Acquiring Competitive Advantages
A Process for Innovating and Seizing Opportunities
Innovation is recognized as a key driver for both corporate growth and personal career development. Trouble is that sources for innovation are often overlooked, under analyzed or misunderstood. Technical innovation often overshadows non-tech solutions, which can actually deliver faster results with fewer resources.
Projects and business plans often collapse into failure because the underlying opportunities they are trying to seize have not been properly analyzed.
Many employees, because they are dealing with clients and real situations, have good ideas that could improve things or bring competitive advantages. Unfortunately many people:
At the corporate level, management has to deal with several challenges, including:
are not convinced that their idea is robust enough (lack of confidence),
- have not been taught how to validate their idea to verify actual feasibility,
- do not know what is the roadmap to turn their idea into reality,
- do not know how to present their idea in a convincing manner to their management,
- do not know what criteria management uses for selecting projects,
- are afraid to have their idea "stolen" by someone else in the organization.
too much innovation can divert the organization from its core objectives
- deciding which projects should be allocated available (limited) resources
- monitoring the status of each idea,
- capturing the creative knowledge generated by the innovation process.
The novel IpOp Model provides the missing link between the idea and a convincing action/business plan. This step-by-step roadmap helps entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs identify and turn an opportunity into a feasible plan of action, or realize that it is not worth pursuing. Validating the feasibility and potential of each project should be a prerequisite to any business initiative for both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who want to boost their career by bringing competitive advantages to their employer.
Through action learning and by validating an actual business opportunity of their employer, workshop participants quickly learn each step of the IpOp Model to the point where they will be able to independently use it for seizing their own opportunities supporting the corporate mission.
Knowing a robust process to go from the idea to the action plan empowers and encourages employees to become pro active and innovate in order to achieve the corporate mission. This is why multinationals, banks, startups as well as non-profit and public sector organizations have adopted the IpOp Model to stimulate and manage innovation.
Take Home Benefits
The IpOp toolbox is taught in a compact and interactive workshop. All workshops focus on a real innovation project (of the organization or of one of the participants) and not on a fictitious case study. Applying the IpOp Model toolbox to this issue brings real results as well as a hands-on learning opportunity (action or experiential learning). During the workshop, participants also realize that innovation includes not only technology but that non tech innovation can also bring phenomenal competitive advantages. Addressing the issue of competitive advantages has shown that it is particularly beneficial to both low and high tech industry as well as service entities (including banking) and NGOs.
One training approach focusing on executives (see "IpOp Model for CEOs and Decision Makers". The other training format gives management, innovators and intrapreneurs the tools to:
Increase their employability by becoming more proactive and entrepreneurial
- Become change agents and show what they are capable of
- Identify opportunities that can bring their company competitive advantages
- Seize those opportunities by following a clear roadmap (systems thinking)
- Use a simple toolbox to turn an idea into a feasible and validated action plan
- Identify the critical success factors as well as the stumbling blocks on the implementation road
- Write a concise business case for convincing stakeholders (including management and investors) that addresses their concerns (more effective and faster than a business plan!)
- Obtain buy-in in an ethical manner (influencing and negotiating)
- Decrease the resistance to change
- Understand the potential and benefits derived from alternative forms of innovation (beyond product and tech innovation)
- Better understand the clients'or other departments' needs
Decision makers who must decide to allocate resources to feasible projects that will eventually bring competitive advantages
Executives and managers who want to contribute to their organizations and give a boost to their career by showing what they are capable of through innovation and intrapreneurial behavior. This will help them become change agents.
Innovators, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who want to present their project to decision makers or their superiors in a more convincing manner
Marketing, R&D as well as business development experts who want to use a structured model to supervise and assess projects at the "ideation" stage
Anyone who wants to increase the chances of success of existing or future projects
Software and Knowledge Management
Supporting the IpOp Model
For large organizations, one of the most attractive benefits of the model is that it is supported by software available under license. This intranet or web-based application (IpOp Tools) allows users to easily follow the roadmap/process at their leisure. Besides the fact that it really helps innovators validate and turn their idea into a feasible action plan, some of their employer's benefits include:
The availability of the easily accessible IpOp roadmap has shown to entice employees to become more proactive and entrepreneurial.
Centralized management of all innovation projects for better control
- Standardization of the project selection process with transparent criteria throughout the whole organization; this helps identifying projects most likely to support the corporate strategy; the transparency it provides increases employees' confidence in their ability to obtain buy-in and management support
An effective method for managing the acquisition of competitive advantages at the company level, including for lateral (across divisions) projects. A uniform methodology for evaluating the feasibility of innovations and initiatives for the whole organization (from cost improvement or process improvement to new services innovation).
Comparing projects in a uniform manner; having a homogeneous presentation is very helpful to decide which project must continue and which ones must be dropped.
- Capturing in a database all the knowledge, information and thinking associated with all innovations, attempted innovations or change efforts; this allows effective knowledge management. What distinguishes this knowledge management tool is the fact that entering data into the system is not perceived like a constraint but as an opportunity to mature the project and produce a more convincing business case
- Monitoring progress of all innovation projects without being present in the various groups involved in innovation or change; this allows managers to remain in control and not feel threatened by challenging innovators
Remotely coaching innovators and teams (possible since all critical information is in the database)
Managing paternity/maternity of ideas and innovation, which allows recognizing and rewarding of employees who come up with interesting ideas; this removes the fear of having their ideas "stolen" by someone else.
Several organizations are already using the IpOp model. They include multinationals like Equant, ST Microelectronics, Cap Gemini, Orange, P.A.R.C., Serono, Nestlé as well as banks, public administrations, startups and non profit organizations. This illustrates the generic use of the model. It can also be customized for specific industries or public sector administrations.
Testimonials are available on the Testimonials page
The P.A.R.C. testimonial shown on the P.A.R.C. page also gives a pretty good picture of end users' perception, particularly knowing that www.parc.com is Xerox' state of the art R&D lab that invented the PC, the Ethernet, the mouse, the laser printer as well as many other inventions that had a major impact on our life.