventually succeed). E.g., one company had 200+ initiatives to start for developing 19 businesses, given it a success rate of < 10%. [Bosch/ Strategyzer 2021, plus My Synthesis]
      1. "While corporate entrepreneurship sometimes succeeds in companies due to cultural and leadership factors, most firms struggle in their attempts to create new businesses for strategic renewal. In this chapter, observations are offered from an 11-year research program on managing breakthrough innovaiton in large established firms. The results indicate that expertise development in breakthrough innovation, and, by implication, several specific categories of corporate entrepreneurship, is in its infancy and some of the management practices that plague these attempts are described. Among these are: (a) a lack of distinction between current strategy and strategic intent, which influences evaluation criteria used to judge project progress and success; (b) the failure of project managers to address the full complement of technical, market, resource, and organizational factors they face; (c) the failure of breakthrough innovation program leaders to operate with a portfolio mentality; (d) undertaking breakthrough innovation projects without regard to the complete set of management system elements that support the high uncertainty context that plague them; and (e) high rates of turnover among personnel, which prevent the learning required to develop sophisticated expertise." [O'Connor 2018; underlining added by me for emphasis]
      2. "You know you should start preparing your company’s future… but you just don’t know how to go about it. You think to yourself - even if I had ideas, how would I know which one to go with?
        These are the questions that Bosch was grappling with when they decided to create an innovation funnel for their ideas, which would run on evidence rather than opinions. 
        This innovation funnel enabled Bosch to go from 214 unvalidated but interesting ideas, to 19 validated and scalable growth engines. That’s a 10 % success rate - and that’s a great number!!" [Bosch/ Strategyzer 2021]
      3. (Also see screenshot below. Sorry, formatting issues keep me from inserting it here, in its correct shot. 👇)
    2. Definitely don't get caught in the extreme version of this, of "proclaiming what right answers are 'supposed' to be right," aka don't fall prey to a "Moses Trap," which poses a particular risk to highly accomplished and visionary innovators. [Bahcall 2019]
      1. "Moses Trap: When ideas advance only at the pleasure of a holy leader, who acts for love of loonshots rather than strength of strategy. ...
        Each of [several] visionary leaders [previously described] created a brilliant loonshot nursery; they achieved Bush-Vail rule #1: phase separation. But they remained judge and jury of new ideas ... [T]hose ... master P-type innovators saw themselves as Moses, raising their staffs, anointing the chosen loonshots. In other words, they failed on Bush-Vail rule #2: dynamic equilibrium.
        Let's see what we've learned about the Moses Trap and how it seduces even the best of the best.
        First: The dangerous, virtuous cycle builds momentum. P-type loonshots feed a growing franchise, which in turn feeds more P-type loonshots. ... Faster, better, more.
        Second: The franchise blinders harden. Only those P-type loonshots that continue to spin the wheel matter. ... In other words, [those innovators lean] on [their] strong side–P-type loonshots--and [don't] watch [their] weak side: S-type loonshots.
        Third: Moses grows all-powerful and anoints loonshots by decree. It [is the Moses-style leader], who completely control[s] which loonshots would emerge, at what time, and under what conditions. ...
        A Moses can point to a loonshot and will it to life. But that magic only lasts so long before the wheel stops turning." [Bahcall 2019]
A screenshot of a graph showing how Bosch needed "214 Phase 1 teams (3 months, €120,000)" to create "19 Phase 3 businesses"
Screenshot supporting point indicated above. Source: [Strategyzer/ Bosch 2021]. Video position approx. minute 6:30

You can fine-tune the mandate to start and must do so over time.

Mandate implementation

Note: This is a "leaky" topic with fuzzy scope edges, especially toward change management. Here, I will stick fairly tightly to sharing my research findings. If you are interested in the topic more broadly, consider some of the excellent books and journal articles on the topic, e.g. Scott Belsky's The Messy Middle or Douglas Ferguson's Beyond the Prototype.

Given that there appears to be much more research on mandate implementation than on its crafting, I split the implementation topic into two parts: Craft aspects and human aspects.

Craft aspects

  1. PUT THE EFFORT IT TAKES INTO MANDATE CRAFTING: It's hard work to draft mandates tightly, completely, and with rich details and context.
    1. Put in the effort it takes to craft your mandate effectively. [Hobcraft 2023]
      1. "[From Part 1:] The innovation mandate is often overlooked or undervalued. An innovation mandate is a critical tool for defining the scope and direction of innovation and the underlying values, commitment and resources placed behind it. Normally this innovation mandate comes in the form of a document, generally build up by a small team of senior leaders, innovation experts and subject matter experts. That group should possess a deep understanding of the existing organization’s strategy, business models, operations and culture and a wider appreciation of the innovation landscape, the “fields of opportunity” and the emerging practices of innovation management. ...
        Why I believe a robust 'living' innovation mandate is important. In my opinion, an innovation mandate should go deeper and provide different insights, experiences or reference points[.] Innovation evolves, expands and gains momentum. Keeping the innovation mandate fresh and up-to-date is essential, it shows constant commitment and focus.
        [From Part 2:] The innovation mandate should be signed off and disseminated to all relevant stakeholders constantly. The drafting by a small team of leaders of senior leaders, innovation experts and subject matter experts should disseminate this policy document to all stakeholders ... at all levels. In any document, feedback and suggestions should be actively sought.
        Understanding this mandate is for all employees and specifically those impacted by the program, especially in research and development, marketing, operations, technical support and development, finance and sales.
        In addition, it should be shared and well communicated with external stakeholders such as partners, investors and customers to communicate the organization's commitment to innovation and its strategy for driving innovation forward.
        Finally, this mandate sets expectations
        and builds out internal marketing, setting and/or seeking well-focused topics that can contribute to the strategic priorities and areas of future value and can be central or validated against any reward and recognition approach as the referencing point. It becomes the licen[s]e to operate and encourage valuable contributions to any innovation." [Hobcroft 2023]
    2. Give it real, explicit boundaries. [Välikangas and Gibbert 2005]
      1. "The authors' research suggests that a variety of traps that forestall innovation can be avoided by, paradoxically, placing boundaries on innovation activity. In an environment without boundaries, say the authors, there is no context for shared interpretation or common expectations. Boundaries, on the other hand, act not as constraints but as aids to defining innovation needs and producing useful outputs that business units can exploit. Smartly placed constraints actually act as enablers of innovation by making it more palatable and execution friendly and giving it traction in the competition for corporate attention and resources. Drawing on their research, the authors offer several scenarios of "boundaries in use." They describe how Shell makes the radical legitimate by making it thematically relevant to core business, how Nokia restricts its innovation efforts to business-unit strategies and environmental turbulence, how Air Products focuses on ideas that leverage operational capabilities, how Siemens focuses on innovation potential that crosses products and businesses, and how IDEO's work with Texas Health Resources reframes the customer experience to anchor solutions in new ways." [Välikangas and Gibbert 2005]
    3. As a litmus test, check if your mandate is "falsifiable." If the opposite of what you suggest would be stupid, you haven't gotten to falsifiability yet. A reasonable person must be able to propose something different that would also have to be a good option. [Me, from various sources]
      1. [Note that in strategy, we use a slightly different and lower standard for falsifiability than scientific research does, e.g., as described in Wikipedia's article on falsifiability.
        In strategy–and, by extension, here in corporate governance–we simply use the term to test whether we have made a meaningful or meaningless statement, which can be a lot harder to distinguish on abstract and forward-looking topics than ones that relate to the current real world.]
    4. Don't artificially inflate your true must-do mandate with some arbitrary/ fake maximization or excess urgency. It will be counter-productive if you "over-do" it, by pushing your team into panic/ overload mode. [DiGangi 2023, Cording 2023]
      1. [Will continue adding quotes here]
  2. EMBED MANDATES IN A GREAT ENVIRONMENT: Embed work in a healthy structure (i.e., support from upper management, clear mandate, high team skill level, and autonomy) and act effectively (i.e., high-quality deliveries and openness to and sharing with the org). [Belsky 2018, Bergerskogen 2021, Ferguson 2019]
  3. AVOID BOTH AIMLESSNESS AND RIGIDITY: Work to avoid the opposite problems of "mission drift" (success on something you didn't intent) and "mission failure" (sticking with what you intend but not succeeding). [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021, Vikkelsø et al 2017]
    1. The direction of forces toward mission drift of failure are predictable, based on your situation. These risks grow with the shortness of your timeline, the number of goals you pursue simultaneously, and the complexity of the partnerships involved in the work. [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021, Vikkelsø et al 2017]

Human aspects

  1. OFFER NEAR-IN VALUE, FOR LEGITIMACY: Orgs only treat long-term agendas as legitimate if they recognize ongoing, near-in, tangible value from it. [Bergerskogen 2021].
  2. DON'T OVERLOAD YOUR ORG WITH NEWNESS: Individuals and total orgs can only absorb so much innovation before balking at more change.
    1. Pace your agenda to match your org's inward-looking and outward-looking "absorptive capacity," with special attention on total org vs. subsidiary business differences. [Banerjee et al 2019]
    2. Keep your agenda in sync with the org.'s implementation climate and maintain innovation-values fit. [Dong et al 2008]
  3. CUSTOMIZE YOUR IMPLEMENTATION TO YOUR ORG: Unsurprisingly, orgs differ. Understand and implement what works for you.
    1. Outcome-wise, make your outcomes usable and agreeable/ acceptable. [My synthesis]
    2. Operationally, enhance skills, offer incentives, remove obstacles, and fit the agenda and fit your mandate and outcomes with daily work. [Dong et al 2008]
    3. Culturally, learn org preferences and compare (and ensure compatibility of) the implicit values of the org and your innovation. [Dong et al 2008]
    4. Politically, consider the needs of 6+ stakeholder groups–Your own group (bosses and teams), "political" stakeholders (those who wield influence even without formal authorities), vertical (upstream and downstream) and horizontal (complimentary) collaboration partners, users, any commercial partners. [Becker et al 2010]
    1. Also politically, consider early, "public" sharing of innovation agendas. Just know: It comes with both pros and cons. [Gudowsky 2021]
    2. Realistically, even if you do everything "right," you may still find differences in individual innovation acceptance among the org's people. On average, innovation will be better accepted by experienced people with strong self-efficacy. [Dong et al 2008]


Feb 6, 2024: Three giants of innovation governance

I highlighted a couple sources on LinkedIn that I have found particularly helpful all-around so far. Consider them key reading for Innovation Governance 101.

Here they are:

A visual showing the covers of three sources - "ISO 56002" standard, "innovation governance" book, and "Anticipatory Innovation Governance" paper

ISO 56002 is by the International Standards Organization

Available at: https://www.iso.org/standard/68221.html

Value: Rigorous litmus tests across a range of innovation topics: Use it to compare your own governance to best-in-world standards

innovation governance is by J.-P. Deschamps and
B. Nelson

Available at: https://www.imd.org/
research-knowledge/corporate-governance/books/
innovation-governance/

Value: All you need for Board and C-level governance

Anticipatory Innovation Governance is by Piret TĂľnurist and Angela Hanson

Available at: https://www.oecd.org/publications/anticipatory-innovation-governance-cce14d80-en.htm

Value: Sources and methods for governance specifically of anticipatory innovation


Feb 5, 2024: Design principles emerge for crafting great innovation agenda

I am emerging from my (mostly) academic literature review/ meta research on Innovation agendas/ purposes/ mandates.

After reviewing gobs of search results and checking on 50-some studies that appeared promising, I unearthed and dug into 28 additional helpful studies that I hadn't found in prior research yet, including 17 on my current focus of innovation agendas (and others that will help me on the remaining governance topics).

Along the way, I'm also refining the terms I use: In particular, I'm thinking of distinguishing innovation purpose/ cause (inherent in you, abstract, and quasi-permanent ... also hopefully a must-do) vs. innovation agenda/ mandate/ mission (applied version for fulfilling the purpose ... also hopefully a must-do too)

Synthesizing all the research, I emerge with design principles for great innovation agendas.

Here are the design principles, hot off the presses:

Design principles for great innovation agendas

Note: The principles split into Agenda choice (the "what") vs. agenda implementation (the "how")

Agenda choice

  1. CHOOSE BETWEEN 2 AGENDA TYPES: There are just two kinds of innovation agendas: Purpose-driven and portfolio-driven [My synthesis]
    1. Choosing between them depends on whether you have a must-do cause/ purpose (then go purpose-driven) or not (then go portfolio- driven).
  2. CHOOSE A "MUST-DO" AGENDA TYPE IF YOU CAN: True must-dos are best ... but you can't fake something being a "must-do."
    1. Innovation agendas driven by explicit purpose yield better results than "pure" portfolio-based approaches agnostic of specific purpose [Henderson 2021, Wesseling et al 2021 (?)]
    2. But you can't invent a cause. You must already have one to use it:
      1. It has to be a true "must-do" [Henderson 2021; and My Synthesis]
      2. It must be ~80% clear [Desai 2013]
      3. You can shift it somewhat if needed [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021]
      4. Given a strong purpose, innovation agendas can emerge from other, e.g., portfolio-driven work [Implied by Henderson 2021]
    3. You can recognize must-do purposes by the litmus tests of [Henderson 2021]
      1. Going beyond mere profit maximization (which is a "duh!" for a for-profit organization. BTW, feel free to substitute in "mission maximization" for mission-driven non-profits. Same idea.) [Henderson 2021]
      2. Public commitment to it [Henderson 2021]
      3. Having stuck with it even when it required giving up short-term profits and other "hard" downsides" [Henderson 2021]
      4. Not having gotten distracted, either by something else ("ad hoc overload") or self-inflicted blockers ("not invented here" attitude). [Bergerskogen 2021]
  3. CREATE SUFFICIENTLY ROBUST PORTFOLIOS: A sufficiently large and diverse portfolio may start with 200+ initiatives (of which only a small share will continue and eventually succeed). [Bosch/ Strategyzer 2021]
  4. SEPARATE THE AGENDAS FOR CURRENT VS. FUTURE BUSINESS: You must distinguish between agendas for present vs. future business (i.e., for working improving your current system vs. evolving the system). [O'Connor 2018]
    1. "Long-term" timeframes is valuable and will yield financial and strategic benefits for up to 5 - 8 years beyond the timeframe on which your industry normally focuses, likely a total of 7 - 10 years into the future. [Souder et al 2017 and Bezos 1997, 2003, 2006]

Agenda implementation

Craft aspects

  1. DO THE HARD WORK OF CRAFTING GOOD AGENDAS: Put real effort into crafting your agenda tightly, completely, with rich details and context [Hobcraft 2023]
    1. Give it real, explicit boundaries. [Välikangas and Gibbert 2005]
      1. As a litmus test for checking whether you have such real, explicit boundaries, check if your agenda is "falsifiable." If the opposite of what you suggest would be stupid, you haven't gotten to falsifiability yet. A reasonable person must be able to propose something different, that would also have to be a good option.
    2. Don't artificially inflate your true must-do mission with some arbitrary/ fake maximization or excess urgency. It will be counter-productive if you "over-do" it and push your team into panic mode. [DiGangi 2009]
  2. BUILD PORTFOLIOS WITHIN YOUR PURPOSE: Within your agenda, maintain "portfolio-thinking" for your actual initiatives/ projects. Don't get caught "proclaiming the right answers," aka don't fall prey to a "Moses Complex." [O'Connor 2018; Bahcall 2019]
  3. AVOID BOTH RIGITY AND AIMLESSNESS: Expect and consciously work to avoid the opposite problems of "mission drift" (success on something you didn't intent) and "mission failure" (sticking with what you intend but not succeeding at it). [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021, VikkelsĂś et al 2017]
    1. The direction of forces toward mission drift of failure are predictable, based on your situation. These risk of these problems grows with the shortness of your timeline, the number of goals you pursue simultaneously, and the complexity of the partnerships involved in the work. [Leadbeater and Winhall 2021, VikkelsĂś et al 2017]
  4. SET STRONG FUNDAMENTALS: Set the work up for success. Embed it in a healthy structure (i.e., support from upper management, clear mandate, high team skill level, and autonomy) and with effective actions that provide value (high-quality deliveries and openness to and sharing with the org, in addition to near-term, tangible, valuable interim results even if one has long-term agendas). [Bergerskogen 2021]

Human aspects

  1. OFFER NEAR-IN VALUE FOR LEGITIMACY: Even a long-term agenda for future business/ evolving your system will only be treated as legitimate if your org can see and recognize ongoing, near-in, tangible value from your work [Bergerskogen 2021]
  2. DON'T OVERLOAD THE ORG: Pace your agenda to match your org's "absorptive capacity," with special attention on total org. vs. subsidiary business differences. [Banerjee et al 2019]
    1. Keep your agenda in sync with the org.'s implementation climate and maintain innovation-values fit. [Dong et al 2008]
  3. REMOVE ADOPTION BLOCKERS: Actively create a strong environment for adoption. Overall, you do this by ensuring that your outcomes will be usable and agreeable/ acceptable. Specifically, you do this by enhancing skills, offering incentives, removing obstacles, and fitting the agenda and its outcomes to fit with daily work. [Dong et al 2008; My Synthesis]
    1. You will need to learn about your org's preferences and compare implicit values between the org and your innovation. [Dong et al 2008]
    2. Even if you do everything "right," you may still find differences in individual innovation acceptance among the org's people. On average, innovation will be better accepted by experienced people with strong self-efficacy. [Dong et al 2008]
  4. FINE-TUNE STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT: Separately consider the needs of at least 6 different stakeholder groups–Your direct group (bosses and teams), "political" stakeholders (those who wield influence even without formal authorities), vertical (upstream and downstream) and horizontal (complimentary) collaboration partners, users, any commercial partners.
    1. Early, "public" sharing of innovation agendas comes with both pros and cons. Consider it an option, as long as you do so open-eyed. [Gudowsky 2021]

"So what" – Surprises unearthed in this research

Not everything is shockingly new. But it's also nice to see topics that "feel" sensible also be confirmed in rigorous research. (Remember that "insights" can be "new, surprising, interesting, .... or confirmatory.")

Nonetheless, every researcher hopes to find some new nugget, raw gold that they didn't hold before and that now glints in the metaphorical light of their knowledge.

Here are a few of the insights that surprised me in this research:

  • I was grateful to learn of the importance of tangible near-in results for the legitimacy of long-term efforts. It breaks the silly and, it turns out, fake tradeoff between either focusing on the near-term or the long-term.
  • I had never thought of "mission drift," especially as something predictable and observable ... even though, looking back on past work, it's something that occurs frequently. Hmm, maybe the new thing was not the idea but the tangible, actionable term for it.
  • I like the concept of the org's "innovation absorption capacity" as something to measure/ estimate. Exactly how to measure that? Not sure yet. But at least I can now look out for it.
  • I enjoyed the "mad-lib" for describing innovation agendas. Makes things simple and actionable in practice.
  • Ok, not really new-to-me: But I'm still thankful to the Bosch team for sharing the size and cost of their innovation project portfolio. Many organizations create vastly insufficient portfolio, overestimating their ability to "pick the winners." This one is a shocker, but an important reality check.
  • Academic research is uneven in its coverage of the topics that good innovation governance takes. Some topics receive tons of effort (esp. the "how" of crafting good agendas). Others, like the "what" of picking a good agenda in the first place appear to have received much less coverage, just as is the case in practitioner literature (books, blogs, etc.). People simply pre-suppose an existing purpose ... and then wonder why work fails, since, of course, coming up with a good purpose and agenda is actually rather hard.


Jan 25, 2024: new insights from Paul Hobcraft strengthen Governance Map

I have been having a conversation with Paul Hobcraft, one of my favorite thinkers in innovation, on LinkedIn.

He pointed me to articles of his that I hadn’t seen before.

New actions result

Several insights of his in those articles can strengthen the governance map:

He points to a BCG Henderson Institute study that splits governance questions into structures, rules, and practices. I like that split and may use it to replace my current dimension of “current vs. future vs. ongoing.”

He also strongly advocates for governance as a “beating heart,” meaning something dynamic and life-infusing, not static, let alone rigid.

I don’t think I have any dynamic elements in the governance map yet. In fact, the very term “map” is static by nature (though I wouldn’t want to re-brand it ‘Governance Google Maps,’ which would be more dynamic 😂). I may need (1) an entirely new name for the framework and definitely (2) a dynamic element within it.

On a different front/ post, he also reminded me of the Executive Innovation Work Mat, a framework that may make the “Core” topics much stronger.

Thanks Paul! 🙏


Jan 22, 2024: Observations on researching "Innovation Purpose & Agenda" (core to the "Core" section 😄)

I reviewed and collected roughly 26 studies on Innovation Purpose today. Many more to go!

Here is an emerging list of researchers I have tracked (still WIP, also only includes academic researchers, not practitioners):

Key points (WIP):

My hypothesized set of choices of "Purpose or Portfolio" appears to hold so far. I found enrichment of the ideas, not contradictions or alternate approaches.

Universal aspects: Success criteria for good innovation agendas:

  • Nature of agenda --> Must-do
    • Long-term focus [Bezos, Boulder], combined with visible near-in value to the org for legitimacy [Bergerskogen]
    • No distractions, despite awareness of/ acceptance of costs [Bergerskogen]
    • Need boundaries [Välikangas, DiGangi]
  • Enablers of agendas --> Good craft, system activation
    • Agenda itself: Great, clear crafting of the mandate [Hobcraft, Bergerskogen]
    • Activation: System of initiatives (Portfolio thinking) [O'Connor], plus integration with a system of enablers (covered in our other sections) [Henderson, Banerjee et al]

Type-specific aspects:

  • Purpose
    • Purpose can be boiled down to: Identity + Intent [Leadbeater]
      • (Plus what I learned at CBS: In the end, what matters is (1) force of will (2) toward a intrinsic purpose that (3) is ethically sound)
    • Purpose is superior if you can implement an authentic one [Henderson]
    • Purpose can be evolved [Leadbeater]
  • Portfolio
    • [... to come ...]
    • E.g., will add [Musk] here

Particularly interesting studies

  • An integrated system of requirements for an effective purpose to lead to performance:
    • Henderson, R. (2020). Innovation in the 21st Century: Architectural Change, Purpose, and the Challenges of Our Time. Management Science, 67(9), 5479-5488. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2020.3746
A diagram showing how 6 interconnected elements allow Purpose to lead to Performance
Henderson's (2020) links between purpose and performance
  • A study of what it takes for innovators to achieve legitimacy (another word for credibility): In particular, it takes offering tangible near-in value that's visible to the organization
  • Boundaries enable better innovation. While we knew that at a project level, it's also true at a total-agenda level
  • Good innovation mandates can be crafted, just like other charters
  • Quantitative confirmation of the value of long-term focus

Meta finding today: Researching innovation agendas is tricky

There's little available data/ research: People seem to pre-suppose a purpose. Much of the discussions starts with the assumption that the purpose (or at least options for one) already exists.

What data/ research exists is hard to find: Mostly, the "right" search term to use is unclear. Or, said more optimistically, the data and research we seek mixes in with . Multiple options exist. And each has unrelated other uses. E.g.:

  • "Purpose:" Overlaps with "purpose-based" innovation, which is one term for social, mission-based, and non-profit work, loosely defined in contrast to commercial, academic, etc. work
  • "Agenda:" There exists massive research in Communication Studies reaching back at least to the early 1970s about how people's opinions are reflected in mass media and turn into "agendas," either into the agendas of groups or into the narratives that media companies use to interpret facts.
  • "Mandate:" This term has less overlap. But there also is less data to be found for it.
  • "Strategy, vision, etc." Those terms have a lot of other uses, including by me. For now, I decided not to investigate them further. Another day, with more time.

Much data/ research that one can find relates to other topics: In general, much of the research focuses on political agendas, purposes, and related innovation–both innovative agendas and inventive ways to gain traction to political agendas. Some, as already mentioned, relates to Communication Studies or Non-Profit Leadership.

Another meta finding: I haven't found great research summary software

Right now, I'm using a mix of file folders (keeping researched papers organized), Bookends (citation cataloging), Miro (visualizing and summarizing lessons learned), and Airtable (shareable directory of researchers).

That's even though I also have Liquid Text (for annotating and clipping PDFs), Protege (ontology management), and Evernote (general note-taking), and even though I have researched other apps (e.g., DEVONthink, Hookmark, Tinderbox, Eagle Filer, and Keep It).

And I'm still not happy. My research feels very clunky!

IMHO, a massive whiteboard with the ability to pin up content still is less clunky. And no single system that I have found appears to replace it all effectively. From what I can tell, DEVONthink gets closest, but online commentary indicates that it falls down on execution. 🤷‍♂️

Might need to investigate these or other tools further!

Miscellany

I stumbled across an interesting new category of innovation, between radical and incremental. One might consider it one type of "adjacent" innovation: "Architectural," meaning "innovation that changes the architecture of a product or a system while keeping many of its components relatively unchanged." Apparently, the term gets used up to the architecting of entire industries. (in: Henderson, R. Innovation in the 21st Century: Architectural Change, Purpose, and the Challenges of our Time". Management Science (2021).)

Actions: Changes that I will make because of today's research

Changes to make to the Governance Map:

  • In "Goals," the second item should be "endpoints," not "interface." An Interface would fit better in "Strides" (or maybe in "Core.")
  • In "Context," the sole item should expand to include both "trends" (already there) and "forces" (added)
  • In "Means," there might need to be a "Coordination" section for connecting among all the other aspects (e.g., to tackle insights from Banerjee, A. et al, 2019). Alternatively, this could live in "Strides," as "system-level strides" (vs. project-level strides), or in "Means" (for "Maturity")
  • I'm missing a "Methods" section (e.g., M&A, Open Innovation). But that's only lightly part of governance. Don't know yet how to deal with that.


Jan 16, 2024: Introduced Credible Innovation Governance map. Collected initial feedback

The map that will guide this journey

So here is what I shared on this blog and LinkedIn.

This is not "the answer." This is a visualized research plan and a table of contents.

I synthesized clusters/ themes from the topics I found in my foundational research. In other words, this represents the topics I have seen and the way they group in my mind so far.

I will now explore each of these specific topics (e.g., "Leadership style" and broader themes (e.g., "Core"). Not only will I synthesize content within each topic. I will also adapt individual themes and the total framework as needed. To be explicit: This WILL change.

A colorful framework of 6 "credible innovation governance" topics around a central circle, with topic annotations
My research map

Initial feedback: Call out what people can apply ("news to use") and clarify terms. Consider whether the "stable" vs. "dynamic" distinction is necessary and useful enough to keep

Clarification needs: Call out practical elements and explain terms

What: Elwin L pointed out on LinkedIn: "I do question if 'Credible Innovation Governance' should be more than just strategy. Shouldn't governance include practical implementation methods."

So what: I agree. Call out the different disciplines involved and/ or which aspects are theoretical vs. practical.

What: David D asked on LinkedIn how I define "stable" vs. "dynamic" and the difference between them.

So what: I responded that, right now, my definitions and distinctions are "For, now, I define the difference between stable and dynamic via the question: 'Will it change substantially during the course of a project? Or at least during the lifetime of an innovation project portfolio?'"

Changes to consider: Eliminate the "stable" vs. "dynamic" dimension?

What: Jocelyn L pointed out an edge case between "stable" and "dynamic" on LinkedIn: "What if the leadership is intentionally trying to change the team culture THROUGH innovation? Wouldn't that make it a dynamic element (or dynamic output)?"

So what: I agree. That may be a weakness in my framework. That dimension may have to evolve.

Now what: Think hard about the value of the "stable" vs. "dynamic" distinction. If not helpful AND necessary, remove or replace it. At the same time, no framework survives every edge case. So don't just abandon it because of one edge case.


Further reading

Well THAT is what this is all about, no?
To come, people. Hold your horses! 😄