No one is yet to show me a profession or industry that isn’t currently affected by major disruption or rapid change. This includes changing industry environments and customer needs and wants. So let’s face it, no one is immune to that kind of disruption. In that context, innovation is not just a buzzword — or aerosol word, as my colleague calls them — it’s a mission critical capability for organizations moving into the future. And that environment will only continue to become more disruptive, and the need for effective innovation more critical.
Unfortunately, organizational culture is too often unwelcoming of anything that threatens to disrupt the comfortable status quo, including innovations. And while we have long had the opportunity to measure individual performance through 360 measures, the same scientific rigour has been lacking for organizations that want to measure and improve their ability to innovate.
Leaders who need to change culture to drive innovation, organizational effectiveness and productivity have been desperate for a tool and expertise that can assess their organizations in a coherent and scientific method. Now the Innovation and Effectiveness Diagnostic applies a tool backed by proven, cutting-edge research to produce that missing perspective and data.
The Innovation and Effectiveness Diagnostic tool was developed by Professor Michael Anderson (listen to podcast together here), who I’m glad to say is now a colleague of ours after Executive Central partnered with his 4C Organizations company. Michael’s research is the basis for his book Transforming Organizations, which details how the Four Cs of Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Reflection are the ingredients for a culture of innovation. The insights of his work are helping organizations develop their capacity and habits for innovation by transforming their structure and strategy.
Scientific rigour in organizational innovation culture
Michael argues, from a scientific platform, that the four Cs are the capacities that are going to unlock productivity and effectiveness for organizations.
“We’ve all heard of these kinds of capabilities before but if you look at the research around the future of work and how work is going to be delivered, not only in the future, but now, these are the capabilities that make a difference for organizations in terms of their productivity and effectiveness,” he said.
“We have these aerosol terms — creativity, collaboration, etcetera — people spray them around, they smell, but actually when they try to grab them they are like vapour. So we spent a lot of time thinking about how can we make them knowable for organizations. We set up what we call coherence makers, which are each a four-stage process for understanding Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Reflection. After using these processes, people can understand what, for example, creativity means for their organization and industry. Because, of course, if you can’t be creative, you can’t be innovative. Creativity ends up being innovation literacy.
“We found a lot of organizations that talk a lot about innovation — another aerosol word — but actually they haven’t got the base creativity literacy to make it possible right across their organization. So there was a lot of research that involved looking at organizations such as Lego, Dresden — which is a new start-up in Australia that’s making very cheap eyeglasses out of recycled material — these kinds of organizations are embedding the four Cs and using them to deliver.”
The four Cs are human factors, rather than tangible elements but Michael’s research and the tools developed from it, analyse where they are and where they are not.
“We then do some really focused learning on how to develop the four Cs and how to generate them, and how to make them executable for different organizations in different contexts,” he said. “Because when the four Cs are absent, there is a huge loss of productivity. And, of course, not being able to execute on the four Cs has been the downfall of many organizations.
“Through a scientific 25 to 30 minute survey we can get an assessment of an organization’s four C capacities and literacy right down to a granular team level. So if the marketing department, for example, has some issues with critical reflection, or communication, we can pick that up and focus a bespoke, thoughtful and strategic solution for how to respond to that. It’s replacing those vapourish aerosol words with actual analytics and hard facts.”
How we can use the Innovation and Effectiveness Diagnostic
Michael and his team’s work is world-first technology in the field of assessing and measuring an organization’s innovation culture and effectiveness. That’s why Executive Central has partnered with 4C Organizations to deliver the Innovation and Effectiveness Diagnostic tool.
Many of the organizations we work with have any one of the four Cs in part, but what really attracted me to Michael’s work is that it looks at organizations in a holistic view and says ‘what does your organization need to look like to create the capacity to innovate and survive and thrive’. So that was where we saw a strong synergy between what Executive Central does, what Michael’s book talks about, and what we see in our practice that organizations need.
In our work, the topic of innovation is a huge area of need. It is inextricably tied to the future of work.The issue for our clients is how do they turn that desire to be innovative into reality. The partnership with 4C Organizations means we can now use a diagnostic tool to get a quantitative and qualitative assessment of where an organization is across a whole lot of these capacities. It’s that process of being able to find the starting point and cut through all of the BS to find out with surety where and organization sits, and then diagnose what we can do to develop those capacities.
Our philosophy with coaching has always been that we should be able to tailor and make a bespoke approach to the development delivered to organizations. This tool, backed up by the research of Michael and his team, gives us the ability to do that with our clients.
This is all about the future of work and fundamentally future-proofing your organization.
Contact me by email or phone if you’d like to chat about any of this.
Leadership is central to all Executive Central solutions. Building an organisational culture that is diverse, resilient, and innovative and that achieves its goals, requires building leadership capabilities at every level. We offer a suite of programs for individuals at executive, senior manager, frontline manager and high-potential talent levels, and for leadership teams. Learn more.