The 5 Elements Innovation Framework (Bouquet et al.)

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The 5 Elements Innovation Framework (Bouquet et al.)
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
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.

5 Elements of Innovation
Charles Tombazian, Management Consultant, United States, Member
I think there is value in the definitions of the 5 elements. Clearly these are things to think about when pursuing "innovation." I'm also glad to hear I wasn't missing something about a process, steps, cycle, etc. It is just a framework.
But I intend to read the full HBR article to better understand how the authors arrived at the 5 terms, whether the authors differentiate between creativity and innovation.
I think the 5 elements are not distinct and separate, but interconnected.

5 Elements of Innovation: More of the Same is not Bad
Steven Cooke
I'm glad to read that people are still trying to improve innovation and creativity. I agree with Charles that key points to review are always useful. Although I am always put off a bit by anyone promoting anything largely on the basis of other system's "faults", instead of simply the new system's advantages or advances.
Any "list" has limited utility and value equally with any other. I don't know if these "5" represent anything really new or anything particularly crucial to innovation that isn't already known. As is also the case with many quality systems, much of what is necessary is long-known. It is the actual IMPLEMENTATION that is usually lacking.

Nothing New Really
Kevin Duane
As is the case with so much HBR content it takes two different things and contrasts them as alternatives. It’s better to think of Bouquet, et al.’s innovation framework as a guide used in coincidence with Life Cycle. In this view the framework serves as a guide to conception, creation, testing, and validation of ideas.
Life Cycle provides the process that identifies the products and services that those ideas might become as well as the economic and market opportunities for the same.
Left to its own lack of structure innovation often fails to produce anything marketable (see Fisher in Forbes 6/18/2014). According to Fisher 95% of all patents are never commercialized. Fisher points out many reasons for this but that’s not the point. Taken as a whole, Fisher highlights the simple fact that turning ideas into money is a highly complex and financially risky proposition. As such, a structured process is critical to turning innovation’s ideas into $$.

Awareness May Help in the Implementation
srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
Awareness with regard to implementing the new ideas is also needed:
  • An overall insight into the implementation and later scaling up of the business model, organization, infrastructure and IT systems.
  • The need for an agile mindset.
  • Ability of solve any problems satisfying all boundary conditions.
  • Proper leadership of the implementation.
  • Financials / cash / treasury.
  • Clarity of goals.
  • The need for inner strength to counter any obstacles.
  • View of truth (ground reality) in all directions.

Editor: Excellent suggestion. We might add 6. AWARENESS (about implementation) as a 6th element.

5 Elements of Innovation
Molokanova, Professor, Ukraine, Member
I think that the framework of five elements is well suited only for the first stage of the innovation life cycle - for the development of a conceptual plan. Later, the development stage of the detailed plan, the implementation and operation of the innovation are still needed. The 5 elements focus only on the first stages of the entire innovation effort.

Mind-set Elements for Innovation
Maurice Hogarth, Consultant, United Kingdom, Premium Member
I cover these ‘elements’ in relation to AWARENESS of the backdrop, mind-set for every stage of EVERY innovative / developmental project. Many innovations (as “objectives” do) fail because they simply mechanically follow process stages without being AWARE of the people framework.
When reviewing and revising anything (product, process, system &c.) it is essential that ATTENTION be paid to looking at with fresh eyes (i.e. from “outside the box”) otherwise you remain within the ‘rut’.
Taking time to gain a new PERSPECTIVE: to understand the context and related flows for potential problems, is an essential basis for being able to NAVIGATE to overall success.
The nature of imagination is based in creativity; the essence of which is COMBINING things that were previously unrelated (in order to create or innovate).
It is generally considered that it is best to EXPERIMENT to discover best balanced options and to implement changes following test periods; rather than leaping in before looking.

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