Who are Premier Insights, LLC
Premier Insights – INNOVATION management PRACTICE
Stephen A. Di Biase, Ph. D. President, Denise C. Benson, Chairwomen of the Board
Premier Insights, LLC provides accomplished, seasoned professionals for addressing you innovation-related business challenges. What is in a name?Premier Insights was specifically selected because our leaders bring these kinds of insights to bear on your opportunities. We purpose to develop insights so compelling that your leadership team will subordinate their self-interests to act on behalf of your organization. Our insights help connect the "unrelated dots" leading to innovations creating and sustaining wealth for your firm. Our professionals are cost-effective adding value immediately making positive impact on your organization.
If you ask most CEOs if their firms are innovative enough they’ll say no. If you ask what they’d like to see they’ll say they need innovation to be reliable, and even predictable, so it can be factored into the business plan and financial outcomes of the enterprise. Often innovation, occurs randomly, and while significant in creating value, it is frustrating for senior management. This situation presents an opportunity for converting investments in innovation from an artisan’s practice into a discipline.
A discipline is the collection of behaviors, which when practiced and mastered, yield predictable and desirable outcomes. So the key question for senior management is how do they ensure their innovation investments are used in a disciplined way across the organization?
There are 5 critical elements for mastering innovation and developing it as a discipline. These are: 1). a clear definition of what innovation is, 2). what role leadership plays in the innovation process, 3). who is accountable for being innovative, 4). what “eco-system” facilitates innovation, and finally 5). which processes need to be deployed supporting innovation as an ongoing discipline.
What’s the market need – What is missing?
The basic strategic construct of making innovation a discipline is missing from many organizations. This absence has been partially addressed using processes, from personality assessments to management tools like Stage Gates, but processes alone, while important, are inadequate. I believe the missing elements are proactive alignment of strategic and tactical considerations of how innovative people and organizations operate. This alignment involves:
• Clear definitions of what innovation is and isn’t.
• Characterizing the role of leadership in the innovation process.
• Recognizing what the change forces creating the opportunities to innovate.
• Understanding the context and constraints under which innovation must occur.
• Knowing which norms of behaviors facilitate or impede innovation.
• How does culture encourage or discourage collaboration, inquiry, imagination and discovery, all critical to the discipline of innovation?
• Is the organization ecosystem “messy enough” for innovation to occur?
• How are innovative behaviors recognized and encouraged?
When these elements properly aligned with the business strategy then innovation becomes hit or miss. However, with the proper constructs in place, with an organizational design facilitating information flowing to where it’s needed, and when it’s needed, for making decisions, innovation is more likely to occur.
While it’s difficult for an established company to change its basic culture, strong support from senior technical leadership can introduce meaningful changes leading to "Making Innovation a Discipline".
What is the offering?
Several discrete, but integrated modules, targeted at various parts of the organization starting with senior leadership and eventually working its way down to individual contributors. This is a top-down approach begins with the CEO or division head. These approaches are detailed in my treatise on innovation titled "Applied Innovation: A Handbook" available from Amazon and other distributors.
Our starting point is I personally approach the appropriate senior leader, beginning with the CEO, convincing him/her that they need to really understand how innovation happens from basic definitions to actual investments which are ultimately embodied in projects. These investments are then managed using all the methods commonly used today from Stage Gates to Portfolio Management. This initial discussion helps the CEO frame their point of view on what's needed that the Premier Insights a leader will either validate or modify based on our educated point of view. Often the CEO and other senior leaders are the last to know what's really happening and what needs to happen before systemic innovation is a reality.
Once the strategic issues are aligned then the critical success factors are managing the 6 elements for making innovation a discipline:
1. The Adjacent Possible – combining what you already have yielding new solutions.
2. Liquid Networks – there needs to be just the right level of “organizational chaos” to facilitate information flows without creating waste or confusion. The organization must be fluid in moving information easily but in a targeted way. This critical to success factor needs to balance norms of behavior with "controlled chaos". Using chemical metaphor: A liquid has the right amount of "chaos" - fluid but manageable vs. a solid (too ordered) or a gas (too chaotic).
3. Serendipity – the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it. Senior management has to be alert to the unexpected and off plan occurrences requiring investigation.
4. Errors – often create a path that leads you out of your comfort zone and revealing “the truth” about an investment. Errors can be gifts if recognized as such.
5. Exaptation – the combinatorial innovation by building on past innovations to create new solutions. There are no “new wheels” except those built from "existing wheels".
6. Platforms – are the basic discoveries which reveal new truths that can be broadly applied in many different contexts to create value via innovation. Some investments have to be without a near-term purpose.
First senior leadership are interviewed about their organization's performance relative to these 6 key elements occurring, supported by an informal audit conducted by a Premier Insights professional, of what their organization is actually doing. An important component of the audit is to understand how safe it is to ask questions.
Human curiosity is the root of all innovation requiring that senior leadership must cherish and defend a culture where honest inquiry is the norm. Inquiry can never be punished, no matter how inconvenient it may seem, because doing so kills innovation. Critically most people don’t know how to ask a good question because we’re taught in school to provide answers not ask questions. As a qualified Vistage International chair, the Premier Insights professional can teach your professionals how to engage in effective inquiry, leading to more effective and value-creating innovations.
The beauty of the above techniques is they makes the traditional processes so much more effective, taking the burden off of the processes for fixing what it can’t like discerning what the real objective is, how innovation really happens and the role of the individual at the project level where the money is actually spent.
Next is a deep analysis of the key project leaders who actually need to manage the work. This involves aligning the leader's strengths with their work while minimizing the impact of their weaknesses. This is done using an “active inquiry” approach helping individuals recognize where they should be deployed and why.
Finally, social media techniques are introduced facilitating greater connectedness within the organization while offering tools for accessing external sources of innovation. These techniques include well-established systems like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and customized blogs. The goal is to use these methods to reduce the “friction” associated with sharing ideas, problems, results and solutions so that everyone can leverage knowledge becoming more innovative. Innovation rarely occurs without collaboration and today collaboration effectiveness is becoming a source of competitive advantage which is very hard to copy.
The above techniques makes the traditional business processes so much more effective by removing the burden from the processes for fixing what they can’t like discerning what the real objective is, how innovation really happens and the role of the individual at the project level where the money is actually spent. Beyond our own resources, Premier Insights, LLC have access to a broad network of senior professionals ready to help.
What do I bring to the Client?
1. 20+ years of C – suite where I’ve lead global R&D organizations of up to 1000 professionals and entrepreneurial start-up businesses of 20 people. I’ve also been the Senior VP – HR at Diversey while also being their CSO and Senior VP – R&D.
2. An understanding organization dynamics having restructured many R&D functions and from teaching organization design at the MBA level
at Benedictine University.
3. Qualified Vistage Chair for conducting peer advising sessions for CEOs.
4. Access to thoughtfully written “white papers” on relevant topics.
5. Current and past consulting assignments with companies like BASF, Regenesis, ADM, Bostik among others.
Premier Insights, LLC – SPECIALTY CHEMICALS PRACTICE
Discovery-Based Planning and R&D – ability to build technology plans, driven by scientific investigation, leading to enhanced view points and higher probabilities of success using methods and actions yielding inventions that can be used in application development.
Technology Road Mapping – linking market drivers and needs to the clients’ technologies while defining technical success parameters and first level value propositions. Supporting the road mapping outcomes are the use of known processes such as Stage Gates, Project and Portfolio Management and generational Product Development among others.
Application and Product Development – applying inventions to develop a proof of concept for technologies defined in the road map yielding product development options and intellectual property from patents to trade secrets and know-how along with the conversion of proof of concept data sets into salable products in collaboration with customers and suppliers.
Intellectual Property Management – customized IP strategy development fitting the business model from patents to know-how. Skills in introducing an invention disclosure process and drafting first-generation patent applications in the specilaty chemical space.
Mentoring, Coaching and Key Employee Development – providing personal and timely mentoring, coaching and advisory services helping high potential executives and managers to make better decisions by having access to alternative points of view on business critical issues throughout the organization.
Principle Practice Leader
Dr. Stephen A. Di Biase leads Premier Insights’ Innovation Management practice. He spent over 35 years leading innovation in the specialty chemical space with Lubrizol Corporation, JohnsonDiversey (now part of Seal Air) and Elevance Renewable Sciences in general management and technology leadership roles including global profit and loss accountability for start-up ventures, R&D and technology management, product and business development, and human resources management. Dr. Di Biase is well versed in the nuances of innovation and has access to a rich network of subject matter experts.