Get Past the Jargon and Onto Results
There’s enough jargon out there to make your head spin. Digital transformation. Digital business. Digital first. And that’s just starting with one letter of the alphabet! What starts as a way to bring unity to a phenomenon quickly devolves into overuse, misuse and hyperbole.
The importance of shared language is in creating mutual understanding; consensus that leads to a common goal. But when terms get muddied, they lose meaning, hindering the ability to execute upon them.
Gartner’s recent report, “Navigating the Landscape of Disruption, Innovation and Transformation”, acknowledges this predicament, and underscores the importance of a common vocabulary to boost teamwork and results, starting with improved specificity of just what is on the table to begin with.
For a quick overview of the insights, read on.
Navigating the Landscape of Disruption, Innovation and Transformation
Navigation Tools for Change (“Disruption, Innovation and Transformation”)
1. Define initiatives across the organization (Definition).
Defining disruption, innovation and transformation alone can be difficult, but knowing the difference puts you in a better position to act. At its most basic level, innovation is “the execution of new ideas that create business value”; transformation is the “result of innovation or change”; and disruption is the catalyst — a “fundamental shift” in whatever creates the need for innovation. While many organizations have formal innovation milestones, project ownership, and roles, disruption can be a bit more nebulous to track and assign as a focus area. Coming in and doing what it does best — disrupting, or, in other words, causing interruption — thwarting innovation itself if not monitored, making corresponding adjustments as necessary. Defining how to manage disruption — whether through offensive or defensive approaches, or some combination (see Gartner’s Willful Disruption Model in the report for more detail) — gives innovation teams stronger legs to stand on when new information hits.
From there, concrete goals and planning can be constructed. By defining goals, understanding the context of innovation teams’ priorities based on a number of factors (outlined in the full report), and getting clear on organizational principles surrounding innovation (creating harmony between divergent definitions across different business units, functions and teams) are foundational steps to ensure that innovation in more than a buzzword for your company to stand on.
2. Offer guidance with a roadmap (Directions).
The pace of innovation fluctuates year over year as customer preferences shift, compounded in complexity by the fact that transformation initiatives stretch across multiple years. Meanwhile, the external forces of disruption can throw curveballs that extend the process in unexpected ways. Closely managing innovation efforts is the best way to ensure transformation outcomes are met. Business transformation strategy must respond to changes at the pilot execution stages, and execution challenges should inform strategy as much as strategy outlines the vision for success. By creating a governance structure, establishing a cadence for communication, continuously tracing roadmaps back to business intent, and committing to building a culture that checks in on the reality of and motivation driving innovation from the bottom up, companies can do more to keep the rudder strong directing them toward shifting endpoints.
3. Delineate cause-and-effect relationships and areas where innovation initiatives may conflict (Dependencies).
As your organization becomes a student of disruption, use this knowledge to outline primary and secondary strategies that are influenced by disruption and that have a direct impact on business strategy overall. Assign existing teams to run point. Determine the route information will take as input for and output from innovation. Formalize the attribution process for measurement, so that groups are encouraged to collaborate effectively in pursuit of reaching shared goals instead of competing for recognition and resources. As a leader aiming your sight on transformation across innovation projects, note the ways that they overlap and the value of them in tandem or at a cross-section rather than on their own merit alone. Do they advance one another? How are their contributions mapped?
As we well know, loose definitions and instructions can obscure meaning, often an indication that strategy lacks focus. And even the best ideas can lose steam — or fail to get off the ground at all — if not given an open floor to discuss, to interpret, and to modify a plan of action based on external information and diverse opinion — from within and from the outside. Giving your organization and its respective teams shared meaning, accountability and involvement in various innovation projects and disruption research will boost the odds of real transformation, the pursuit of which is much more satisfying than circling around the name itself.
Interested in exploring this topic further? Dive deeper with the full Gartner report, available here.