Tag Archives: observation

Tony Fadell: Stay a beginner to drive change

Tony Fadell NestWhat’s the most powerful technique available to innovators? Observation.

Tony Fadell, the creator of the iPod and Nest thermostat, shared his mantra for innovation at a recent TED conference:

“It’s seeing the invisible problem, not just the obvious problem, that’s important,” Fadell said onstage. “There are invisible problems all around us. First we need to see them. To feel them. Then we can solve them.”

Practice frame shifting to spot untapped innovation opportunities

drawing on the right side of the brainPerception separates the innovator from the imitator. To see anew, learn to set aside preconceptions by exploring new perspectives.

How might we shift our perspective and explore what we might be missing? This is a common question I ask myself all the time because I want to overcome our human tendency to bring our preconceived notions with us whenever we are attacking a problem; therefore limiting our view of potential alternatives.

How do we overcome that?

Innovation is more a matter of attitude and perspective than process. I’ve written previously that there are four ways we can discover new insights. Insights are unexpected shifts in the way we understand how things work, and one way to get insights is by shifting our frame.

Ed Catmull makes a poignant point in his book, Creativity Inc., that Pixar has avoided stagnation because they’ve created mechanisms that force them to constantly fight their own mental models, and put Pixar’s collective heads in a different frame of mind.

The most innovative leaders are reframers, and unleash innovation in their organizations by asking new questions, and/or immerse themselves in the environment they wish to understand. I’ve written extensively about asking better questions to get better answers, here I’ll extend on that to include immersion.

But first…

5 reasons why ethnography is not going to become mainstream anytime soon

It seems that since design thinking and lean startup methodologies have a “talk to potential customers to validate” component, it may seem that ethnography is becoming mainstream.

It isn’t.

In my opinion, of all the innovation techniques available to an innovation practitioner, entrepreneur, marketer or business leader none is more important than getting out on the field and observing people in their domains. And, we have ways to go before this ever becomes mainstream.

line illusion

Dare to look where no one does

The title of this post could have easily been titled “dare to go where no one goes” but to “go” you must first observe and then decide. And when I mean look, I literally mean observe. For example, look at the optical illusion below.

Which horizontal line is the shortest? Your eyes will tell you that it is the first one, but they happen to be exactly the same size.

line illusion

Only by really paying attention will you see that both lines are the same size. Call it what you will, but the art of observation is a dying art. Before you can notice, you must observe. And to observe, you must look.

Innovation must reads of the week: The secret phrase innovators use

Innovation must reads of the week: The secret phrase innovators use

Storified by Jorge Barba · Sat, Sep 22 2012 19:34:24

New post — How can we spur innovation at work — and in ourselves? http://goo.gl/BOvVIEric Barker
Ten Ways to Get People to Change http://s.hbr.org/TcMdpcHarvard Biz Review
The power of observation: How companies can have more ‘aha’ moments http://gigaom.com/2012/09/15/not-enough-time-to-save-time-the-value-of-rapid-ethnography/Greg Satell
The Secret Phrase Top Innovators Use http://ow.ly/dQ9cw by @WarrenBergerBlanchard LeaderChat
"’Follow your passion’ might just be terrible advice." http://www.fastcompany.com/3001441/do-steve-jobs-did-dont-follow-your-passionCo.Lead

If you like these links, check out all the previous “Innovation Must Reads of the Week“. And don’t forget to

Insights first, ideas second

I just want to add my thoughts to post earlier today: .

They sure are. There are all sorts of and . Do a google search for ‘how to get new ideas’ and you get , more links than you’ll ever have time to visit in your lifetime with some mostly the same information that is in those two articles I linked to! Ok so what’s a better way to generate ideas?

Insights, they’re the seeds of new groundbreaking ideas.

A more strategic way of generating ideas is to focus on building ideas on top of insights. Don’t get me wrong, thinking stuff up is fun. You let your imagination run wild, think of the impossible and think all kinds of stuff only you can imagine. It’s your own dream world! Mostly all these ideas will be way ahead of their time or not even doable. That’s why we need to combine our imagination with our intellect. Our intellect drives our capability to discover insights and our imagination helps put the pieces together in a new way.

So how do you discover new insights?

Recently I’ve written how and how . To discover new insights we have to become really good at and then making sense of them in this interconnected world. We must if you will and this happens by out of what we observe.

To get you started, a simple way is to observe the world, industries and people. Notice what’s changing, what’s different and ask yourself what does it mean for the world, industry your customers and you. Think about what needs and behaviors might emerge from these changes and how can you exploit them.

Ideas are cheap but insights are hard to come by.

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