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March 2, 2015

Innovation Resiliency: An Innovative Framework to Evaluate Innovation

Posted on  by Amos Adler

WARNING: This blog post may offend some innovation seekers while inspiring others

I recently had an interaction with an organization supports innovation in knowledge-based industries. Several discussions with a representative of the organization revealed to me something that was a bit more common than I wanted to acknowledge: There are a lot of organizations that support the idea of innovation but have no real framework for it.

Now this fairly conservative institution (which shall remain nameless) has an arm with an explicit commitment to promoting innovation. The model the organization used to assess and understand innovation was, from my perspective, flawed. Using an ‘in-the-box / tick-the-box approach, the criteria for assessing innovation was focused on a very product-oriented, cost-benefit, risk-management set of assessment benchmarks that might well be used to assess and measure the performance of a meat-packing operation. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with meat-packing, or using traditional methods of assessment for operations operating under traditional models. But what I’m trying to get at is that evaluating innovation in a traditional framework is flawed. Looking for long-term success stories, mature product ROI calculations, and long term pilot-conversion ratios doesn’t really work in an innovation framework.

Perception vs. Reality

Perception vs. Reality

Innovators sell pilots and innovations – some pilots are adopted, some are not. And even for the ones that do work, logic and solid data don’t always prevail when it comes time to roll an innovation out to a larger scale. Unfortunately, sometimes customers make ego-driven decisions or refuse to let logic get in the way of a good politically motivated decision. Given the everyday realities of life, and the expectations of capital markets, I urge the innovation seeker types, the change managers, the investors, and the people at the helm, to look at evaluating innovation in a different way: consider innovation resiliency.

Obviously I am biased because my company is considered innovative and we have managed to survive and thrive over a number of years, but the narrow-focused, conventional thinking applied to innovation in action can be frustrating at times. I very much believe in lean start-up principles: test, learn, iterate, repeat, customer development, pivots and all that great stuff. I believe it’s a great way to survive and grow. I also subscribe to a view that innovation can and should be portfolio driven. Attempting multiple iterations of innovations and refining both the innovation(s) and the process of innovating is something we do at MEMOTEXT. We don’t fit into a conventional box. If we did, we wouldn’t be creative, “disruptive” thinkers.

There is lot of lip service paid to disruptive thinking, but few will bother to really understand it. Disruptive thinking has a tendency to create ideas that fail – which, in spaces like healthcare technology, is a good thing! Failure in innovation is positive because then you get to learn and iterate and understand what didn’t work. In my mind, innovating means failing but surviving… losing a battle and still living to fight another day. It means playing the probabilities, creating options and opportunities, while maintaining a culture of agility so that the good ideas and innovations germinate and have a chance to succeed. Ultimately this view of innovation is one of resilient, disruptive people and processes, rather than a bet on a particularly shiny object.

Many of the greatest innovations in human history occurred from persevering in the face of failure, learning from mistakes and going outside the traditional framework. In the 1950’s a majority of American and Soviet spacecraft failed to launch or exploded in the atmosphere. But both space programs learnt from their failures and persevered, bringing humanity into the Space Age. Now we’re moving on to Mars! The infrastructure for the internet existed for 30 years before Tim Berners-Lee proposed retooling into becoming the World Wide Web. Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin, had the creativity to realise that his contaminated lab sample could lead to the next medical breakthrough. Innovation resiliency might not include benchmarks for quarterly growth, or care about office politics, but once a truly disruptive innovation is achieved it revolutionizes.

AMOS ADLER M.Sc.
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT

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Amos brings speech, mobile and social technologies together to create mobile (mHealth) and telehealth patient adherence programs. Since 2008, Amos has led the design and deployment of dozens of digital patient adherence and behavior change programs globally while advocating for evidence-based approaches to technology-based behavior change. With a background in user oriented design methodologies, user-requirements elicitation, finance and enterprise scale technology deployment, Amos focuses on solutions solving real-world business requirements with patient centered designs while understanding the challenges of change management in clinical settings.

Prior to founding MEMOTEXT, Amos held multiple technology and finance related positions within the Bell Canada Holdings family of companies as well as a background in social and private real estate development. Amos holds a M.Sc. in Analysis, Design and Management of Information Systems from The London School of Economics in London England, graduating with distinction was highlighted by his work within the launch of the world’s first independent exchange for international wholesale telecom capacity.

Amos speaks regularly at events such as: mHealth, Stanford Mobile Health, Health Datapalooza, Genentech FutureMed2.0 and has guest lectured at the Univ. of Toronto