I often think about that famous joke that I believe describes what happens to leaders from companies who go into the innovation marketplace to get help for their company to become more innovative. You probably heard it, here's how it goes. There's this tourist lost in Ireland. Her GPS is down. She never learned how to read a map. She's frustrated.
So she stops and ask one of the Irish locals for directions to Dublin. And here's what he says. He says, Okay, I'll give you directions. But if I were you, I certainly wouldn't start from here. There are very few offerings in the innovation marketplace that help companies start from where they are And acknowledges that they not some outside entity should lead their Innovation Initiative. Instead, we're given the latest fad, the tool everyone is using, or some cookie cutter approach to innovation.
Now let me ask you a question. Doesn't it seem odd to you that innovation of all things is becoming a codified me to industry. In this series, we're going to talk in depth about innovation within companies. But for now, think about innovation is an art and science that each company must lead that you must lead, starting with the unique traits and assets of your company to create a scalable innovation approach that fits your company's strategy. Your Innovation Initiative has to grow and adapt as your company grows and adapts. You know, the way I think about It innovation for a company is a core competency.
It's not just an outsource skill. So your company needs an innovation sandbox that you then take out to the world and within your company to find innovators and innovations for your current and future customers. It's not the other way around. It's up to you to leave lead innovation and invite others to partner. I don't think about it, in this case as much as open or closed. What I do think about is an inside out play.
It has to be framed from the inside of your company, but then it migrates out to all employees and to the outside world, for solutions for everyone and everywhere. Welcome to the innovation universe. I'm Dr. Nancy Tennant. You know, I love the Innovation Initiative at Whirlpool for over 20 years where I reported to two successive Chairman and CEO. So I know what it's like to be on the front lines of innovation in the day to day trying to figure it out and trying to succeed, to give myself a broader perspective, and to keep learning I also teach innovation at Redmond at two of the world's great business schools, the University of Chicago Booth School and the University of Notre Dame Mendoza school and I've done this for over 15 years teaching and interacting with thousands of executives from hundreds of companies around the world who are all trying to do the same thing, trying to help their company become more innovative.
Also at the University of Notre Dame, I'm a founding developer of the top rated certified I mentor program. I've written three books. One of them unleashing innovation is required reading for MBAs at the Harvard Business School. There are three seminal Harvard cases written on what we did at Whirlpool and on the transformation to become more innovative. And I've written several articles on the subject, including one HBr article with Professor Gary Hamel. I'm a keynote speaker for innovation events around the world.
I consult and help companies and I hope host a blog and website called innovation universe calm, and I've just launched a podcast called exploring the innovation universe. So I think it's fair to say that I've been in this innovation space From the beginning, and I'm still learning and teaching and helping other companies from around the world to get to the next level. You know, someone once said about me, that I forgotten more than most people will ever know about innovation in companies. Wow. That's not exactly true. But I do come to this space with a very unique point of view and a set of firsthand experiences that are rare in the innovation marketplace.
I've lived it day in and day out. So I know intimately, both the successes and the failures. Okay, let's talk about innovation. You know, there are so many definitions out there for innovation. So when I use innovation in the innovation universe, what I mean is, how you generate and deliver a cadence of unique and value creating solutions for customers. roof framing and leading innovation is a core competency that's embedded in every aspect of your company.
Generating is the external facing part of the model, while frame embed and lead are internally facing, it takes all four of these platforms for a company to become innovative. So if your company's trying to become more innovative to develop innovation as a core competency, where do you go to get the help that you need? So you won't get the equivalent of? Well, if I were you, I certainly wouldn't start from here. How do you start from where you are taking into account the nuances of your company and your strategy? And how do you as a leader in your company drive the Innovation Initiative, so that the innovation consulting and education marketplace works for you.
In this series, we'll dress these questions by helping you acquire the knowledge to embed innovation as a core competency in your company. The innovation universe series focuses on how to change your company to be more innovative. It looks at components in the company that need to be changed, and also new processes, innovation processes and tools and other things that may need to be added to make innovation more viable and to get it to the next level. Now, as an aside, as you go through this series, be aware that the platforms and steps in the innovation universe can be used for any long term strategic change you're trying to make in the company. For example, let's say you're trying to embed quality in the frame, embed and lead platform, you only need to slightly adjust Just the content to add quality. Now the Generate platform, which is more quality and more content intensive, will probably need to be altered more.
So in some sense, this series allows you to think about how to renovate your company for any strategic initiative. That's why when I work with companies who are starting innovation, I also asked them to go back and describe previous strategic initiatives that have been successful and to bring those learnings to the innovation space. Because many of these steps in the innovation universe, and that you've already perhaps completed in your company can be repurposed for other strategic initiatives, including innovation. You know, there are many ways to extract value from the innovation universe series. Let me just give you a few things to think about as you go through the series. First, you can use it to enhance your knowledge in the innovation space, both if you're new to innovation, but also if you're a seasoned professional in the space and you're looking for a few nuggets, if you will to add to your practice.
Secondly, if you're on an innovation team, have your team go through the series together, and identify some key takeaways that you can do next week immediately to add to your innovation project. If you're accountable for Innovation Initiative in your company, then the innovation universe series will help you identify some ideas that are helpful for your company and we'll help you gain alignment to make the necessary steps to get innovative. to the next level. If you are from a company and want to use the series to either onboard new employees or help train many employees, the innovation universe series is excellently positioned to be added to your curriculum. And finally, if you're an innovation educator, as I am, you can use this series in your workshop or as pre work to get everyone to the same level before your workshop starts. I'll give you a little context for the innovation universe.
First of all, the innovation universe is focused at helping companies who want to build innovation as a core competency. That means in every part of their organization, and that it's always on. It's also targeted for legacy companies, companies who are in a mature market place Companies who've been around from for a while, or were not built from day one to be innovative the way Google or Apple or others were. And lastly, it's a systemic view of how you renovate every aspect of your company. It's not just about how you get innovation projects going. It's about how you keep those going over time by renovating your company to be innovative.
I'm going to do a thumbnail sketch on each of the platforms so that you can see what each of the four entails. And then as we progress through the innovation universe series, you'll have an opportunity to learn in depth about frame generate embed and lead. Okay, here we go. Let's start with frame frame is the strategic mandate for innovation. Now frames sometimes gets commingled or even takes a back seat to generate. But I like to separate frame from generate, even though I know they're both part of a virtuous cycle.
Here's why I do this. I have worked with many companies who jump into generating innovations without the slightest idea of how it relates to their enterprise strategy. It's like they must see other companies innovate. And they jump in because it's fun and exciting. It's kind of like cloning without any customization. Before you jump in, I urge you to articulate what innovation means to your company.
Frame as part of your leadership role to help innovators know why they are innovating, and to draw a sandbox for innovators, so that your scarce resources are targeted at the kinds of innovations that will help your company grow. Let me demonstrate the problem for you. When frame is considered less important than generate. In my classes, I do this exercise with executives. I asked them, raise your hand if your company has a strategy. Now you might be surprised but about three fourths of them raise their hand.
I don't know what's happening with the other fourth, but then I say for those of you that have your hands raised Leave your hands up if your strategy clearly shows the roll of innovation. By now, only about a quarter of the class still has their hands up. And then I say for those of you that still have your hands in the air, how many of your strategies are understood by every employee in your company? Well, by now there are hardly any hands left in the air. I've conducted this experiment hundreds of times in core courses all over the world, and the result is always the same. So let's look at frame frame has three things that you need to keep in mind.
First of all, that there is a clear and known strategy. This means it's clearly defined and searchable, if you will, and that everyone can get their hands on it, and that it's known and understood by Everyone in the company. next frame shows how innovation harmonizes with other key initiatives in your company. Let me give you an example. I work with many companies who don't help employees understand how innovation and operation excellent excellence can coexist or in fact, are co dependent. So frame helps you spell out these dependencies, these harmonies.
And lastly, frame spells out the linkages of innovation to your business unit enterprise or team strategy by showing how innovation will benefit the company and its stakeholders. Now, I suggest to innovators that I train in companies, even if these three things are not in your job. If your company does not have these elements, it's up to you to find them and interpret them. In a one page framing document, you know, doing this could be the difference between success and failure in getting your innovation, resourced and supported. Now let's look at the second platform generate generate really is the center of the universe. Its focus is customer driven problem solving.
And it's the one that most conferences, most workshops, books, and companies focus on Generate is how you move from concept to commercialization. This includes innovations of all types, product and non product in all areas of growth, both existing and new markets. The focus of generators can be both incremental and breakthrough. You know a failure mode for many companies is to believe that innovations have to be breakthrough have to be new to the world. Believe me, you can create a lot of value for your company by looking in the incremental innovation space as well as breakthrough. And lastly, generate will create a cadence and portfolio of innovations that will cover core adjacent and beyond.
Chances are your company already has experience with generating innovations. The problem here is that many companies start and stop with generate. As we progress through the series, we will see that if you want to create a cadence of innovation, and position innovation as a core business process, the way great product companies have quality As a corporate business process, you have to go beyond generate. You know how Six Sigma differentiates between special cause and common cause. Or if you think about it, it's the difference between batch and continuous flow. You will need to go beyond generate to create a continuous stream of innovations so that you can create competitive advantage through innovation.
Okay, let's look at the third platform. The third platform is embed. embed focuses on company renovation. Now this one is a bit of a hidden platform. You kind of have to have special lenses to see it or you have to really be looking for it to see it in bed is kind of like that apron you have to put on over your party clothes to keep them clean. It's not the most fun but it's requisite, if you want innovation to last.
Now, many companies either don't see it or they try to shortchange it. I would say that of all the companies I'm working with that are having problems, I would say 70% of them say they're struggling with other things, but I think they're really struggling in this platform and in bed. Now, and Ben has three descriptions, descriptors that help us understand why it's so important for companies who want to innovate. First of all, embedment is a concerted and focused effort. It requires that someone on your team or in your company is accountable to help the organization transform both on the hard side of what I call management systems, but also on the softer side of culture. Number two, embed C's innovation as an organization adaption.
It's like a slow movement, a slow dance. It's not a revolution. But it's certainly not status quo. It's changing the organization to drive innovation at every turn. And third, in bed turns innovation into a core competency. And therefore, it's how you get innovation into your company's DNA.
Now, many companies have a strategy or a marketing or even an IT head leading innovation, which is all great. And it signals to me an emphasis on frame and generate. embed reminds us that there are many aspects of our companies that have to be adapted to make innovation work for the long term. It consequently requires a different skill set. Think about it this way. Your company works Day in and day out, even when you're not there.
It even hums along when the CEO is on vacation. Maybe there's something, maybe something in the basement that's driving it. That's turning out reports ensuring compliance, socializing, new employees, taking out cost, requiring predictability. We like to say that it's culture sometimes that is the big problem. And I think that's arm waving. I think it's more than culture.
I think there are these hard edge things that live in the basement of your company. And these things that hide in the basement are not innovation friendly. Let's face it, some of those things that live in your basement, made your company great and need to continue. But with the Introduction of innovation they need to be adapted so as not to kill innovation. In the embed module, we will talk about how to get that monster that lives in your basement, not just in check, but driving innovation. The fourth platform is lead.
Not lead is the platform that's focused on you. The other three platforms frame generate an embed, heavy organization or enterprise or a project focus. Lead is the only one that has an individual focus. And as an innovator, you will constantly learning and trying new things. And as a leader of innovators, you will also be unleashing potential both in yourself and others. So LEED is a bit like this conch shell in the picture that you're looking at.
It's a fractal. Now a fractal was an Never Ending pattern that is self similar is identical across different scales. And in the case of lead, you have to be developing these skills in yourself and also others. Lead is how you will thrive in the innovation economy. So it's about creating and adapting new leadership traits and behaviors. You know, many of the leadership models that we use today have their Genesis, you can trace them back in some format, around World War Two, or maybe the 1970s or 80s.
So imagine just in the last five years, how much the workplace has changed how much technology in generational expectations, society, geopolitical trends, how all that has changed drastically. And I think it's fair to say that leadership is not keeping up. So if you want to lead in the innovation economy in the innovation era, there are some new trends traits and behaviors that you'll adopt to help you and your company succeed. And the good news is for almost everyone, learning and practicing these is, is fun, and is really rewarding in the innovation space. So in the lead module, we'll learn more about this through a personal assessment and other ways to help you adapt and bring in new traits and skills, additional traits and skills to your personal leadership model. So to recap, the innovation universe is a practitioner driven, unifying methodology to help companies customize their Innovation Initiative, so that they can achieve innovation from everywhere and everyone.
It's a generalized set of actions that every company can take to become an innovation powerhouse, but it also allows you to customize And lead innovation yourself. There are four platforms in the innovation universe frame generate embed and lead. Frame ensures that innovation is driving the right type of decisions from everyone in your company to achieve results in the highest leverage areas of your strategy. Generate looks at how you move from idea to commercialization at both the project and the portfolio level. embed is the hidden one, the one that lives in the basement. And consequently, a lot of companies miss it.
It's critical, as critical as any platform, particularly if you want innovation to work over time. And to do this, you have to renovate both your management systems and culture to become true drivers of innovation and the last platform LEED will equip you with new traits and behaviors to become a leader in the innovation universe. Now, we're going to use this picture throughout the series as a wayfinder, if you will, to help you know at all times where you are in the innovation universe. Okay, congratulations, you finish the first module that Introduction. Now we're going to move on to the next module frame and that's the strategic mandate.