Innovation Assessment

Innovation Program Assessment

When to Perform an Assessment

Innovation Programs have many moving parts. And based on how the moving parts interact, Innovation Programs yield different results. A good way to diagnosis the overall health of an Innovation Program is through an assessment. A suggested time to perform an assessment on the Innovation Program is when:

  • The organization experiences specific challenges with the Innovation Program
  • The Innovation Program does not meet expectations
  • Prior to launching an improvement initiative
  • Stakeholders are not aligned

Challenges to Innovation

Challenges experienced by an Innovation Program are varied, many, and interdependent, again, because there are many moving parts. The challenges may be known, but the reasons why the challenges exist may not. An assessment assists in identifying what is driving the challenges and where improvement is needed. Typical challenges companies experience with Innovation Programs that warrant an assessment  include:

  • Less than expected Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Resource constraints
  • Lack of focus
  • Fear of risk
  • Difficulty scaling ideas
  • Culture not conducive for innovation
  • Difficulty shifting from quantity to quality

The goal of a well functioning Innovation Program is to consistently support growth and operation optimization is fairly clear. Determining where the Innovation Program stands today is attained through assessing the current program. With the current state and future goal identified, a plan for improvement can then be developed.

Innovation Program Assessment

Innovation Assessment

Denovo offers a free assessment that will evaluate the overall condition of an organization’s Innovation Program. It also will help identify areas that may have opportunities for improvement while confirming what is working as designed. The assessment questions are arranged according to the Holistic Integrated Innovation Framework (HIIF).  This innovation framework, developed by Denovo, is the basis for our work in Innovation.

If after downloading and completing the free Innovation Program Assessment, and you wish to talk through the results, please email to schedule a free consultation call.   The Denovo team is enthusiastic about innovation and would love to talk to you about it.

Roadmap to Innovation

Starting an innovation program can be a daunting task.  Overcoming the many challenges in starting innovation can zap the energy and enthusiasm initially present in the program.  Fortunately, best practices exist.

The Roadmap to Innovation provides a guide as to the recommended steps to take when launching an innovation program.  The Roadmap takes into account current innovation best practices.  But, and for some, more importantly, it is designed around addressing the hurdles and barriers before they become an issue for the program.

Please register to download the free Roadmap to Innovation to assist you on the innovation journey.

If you would like to begin an innovation program or discuss your current program challenges, please contact us at

Roadmap to Innovation

Free Webcast Rewind: Business Model Transformation

Free Webcast Rewind:

How to Transform Your Business Model for Today’s World

Original Broadcast: Thu, Aug 11, 2016 


BMTwebWe are in an era of accelerated change. Startups, new technologies, new and changing markets, all are
putting pressure and strain on the business models that have worked in the past. They may not work in the future. It is predicted that nearly 50% of the current S&P 500 will be replaced over the next ten years.

Fortunately, the challenges we are facing today in the business world are also great opportunities. It is time to re-imagine your business model so that you are poised to take advantage of changes occurring today and tomorrow.

Learn the innovative and methodical approach to business model transformation that we leverage in our 2 day workshop that results in a new and innovative way for doing business.

Join Daniel Nolan, Founder & Principal Consultant of Denovo, for a complimentary webinar on how to transform your business model to survive the shifting business landscape and develop new growth. Daniel will describe:

• The reasons transforming your business model is needed
• The process, steps and questions to ask to attain a re-imagined business model that promotes growth
• The tools used to facilitate the new business model development
• Some best practices that will assist you in creating a strong model
• The steps are needed to put the new business model into action

Also, free Valuable Tools will be provided to assist you in the process of transforming your business model.



Using Patterns of Disruption for Strategy Transformation

When Deloitte published their Patterns of Disruption, it was framed as a way for established companies to anticipate new entrants disrupting their respective industry through new, innovative approaches. The patterns of disruption can also serve as a guide for internal transformation when applied to the existing business strategy and business model.   Competitive advantage, increased customer value, and reduced operational costs are the benefit of transforming the business strategy and business models before someone can disrupt the industry.

The Nine Patterns of Disruption

The Nine Patterns of Disruption function as spotlights of where to begin looking, externally for disruptive startups and internally for opportunities to transform. The Nine Patterns of Disruption are:

  • Expand Marketplace Reach: Connecting fragmented buyers and sellers
  • Unlock Adjacent Assets: Cultivating opportunities on the edge
  • Turn Products into Platforms: Providing a foundation for others to build on
  • Connect Peers: Fostering direct, peer-to-peer connections
  • Distribute Product Development: Mobilizing many to create one
  • Unbundle Products & Services: Giving you just what you want, nothing more
  • Shorten the Value Chain: Transforming fewer inputs into greater value outputs
  • Align Price with Use: Reducing upfront barriers to use
  • Converge Products: 1 + 1 > 2

At first glance, attempting to leverage the Nine Patterns of Disruption to transform a business strategy and business model may seem overwhelming with nine possible patterns to choose from. In some cases, a multi-prong approach may even be warranted. Fortunately, the Patterns do not exist within a vacuum.

Along with the Nine Patterns of Disruption, consider current and forecasted market conditions and change catalysts in the broader environment. They present current perspective and insight into where trends are heading.

Representative Market Conditions include:

  • Product Characteristics
  • Demand Characteristics
  • Industry Structure

Broader Environmental Catalysts include:

  • Enabling Technology
  • Consumer Mindset
  • Platforms
  • The Economy
  • Public Policies

The interaction of Disruption Patterns, Market Conditions and Catalysts provide a framework within to begin reviewing, adjusting and transforming a business strategy and/or the business model.   It is through identifying the current catalysts and market conditions that allow for focusing on a few Patterns of Disruption.  They are guides as to which of the Patterns to focus on. There may be one or two that stand out as the most interesting or advantageous to explore, based on what has been identified in Market Conditions and Catalysts.

The Pattern of Disruption offers a discussion starting point to ask questions about the current strategy and business model. Challenge the status quo and any existing assumptions about the industry (see Business Model Innovation in 4 Steps). Keep in mind, the goal of the exercise is to find ways to change the business, to get a competitive advantage, increase customer value, and reduce internal costs. In addition, look for external threats (Hello, SWOT Analysis) when reviewing the Patterns for internal opportunities.

The Patterns of Disruption, initially presented as a tool to anticipate new competition and reaction, can also be utilized to become the disruptor by simply shifting perspective internally and leveraging a few tools. The transformation and alignment of business strategy and business model is the first stage in building an innovative and competitive organization.

Levers for Healthcare Innovation

Levers for Healthcare Innovation

Levers for Healthcare Innovation

Image Source: Adobe Stock

Healthcare in the United States is in transition. The historical fee-for-service model in the healthcare industry is being challenged and is unsustainable as the future nears. Change will continue with the demand for new approaches for healthcare. This change is immense, impacting nearly every aspect of the health system. Many system stakeholders, the government, institutions, medical providers, insurance payors and patients, are overwhelmed by the required change and are unsure where to begin. The healthcare system is complex. Complexity, however, present may levers for innovation that can be leveraged to produce positive change. The levers for healthcare innovation fall into three goals or categories laid out by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, namely, improve the patient experience, improve health outcomes and substantially lower cost. Becoming clear on the specific lever within each category and its impact on the system is the first step in identifying effective and innovative approaches for tomorrow.

Improve the Patient Experience

To improve the patient experience, it is best to ask the patient what their current experience is. It is only after knowing what the patient is going through, what their expectations are, and why they feel the way they do, patterns begin to emerge and can be addressed. Each population in the system needs a “voice” be it young or old, acute or chronic and everything in between. One group cannot speak for another. The patient must be part of the conversation and understood in order to improve the patient experience. The needs and wants of a given patient population also need to be shared with all system stakeholders. Knowledge sharing assists in constructing a comprehensive picture of the experience of one population versus another and thus influences the resulting care model needed for that population.

Improve Health Outcomes

The three categories of healthcare innovation are connected and influenced by each other. By improving health outcomes, the patient experience changes as well as the long term costs. Of the institutions making progress in improving health outcomes, the catalyst behind the success is the ability to measure health outcomes. Defined and measured outcomes then become input for additional innovation levers such as:

  • Organization differentiation
  • Integrated care team composition
  • Clinical care decisions
  • Clinician knowledge sharing and comparison
  • Process and outcome interaction
  • Value-enhanced cost reductions
  • Payment shift from volume to results

Substantially Lower Costs

Many articles and online sources exist discussing the challenges and potential approaches to lowering healthcare costs. As with the previously discussed areas for healthcare innovation categories, a multiple prong approach to cost reduction will be necessary. The approach to lower costs is influenced by the advances in improving patient experience and improving health outcomes. Getting costs under control will require all the stakeholders in the healthcare system to participate in the cost conversation. Some areas for healthcare cost innovation include:

  • Technology to reinvent care delivery
  • Medical device and pharmaceutical management
  • Workforce training and skills
  • Government regulations, policies and processes
  • New products and processes
  • Care coordination
  • Less elaborate site of care substitution
  • Provider payment methods
  • Insurance benefit design
  • Market policy
  • Tax policy

The many moving and interconnected parts of the current American healthcare system are ideal candidates for innovation. They are categorized into the interdependent areas of improving the patient experience, improving health outcomes and lowering cost. Many more exist than listed here. Keeping in mind that many approaches and care models are needed to satisfy the needs of a diverse population seeking care, the opportunity for innovation exists today.

5 Recommended Innovation Portfolio Metrics

When there is no agreement on what are the important activities an organization should take to meet its strategic targets, goals are left up to chance. This is especially true when speaking about innovation projects. It is necessary to measure innovation at the process and project level and at the portfolio level. This helps ensure alignment among management that the company is taken on the appropriate amount of risk, as well as that the individual projects will take the organization where the strategy dictates.   Innovation portfolio metrics assist in the aligning of organizational priorities.

Innovation portfolio metrics are different that other innovation process metrics. They are not idea focused but rather project focused. Through the innovation portfolio, innovation risk appetite is monitored and in balance. A portfolio filled with incremental improvement projects will not make a drastic change in the market place, and yet too many breakthrough or disruptive innovation projects may place the company in too much risk. Of course, the blend risk within a portfolio is based on management’s appetite and strategy.

In addition, insight into return on investment (ROI) begins to come into focus with innovation portfolio metrics through examining the financial metrics. This aids in financial forecasting and selecting future projects. More importantly however, innovation portfolio metrics monitor the individual innovation projects selected to move forward. The monitoring helps ensure that the needed focus and resources are available to make the projects successful.

Below are recommended 5 innovation portfolio metrics for an innovation program:

Portfolio Financial Results
Predicted Revenue/Earnings (Annual & Cumulative)
(by Project, in Total)

Expected Degree of Variability in Revenue/Earnings
(by Project, in Total)

Amount of Investment
(by Project, in Total)

Innovation Type Portfolio Mix (Incremental, Expansion, Disruptive)
(by Project)

Type & Amount of Risk (Market, Technical, Operational/Executional) (High, Medium, & Low)
(by Project)

Resource Constraints
(by Project, by Calendar)

The metrics are ideally reviewed each time the innovation project portfolio management team convenes. Frequency of portfolio review may need to increase with a riskier blend of risk or projects at risk of not hitting plan. Formality of reporting is dependent on the maturity and size of the innovation program. This can range from a simple report to a formalized dashboard or scorecard.

Decisions and actions are driven from the reporting of metrics. Actions resulting from innovation portfolio metrics will include determining which projects to kill due under performance or greater insight, change of project priorities, removal of constraints, revising the amount of available resources both funding and people. Although market forces are not part of portfolio metrics, keeping them in mind will also aid in decision making.

The innovation portfolio is separate from the normal project management portfolio. Therefore, innovation portfolio metrics should also be separate from project management portfolio metrics. Projects resulting from an innovation program are often different in nature, timeline and resources. As a result, they need to be monitored separately. This also gives insight into the success of the innovation project and the innovation program.

An innovation program has many components. Innovation project portfolio management is one of them and is critical to the overall success of an innovation program. Establishing a consistent and decided set of innovation portfolio metrics is a useful tool for strategic alignment of projects, balancing risk, optimal utilization of resources, and ensuring project success.

Actions to Reduce Fear & Innovation Failure

Fear is one of the avoidable elements that often lead to innovation failure.   This concept is identified in PA Consulting Group 2015 report titled “Innovation as Unusual”. The fear is generated by negative management reactions to past innovation ideas, failures and risks. In addition, fear negatively affects attitudes, behaviors, management styles, and organization culture that inhibit creativity and innovation. This occurs at the personal level as well as in the organization as a whole. As a result, reducing fear in the organization is a critical and complicated component for a successful innovation program.

When looking at the various types of fear, fear of the unknown dominates.   Fear within an organization can also be driven by the fear of lose. These include the fear of losing face, prestige, position, favor or a job. And, of course, there exists the fear of failure. This is a strong fear preventing positive action in an organization, while promoting inaction and unproductive behavior. Fear is a powerful force. If left unmitigated, fear can undermine an innovation program.

Fear inhibits innovation by hiding failures, suppressing new ideas, and avoiding bringing risky concepts to senior leaders’ attention. Alan Kuyatt of the University of Maryland wrote “Managing for Innovation: Reducing the Fear of Failure” that describes the impact of fear and management actions.

“Leadership practices that discourage innovation must be replaced with ones that encourage innovation, including accepting risk, viewing failure as a learning opportunity, allowing sufficient time for innovative ideas to develop, and encouraging champions to help overcome resistance and find resources. Management needs to make the organization an ambidextrous operation that can continue to improve the efficiency of current products and services with incremental innovation, while simultaneously encouraging the discovery, adoption, and implementation of radical innovations, without the fear of failure, to increase the organization’s ability to be competitive.”

Identifying the fear is needed before being able to determine a plan to lessen or remove it from the group. Fear is not in plain view.   It is masked. It manifests as negative or unproductive behavior. As described in the book “The Psychology of Fear in Organizations” by Sheila Keegan, fear exhibits itself in an organization in the following forms:

  • Frustration
  • Powerlessness
  • Lack of control
  • Frenetic pace of life
  • No time for reflection
  • “Doing” not “Being”
  • Alienation
  • Toxic environment
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Loss of identity
  • Disengagement

Imagine an organization where several people are exhibiting the above symptoms of fear, including some members of the management team. It is not a conducive workplace for new ideas. These behaviors and feelings drive a need for control.   The idea being if the fear based behaviors can be under control, they can be managed and possibly eliminated. The need for control results in one or a combination of a command hierarchical/structure, a target culture and/or withdrawal.

Command Hierarchy
A recognizable feature of a command hierarchy is the organization chart of superiors, subordinates and the lines of communication. It establishes who reports to whom. It helps divide and assign decision-making authority within the organization. Work is pushed down for the lower levels of the hierarchy to perform, while needed decisions that are outside a staff member’s authority are pushed up to an appropriate level for resolution.

Target Culture
A target-based culture relies on performance monitoring, target setting for individuals, departments and boards. It follows the saying “what gets measured, gets done.” The targets provide useful guides for management, and productivity goals for staff. As long as targets are set and progress is monitored on a regular periodic basis, the process is under control. The monitoring, however, raises levels of fear and anxiety. There exists an implied implication for missing the target. It can also undermine morale, employees’ sense of worth, autonomy, performance and productivity. The target culture increases conformity and hinders creativity.

Employee withdraw is a common form of disengagement. Withdrawal can take the form physically or psychologically. Physical behaviors are the easiest to identify.  They exist in the form of absenteeism, employee lateness/tardiness, as well as, higher turnover. Psychologically speaking, disengagement appears as apathy, passivity, lack of creativity, and conducting minimal effort.

What develops is a cycle of fear (staff and management) resulting in unproductive behavior that drives a desire for more control. The added control in turn conjures more fear. This cycle strangles creativity at the personal level, and inhibits innovation at the organizational level.

trust2fear FI

Antidote to Fear and the Control Culture
One antidote to fear is encouraging an organizational culture that enables trust.   Trust develops from relationships with open and engaged participants motivated to pursue a common goal. Trust in organizations is vital. Employees and management, who are trusting and trusted, are more productive and cooperative. This is compared to the fearful staff described above that engage in counter productive behavior. Keep in mind, human relationships are complex and it can take time to establish the level of trust needed to enable innovation.

The trust develops from key actions and attitudes. In doing so, management can steer the organization without being controlling or defaulting to a control culture.   Specifically, trust is built upon:

  • Emergent Culture or a Hive Focus
  • Egalitarianism
  • Relationships & Engagement

The hive model encourages greater flexibility in working relationships because employees have more freedom to consult with peers without being overburdened by hierarchy. This encourages more initiative. A hive approach encourages people to learn from each other, take initiative and experiment. Doing so fosters more innovation. It also helps reduce fear and anxiety because groups of like-minded people become pro-active and self-supporting. The hive culture leverages components of emergence, self-supporting groups arising from greater autonomy. Emergence is a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties. In this case, it is individuals working together, self-organizing, self-supporting, within the boundaries established by management, to attain the common goal. That is to say, hives appear.

Self Supporting Groups
Self-supporting groups are like-minded, pro-active individuals that organize themselves around specific objectives. These groups are allowed to form in an egalitarian organizational structure that views all as co-contributors. Some may see this as a flatter organizational structure and typically seen in larger companies with discreet, set roles. The management of these groups is based on the relationships among the group members, as well as the engagement of leadership to ensure the staff has the skills and tools needed to achieve the objectives.

Great Autonomy
These self-supporting groups that emerge from the hive mentality are granted greater autonomy from management while functioning within certain boundaries, working through specific strategies. The boundaries and strategies are set and updated by management. The leaders of the organization can manage the teams but adjust the boundaries and strategies.

Pro-Active Workforce
With great autonomy, the group naturally forms around the objectives. They do what needs to be done with management guidance and do not require specific direction and monitoring.
Trust components FI
Management can take specific actions to reduce fear, increase trust, and encourage innovation. These actions foster emergence and the hive culture while shifting away from the control culture.

  • Develop a business strategy
  • Communicate a clear vision for the future and how innovation supports the strategy
  • Demonstrate a commitment to innovation through management’s own actions to reduce fear
  • Communicate the level of risk acceptable to management
  • Reiterate that everyone is responsible for the development of innovative thinking
  • Communicate that small organizational risks are part of everyone’s job, not just senior leaders
  • Foster greater individual autonomy
  • Grant people freedom to take action without permission within established boundaries based on strategy
  • Reassure employees to be innovative
  • Provide appropriate resources and training for staff to be innovative
  • Encourage healthy dissent and diversity with the self supporting groups
  • Develop innovation talent at all levels of the organization
  • Encourage trial and error
  • Encourage “pilots” and experimentation, not perfection
  • Celebrate failure and effort; learn from the failure; communicate the learning
  • Reduce the number of target and performance monitoring

Changing the culture is a powerful way to shift from fear to trust. The reduction of fear is just one of many components that allows for the seeds of innovation to take root and grow. With an emergent culture, a positive cycle emerges of self-supporting groups with greater autonomy that can become more proactive. This cycle fosters trust between co-contributors as well as with management. The relationships built on trust are the keystone of a culture allowing for new ideas, trial and error, acceptable failure, and continual learning. As a result, innovation is less likely to be restricted or inhibited due to fear.

13 Dimensions of Innovation

When the word “innovation” is used in today’s business environment, the connotation of new and exciting products come to mind. The latest gadget and how it will make our lives easier, more productive or more fun is the topic of conversation and highlighted on the morning social media feed. But innovation is more than a new product. There are many dimensions in which innovation can, and possibly should, occur.

13 Dim FI

Innovation can occur in one or more of 13 different dimensions. The Innovation Radar, developed by Mohanbir Sawhney, Robert C. Wolcott, and Inigo Arroniz, provides the initial 12 areas available for business innovation. By adding the business model to the list presents a holistic and comprehensive approach, yielding 13 dimensions an organization can review for innovation.

13 dimensions of innovation include:

  • Product/Service
  • Platform
  • Solution
  • Customer Needs
  • Customer Experience
  • Communication
  • Process
  • Revenue Generation
  • Management
  • Supply Chain
  • Channel
  • Partnership
  • Business Model

In addition, each of the 13 dimensions of innovation can be placed in one of three buckets, growth opportunities, core capabilities and operations, and the over arching business model. The segmentation of the dimensions assist in ensuring that the areas selected for innovation align with the business and innovation strategy set at the beginning of the initiative. Figure 1 outlines each of the innovation dimensions.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The value of defining the dimensions of potential innovation provides a guide as well as consistent vocabulary for innovation.   It is a flexible tool that, when based on the strategy, helps point the company toward the areas that will benefit the most for incremental or disruptive changes. This applies to growth opportunities, core capabilities and operations, as well as the overarching business model. Leveraging the dimensions also allows for consistent measurement and management of innovation over time. It creates a profile of a company’s current and future innovation strategy reflected in the project portfolio.

One thing to consider is that it is often advantageous if not critical to look at changing more than one dimension to attain true innovation. If a new product is developed, innovating in the Business Model dimension is advised. A new product may open opportunities for new customers or new customer segments, a new way to get paid, develop a new message for marketing, improve or change processes, or change parts of the supply chain. For a disruptive innovation, innovating in more than one dimension is needed.

Business innovation comes in 13 dimensions, often at once. Awareness of the dimensions aids in pushing an innovation program farther or at least allows for the discussion of how far the organization is willing to go. Viewing innovation as a tool that can impact many areas of a company offers many more opportunities than looking only at products.



Tips for Facilitating Meetings with Different Personality Types

Anyone who has led a meeting has been there. You are leading a meeting, ideation session or workshop, and watching the meeting run off track or hijacked by the mix of personalities in the room. Getting the conversation back on course can be a huge effort, assuming the meeting gets back on track at all. Leading conversations with many personality types, especially when the attendees’ personalities are clashing, can result in a less than successful session. As the facilitators and leaders of the meetings, we have the responsibility to set the tone and agenda, as well as create a productive, safe environment in which all can participate.  Fortunately, there are a few tips to help us facilitate meetings with common personalities that seem to be present in most meetings.


Image Credit: Adobe Stock

The Initiator

The Initiator is confident, proactive and full of ideas.   They can help get things started and often have a suggestion or proposal.

Tips: The Facilitator can lean on the Initiator to help keep a positive environment and stimulate others. The Initiator expects to be actively praised and recognized for what they bring to the meeting.

The Cheerleader

The Cheerleader offers supportive comments regarding others’ contributions and likes to create a positive atmosphere.

Tips: It is difficult for the Cheerleader to make negative comments or difficult decisions so the Facilitator may need to directly elicit them when not offered voluntarily.

The Diplomat

The Diplomat is good at defusing conflict, asking for clarification, and using humor to try to distract from friction between other session attendees. They may become frustrated in a tense meeting.

Tips: The Facilitator may attempt to maximize the Diplomat’s engagement and involvement in the meeting, even if no tension or friction is occurring at the time.

The Talker

The Talker may discuss their point in an indirect or unstructured manner, often with tangents, and hold the floor too long. When they do not have the focus of the meeting room, they hold side conversations, on and off the topic being discussed.

Tips: The Facilitator can subtly interrupt the Talker by summarizing the Talker’s relevant points.   In a non-confrontational way, ask the speakers in the side conversation to repeat the points they would like to make. If side conversations continue, ask the Talker in private (during a break or prior to the next meeting) to limit the side conversation.

The Quiet-One

The Quiet-One is just that, quiet, not disinterested. They may lack confidence or are concerned about a negative reaction to the points they want to make. They may not voluntarily participate throughout the entire meeting. The Quiet One is apprehensive of sharing publicly.

Tips: The Quiet-One requires direct and positive encouragement to participate and contribute. The Facilitator may informally ask for the Quiet One’s opinions prior to the session and offer praise when appropriate as further encouragement.

The Smarty-Pants

The Smarty-Pants has a strong need to show their knowledge of every topic. This can lead to tangential discussions or unnecessarily getting the conversation mired down with details. They may also interrupt others to make points before others have the opportunity to do so. They want to be seen as the person with all the answers. Often the need to be heard is based on an unconscious degree of insecurity.

Tips: The Facilitator can interrupt and guide the conversation in a similar approach as with the Talker.   Directly confronting the Smarty-Pants will make them feel attacked and may provoke a negative reaction.

The Interjector

The Interjector frequently and repeatedly interrupts others. This behavior may spread to other meeting attendees resulting in losing meeting effectiveness or confrontation between attendees.

Tips: The Facilitator needs to directly and diplomatically challenge the Interjector and ensure the original speaker can finish making their point. It may be valuable to acknowledge the Interjector and reassure them they will have an opportunity to speak at the next opportunity. The Facilitator will function as a conversation traffic cop.

The Critic

The Critic is the opposite of the Cheerleader. The Critic is quick to criticize, often without supporting reasons or offering alternative proposals. The Critic may also be very direct and begin making personal comments about others if the behavior goes unchallenged.

Tips: The Critic’s behavior needs to be addressed quickly, yet indirectly. As soon as they disagree with whoever is speaking, ask them to explain their reasons for disagreeing. Also ask them to propose their alternative. Ensure the request for a deeper explanation is non-aggressive with a focus on the substance of the conversation and not on the Critic’s behavior. The Facilitator asking for justification of the negative comments can begin to move the meeting in a constructive direction.

The Dictator

The Dictator will deliberately and consciously attempt to monopolize the discussion, hijack others’ ideas, and take up meeting time.  They have a very high opinion of their ideas and less of the ideas of others. They are intolerant of criticism, be it constructive, diplomatic or otherwise. They are also impatient with anything they view as a lack of progress, others not making their point quickly enough, or a point they do not see as important.

Tips: The Dictator will enjoy the challenge of a direct confrontation. However, quick intervention is required so they do not derail the conversation by intimidating, dominating, and discouraging others to speak up. The Facilitator should expect a reaction when attempting to limit the Dictator’s behavior. The best approach is to consistently and diplomatically make an unemotional reference to time constraints and the need for everyone to participate. The Dictator will make their displeasure known. It is in the Facilitator’s best interest to not react and maintain a “poker face”.   The Dictator may begin acting as the Critic, in which case ask them to explain their position and propose alternatives with which they agree.

Psychology outlines nine personality types we encounter in meetings. Understanding and recognizing the characteristics of each personality and how to effectively deal with them assists us as the facilitator to hit the session agenda’s goals in a professional, timely manner, in a way where all the attendee’s feel they have been heard. Generically speaking, outlining the agenda, time constraints, goals and meeting rules at the beginning of the meeting can also help the Facilitator lead a productive meeting.

Innovation Drivers for Future

6 Reasons Innovation is a Survival Skill

Many articles these days talk about reasons why companies should consider innovation as a core discipline.   A quick Google search on “why innovate” produces 23,600,000 results. There is a plethora of opinions regarding innovation and why it is important. Competition is usually one of the reasons but not the only one, especially when looking how the world will be in the near future. Innovation becomes a critical survival skill when looking at predictions for how we will live, work, and communicate as early as 2020.

Successful innovation involves a level of prediction. Successful businesses not only respond to their current customer or organizational needs, but also anticipate future trends and develop an idea, product, service, process or tools that allows them to meet future demand rapidly and effectively. Being aware of opportunities that exist now, or that are likely to emerge in the future can assist in focusing an innovation program. Six categories of predictions emerge that, if come true, provide great opportunities and motivation companies to innovate, especially existing small and mid size companies.

Innovation Drivers for Future

Increasing Competition
As mentioned before, competition is a typical reason for encouraging innovation in business. Predictions for competition in the future come from the pressure of new and existing competitors, as well as the changing market due to globalization.

Competitors are getting smarter, faster, and hitting the market with new and exciting products more rapidly. Innovation cycles are becoming shorter. New products and services are being released at ever increasing speeds.   This is placing additional burdens on existing organizations to keep up, either by matching product features or attempting to leap frog over competitors.

Additional competition is also coming from below in the form of startups. The hurdles for startups are shrinking. Access to startup capital has never been easier, technology is also easier and cheaper to get, use, or build. And, of course, new ideas seem limitless.

It is predicted that mergers and acquisitions will continue over the next few years1. Larger companies with combined resources will place pressure on their smaller competitors to keep up. Couple this with the continuing rise of startups, existing small and mid sized companies who are stuck in the middle are going to feel the pinch from above and below.

One approach for dealing with competitors is to mimic and copy what the competitors are doing. Focusing on what “they” are doing instead of aiming beyond the competition places a limit on the potential for success. Another approach in dealing with competition is to launch products that disrupt the market. Winning companies strive to be the ones to emulate, not to follow others. This can only be done through creativity and implementing innovative ideas, that is to say, through innovation, and to do it quickly and repeatedly.

Besides good products and services, organizations need innovative processes and management that can drive down costs, improve productivity, increase quality, raise employee engagement and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Being first to market with something new, or developing a new approach for operations, can provide a significant advantage.

Increasing Globalization
Not that long ago, competitors were local or national, for the most part. Today, things are different.   The world is shrinking due to globalization2, 9. Companies, big and small, are all around the world and have global access. National boundaries are falling away where business customers are concerned. A company based in India has access to your customers that are in your own backyard. Fortunately, it works in reverse as well.

As an example, it is predicted that India will continue to grow due to its large, young population, vast middle class consumers, a large, educated, English speaking IT industry and stable government. Not only fueled by local consumers, India’s growth will be fueled by consumers from around the world. Add to the mix other economically developing areas such as China, Latin America and regions of Africa, and the pressure to get customers is going to quickly increase.

To thrive in tomorrow’s rapidly changing and global environment, companies have no option but to launch innovation programs to attract new customers, and open new markets. The changing world market is an opportunity for those who innovate and take advantage of it.

Increasing Consumer Expectations
With social media and the continuing advancement of technology, marketing will become increasingly personalized for each customer3, 10. This will require new ways to market, advertise products and services, as well as gain and retain customers. The modern consumer is more informed and, thanks to globalization, has more options available to them.

Consumer expectation is also high and will continue to be so3. They will not accept mediocre or obsolete products or services. They don’t have to. They have options. Consumers are looking for products that will improve their lives. They want companies to solve their problems and to make their lives easier. As a result, customer expectations are and will continue to drive innovation.

The theme now and in the near future is that companies have to innovate, regardless of their industry, and make it core to their business strategy. If not, they risk becoming irrelevant to consumers.

Advancing Technology
Startups, small and mid size companies are becoming more technologically sophisticated4. Until the past few years, large companies had an IT advantage over their smaller rivals.   Some still give large companies an advantage when it comes to the use of Big Data5, 6, 7, 10. However, as hardware, software and mobile technologies have become cheaper and easier to deploy, small and mid size companies have similar if not better technologies than the big boys. Startups are often launching with or driving the new technologies. Technology driven innovation is becoming the norm.

Another prediction is current social media channels we take for granted today, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, to name a few, will disappear and be replaced with a yet faster, cooler experience3. Imagine, no Facebook or Twitter, but something better.   Opportunities abound for those willing to take a chance in the new social environment.

3D Printing is hitting critical mass7. Many are predicting 3D Printing will continue to impact many industries. Manufacturing will evolve as a result of 3D Printing. In addition, the ability to produce quick and inexpensive prototypes, or design and produce parts that were not possible in the past due to fabrication limitations will open up new arenas for innovation and competition.

Using new technologies in a new way and developing new technologies through innovation will be essential to meet the challenge due to the change in technology.  Fight technology with technology. If a company is not using technology to the fullest and its competitors are, the organization’s lifespan may be limited. In addition, preparation is needed for technology that cannot even be imagined yet, as well as a strategy to leverage it to an advantage. Or better yet, go invent the new bigger, better mousetrap and lead the new wave of technology.

Changing Workforce Demographics
Changing workforce demographics have been on the horizon for some time9, 10. Challenges will come with the changes and with the challenges come opportunities for those organizations willing to think “outside the box.”

A more diverse workforce is upon us. The diversity of race, ethnicity, age, nationality and gender in the West will continue. The challenge of recruiting and engaging these various groups are large but the payoffs will be significant for those employers who figure out how to do it. Companies who can attract, engage, and maintain diversity can leverage their workforce for a broader exchange of ideas and knowledge10.   This assumes they can get innovative in their approach towards Human Resources, workspace and workday design.

In addition, a talent shortage is approaching as well. As the Baby Boomers continue to retire there just is not enough people to fill the resulting vacuum8, 9.   This shortage not only puts pressure on all companies to get inventive in attracting talent, but also in developing training, mentoring and development programs so they can build their own talent and leaders.   Small and mid size companies have an advantage in that they typically can move faster than larger organizations. Improving business practices, processes and HR will play a key roll in who gets, develops and retains the talent in the future.

Another trend appearing more frequently in literature is the shift to more corporate social responsibility11. The new approach includes profit, people and planet. The increased focus on social responsibility that benefits the community not only changes how consumers will select their products and services but also changes internal operations, strategy, goals and talent recruitment. This is a new challenge for businesses that may not have considered social responsibility in the past.   Addressing the new challenges will require innovative solutions.

Changing How We Work
The workforce is becoming more social and more mobile3, 10. All indications are that this trend will continue. The use of social media technologies is part of today’s business culture. More tools are coming to facilitate learning, communication and collaboration. Younger workers and consumers are not only skilled at using these tools but are expecting them. The result of all this enhanced social interaction is that the value of relationships is beginning to replace the value of transactions. This is leading to new business models and new worker engagement.

Moving forward, work-life balance will evolve into work-life integration8, 10. Technology is making it easier for mobile working, telecommuting and flexible schedules. This places pressure on employers to provide tools and change their corporate culture in order to attract and retain the talent they desire. Also, since the line between work and life is blurring, the threat of employee burnout increases.  Companies will have to deal with these pressures to maintain a talented workforce. In the near future, even corporate culture will be a challenge prime for innovative solutions.

To be successful in this increasingly competitive and fast changing business environment, small and mid sized companies will need to outperform others at business strategy, product and service development, talent attraction and retention, flexible and efficient operations, and effective use of technology. Every organization has its own priorities, goals, and issues to balance. Innovative approaches to tomorrow’s challenges are a differentiator between those companies that lead and those who chase. Innovation is quickly becoming a survival skill. Working towards tomorrow today is imperative. Closing the doors will eventually come to those who neglect to do so.

1 “The 2016 Fortune Crystal Ball”,, Fortune Editors, 12/01/2015
2 ”5 Forecasts and 7 Predictions For 2010-2020 That Shape Innovation And Economic Growth”, Bloomberg Business, Bruce Nussbaum, 12/29/2009
3 ”10 Bold PR and Marketing Predictions for the Year 2020”,, Steve Cody, 04/16/2015
4 “Business and Technology Predictions for the Year 2020”, Panorama Consulting Solutions, Eric Kimberling, 02/25/2015
5 “Can you imagine whole industries being wiped out?”,, Paul Hobcraft, 01/04/2016
6 “Five Business Trends To Watch In 2016—No Matter How Or Where You Work”,, Faisal Hoque, 12/21/2015
7 “7 Top Tech Trends Impacting Innovators in 2016”,, Chuck Brooks, 12/26/2015
8 “10 Workplace Trends You’ll See In 2016”,, Dan Schwabel, 11/01/2015
9 “Futurework, Trends and Challenges for Work in the 21st Century”, United States Department of Labor,, Robert I. Lerman
Stefanie R. Schmidt, 08/1999
10 “Top 10 Workplace Trends For 2016”,, Sandy Smith, 12/18/2015
11 “Mind the Gaps, The 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey – Executive Summary”, Deloitte, 10/2015