The Quest for more Innovation
In the last five to ten years, pretty much any business and any government was pushing for more innovation. But if somebody was asked “How do I innovate? Tell me to step by step”, there was no tangible answer. When I was asked that very question, in particular, the “step by step” part, it daunted me, that there was simply no answer that could satisfy this question. Tens of thousands of consultants help people to “open their mind”, other use the “design thinking” model to process ideas – actually very well. But the question remains: “How do you CREATE those innovative ideas on-demand” in the first place – so you can then process them in any of the models!
Innovation on Demand
Innovation was an accidental event – a combination of many instances, experiences, and the brain pushed out an idea. In some cases, those ideas have been big enough to warrant starting a whole new business. But today, we have a situation where we don’t want to have an accidental brain flash leading to a possible innovation. In times where we have a crisis, we actually would want to have solutions on demand. But as long as we don’t even know how ideas are created, we are far away from creating ideas on demand.
Maybe the Biggest Shift in Innovation History
Neuroscientists helped me understand that human beings are not really creative – we can only COMPOSE ideas from past experiences, from whatever we saw, heard, felt, and so forth. All our daily experiences are actually get associated with existing experiences and create some interesting IDEAS of which we actually don’t really know. The biggest idea machine is our mind when we sleep. There is much to explain but the net of it is: We are not creative and we create ideas by the millions. So what is the problem?
Our historic evolution, our culture, our education, and our brain itself poses a problem: It is conditioned to allow only the most obvious and the least demanding ideas to pop up. Only one in a trillion or less is actually making it from our right brain to the left and stimulates communication between the two, which forms a “thought” that may break through all the other barriers. And once we understand that process, we have the foundation for creating innovation on demand, like we create a house or bridge or something as simple as a paper plane.
Deep Innovation Design – PoC
in 2016 we began our first careful attempts to help startups to come up with disruptive business models. What was thought to be a “one of a million” chance, turned out to be better than 50%. Half of the startups in that, for us historic batch, we’re creating a disruptive model – on demand. They created what we call a “Disruptive Moment”. Disruptive moments are the part of a business model that will push competitors to change their course in order to catch up with these startups. It was the first version of a Prove of Concept (PoC). In the past two years, we went deeper into the “mechanics of our mind”. We learned what we needed to actually DO to play with our billions of neurons and synapses to form those innovative ideas. After two years of work, we found an early concept that works well enough to come up with an innovative solution, whenever we want. It was in itself an innovative concept to create innovation. We called it the “deep innovation design method”.
Four ‘T”s, one “M” of Deep Innovation Design
We need people who have a “talent” for creating innovation. Very much like others are talented to play music, paint pictures, drive race cars, cook amazing meals, create fashion, help others or simply entertain people. Talent is the ability to play with ideas, seek experiences, are least pre-conditioned, reject conformity, create their own rules. We have millions with that trait. Almost any toddler has that talent until we press them into a societal system that unknowingly suppresses that talent, but it is still there – hidden. Do you remember: “Don’t be so childish”, “you are a dreamer, be more realistic”, “Focus, learn your lesson, you need to repeat it tomorrow in class.”
Like a music band, or a football team, innovation is a team sport – if you do it alone you end up waiting for accidental ideas. And one of the most important players in the “Innovation Play”, are the affected people: Customers, users, victims. If you start the game without them you are doomed to lose. And if your actors (innovators) are all of the same trade, you will lose as well. Diversity is the magic formula. Understanding that part makes it also very obvious why enterprises CANNOT be innovative. They try to surprise the customer with their ideas instead of co-creating an experience. And their ideas come from a monoculture called R&D centers, engineering teams, or other experts. And finally, the decision-maker, who may not be able to ‘experience’ the idea in their mind will need to reject the idea. It almost couldn’t be worse. We learned that ‘innovation’ is one of the most counterintuitive activities humankind is conducting – yet mother nature is pushing it out wherever she can.
Our brain is an old machine with lots of upgrades. More upgrades than any other organ in our human apparatus. It is also the most adaptive body part. To overcome some of the 300,000-year-old habits and some even go back 5 million years, we need to train our brains. I often wonder how long our children would crawl if we never help them to walk. We need to train our bran in opening a treasure chest that is heavily guarded by about 200 million nerve strands or Axons, our so-called Corpus Callosum.
With good talents, a great team, and well-defined techniques we actually can. And that is the beginning of “Innovation on demand”.
You know the saying: “I think my head explodes”- right? And that is always when you reach your capacity limits of learning or thinking, or comprehending – or – innovating. In an interesting way, it’s all the same. For the last 12,000 years, we experience this more and more often and we have built more and more tools and ever bigger teams to deal with exactly that problem. We have yardsticks to measure distances much easier than computing them in our brain. We build cranes big enough to lift the weight we need to lift without architecting it over and over again. And today we developed tools, methods, and finally technology that shall help us to go through this rather demanding process called innovation. And guess what – it is no different from what athletes perform in their contests, musicians on stage, race drivers on the street or on the water, and so forth. Both athletes and innovators, can easily loos one or two Kilo of body weight, during such processes. When I processed complex ideas or learned entirely new things rather fast, I fall asleep, equally exhausted than after a 20 km run (12.4 miles). Our brain can consume massive energy! That energy consumption is of extreme importance to know when we try to get groundbreaking ideas out of it.
Here is when the rubber meets the road. There are an estimated 100 Million patents in drawers that have been never used. It shows that the initial value of innovation, even patented is exactly ZERO. The value is only and exclusively created when an idea gets executed, brought to life, and into the market. The value then grows with the size of its distribution. We can be as innovative as we want – if we cannot make it available to a market or the market is not interesting, the value remains to be zero. In the end, sales channels, creative marketing, service and support organizations, transport (and if it is the Internet) are key to the success of any innovation. This success is seen best when we look through the macroeconomic lens: A company creates a product. It is sold through distribution and dealer channels, it is shipped across all oceans, it is serviced locally, maybe education organizations provide training, maybe consulting companies help apply the product. At the same time, new ideas pop up from companies that build add-ons to that product and create even a market extension. All of a sudden a company with 5,000 employees actually creates 50,000 indirect jobs. That innovation is clearly valuable. The worst of all versions is to create a valuable idea, get a patent and then not only not use it but prevent anybody else from creating it. It is a crime on society – stealing an advancement, just based on self-interests.
How to start from here
On April 23, the BlueCallom Group who worked on the Deep Innovation Design Model for four years is providing a free online seminar (webinar) and explaining how the Deep Innovation Design Model works, where you can get trained and how you can create innovation on demand. The World Innovations Forum is providing training programs and support in emerging countries and is able to provide stipends for talented innovators to learn how to be extremely innovative.