1. The Baldrige Approach to Innovation

    May 10, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    The Baldrige Excellence Framework, as a systems perspective, has taken a holistic approach to the important topic of innovation. This perspective comprises a Core Value and Concept, Managing for Innovation, and numerous considerations within the Baldrige Criteria. Together, the Baldrige approach to innovation emphasizes both cultural/people aspects and process aspects of achieving successful innovation and provides the linkages to ensure process and people are aligned.

    Baldrige defines innovation as making meaningful (breakthrough) change to improve products, processes, or organizational effectiveness and create new value for stakeholders. Managing for Innovation, as the words imply, requires a combination of people and process. Your organization should be led and managed so that identifying opportunities for innovation become part of the learning culture. Systematic processes for identifying those opportunities should reach across your entire organization.

    The Baldrige Criteria start the focus on innovation by asking how senior leaders create an environment for innovation (culture) and a focus on action to achieve innovation. In Strategy Development, the Criteria ask how your strategy development process stimulates and incorporates innovation through identification of strategic opportunities and selection of those that are intelligent risks worth pursuing. Next the Criteria ask about the use of organizational performance review findings as a mechanism for identifying opportunities for innovation and how you manage organizational knowledge to stimulate innovation. How does your workforce performance management system reinforce intelligent risk taking to achieve innovation? What is your operational process for managing innovation? What are the results of your innovation process? The outcome of the Baldrige approach to innovation is obvious. Innovation takes a systems perspective that involves leaders, all employees, and processes in coordination.

    So, you might ask what led to this blog post? It was triggered by a recent HBR post entitled, “Is Innovation More About People or Process?” Andrea Ovans concludes that it is both after giving some good examples from IDEO, Procter & Gamble, Intel, and others. She also cites a number of resources for people starting innovation efforts. Take a look at “Build an Innovation Engine in 90 Days” to see how to rapidly bring people and process together. (And for a very different approach to innovation, not recommended by me as the approach of choice, check out Political Activism and Innovation.)

  2. Call for Paper: Journal of Inspiration Economy

    February 18, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited

    IJIE Cover V1 N1(1) Dear Colleague,

    The Journal of Inspiration Economy (JIE) is an international interdisciplinary open access blind peer-reviewed refereed journal strives to cater to the needs of those who want to contribute diverse papers that would contribute to create a positive change and inspiration to the economy directly or indirectly through improving our quality of life.

    JIE would target only high quality original research articles that describe latest research and developments in areas focusing on the inspiration principles and management in the world. Inspiration Economy is a research field which encapsulates varied academic fields (including but not restricted to: economics, management, sociology, psychology, etc) looking at various issues related to: innovation, creativity, knowledge, services, leadership, sustainable development, etc. JIE is published twice a year and it available on journal web site: http:// journals.uob.edu.bh/jie ; also you can view the paper on the Journal facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Journal-of-Inspiration-Economy/561767053927699

    JIE editorial board is happy to invite all the authors, scientists, practitioners, researchers and academics all over the world to participate in this new initiative that have the purpose for creating “inspiring” well established research in a knowledge sharing community environment relevant to themes as Inspiration, Inspiration for Community, Inspiration for Survival, Inspiration for Re-Building Society Fabric, Inspirational Economy Future, Inspiration through Diversity and Co-existence management Inspiration, including Inspiration for establishing Entrepreneurship Spirit that would support the innovation of the economy.

    The editorial board wishes to solicit manuscripts in all areas of all applied and researched work relevant to inspiration that leads countries, communities and government towards more stable and sustainable economic practices. Submitted manuscripts papers must show evidences of significant and original contributions to the above. Papers clearly with high applied potentials would be of particular importance.

    Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor currently under consideration for publication elsewhere (N.B. Conference papers may only be submitted if the paper was not originally copyrighted). All papers are refereed through a double blind review process.

    Coming Issue Deadlines:
    First Call for Paper – 1st March 2015
    Second Call for Paper – 1st of May 2015
    Last Call for Paper – 1st June 2015

    Dates for Paper Submission – 1st March till 20 June, 2015
    Dates for Paper Reviewers Feedback start- 15 March, 2015
    Dates for Paper Final Acceptance Starts from – 10 May 2015 till 1 August 2015.

    Second Issue is ready by 15th Sep 2015 and would be released on 1st March 2015.

    Authors are invited to submit their papers in the MS Word format (as per the attached template) to:


    The following are the topics of relevance to journal, therefore authors can use them during submitting their papers, but other topics foreseen of relevance to inspiration and economy would be also considered:

    · Economy Inspiration
    · Inspiration Economy
    · Society Inspiration
    · Organizational Learning
    · Organizational Innovation
    · Organizational Competitiveness
    · Organizational Excellence
    · Organizational Knowledge Management
    · Knowledge Economy
    · Learning Economy
    · Innovation Economy
    · Social Engineering
    · Society Co-existence
    · Social Integration
    · Disruptive innovation
    · Accelerated learning
    · Government Inspiration
    · Society Development
    · Entrepreneurship Spirit
    · Business of Inspiration
    · Organizational Psychology
    · Service Economy
    · Experience Economy
    · Social Innovation
    · Alternative Welfare Indicators
    · Healthcare Inspiration
    · Healthcare Innovation
    · Healthcare Quality
    · Healthcare Improvement
    · Healthcare Leadership
    · Healthcare Management
    · Technology Inspiration
    · Technological Excellence
    · Electronic Entrepreneurship
    · Technological Innovative Diffusion
    · Technology Competitiveness

    Please circulate this email to all your friends where you feel they would like to contribute and share their efforts and research on the business of change and inspiration to their organisations, societies and the world.

    Looking forward for your positive contribution

    Best regards,
    Dr. Mohamed Buheji
    Founding Editor (JIE)

  3. Podcast: Innovation & Business Transformation at TATA Group

    January 22, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited

    Innovation and business transformation is the topic of discussion on this podcast from www.stitcher.com. Dr. Sunil Mithas of the University of Maryland talks about what companies can learn from the Tata Group’s ascension to becoming one of the world’s most well-known – and profitable – businesses in the world. Dr. Mithas has studied the Tata Group’s success in-depth for his just published book, Dancing Elephants and Leaping Jaguars: How to Excel, Innovate, and Transform Your Organization the Tata Way. On this podcast the Malcolm Baldridge framework is discussed for measuring innovation, why it’s important to have a long-term vision for innovation, and a number of different innovation competitions that Tata has set up to encourage innovation within its companies.

  4. How Portland is tackling the innovation dilemma

    January 2, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited

    Portland Mayor Charlie Hales set aside $1 million in his 2013-14 budget for an “innovation fund.”
    Now he’s ready to award some of the best ideas from city bureaus with money

    Originally posted on Governing, by Steve Goldsmith

    We rightly expect a great deal from our municipal governments. We want city departments to be innovative — but not to take unwise risks. We want their projects to generate impressive long-term results — but not to cost taxpayers heavily upfront.

    Can government be at once cutting-edge and careful? It’s a paradox that for years has stymied municipal innovation in cities across the country.

    Here’s how it works: Each year, the mayor sets aside $1 million in the city budget to support the innovation fund. City bureau directors hoping to win a chunk of that funding submit project proposals, which are evaluated by a task force of private-sector professionals who consider how effectively the proposals fulfill the goal of saving the city money or making government run more smoothly. The task force makes recommendations to the mayor, who then puts the winning proposals before the city council for funding consideration.

    In its first year, the competition received 22 proposals from 10 bureau directors. Based on endorsements from the inaugural task force, the city council approved six projects for a net total of nearly $900,000 in funding. Among the winning projects were those seeking to save money (the Portland Housing Bureau was awarded $48,000 for a data-sharing program aimed at reducing data-entry costs) and save lives (the Fire Bureau got $108,000 to implement a smartphone app designed to help cardiac arrest victims receive immediate assistance).

    Another winning proposal was aimed at improving the city government’s collaboration with the private sector. The Portland Development Commission was awarded $80,000 for a program that seeks to make the city an early adopter of new technologies being developed by Portland’s startup community for use in meeting the city’s maintenance and operational needs. The funds are going toward the roll-out of technology for an online portal as well as face-to-face networking events aimed at connecting local tech start-ups with city bureaus. Even in its early stages, the program has already fostered significant cross-bureau collaboration, according to Chris Harder, the commission’s economic development director.

    With the innovation fund now in its second year, city officials are making a few changes to the initiative to inspire more and better ideas. This time around, organizers solicited project ideas from all city employees rather than just bureau directors — a change that was aimed at fostering participation from all levels of the city bureaucracy. Organizers simplified the submission form and introduced a second round of consideration for larger projects. This year’s innovation fund will also place greater emphasis on training; some of the funds will be used to pay for workshops to help managers and supervisors be more creative in their jobs.

    All of these changes are aimed at promoting new ideas throughout city government. “I think the effort itself is something that should be embraced,” Harder said of the Innovation Fund. “Particularly when you work for a bureau, to have the leadership encourage you to think that way is very helpful.”

    Portland is neither the first nor the last city to look toward competition to try to spark creative government solutions. Baltimore has its own innovation fund, which, like Portland’s version, awards competitive seed grants to city agencies with creative project ideas. In the past few years, Baltimore has funded agency projects to install “smart” parking and energy meters, put in place new fiber-optic technology for the city’s broadband network, and acquire a new, more efficient DNA analysis tool. And earlier this month, Los Angeles announced that it would launch a $1 million innovation fund to support creative projects dreamed up by city workers.

    The Portland innovation fund can in part trace its roots back to a larger and broader predecessor based in New York City. This grant competition is run by the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. With support from the federal Social Innovation Fund, the center supports the replication of anti-poverty programs in New York and other cities across the country, using a competitive selection process.

    Innovation funds and other related initiatives offer an exciting new way of thinking about the problem of encouraging innovation in traditionally risk-averse government institutions. By combining an entrepreneur’s eye for creative solutions with a public servant’s mindfulness of limited resources, these initiatives have great potential to make government more efficient.

  5. Innovation is Directly Related to How You Think

    October 23, 2014 by

    Originally Posted by Caes Career Advancement Blog

    There should be little doubt that navigating through the challenges of the new economy, both domestically and internationally, will require new ways of thinking.

    To be successful, it will be necessary to abandon the typical “reactionary” response to changing circumstances and instead opt for a more “proactive” entrepreneurial approach in order to take advantage of the new opportunities that inevitably arise. Those of us who understand that the “old ways” of doing things are no longer effective will be one step ahead in utilizing practical innovative thinking to create those new ideas, methodologies, products and services that are essential to our mastering the new economic and business challenges that we face.

    “Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know and to apply the principles of successful innovation.” Peter Drucker

    Unfortunately, the great majority of people will spend more time talking about the need for innovation than taking Mr. Drucker’s advice. But those people who do understand the need for urgency in moving forward will be the first to understand what innovation means to their particular situation and then to take whatever steps necessary to integrate innovative thinking into their work and environments. Knowing that innovation begins with people, it becomes paramount for us to investigate better ways of identifying and developing more innovative mangers and staff, and to facilitate an environment that will encourage and support their innovative abilities.

    Education, Experience, Technical Capability, and Intelligence

    Obviously, for a person to be successful in their employment role they will need appropriate levels of intelligence, education, technical skills and experience as a foundation. Then, what separates the average from the above average performer is their work personality. For above average performance to be sustained over time, it is critical that an appropriate personality match, to the requirements of the role, the team, the manager and the culture, be laid on top of this foundation.

    It is important to avoid a common assumption that intelligence and technical skills are the main defining characteristics of innovation. Experience shows that not all educated, experienced, intelligent and technically capable people are innovative. And further, not all innovative people apply themselves to transform their ideas into practical reality. So while we can say that people who are innovative will typically possess appropriate levels of intelligence, education, technical skills and experience, they must also be able to think in appropriate ways and they will need to have the relevant personality characteristics that will support the practical application of their wonderful ideas in the real world.

    Appropriate Problem Solving Capability and Cognitive Scope Are Crucial to Innovation

    Cognitive scope refers to how a person handles information complexity. The greater a person’s ability to cope with complex interrelated issues, the greater their ability to think ahead and envision practical solutions to problems. Isn’t this what innovation is all about? Those people who have the ability to conceptualize and envision multiple possibilities (or possible solutions) will have more options at their disposal, and will also have the capacity to envision the practical application of their solutions within increasing time horizons (scope) into the future.

    From an organizational analysis / development standpoint, we know that the complexity of problems, and the cognitive scope required to cope with them, will increase as you move up the organizational hierarchy. The CEO has much more complex issues to contend with, and has to envision effective solutions within greater time frames, than does a front-line worker. And since the nature of problems experienced will differ between levels, the thinking process required to provide innovative solutions will differ as well.

    The example below provides an overview of the possible relationships between organizational hierarchy, responsibility, scope and thinking style. Again, as we move up each level, we see that responsibilities increase, the complexity of problems increases and the scope requirements (time horizons) for effective solutions increase. It is also important to note that people in the bottom four levels will tend to think in concrete terms while people in the top five levels, due to increased problem complexity and scope requirements, will tend to think in abstract terms.

    Level Position General Responsibility Scope General Thinking
    8 CEO Constructs and pursues 50 + Years Extreme Abstract
    world-wide strategic plans
    7 Regional CEO Constructs and pursues 20 – 50 Years High Abstract
    regional strategic plans
    6 Regional VP Leads the accumulated impact 10 – 20 Years Medium Abstract
    of multiple business units
    5 Business Unit VP Optimizes the function of 5 – 10 Years Low Abstract
    a single business unit
    4 General Manager Manages multiple, interdependent 2 – 5 Years Low Concrete
    projects balancing resources
    3 Manager Link between the organization and 1 – 2 Years Medium Concrete
    operations of the company
    2 First Line Manager Provides team Supervision 3 Months – 1 Year High Concrete
    1 Worker Follows routine pre-defined 1 – 3 Months Extreme Concrete

    The ability to think in abstract terms is not necessarily limited to “people at the top” – but it will be more natural for them. Similarly, people at the lower levels will be more comfortable with concrete thinking but depending on the situation, some will be more able to think in abstract terms – especially those who are “moving up the ranks”. These thinking preferences are directly related to each groups’ role in the innovative process. The more complex nature of the problems facing the top four levels requires that they respond more strategicallytoward innovation and thus requires higher level abstract thinking. Based on their respective responsibilities, people in the bottom four levels will take a more operational approach towards innovation thus focusing on practical application by thinking in more concrete terms.

    It is important to note that a major component of intellectual development can be found in the process of gradually moving away from extremely concrete thinking to increasingly abstract thinking while expanding the variety of information content a person must consider (complexity and scope). So, from a developmental standpoint, by knowing an individual’s current cognitive scope and age, it will be possible to determine when an individual’s problem solving capability will grow, when they will become more comfortable with increasingly abstract concepts, and when they will be able to handle those innovative challenges that require a greater range of cognitive scope. Knowing this has tremendous implications for hiring innovative managers and personnel, in identifying current and potential innovators within our current compliment, and in creating internal developmental initiatives to encourage greater innovation.

    Abstract Thinking And Concrete Thinking

    Concrete thinkers will tend to think in terms of specific examples or occurrences. Abstract thinkers go beyond thinking only about the specifics to consider any appropriate attributes and relationships that could be associated with those specific examples. While a concrete thinker will think about a particular object, like a pen, a more abstract thinker will think about pens in general. A concrete thinker sees the pen as being small, while an abstract thinker will consider the implications of size. A concrete thinker counts three pens while an abstract thinker thinks about the implications regarding the numbers. Generally speaking, abstract thinkers are able to perceive relationships and make analogies that concrete thinkers may not readily see, and this not only enables them to better understand higher levels of abstraction, it also enables them to see more options and alternatives from a wider perspective.

    Sometimes people directly relate concrete and abstract thinking to how practical or impractical an idea might be. For many people practical ideas are more easily understood because they represent what is known and familiar. Abstract ideas can be more difficult to understand, and reside in unfamiliar and unknown territory. In our example, people in levels one to four are primarily focused on coping with less complex, known specifics, while people in levels five to eight are primarily focused on more complex unknown generalities. In other words, a conceptual evaluation of world market conditions (abstract) may be seen as being impractical to some because it is not specifically tied to action, while a business plan or a manufacturing procedure (concrete) has more relevance because it specifically states how to proceed.

    Most people have a natural tendency to gravitate toward what is more comfortable (the familiar) and to move away from the unknown (the new). As previously mentioned, familiarity established through appropriate education, technical capability, and experience is a necessary foundation, but we can argue that too much familiarity may limit our perspective (“It worked before, why change it”?), cause us to focus in concrete ways (extreme / high concrete thinking) and inhibit our ability to be innovative through a more abstract approach to the problems involved. The result is that our innovation is inhibited and becomes more incremental than it could be. An innovator is separated from a “maintainer” when they can think beyond any limitations that exist due to their more familiar and comfortable technical focus. The typical concrete thinking engineer may become more innovative when he or she stops thinking like an engineer!

    We Need to Identify, Hire, Develop and Promote More Abstract Thinking Senior Managers

    Upper management’s role is to provide overall vision, and then to facilitate the development of an environment where innovation will thrive in accordance to their long-term business objectives. Only via abstract thinking and advanced problem solving capability will they be able to consider and correlate all of the necessary elements to accomplish this within their respective time horizon. Since support for innovation will generally “filter down” from the top, upper management’s ability to innovatively contribute, in accordance to the requirements of their respective level, is essential to the timely integration and progression of innovation throughout the organization. Should weakness exist in their capability, the negative impact will similarly filter down to the subsequent levels below and make it more difficult to encourage, implement and support innovation.

    As well, knowing that concrete thinking is most often associated with practical action, senior managers would be wise to define their “vision” in concrete terms as not doing so may open the door for resistance. Since subordinate concrete thinkers prefer an action-oriented point of reference, they may not relate to a new abstract concept unless it can be expressed in a language that satisfies their practical requirements.

    More On The Relationship Between Role, Thinking Style and Innovation

    Just as an upper manager’s role in the innovative process requires an abstract thinking style, for innovation to be effective, other organizational members’ thinking styles will need to correlate with their respective roles as well. By understanding that innovation does not mean the same thing to every person, and that innovation can take different forms, we would be wise to first look at what type of innovation is required, and then determine, on a per-person or per-level basis, the required problem solving capability and thinking style that will be most appropriate for success. Anthony Gregorc, author of An Adult’s Guide to Style, helps us to go farther in this approach by providing us with a general model regarding the differences in how some people think.

    Gregoric begins by providing a definition of both sequential thinkers and random thinkers. To him, sequential thinkers are people who are most effective when following a step by step process over a period of time. They are comfortable when a task is well planned, and they prefer to have a thorough understanding of what to expect at the beginning, through the process and at the end. Initially, they like to gather all relevant information and then, prepared, they will proceed towards the intended goal. In motivational terminology we can say that these people are procedurally motivated, and we know that they will be frustrated and de-motivated when required to deviate from their plan.

    Comparatively, Gregoric’s random thinkers often start at the end and work their way backwards. These people are more experimental and will tend to direct their focus on what is most important at the moment. Since they are more likely to take short cuts, and even skip steps in their innovative process, they are often seen as being “disorganized” by sequential people. But random thinkers can still implement practical ideas, and they accomplish this by “reverse engineering” their new idea or process to verify that it is factually supported in the real world. Motivated by options, random thinkers can become de-motivated when forced to work within a strict procedural thinking process.

    Gregorc then adds a further dimension to his theory by focusing on how people like to learn. Here he distinguishes between concrete learners and abstract learners, defining concrete learners as those people who prefer to learn through their physical senses (what we can touch, see, feel, smell, and hear), and defining abstract learners as people who prefer to learn by working with ideas in order to get a better understanding of the world. He goes further to suggest that concrete learners like to get things done in a predictable way and depend on improving the process to do it, while abstract learners like to experiment with things, trying to determine how they work.

    By combining these two concepts Gregorc provides us with four thinking style quadrants:

    Concrete sequential thinkers are practical, well organized and tend to focus on reality. Because they process information in an ordered, sequential and linear way, their thinking processes tend to be logical and deliberate. They prefer an environment that is structured, practical, quiet, and stable. They like to make schedules and adhere to a plan, they are detail-oriented, they focus on physical objects and they aim for perfection. Concrete sequential thinkers approach innovation by improving the original rather than being original. These people contribute most effectively when improving a process (quality improvement and cost reduction).

    Concrete random thinkers are also practical and live in the physical world, but they prefer to learn by trial and error. Rather than follow a planned procedure, they prefer trial and error experimentation, and taking risks with whatever options are found. And while they focus on practical applications, methods and processes, their thinking processes are instinctive, intuitive, and impulsive. They prefer an environment that is stimulating and competitive and that allows them to conduct independent problem solving. Concrete random thinkers approach innovation in “original, inventive, and unique ways”. The concrete random person will be strongest at developing practical innovative products.

    Abstract sequential thinkers like to develop ideas in a logical way. They love theory and abstract thought, focusing their attention on knowledge, concepts and synthesis. Their thinking processes are intellectual, analytical, correlative, fluid, and fast. Very logical, they need to analyze before making decisions. They prefer an environment that is ordered, quiet, independent, and mentally stimulating.

    Abstract sequential thinkers approach innovation by “modeling, theorizing and synthesizing”. These people are best at providing the necessary research so their products have strong theoretical and practical support.

    Abstract random thinkers prefer to rely on feelings and emotions, they like to listen to others and since they prefer group harmony this type of person is good at establishing a rapport with people. They focus on emotional attachments, relationships, and memories. They prefer unstructured, people-oriented environments that provide emotional experiences and physical freedom, and that are active and colorful. Abstract random thinkers’ approach to innovation is “imaginative and often expressed through music and art”. This does not mean that they are only going to be of value to the “fine arts”. Rather, these people will contribute to the innovative process because they are good at both facilitating internal collaboration and at networking with external people, and therefore they help to encourage communication and co-operation between departments within the organization.

    We need to remember that no one thinking style is better than the others. All of them are valuable. Gregorc’s approach helps us to understand and identify the type of thinking (and person) that will be most effective, depending on the specific requirements that arise from the form of innovation that we want and need. Failure to make this correlation, and adapt, will result in an unsatisfactory innovative process and the loss of opportunity.

    Innovative Teams

    From a team building perspective, depending on the nature of the innovation project, an innovative team could be built comprising members from each of the four quadrants. But we need to understand that, while everyone can provide a positive contribution in one respect, the differences in each thinking type could inhibit the positive functioning of the unit as a whole. Differing team members will not all see things the same way, nor will they prefer to work in the same way – so the door may be open to dysfunction. The obvious remedy would be the involvement of a suitable team leader who not only understands the differences between the members, but who also has the leadership capability to maximize their positive contributions while minimizing possible negative disagreements.


    It is important to remember that, when focusing on innovation, “one shoe does not fit all”. As we move through the levels of an organization we realize that different people will have different responsibilities and perspectives with respect to the innovative process. To successfully integrate “innovation” into an organization, it is critically important to initially determine the form and scope that innovation will take, and then to ensure that a suitable match exists between the specific innovative requirements and the people who will be involved. This requires that the participants have an appropriate technical foundation, sufficient problem solving capability and cognitive scope and a suitable innovative thinking style.

    However, just because a person has the capability to be innovative does not mean that they will apply themselves. Please take a moment to continue in our discussion by reading our follow-up article “Can You Identify an Innovative Thinker”?, where we go one step farther to identify the key personality characteristics that are needed to ensure that innovative people will actually perform.