Archive for: July, 2011

Innovation posts of the week: 8 critical skills for the future

Innovation Psychology: Tips for Breaking from the Norm – Outside Innovation

The Eight Pillars of Innovation – Think Quarterly by Google

How Iteration-itis Kills Good Ideas – HBR

Clive Thompson on The Breakthrough Myth – Wired Magazine

Eight Critical Skills for the Future – by @thomasfrey

 6 Ways to Kill Creativity – PsyBlog

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Want to be disruptive? Be on the lookout for disruptive thinking

Last week I told you about a client who had an epiphany and now he and his company are ready to ‘think about what they’ve never thought about‘. Great, but where to start?

You need to new ideas. Different ones. That has to be clear. You need to think disruptively by thinking about what’s changing in the world and how those changes, in aggregate, can make your business disappear. You also have to look for entrants whose business model could potentially disrupt yours. You also have to look at how your customers tastes and needs have and may change. You also need to think about how you can/could disrupt yourself.

Innovation posts of the week: 10 common innovation blunders

Creative solutions often are born out of unrelated ideas: Collaborating Across Cultures – HBS

Three Ways to Succeed by Breaking Convention – HBR

The Rise of Radical Adjacency – Forbes

An Innovator’s Guide: 5 Ways to Think Outside the Box – CNBC

Breakthrough innovation starts with breakthrough questions – via @ralph_ohr

How To Hold A Design Jam In 53 Minutes – by @matthewemay

10 Common Innovation Blunders – Blogging Innovation


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Let’s think about what we’ve never thought about

Those are the words a client of mine told one of his Lieutenants last week. His company is in crisis mode. Hard times are coming and in an effort to not lay off people, he’s giving them part-time.

He told me this last week in our meeting .

I was there to give a presentation about social media and how his industry might change because of it, and it ended up igniting this ‘we’re changing direction’ conversation afterwards!

I do have to say that when he said ‘let’s think about what we’re never thought about’, deep down, I felt really happy to hear that from someone other than myself. I think my client might have caught my micro-expression of the Grinch while he said those words:

grinch smile

Yes! Not in an evil sense, but in a ‘permission to shake things up’ way!

But, it’s a shame you have to hear a CEO say ‘Let’s think about what we’ve never thought about because we might not make it to the end of the year’ until a crisis hits an organization.

Part of our conversation also unearthed how this behavior had plagued his company for years. How they had been reacting to competitors moves during a span of 8 years and how this mindless behavior had cost them hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars! It’s cheap change compared to corporations but in any world that’s a lot of money!

Reflecting on the crisis at hand and seeing the same patterns from the past, my client essentially said:

We have to go on another direction. We have to make our own path.

Sometimes innovation starts with a critical decision to reinvent yourself and your business. A moment of truth.

When we talk about taking the time to reflect and ponder about the future, this is exactly what we mean one has to do. No just sit there and daydream, but to think about alternate realities. Realities where what you are doing today is completely different tomorrow. To go find the revolution before it finds you.

To help you see alternate realities, it’s important to bring in outsiders to be able to see familiar situations from a different perspective. As he sat there and said he was ready to go find the revolution but that had no clue where to start, I told him I recommend he read Disrupt by Luke Williams, which I reviewed a few months ago, before we start thinking about that.

And to stimulate his ‘disruptive state’ some more, I put this video on:

If you can imagine a 52 year old man with the energy of a 5 year old, that’s what I saw. Exciting times ahead!

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How to be creative like Eminem

Eminem recording

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Eminen, the rapper. But do you know what makes him great at what he does? His uncanny ability to play with words and create lyrics that don’t seem to rhyme.

Anderson Cooper, from 60 Minutes, interviewed Eminem late last year. In the interview, among other things, Eminem tells Anderson Cooper about his song writing method. I thought this was interesting because Eminem can helps us learn how to be more creative and thought I’d post some of my thoughts here.

I can’t post the video here because embedding is disabled but you can watch the video on YouTube and the part where he explains his creative process starts around the 5 minute mark.

If choose not to watch the interview, here are some nuggets:

Anderson Cooper asks Emimen to explain what he means by ‘bending the words’, to which Eminem responds:

Just the enunciation of it. People say that the word orange doesn’t rhyme with anything and that kind of pisses me of because I can think of a lot of things that rhyme with orange.

Anderson Cooper continues, what rhymes with orange?

Eminem responds:

If you’re taking the word at face value, and you say orange. Nothing is going to rhyme with it exactly. If you enunciate it and make it more than one syllable, you can say like: I put my orange-forange-storinge-in storage-in a pourage.

Eminem continues:

You just have to figure out the science to breaking down words.

Eminem says that he thinks about word rhymes throughout the day and drives himself insane with it.

Anderson Cooper mentions and that he heard that Eminem used to read the dictionary. Eminem says he did for a very particular reason:

I just felt like I wanted to be able to have these words at my disposal in my vocabulary at all times whenever I need to pull them out. Somewhere they’ll be stored like locked away.

He then pulls out a box where he stores scraps of paper with words and phrases he’s written.

There are a few things to point out here:

1. Eminem has low associative barriers. Associating is a key habit of highly creative and innovative people. By ‘Bend the words by changing the enunciation’, Eminem is trying to ‘force a connection’ between words that seem to have no association whatsoever. He says he constantly plays with words in his head and drives himself crazy doing it. This isn’t surprising.

2. He’s constantly coming up with ideas and writes everything down. This shouldn’t be a surprise as musicians have to constantly come up with ideas. But, just the fact that he has a whole box where he keeps his notes (this part made me grin as I have a similar box with scattered notes) tells you his mind is working overtime. Good old fashioned pen and paper never goes out of style.

3. Practices creativity that works. In saying that he read the dictionary because he wanted to be able to have words at his disposal, Eminem essentially started systematizing his creativity a long time ago. Because our brains process a lot of information, it helps us remember things by placing in shelves in our minds. In Eminem’s case, a lot of words from the dictionary.

As explained in his book, Strategic Intuition, William Duggan says creativity works by taking elements on the shelves on your brain and they come together in new combinations. To be more creative and make new connections, you need to put more things on the shelves of your brain and free your mind to let them connect.

Being creative is hard work and takes practice

Breaking down associative barriers by forcing connections between things that have no obvious connection, relentlessly coming up with lots of ideas and having a system in place to help you fine tune your ideas is how you become creative.

As you can see, Eminem does this. It takes a lot of practice but if you like what you do, it’s fun work!



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Innovation posts of the week: Innovation must create value

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‘Better’ is the more practical approach to innovation in general

It all starts with the question: How can I make this better?

Framing is important and when talking about innovation that usually means deciding between incremental and radical change. Yet for most businesses, they don’t want to hear about change. They want the world they exist in just the way it is, especially if they’ve had some level of success.

But which is the more practical approach? Better or different?