Archive for: December, 2009

What’s your creative thinking style?

Have you ever noticed how you come up with your ideas? Have you noticed how others come up with theirs? I’ve been thinking about this lately and seeing how on Twitter there’s no shortage of people tweeting ‘x ways to innovate’ back and forth (myself included!) it makes me think non-innovation people will get confused with so many ‘techniques’.

So how many ways are there really? infinite. This is a problem because most techniques are just designed to stimulate your brain to get it thinking in all sorts of ways but they don’t naturally come to you.

We must also remember that most people are put off by all of this ‘innovation’ talk, they just don’t care about the latest and greatest technique, they just care about the outcome and our job is to help them get there. So where do people like us who are trying to spread the religion of ‘innovation’ around start teaching the non-innovators? With what comes natural to us.

Innovation is a habit

Accepting reality has it’s advantages as it makes you focus intensely in the moment, but it also has it’s disadvantages because it puts imagination in the backseat!

Act different to think different. Easier said than done right? The truth is we’ve already , we just forget we did it. How is this possible? How is it that we lost that inquisitive mind? We just lost our imagination, threw the crayons away and got caught up in the reality of the adult world. That’s what happened!

Most innovations come out of some insight (aha! moment) someone had and it was all because this person was looking deeper and questioning the ‘believed’ truth of how something works. Just like kids, inquisitive people have a habit of questioning everything, looking for deeper insight by questioning the truth. Yet most people accept things for what they are, why is this? Because it’s safe, it’s that simple. We get trapped in automatic, mechanical thinking with no interest in asking why we’re doing whatever it is we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

Disrupt yourself to change the game you play in


If you can’t solve a problem, it’s because you’re playing by the rules. – Paul Arden


All a disruptor really does is change something from one state to another by breaking patterns. Google is a typical disruptor, they seek ways to ‘disrupt’ a familiar flow in how things get done to another and then change the rules by creating new ones that play in the new state.


Disrupt or be disrupted.

Like Google we must learn ‘to be disruptive’ starting with ourselves. We have to disrupt our own flow of how we do things, changing how we do them not just for the hell of it but because it’s the only way to stay relevant. This isn’t just for product development, marketing or sales, it’s looking at your business from 30000 FT and asking yourself: what can I change to be better and what can someone else change that could put me in a disadvantage?

A game-changer is a disruptor.


Where do you start.

– Be aware of governing schemas (mental models)

– Be aware of the patterns that shape behavior

– Be aware of the rules

– Be aware of trends

– Be aware of things that haven’t changed in awhile (rigid)


What do you do?

> Do the opposite

> See how you can change things from one state to another (ice to water)

> Blend it

> Find the in congruencies and make them congruent.

> Do the unfamiliar by making the common uncommon.

> Ask why?

> Ask what if?


A disruptor moves at a different pace than others, it constantly probes the system to get an insight because the faster this happens the more it learns and the faster it moves. Learn to fail fast and break away from everybody!


How are you disrupting yourself? How about your business? Who’s disrupting you?

STRATEGY: Exchange the role of guest for host



Look beyond the immediate battle and build on a position of weakness to take control.


I was watching my favorite childhood cartoon movie, GI Joe, yesterday and was reminded of a very powerful strategy that the terrorist organization Cobra uses in most of the cartoons that can be applied in business. If you’re not familiar with GI Joe, Cobra Commander is the leader of the terrorist group know as Cobra and Destro is his 2nd in command (both are in the picture above) but in the movie Destro is the commander while Cobra Commander is the brains behind the weapons they’ll use to takeover the world.

The MARS (aka Cobra) organization is the world’s largest supplier of weapons and Destro is it’s CEO. Cobra Commander takes an inferior position by being able to use Destro’s resources to build a technologically advanced terrorist organization that is of his own making.

This is important to know because Cobra Commander is really just waiting in the wings for Destro’s downfall to take over. Up to this point every weapon Destro’s MARS organization has was designed by Cobra Commander himself and as any good strategist has been influencing every decision the organization has taken before he takes power.

When he finally takes power nothing really changes since he’s planned all of this from the beginning to be this way.


This strategy is called .


This is a very powerful strategy because you start by seeming weaker than the person or business you are trying to take, but in doing so you build on a position of weakness to take control. It’s a deceptive strategy but when well executed opens up a lot of options for you because in reality you are the one in control when giving it up.


Microsoft was born from taking a subordinate position to IBM.


Why this is important to you.

Because you want something and there’s always going to be obstacles standing in your way and most of the time you lack the patience to see the bigger picture. Your natural instincts will tell you to focus on the present and the faster you can get what you want the better, instead look at the big picture and see how taking an inferior position right now can benefit you in the long run by using others resources to your benefit.


There are endless applications of this devastating strategy, have you used this strategy before?

Weekend innovation tip: Go lateral

What if your new product or service was like a cow? How would look like? How would it work? Why would people want to use it?  Why would they hire you? Would they tell their friends about it?…Get the picture?


Sometimes when we’re looking for inspiration but can’t find it we get stuck, a good strategy to get ‘unstuck’ is to start ‘whatifing’. Just like asking ‘why’ five times is a good way to get to an insight, asking ‘what if’ opens your mind to seeming unrelated things you might not thought of before. Inspiration comes instantly like a bolt of lightning!


It’s no surprise that some of the most crazy ideas come from asking ‘what if’ a whole bunch of times because it forces your mind to look at something from a completely different context than before.


Check out this clever book 100 Whats of Creativity, written by Don the Idea Guy. The will help spark your creativity and lead you to someplace you’ve never been before.

Must read innovation stories of the week: Make new mistakes

Make new mistakes? Yes, that’s right. If you always follow the tried and true, what worked before, being right, always having the same answer then you’ll never come up with anything original. To foster a culture of innovation you need to go off the same road you’ve always been walking in and if you feel a certain ‘fear’ that it’s not the best thing to do, then you’ll know you are on the right path because it means you don’t know what might happen.

Have the .


To achieve the impossible we must first try the impossible which is letting go of what worked before and trying something new.



Leadership Lesson: A vision has to give people goose bumps

heart mosaic

As leaders we have to be able to paint a picture in people’s minds, shape the future and to bring it to the present.

A dream is also a vision

I was at a recent New Leadership workshop with a client down in Mexico and one of the exercises is what we call a dream-o-graph, where people grab pictures from a magazine that make up whatever their dream is. They then have to paste those pictures on a whiteboard and then share their dream with everyone.

It turns out this was an interesting exercise because most people would break into tears, get goose bumps or have a hard time holding their emotions.

It was an incredible and humbling experience.