Archive for: December, 2010

Why ‘Delivering Happiness’ is a must-do


Making people happy is such a radical idea that it’s a sad thing to see when . That’s why . I’ve previously written about . Yet there’s still a lot of doubt around this ‘radical’ concept, see this Forbes article that asks:

When I see questions such as these I cringe. Well of course it is! Seriously, why would anybody want to work at a place that makes them unhappy? I understand answering this questions is a lot more complicated because it deals with human nature, but it really doesn’t have to be. Grab a pen and paper, an important idea is coming up…

A recent . According to a study by David Rand of Harvard: People who spend time with happy people are more likely to become happy themselves.

Think about that for a second. Is that something too complex to understand? Do we really need this type of research to understand something so human? No. We don’t really need this type of research to know that hanging out with happy people will makes us more happy. Or that making unhappy people happy makes us happier. It’s common sense!

And that’s not all. Even more telling is that sadness is twice as infectious as happiness. No surprise here either, as an unhappy customer is more likely to tell five people how much your product or services sucks as opposed to telling just one. And by the way, this also includes your employees. Their part of the equation too.

With so much at stake, why can’t we get our heads around that happiness is actually simple?

Here’s the problem: Organizations have a lot of ‘business sense’ but not a lot of ‘common sense’.

Simply understanding that happiness and sadness are contagious should be enough for any organization to treat their people and their customers with decency. Would you rather be know for spreading sadness than happiness? Didn’t think so!

The BIG idea is very simple then: make people happy. Why? Because if your employees are are happy then your customers will be happy. It’s a win-win scenario. Everyone is happy and it all originated from you. That’s what people will remember, trust me Smile

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Are you more credible as an innovator?

I found this question at the bottom of an article that states that in order . See below:

The research clearly shows that “when people voice creative ideas, they are viewed by others as having less leadership potential,” says Jack Goncalo, who teaches organizational behavior at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

That may come as a surprise, since many companies claim to prize innovative thinking.

But Goncalo, who led the studies, points out that our deeply ingrained expectations of “creative people” and “effective leaders” are often at loggerheads: Creative types may be seen as mercurial and unpredictable, while leaders “are expected to reduce uncertainty and uphold the norms of the group,” he says.

That’s particularly true in times of economic uncertainty. The data suggest that, when the going gets tough, people crave the security that comes from having leaders who preserve the status quo.

This study further reinforces what we already know about instituting innovation within established organizations, that the forces of human nature are the biggest impediments to innovation.

Naturally, this is the way it’s always been. Human tendency is to prefer the familiar, so naturally people who maintain the status quo will be seen as ‘better’ than creatives. Again, this is a matter of perception. The problem is, as is often the case, in times of uncertainty there are gaps that can be exploited. Opportunities open up because there is a restructuring of the fundamental ideas of the past. Everyone is looking for a light to follow and that light is NOT ‘the same it’s always been’. This is all counter intuitive, but most things that are uncertain are.

But this doesn’t answer the question of this post: Are you more credible as an innovator?

Before answering let me point out that being creative doesn’t mean you’re innovative, although the probability of that happening is much higher than if you’re not creative. Again, this is a matter of definition. What is innovative can be different things to everybody.

So the first thing that needs to happen is the organization has to come to a collective understanding of what ‘innovation’ is to them. That can then help inform how problems are framed and ideas are presented, because if the ideas presented are not aiming at something then most likely they’re going to be shot down and you along with it. I think this is where the fundamental problem is.

Are you more credible as an innovator? If you’ve done it before and it improved/solved a problem then yes. If the ideas are just thrown out there to see what happens then you’re staying right where you are.

We all know we need to innovate continuously to stay relevant, key is making it happen and then all these issues will be kept at bay.


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Innovation posts of the week: A GamePlan for Game Changers


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Leadership vs Management: Tale of the tape

After seeing Scott Berkun’s post on innovation vs usability in numbers, I decided to do my own search on Google’s Ngram Viewer and compared four words: innovation, creativity, management and leadership. Graph below or click through to page:


As you can see, in the last decade ‘management’ (green) is becoming less relevant in books. Incredibly so is ‘leadership’ (blue). What’s more interesting still now with hindsight is how from 1960 – 2000, mentions of management went to the stratosphere while leadership stayed more or less the same.

Why such discrepancy?

My take is that part of our education system (as well as workplace) is focused on creating managers. The whole industrial revolution was the major cause in this shift. My parents drilled this into my head also and I know a lot of my former classmates desired to become managers and still do. Managers are ‘the boss’ they say. That’s a flawed logic (fixed mindset) in the context of innovation because managers are like the nuts that keep the tires from spinning off the car while it’s moving, they keep the wheels moving. Steady as she goes. Whereas in the creative pursuit the tires will change a lot more than planned for. Hell, the nuts, bolts and structures will change too.

This is what’s taught in most schools: strive to become a manager because you’ll be the one to tell others what to do. Get an MBA from a reputable business school of mba in canada and be the boss.

I guess the economic reset put that notion into submission.

More leadership, less management

Have you ever counted how many leaders vs managers are in organizations? Lots. That needs to change to a healthy balance. My argument is not that management shouldn’t exist, it’s just how it’s perceived that is the problem. By creating more management (structure) we’re alienating others and our own freedom to create. We need more leaders not more managers.


P.S. Just noticed that since I’ve been writing this blog I’ve never created a ‘management’ category for posts. Will keep it that way. That tells you something Winking smile

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How to find the best insights for innovation

Every successful business out there started from the seed of an insight. Their business model is based on that initial insight. But once a business becomes established, that initial insight becomes irrelevant and so does their business model. is that employees don’t have access to insights or worse yet, don’t know what an insight is to begin with. This is an ongoing problem as stated by a recent study by CapGemini which says that . There you go!

For your next source of growth you need ‘new insights’, and good ones too. Because without good insights the chances of moving your ideas forward is slim. So what’s an insight? It’s .

Great, but how do you identify them?

The ‘insight’ statement

Yesterday I listened in on ‘How to find the best insights’ webinar and they propose a very simple way of identifying them:


For example: I eat fast food (fact) because it’s convenient (why) but I end up regretting it.

That’s a potential insight for an idea. Next thing to do is ask the all-important ‘Why?’ various times to dig deeper and uncover the ‘real truth’. This is NOT the end of the search, there’s more to it than just putting a statement together but I thought of this as a useful starting point.

You won’t snatch these statements out of the sky, you’ll have to immerse yourself into people’s lives and . Become them. Feel what they feel. Speak their language. It’s also important to understand that the people you’re observing won’t come out and tell you their ‘insight statement’ so you’ll have to between all the things you notice.

More to come! I’ll post the slides and audio from the webinar when I get them by next week, it’s really useful stuff Winking smile

Update: Below is the full webinar on How to find the best insights. Enjoy!

How to Find the Best Insights webinar recording from Maddock Douglas, Inc. on Vimeo.


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For innovation firepower turn weakness into strength

I’m not a fan of the idea of only working on your strengths and ignoring your weaknesses. It’s too one-dimensional and leads to ‘more of the same’. This idea of only working on your strengths surely leads to continuous improvement no doubt but not dramatic change. Only by working on your strengths ‘continuously’ and turning your weaknesses into strengths can you have superior capability.

On Saturday night I was watching UFC 124 and . His opponent, Koscheck, had to much respect for him that he decided to be tentative and never showed any intent in fighting. And thus made all of us watch a boring fight.

Why didn’t a guy that was aggressive pre-fight, look like a punching bag at fight time?

Because Georges St. Pierre is a superior all-around-fighter, and made Koscheck’s game plan irrelevant. GPS is versatile and can adapt to any fighting style on the fly. This is what makes him so good. He has no obvious weaknesses. The guy is a strategist.

What GSP does, is work on his weaknesses and turns them into strengths. This has lead to a dramatic change in his fight style and more importantly how his opponents perceive him. His opponents come prepared with a strategy to defeat him, but GSP adapts to it. This leaves his opponents in limbo as their game plan is now made irrelevant by a fighter who shows no weakness.

What does this have to do with innovation?

Working on improving/eliminating your weaknesses leads to dramatic change. It’s like renewal. A few weeks ago wrote a great post on how there are basically :

  • meet existing needs and expectations that customers are aware of,
  • anticipate needs that customers are not (yet) aware of (perception).

The first is short term focused and relies on an organization exploiting it’s known strengths. The second, relies on going beyond the known. Sometimes even relinquishing some of it’s strengths and turning their weaknesses into strengths. The majority of organizations focus on meeting existing needs (known by analysis) but not on anticipating needs. This logic is pervasive. It’s what you’re taught in school to do. Anticipating needs (imagination+insight), which was taken away in school, is done by very few.

As Ralph noted in his post: Successful companies of the future will most likely be able to combine both capabilities.

Basically, most organizations are good at exploiting existing capabilities but not good at creating new ones. Among other things, it’s this lack of imagination that is the weakness of most organizations.

Do you see the connection?

Last week I wrote that in the world of innovation there should be a . You have ‘projects’ that are intended to improve your product or service, but also have ‘projects’ that are beyond your known domain that are meant to either stretch your existing capabilities or acquire new ones. This is the way to go! By only improving your strengths you’ve already setup your tombstone.

To be built to last is to be built to change, and that only happens by continuously improving what you’re good at and relentlessly working on turning your weaknesses into strengths. Your strengths might save you in the short term, but your next source of advantage most likely will come from turning your weaknesses into strengths. And thus, will keep you relevant in the long term.


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Innovation posts of the week: Innovation Think/Do Cycle