Four Leadership Actions To Create Stability In 2022 Using Elastic Innovation

Leaders looking for the future are working to create stability in 2022. Through the use of resilient innovations, they solve problems and opportunities in different time horizons and business areas. They simultaneously manage short-term failures and achieve long-term goals and strategies.

Elastic innovation is thinking that, against the backdrop of changing markets, disrupts innovation itself. This entails a constant expansion and contraction of the market response in the short term in real time, while remaining focused on managing long-term innovation pipelines. Innovative enterprises are most resilient when their cultures and business models allow them to turn around quickly, navigate market uncertainties and maintain a long-term vision. Leaders of such enterprises:

1. Fix the “potholes” today, and get ready for road repairs tomorrow. One of the most challenging challenges during destructive periods is addressing immediate, short-term needs at the cost of implementing long-term strategies. Yet the media is full of recent stories of companies that have reversed their activities to retool supply chains, distribution models, customer service protocols and products, retaining strategic focus for years to come. Failure often requires a rapid transfer of effort and investment in areas that were not part of the plan but are necessary and / or profitable in the short term. By practicing resilient innovation, future-seeking leaders shift the effort and investment to “skip” the stages of the pipeline and / or accelerate the development process to reduce time to market. Recent examples: new drugs, vaccines, masks, spare parts, bicycles and scooters, test kits, microchips and electronics. The innovation processes themselves are flexible, maintaining design standards to ensure product quality, safety and integrity. This approach allows organizations to manage and influence different time horizons.

2. Provide the right people and eliminate long-term talent shortages. Leaders looking for the future understand that resilient innovation requires the right talent, both to generate the ideas behind innovation and to stimulate the development of improved products and services. Evidence suggests that the “Great Retirement” crisis will give way to a persistent shortage of talent in some areas, affecting the jobs and skills needed for resilient innovation. For example: agile engineers, product designers, digital / AI / cloud experts, content specialists and production workers. In this environment, future-oriented leaders take action on talent strategies that include both attack and defense. They know that innovation is a challenge to the status quo and requires a diverse and ever-renewing workforce. As business models are increasingly characterized by mobile, decentralized structures, organizations need managers who foster resilient innovation, create ecosystems that foster collaboration, and generate ideas organically and randomly from the depths of the organization.

3. Treat risks as opportunities for innovation. Rapid and timely response to threats, while continuing to support core business processes, is a form of resilient innovation. Leaders looking for the future recognize that risk has become a key element of business decisions and will remain so throughout 2022 and beyond. The frequency and concurrence of high-risk risks (e.g., climate, geopolitics, health, finance, supply chains, talent shortages, human capital, cyber, war) are likely to continue to grow, requiring a culture of adaptation to incorporate new information coming in daily or hourly, and requires leaders to be determined to act when events occur. The roles of Risk Director and Chief Innovation Director are increasingly the same as they work to create flexibility and address risk volatility to meet immediate needs and create long-term opportunities without major business disruptions. Examples include how to serve customers and protect employees in a new way during major illnesses (e.g., retail amnanal trade), extreme weather events (e.g., automated rapid insurance claims management), labor shortages (e.g., mobile models production), supply chain failures (e.g. onshoring), and cyberattacks (e.g. User and Entity Behavior Analytics – UEBA).

4. Create a culture of innovation (even for non-innovators): The culture needed to support resilient innovation goes beyond traditional “innovation cultures” including all employees from design and engineering to procurement and legal to manufacturing and sales, marketing and distribution. Such a culture enhances the influence of people and skills. New ideas are best cultivated in an environment where people feel safe to go beyond their comfort zone and take risks, where failures are recognized as an integral part of learning, and where there are wider safety nets. Knowing that innovation often does not come from the top of the organization, leaders looking to the future understand that incubating ideas requires a culturally, politically and psychologically “safe” environment for employees, and includes a shared and healthy company culture focused on dignity. justice, inclusion and prosperity. Leaders support this environment with flexible work and pay, as well as benefits and training programs. They use the goal as a glue leader that fosters maturity in the company’s culture, while business models and day-to-day operations are transformed, conveying that innovation is central to managing, maintaining and protecting the company’s goals.

Through resilient innovation, future-oriented leaders make an impact by seeing the big picture, preparing for and managing scenarios across different time horizons, effectively combating complexity and ambiguity, and managing paradoxes and trade-offs.

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