I recently had the privilege of sharing the stage with one of a rare breed of true futurists – Jerry Overton, at Innovation Enterprise’s Chief Innovation Officer Summit, NYC. Jerry is the Head of Advanced Analytics Research in CSC’s ResearchNetwork, one of around a dozen Distinguished Engineers at CSC (a high honor) and founder of CSC’s FutureTense competency. This man is a true futurist not only because the very nature of his job in predictive modeling deals with forecasting “what will be,” but also because he is one of the few professionals to realize the essence of effective organizational innovation. Many C-suite executives grapple with finding a successful recipe for enterprise-level innovation, and they frequently fail. Here’s Jerry’s unique innovation equation:
“An Effective Innovation Process Combines Data Science with Human Data,” or I = DS+HD
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Combining these two powerful ingredients enables you to simulate innovative business models or processes, analyze them, and make them better.
DS – The Data Science Factor
Sometimes the term “Data Science” can be daunting, but replace it with more commonly used terms like “Big Data” or “Machine Data” and it becomes a bit more approachable. Every company, big or small, is processing machine data of some kind to support their decision making. But developing cool innovations or technologies that are based solely on machine data can only take you so far! Jerry realized this from his own experience of developing an advanced business model for matching skills with job roles at CSC, a company that is 85,000 employees strong. The machine data that he used to develop his model came from a very human source, and he needed to tap into this source again!
HD – The Human Data Factor
Here’s the part that never fails to surprise me:how do companies that want to effectively innovate keep missing something that is right in front of them, begging to be used? I suggest every leader ask himself/herself this question:“Am I effectively using the human knowledge walking in and out of our doors every day?” We so often ask “the database” to answer what is easily answered by simply asking the stakeholders who know, because the database seems more manageable despite its flatness. We must use technology to crowdsource (or teamsource) innovation at the individual contributor level, the grey matter of the company. Map it to other key stakeholders like your clients to gather their insights on any and every aspect of your business! You will be surprised by how many truths crop up through this process that flatly deny and outweigh the trends that machine data alone will find.
Combine your people insights with machine data to create organizational intelligence and propel your organizational innovation process forward.
In order to get the most from your people, disrupt the way you question. Have the best people in your organization and your smartest external stakeholders drive your questioning process. When I say external stakeholders, I am definitely referring to your competition, too! Use a platform that lets you ask the right questions, analyzes insights in a concise way, and provides you with actionable input.
Here’s the presentation from the 2014 NYC Chief Innovation Officer Summit:
People often assume that organizational innovation can be simple. True, an innovative solution that your company generates can be simple, but even the simplest innovations come from very complex processes. Even with two people in the garage starting 9Lenses, innovation was complex. Now when I deal with thousands of employees and processes at Fortune 500 companies, I regularly taste how innovation gets even more complex with size. To navigate this complexity, leading innovators are combining data science with human data. Take either of these two elements out of the recipe and what you have left is either a decent product that is not sustainable in the long run or an inspired idea that exists only on paper.
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!