Do We Need a Process for Innovation


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This weeks Podcast guest is David Hamme. David enjoys helping leaders uncover opportunities, examine problems from new angles, and executing the plan to bring them to fruition. His goal is to make your life easier and supercharge your performance.  His recent book, Customer Focused Process Innovation: Linking Strategic Intent to Everyday Execution is compilation of his thoughts and processes that he uses.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: Why do think we need a process? I mean why do we need a process for innovation, why aren’t we, having that one brainstorming session and putting the post-it notes up and “Boom, let’s go try this.”

David Hamme: That’s a fantastic question. To me, processes are the underlying mechanism. It’s the construct that really defines how it would work. If we really want to understand what goes on inside of an enterprise, we have to understand that it consist of, you know, hundreds or thousands of processes in most cases. They’re all interconnected. They span different departments and different groups and how they work in totality is how that organization or how that enterprise creates value. If you don’t look at that view point, I don’t think there’s a construct out there that operates nearly as well. But, once you have that and all that totality of that network, it becomes a blueprint for anything that you want to do in the future.

I like to use the parallel, “If you’re building a skyscraper and you want to do an additional on it or on your home or whatever building, at the end of the day you start with a blueprint. So often, efforts inside companies don’t start with that blueprint. It becomes just what you said. Let’s sit in front of a white board and throw things up there. The problem that I have with that is you’re creating a lot of waste then. You’re not using structures that already exist that you can leverage. You may be creating a whole new organization when you don’t necessarily need to. So, if you want to make it methodical, specific and design the organization to the task at hand, you really have to start with that blueprint.

The concept I use it is what I call an enterprise process blueprint. It’s a high level view of an organization from a process perspective and it’s analogous to a traditional org chart but with several differentiators. First is I put the customer on there. My thought is the customer is the supreme of whether you’re successful or whether you fail. The other one that you want to please to gain market share or if it’s not a for-profit corporation, it could be your stakeholder that you want to please, that you want to provide value to. If the customer’s on there and you map all your processes to that customer, now you really understand what is the flow back and forth between you and the customer, what are the connection points, what are those things that you can do to delight that customer and as it focuses down it replaced the org chart which I mean the org chart is a command and control structure that really kind of shows who reports to who. It doesn’t really show how work gets done.

Enterprise process blueprint gives you that view of the workflows, how they flow out to the organization, so when you’re planning innovation efforts you can go back to them and say, “You know what, we can leverage as part of our organization to do this.” And, there’s just a lot of power in starting from something and having a framework as opposed to just letting it be kind of, you know, spit balling things in the air to see what comes out. I find for innovation one of the worst things you can do is put up a suggestion box. You can get a thousand ideas there but you got to weed through them at the end of the day because they’re not grounded in what the problem really is or what you’re trying to solve for or the customer you’re trying to delight, they really don’t give you a lot of value or as if you can say very specifically, “We want to delight this customer and this is what our current processes are.” Often, the ideas become much more focused, become much more meaningful and that gives a lot more value and it really accelerates your innovation process.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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