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CAIL Innovation Blog

Testing for the Ability to Innovate for Impact

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As we come to better understand what it takes “ Innovate for Impact “ to meaningfully improve outcomes, it’s about “ Process and Predictability “ + “ Insight and Inspiration “. Further, relying on only one of these approaches undermines the organization’s ability to – successfully navigate the changing business landscape, address rising User expectations, develop digital competencies, move to a entrepreneurial culture, deliver results in shorter windows of opportunity, etc. This is essential for the enterprise to materially increase relevance and revenue as well as prudently managing risk on an ongoing basis. As well, a further incentive to be good at business innovation is that not meaningfully effecting change makes the organization more vulnerable to being disrupted, missing out on new opportunities, becoming marginalized, etc.

In conjunction with this, an organization that demands predictable results cannot innovate for impact. This is because people will not have the courage or incentives to pursue the unknowns or address the uncertainties associated with H3 or Disruptive Innovation. The best that can be hoped for is innovation that incrementally improves operational efficiencies or extends existing products / services. While this is important, it isn’t sufficient to make good on new opportunities in digital, the emergence of technology companies with a different agenda, a new business model that is changing how business is done and disrupting established industries, etc. While working on the known is appealing, longer term, the only predictable result of not doing disruptive innovation is “everything is good – until the wheels fall off”!

With this insight, to increase the rewards from innovation, there is a need for much more “Insight and Inspiration” (where it’s typically unpredictable when or if results will occur) to augment the “Process and Predictability” (which is a core culture element in many enterprises) – with an understanding of the different agendas and the associated mindsets. For example, when it comes to innovation, the word “ecosystem” is nebulous to many people and doesn’t bound or constrain or show the way. However, for people familiar with unpredictability and doing new things, creating an ecosystem is a well known strategy to fast track discovery, assess potential, have more ways to deliver results, etc. In contrast, for people oriented to “ process “, the notion of creating an ecosystem and dealing with many unknows is very challenging because it’s a foreign concept and unfamiliar ground.

To successfully create new capabilities, there is an element of unpredictability. And if people struggle with unpredictability, they’ll really struggle with innovating for impact. To move forward, it’s important to understand innovation is about learning as much as you can as fast as possible from the few wins and many failures in trying to do “ the new”. This is critical to – expand opportunities, increase relevance and revenue, create wealth, avoid being marginalized, mitigating risk, etc. In contrast, when things are predictable with a “ process “, there is little need to learn new concepts, strategies, etc. – since it’s mainly about execution.

With “Innovation” (where there is uncertainty and unpredictability) and “ Process “ (where things are planned and predictable), there are different disciplines requiring different mindsets since “Innovation is about mastering unknowns” and “Process is about predictable outcomes”.

Tests to understand the different mindsets include –

A.  SAT  Test

  • in “ Innovation “ the more Skilled, Ambitious and Talented people are, this is hugely important to successfully looking for, assessing, and determining how to make good on opportunities, leveraging an organization’s competencies in new ways, creating wealth, etc.
  • with “ Process “ these qualities aren’t that critical to outcomes since the results are pre-defined – and if anything more is gained, it’s a bonus
  • on scale of 10, a SAT score of 7 or higher is important if the goal is to “ Innovate for Impact “ (IFI)

B.  NIA  Test

  • highly competent people in “ Innovation “ are very knowledgeable, open minded, curious, want to make things better, have strong look ahead skills, are confident based on achievement, etc.
  • because of this, the greater the Nativity, Ignorance and Arrogance the more problematic it is since people don’t learn fast, aren’t creative, struggle with fresh thinking, find it very challenging to identify and make good on new opportunities, how to look at things differently, etc.
  • with “ Process “ this isn’t as much of a consideration due to the predictable nature of the environment
  • on a scale of 10, a NIA score of under 3 is needed to IFI

C.   SOPH  Test

  • this recognizes it’s essential people be sophisticated in – Digital, provide a Great User Experience, Think Strategically, can find new ways to Deliver Value, enable the organization to evolve the Business Model, creating and applying Metrics, Look Ahead Skills, etc.
  • with “ Process “ these qualities are relatively inconsequential and typically outside the scope of daily operations and don’t contribute to near term sales
  • on a scale of 10, a SOPH score of 7 or higher is important to IFI

D.   MVCR  Test

  • the ability to Monetize Value Creation as well as being skilled in perceiving and managing the Risks associated with change is very important to making Innovation more rewarding – especially for a new category of product, service or different form of value
  • with a “ Process “ this capability is typically not as critical when innovation is an incremental function to known products / services
  • on a scale of 10, a MVCR score of 7 or higher is essential to IFI

E.   ENTR  Test

  • this is about being opportunistic and developing an entrepreneurial culture in the organization that encourages – exploring, trying, risk taking, etc. to identify and make good on opportunities, scale quickly, fail fast, etc.
  • with “ Process “ this mindset is discouraged – except for very safe bets on new initiatives. While ok in the short term, unfortunately this approach provides more time to new players to strengthen their solution to invoke a paradigm shift and marginalize existing companies.
  • on a scale of 10, a ENTR score of 7 or higher is good to IFI


Recognize the best results from Innovation occur from a combination of opportunity, the mindset, and the ability to execute – with predictable and unpredictable results.

To fast track developing the innovation mindset, engage with people experienced in disruptive innovation, commercializing new products / services, visionaries, venture investing, R&D, Marketing, and others in the innovation ecosystem.

With the need to balance near term needs and achieve better results in the future, it’s important the organization develop the innovation capabilities indicated above.

And realize “ Innovating for Impact “ to improve outcomes predictably requires building a portfolio of unpredictable projects !

Jan 21, 2020  by  CAIL      –      Innovation Insights            

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