People are asking, “What’s inside “innovation Lab Excellence?” Here is a chapter by chapter overview of what’s in the book. Read this and there will be no surprise what’s inside. What will surprise you is how easy it is to make your lab and digital transformation more productive. 💥 I am grateful for the messages of support I’ve received from people working in and around labs about the book! Do keep them coming! I wrote this book to help make the innovation labs better for everyone. From the support you’ve all given me so far, it appears to be working. 💥
Curing Innovation Lab Pain, One Book at a Time!
Innovation labs aren’t new, nor is innovation. They’ve been called many things over the years and the concept that innovation is a critical part of any business predates the industrial age. What is different and noteworthy within the past 25 years of digital history, in my experience, is the speed with which innovation is transforming our world. We now demand “innovation on tap” and to deliver this, the process of innovation has evolved to become rigorous and studied. Waiting for innovation to occur by chance or lucky break won’t do, nor will allowing it to languish at the whims of those technophobes who would kill it. If innovation labs do one thing, they give innovation a home within your company, which allows it to flourish and improve your chances of survival in the Darwinian process of digital evolution.
Some of my suggestions may be counterintuitive.
Innovation will always have detractors. Throughout my career I’ve been told that the products and technologies I was working on were frivolous, unnecessary or ill-conceived. Sometimes they were right! More often they were wrong. I remained committed to challenging the status quo throughout my career and that keeps me in better stead now than it did in my youth. If you are an innovator reading this book, I’ve got your back. Much of what I write is decidedly from the perspective of the innovator. That said, some of my suggestions may be counterintuitive. As a leader of innovation teams in corporate settings for many years I learned that innovation has to try to mold to the confines of corporate structure. It’s not that the innovation itself is confined, so much as how we present, develop and sell its benefits to bring it to fruition.
Organization of Innovation Lab Excellence
My book focuses on both how to cultivate innovation and how to foster its success within the constraints of a corporate environment. It promotes a series of best practices that may be used individually or in totality to optimize your innovation experience. It is designed to stimulate discussion and perhaps break a few taboos in the process.
As the book is aimed for business-side readers as well as those coming from the tech side, the examples are presented without jargon or deep dives into the nuts and bolts. I have, however, dedicated Chapters 22 and 23 to describing the basic technology your lab will use, and how best to work with early AI projects. Readers who are just beginning their digital journey might opt to read these chapters first if they feel the need to catch up on some basics. These chapters are designed to demystify the technologies used in labs and how best to apply them. The chapters were placed after the main discussion on innovation labs to make the flow of the content more manageable for lab people, who already know these technologies and wish to get straight to best practices.
Part I ~ The Case for Innovation Labs
Chapters 1 through 3 set the stage by examining the root reasons why labs are necessary in our current culture, and where they have come from historically. These chapters outline why you need an innovation lab, and explore the digital changes that have occurred which mandate their existence. I investigate a few alternatives, but in the end a laboratory is a practical way to concentrate the skills you need to complete a transformation in-house. I also look at the historical context of labs, particularly a recent example in which codified rules replicate many of the rules we use in Agile development, but in fact predates Agile by 50 years. This historical observation helps contextualize the use of innovation labs today. We live in unique and interesting times that require special application of technology, but our grandparents’ generation understood the concept of nurturing innovation that still offers lessons to this day.
Part II ~ Best Practices
Chapter 4 introduces the central theme of the book: a series of twelve best practices which, if implemented in whole or part, will increase the efficiency and quality of innovation at your labora- tory. The best practices are examined case by case in subsequent chapters. I do not expect readers to immediately recognize them- selves or their laboratories from a quick read of the best practices in Chapter 4. No laboratory will have all of these issues, but certainly every laboratory will have some. If some of them resonate, the reader can go directly to the chapter of interest to learn the practical applications for the laboratory.
Optimally, readers should scan all the chapters in the order they are presented. The examples and problem-solving may apply to issues you were unaware of, but are now able to discern. What’s more, the best practices are cumulative and a reader might miss out on benefits if chapters are skipped. They appear roughly in order of overall importance. In each I use real examples, which should help the reader recognize familiar situations and roadblocks: “that’s just like our lab,” setting the stage for fixing them.
Chapters 5 through 16 lay out the best practices in detail. Each has examples of what happens when the practices are ignored, and others where they have been applied with success. Each chapter also provides actions to take to help get your lab more closely aligned with best practices. The starting point for all change is issue-spotting, followed by collaborative steps to resolve problems.
The best practices in Chapters 5 through 16 are calibrated
to begin discussion among the lab,
management, and business units that use the lab.
For this reason, the best practices in Chapters 5 through 16 are calibrated to begin discussion among the lab, management, and business units that use the lab. I fully expect that if representatives from these three factions read the same chapter one may say “that’s us” and the others may say “we already do that.” Discovering that a misunderstanding exists means the parties are ready to get productive. Clarity is necessary on roles and shared responsibilities. All too often with innovation labs these hard discussions don’t happen because they are simply too painful or end up accusatory. With a guide in hand with real examples from other labs, such discussions are easier to initiate and more focused on finding a solution. If a discussion ensues, I’ve been successful, and if concrete actions are taken that eventually get all three in agreement, I’d love to hear from you.
Part III ~ Why Do Labs Fail?
Chapters 17 through 20 deal with common patterns of failure in laboratories. It’s no secret that some labs are underperforming. Having seen more than my fair share up close I came to recognize that there are typical clusters of disregard, almost like a doctor recognizes the flu by a combination of fever, cough, and runny nose. Each symptom helps to confirm the diagnosis. In these chapters I discuss what the most common patterns are and the strong medicine required to correct the problem.
If you read Chapters 17-20 and see similarities in your lab, you have some deeply rooted problems to deal with. You will have to retrofit a number of the best practices outlined in Chapters 5-16, and likely deal with a major cultural transformation from within your lab, its parent or both. All is not lost! Even an ailing lab can be coaxed back to health if all the parties recognize the symptoms and patterns of illness.
Part IV ~ Elements of Successful Labs
Chapter 21 is a brief introduction on how to measure performance. While no two labs have the same goals and objectives, there needs to be a flexible system in place to determine if the lab is performing. For many labs this is an afterthought, because there is no agreed standard for success. In most cases labs won’t have a huge success that defines their overall value. In fact, the most successful labs have many small wins that can easily fly under the radar.
Labs are not only a trend, but are the foundation for change
that will ensure a company’s survival well into the future.
The closing Chapters 24 and 25 speak to the longevity of innovation labs. There are two fundamental questions that need to be examined. The first is, are labs the first on the chopping block when a down market hits, or are they a potential savior? The second is, are innovations simply the latest passing management fad? I invite the reader to press on to these chapters for the answers that demonstrate that innovation labs are not only a trend, but are the foundation for change that will ensure a company’s survival well into the future.
Thanks for reading. Please do me the favor of reaching out to say hi whether through email or Linkedin. You can also do me a solid and share the news about this book with someone you think it might help. Getting the message out to labs will help them have more fun and be more innovative! 💥
💥So send me a message and connect!💥 💥Let me know what you think, or just say hi.💥
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