The Innovation Cosmos And Total Innovation Management

Sudhir DesaiThe urgency and necessity of Innovation is now common knowledge.

Just as Total Quality Management (TQM), several years ago, managed to create a pervasive awareness and discipline, that enterprises now practice as a matter of routine, so I believe, there is a need for a Total Innovation Management (TIM) movement, with its unique Bodies of Knowledge (BoK) and a commitment to the systematic effort required to achieve desired outcomes.

The TIM movement will promise rewards to those who take on the challenge of making deep rooted transformational changes in the entire innovation cosmos.

The Innovation Cosmos! A cosmos is encompassing and includes many ecosystems. We need this distinction since there are ecosystems associated with the Value offering and its architecture, and most large enterprises have many value offerings with distinct architectures, each with their own constellations or ecosystems.

The word ‘cosmos’ is tempting too – for it leads me to the trinity idea, the three pillars of a comprehensive Total Innovation System: The Value System, The Renewal System (Creative Destruction – detached from the Value System), and the Strategic System.

The Value System is the totality that creates value in a given context. It includes the constellation or ecosystem of entities that together produce value on an ongoing basis. Embedded in this complexity are many nested levels of entities, all of which are involved in bettering themselves, innovating, exploring and exploiting. In an ideal situation, the Value System is self-renewing. However, creative while it is, it is also committed to the Value it delivers, and in that commitment, does not stray far from its original design.

The Renewal System is however an idea that is detached from the operational concerns of the value system. It has its eye on the dynamics of the context, and understands the constant shifts in the need spaces (Value fulfills Needs! The need space is a broad idea into which many value systems coexist). Should the need arise to create a distinctly different value, a “Blue Ocean” moment, it dispassionately deconstructs the existing Value Systems and creates a radically different one, serving in the process the interests of the superordinate Strategic System.

The Strategic System establishes the purpose for the Innovation Cosmos. It establishes the parameters within which the multiplicity of Value and Renewal systems must harmoniously operate. It decides which ones may or may not exist that align with its intents and values. The strategic system has a higher cognitive complexity, it has a sense for the whole, it has insight and foresight and makes available the oceans of resources and assets that the rest can draw upon.

While it seems as if these three systems are distinct entities, they are only conceptually so.

It would be an indicator of the maturity of an Innovative Enterprise, where these functions are indistinguishable, where there would be a pervasive awareness of the whole and the capacity to evolve and transform well-developed at all levels.

However, while that would be a desirable end-state, organizations must develop each of these systems individually and in tandem, mastering each consciously before they eventually become routine practice.

Are there short-term low-hanging fruits to be picked? Of course there are, and no one should ignore those opportunities. But also realize that to create a sustainable edge, a true competitive advantage over the long-term, you will need to a Total Innovation Management initiative.

Excerpt from an article by Sudhir Desai


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