The 5 Elements Innovation Framework (Bouquet et al.)

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Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

The 5 Elements Innovation Framework (Bouquet et al.)

🔥NEW In an interesting article, IMD professors Bouquet, Barsoux and Wade are criticizing existing innovation frameworks for being UNREALISTIC (being overly linear [like the Waterfall and Stage-gate approaches], INCOMPLETE (not incorporating digital aspects, not being human-centric enough, over-emphasizing action and fast iteration [like Lean Start-up] and downplaying the importance of deep reflection, and MISLEADING (neglecting pitfalls and biases that may constrain creativity, over-focusing on users, and neglecting the importance of other stakeholders).

To avoid these issues with existing innovation approaches, they present their own Innovation Framework with 5 Elements. The aim of the 5 elements is to summarize and describe the way unconventional thinkers should and are approaching innovation:
  1. ATTENTION: Focus attention closely and with fresh eyes. Look through a fresh lens.
  2. PERSPECTIVE: Reserve time to step back to gain perspective. Step back to expand your understanding.
  3. IMAGINATION: Imagine unorthodox combinations. Look for unexpected connections.
  4. EXPERIMENTATION: Experiment quickly and smartly. Test smart to learn fast.
  5. NAVIGATION: Navigate potentially hostile environments outside and within their organizations. Maneuver to avoid being shot down by those threatened.

The authors call their 5 elements a "framework", a collection of 5 major focus areas for innovative entrepreneurs. However, as the authors stress themselves, their innovation framework does not represent some kind of process. The 5 elements have no sequence, not even a cycle, but rather they represent a "mix that involves frequent crisscrossing among activities". Entrepreneurs may start at any starting point (multiple entry points) and should then proceed in any direction as required (multiple pathways).

I see the 5 elements of breakthrough innovation as a valuable addition to the existing arsenal of strategic innovation tools, because it aptly summarizes the most important and difficult focus areas of breakthrough innovation.

⇒ Can we all agree these 5 activities are indeed the most crucial ones for breakthrough innovators? Or are we missing any?

Source: Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Michael Wade, "Bring your Breakthrough Ideas to Life - How the most successful innovators do it", HBR Nov-Dec 2018, pp.102-113.

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