Innovation wave: 5 years back if you were an IT company and if you had not assessed yourself for CMM level-5 or if you are not running a CMM initiative, you would be looked upon as a laggard. Looks like it is time for an innovation wave now. However, there is a difference. ISO, CMM, PCMM or any other quality certification comes with clear-cut guidelines as to what steps are to be taken and what artifacts to show to get there. Unfortunately, innovation is on a much murkier ground. NASSCOM has been playing the “innovation” trumpet for a few years now. However, most organizations are still lost as to where to start. Well, idea contests certainly seem to fit the bill, at least for now.
Where is the catch? You may say, “Where is the problem?” Well, the experiences most narrate seem to remind me of my graduate school days in
Basic unit of analysis for innovation capability: Doesn’t all this: idea contest, number of ideas it generates, number of employees who log ideas, what kind of ideas finally get prototyped or even make to product or offering definition, give an indication of organization’s innovation capability? Brown and Duguid say “No” in their paper titled “Organizational learning and communities of practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation” (published in 1991). These researchers and some others feel that basic unit of analysis for innovation capability should be self-governing passionate communities within the organization. In Google, these are called “intergrouplets” (see Sergy Solyanik’s blog),in KM circles these are called Communities of Practice, some places they are called SIG and McKinsey studies them as informal knowledge networks. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t know how to detect these networks, how to support them and of course, how to leverage them.