What can be done to make your organization more innovative?

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the rules for conducting business. Now more than ever, innovativeness is one of the essential characteristics that a company needs to develop in order to stay competitive in the changing economic landscape and new trends in consumer behavior. In order to keep your customers happy or attract new customers, the introduction of new business services, products, or processes will be the key to ensuring your organization’s future success. So, how do you foster a working environment that supports innovation within your organization?

In this post, I’ll discuss four proven strategies to enhance the innovative dimension of your company.

1) Embrace a ‘Freedom to Fail’ Culture

Let’s consider 3M, a multi-billion dollar American company, as a shining example of an enormously successful company that is known for fostering an innovative work culture by allowing employees the Freedom to Fail. As pointed out by Art Fry, the inventor of the Post-It Note at 3M, companies that wish to empower the innovative minds within the workplace need to provide freedom to employees: the freedom to fail and freedom to learn from the missteps.

The lesson that freedom can open the door to innovativeness can also be applied to the design of job roles. 

As research shows, flexible job roles can engender more participation in innovation. For example, If you are in the position to hire, instead of creating a bulleted and rigid job description, consider providing room for the next person you hire to mold their responsibilities as they grow into the role. When given the space to think outside-of-the-box of a job description, people will notice opportunities for innovation that they might not have recognized otherwise. The idea is to support everyone in your organization on the quest to identify areas of innovation and provide the space for exploration. 

2) Promote Cross-Functional Communication

When it comes to innovation, cross-functional collaboration in the workplace leads to a greater exchange of thoughts and expertise that can spark the creation of novel ideas. As Gary Hamel said, “too many companies define themselves by what they do rather than by what they know”. Bringing cross-functional teams together to solve company problems is one excellent way to tap the innovative potential of your organization. 

Multi-disciplinary collaboration and coordination are necessary for a new business idea to succeed in concept development and become an innovation. Companies with siloed business departments face an extra challenge in implementing new business concepts since the responsibility to produce innovation is split across different units. If these units experience poor communication, the odds that a new product or service is quickly (or successfully) brought to market are marginal. Both cross-functional and open communication are critical to fostering a culture of innovation in the workplace.

Next, we’ll dive deeper into the importance of differing perspectives when it comes to innovating. 

3) Spark Creativity through Diversity

Creativity includes more than innovation, but innovation inherently includes creativity. At BlueCallom, creativity is treated as the ability to compose ideas by searching the mind for correlations between various lived experiences. Being creative allows us to develop novel concepts. In order to foster an innovative workplace, individual creativity should be celebrated as an organizational resource. It is no secret that when people of different backgrounds and skill-sets are brought together, they can collectively generate great new ideas.

But, what is actually happening through this exchange that enables the creation of potentially breakthrough ideas? Creative abrasion, which is described as a process where different, sometimes clashing, perspectives are integrated (Source: HBR). In a nutshell, this means that in order to cultivate a working environment that leads to innovation, it’s absolutely critical to avoid an innovation monoculture of experts.

At BlueCallom, the Innovation Dream Team is a stage in the Innovation Journey which supports your team to assemble a diverse group of people to support your innovation vision. BlueCallom’s neuro innovation management software will help guide you through this team assembly process with a focus on diversity. 

Regardless of how innovation is handled in your organization, whether it’s a separate unit or a decentralized program, ensuring that people with diverse backgrounds and starkly different approaches are included in the innovation generation process is a productive step towards building a culture of innovation. Unleashing creativity through the diversity of thought is key.

4) Implement an Innovation Management Process

How do you get from a great idea to a tangible innovation?  The answer lies in designing a process that supports innovation within your organization, in other words: innovation management. It’s proven that having a structure and a set of common guidelines in place supports innovation. 

While most existing innovation process models are catered to producing incremental innovations, meaning modest improvements to existing products or services,  BlueCallom has developed a twelve-step innovation methodology with the goal of generating breakthrough innovation. The core of the BlueCallom innovation methodology lies in the ideation process and a technique called Neuro Ideation. Neuro ideation is a brain-stimulating ideation process that unlocks ideas by harnessing the collective creativity from individual experiences. To learn more about neuro ideation, you can check out this webinar or this blog post

Are you interested in more actionable insight into managing innovation? We welcome you to explore our Deep Innovation Design online course

Thank you for reading! Is there any strategy that has worked well for your company that was not mentioned here? If so, please add your comment.

The end of brainstorming – it never led to groundbreaking innovation.

This post was inspired by a direct question for me on Quora. Over a year ago, I was asked a similar question.

Question: “How do successful companies manage the influx of ideas and choose top-notch ideas for inventing new products?

The answer “forced” us to build the first Neuro Innovation Management Software, BlueCallom! We realized it will be the end of brainstorming.

The end of brainstorming - opening up to an all new perspective

Hubble-Telescope Credit: Nasa

A loaded question. Almost like “how do we deal with the size of the universe and select where we want to do research?” We had amazing telescopes – but thinking outside the planet earth and building Hubble was a major breakthrough in many ways.

Answer: The influx of ideas and its selection.

Who says we have to make a selection? Think Hubble – look from the outside. We have to realize that all disruptive businesses we come across were built from pieces of ideas. If we select only a few – it will probably never survive just because we limit ourselves. More detailed questions needed to be answered:

Do we really know how to create a disruptive idea?

Once I realized that I couldn’t answer the following question: “How do you determine if there is an innovation at the end of the process?” we ended up building a Hubble for Innovation. We needed to leave the comfortable sessions, talking about thinking outside the box, thinking big, bold, open blah blah blah… and find our Hubble – Neuroscience.

The pictures we saw were more than spectacular!

We took the ideation process even further and deeper and stimulated an avalanche of idea pieces. In one project, we worked with 25 executives of a large airline, producing 25 x 30+ idea pieces = 750 idea pieces in one process (2 weeks of Neuro Ideation). Since we wanted to assess all ideas and use as many as we could, we ended up needing the computer and a few algorithms to help sort and rank it. Another project consisted of 600 managers from a large pharmaceutical company. We estimated that we aggregated roughly 18,000 idea pieces, of which we also want to take as many as we could. We had to admit, neither our idea collection mechanism nor our algorithm would be good enough for that task; so we decided to build a “machine” (software) to run the show.

Building “OUR” Innovation Hubble

There is no way I can describe all our insights from Neuroscience. However, our core discovery was: “Every idea ever created by a human being, was composed of past experiences.” Meaning we can’t “create any genuinely new idea.” In other words, hoping for ideas to compete in the innovation race is like dancing around a fireplace and hoping for rain. But that is what innovation labs do today.
The day we began to question all that, was the day we realized that innovation could be a logical, manageable and highly success-oriented process.

We’re almost there – currently beta testing. First, “self experiences” almost killed us, putting our own long-term vision on its head. It was even beyond our own expectations.

Neuro Innovation Management and the end of Brainstorming

1) No more limitations – The end of Brainstorming

Don’t limit your golden nuggets (ideas) because we all have been conditioned to a process called “Brainstorming.” While brainstorming was a great start, it never created groundbreaking innovation, and today we know why. Get your team from Brainstorming, yellow Post-Its, and whiteboards to a deep dive into Neuro Ideation. The depth of your ideas will be as different as the depth of the view from Hubble. Instead of ending a brainstorming session with a few “best ideas” leverage them all. Instead of making brainstorming the core of your ideation process, give your brain time to take a deep dive into past experiences, and come up with far more relevant concepts. Neuro Ideation is a two to three-week process and requires a needs and dreams analysis with your market to be prepared. The results will be stunning no matter how creative you may think you are.

2) Tools for things we can’t handle

Remember that we all built tools to overcome our physical limitations. So we need to build amazing tools to extend the limits of our idea process. It brings a truckload of valuable idea pieces. And when we think in that direction, it opens up a whole universe of innovation relevant aspects. We call it Deep Innovation Design.

3) Never forget the innovation purpose

You need to ask yourself some of the old questions: “What problem do you want to solve? Who do you want to innovate for? What value will you provide? 100% of the answers to those questions come from our customers. With Neuro Innovation Management, we can stimulate groundbreaking Innovation on Demand. Our “Innovation Hubble” already showed us pictures that we couldn’t imagine seeing before. We eventually realized that we have to start every innovation project with an “Innovation Opportunity Discovery” project.

P.S.
We feel like Pythagoras when he explained that earth is no disk – when we say “Innovation management is no serendipity,” declaring the end of brainstorming and the beginning of a logical, manageable innovation process.

I hope it gives you some inspiration.

Innovation is an extremely counterintuitive business.

For most people outside the innovation space, Innovation means radically new or significantly improved products. Interestingly enough, product innovation is the least successful model. There are various ways to innovate. Highly successful and radically disruptive innovations today come from business model innovation. For instance, in my old company, Computer 2000, we changed the business model for tech distribution from the ground up. With our tiny startup in the 1980s, we took on competitors of multi-hundred million dollars in revenue. It looked like the chance to survive is exactly 0.00%. Today it is a $37 billion business leading the tech distribution in the world. And still, most competitors did not notice the difference and why we could become a global market leader. It was a business model disruption that went unnoticed. Another example is Airbnb. The company caters to travelers’ needs to stay in a more individual apartment or house instead of a small room in a hotel. Hotels, however, perceive the competition as a price war since there are less expensive apartments too. The hotel industry managers, who never understood the competition, fought back with legal acts, and did not compete on the service. As a result, they never brought their services in alignment with customer needs. Zappos, an online shoe dealer, changed both. Their business model and committed to organizational innovation. Soon thereafter, they also started an experience innovation project and became a great example of multi-facet innovations.

Big Five Innovation Types

 

Obviously, the topic can split even further. Still, we realized that these five innovation types need different approaches, different methods, have different financial or operational impacts, and call for a different innovation team composition.

P a r t – 1

In this first of five posts, I will share experiences, concepts, and product innovation definitions.

Product Innovation

Focused on the product side. This is the classic way to innovate and the most obvious to be recognized by the market. However, it is also the easiest to copy and to outperform quickly. Product innovation offers room for different degrees of innovation like a profound improvement of a product that changes the way users work or introduces a radically different product that may change a whole industry segment. Competing with product innovation is oftentimes done by starting a price war, and very quickly, the innovator may be forced to reduce pricing, increase marketing effort, or take a much longer time to grow market share. Alternative products as such innovation can quickly substitute product innovation is the most obvious, the most visible, and the fastest to understand. In the past 20 years, business model innovation, experience innovation, or organizational innovation continuously won over product innovation. Probably one of the best examples is the automobile industry. Companies fight on the product level: electric motor or combustion engine. One company, Tesla, does not lead on the product level but uses one of the hardest nuts to crack, multi-facet innovation.  On the surface, it is, of course, the electric car. But when looking under the hood, not literally speaking, it is the business model innovation, the organizational innovation, and the experience innovation that makes the company the market leader despite having a much smaller production volume. While the global awareness for Tesla was achieved with its super fast and wide-ranging electric car plus its early engagement in autonomous driving, the whole wide-angle view of the Tesla management, including building the charging stations and the gigantic innovation on the battery side, came from an organizational innovation thinking, the way the cars can be configured and ordered and how easy it is to understand what a user gets is part of the experience innovation, the whole pricing pressure, initial losses and ways the cars get sold is part of the business model innovation. No other car manufacture in the world was so innovative on all fronts and took the automobile no longer as a single product – but a part of holistic user experience. Another example is Microsoft. It’s no news that Microsoft never invented a single product. The operating systems, DOS, and Windows have been acquired, and so were all the office products, the SQL server, and other tools acquired. So one could say Microsft is the least innovative tech company in the world. All they did is integrated all the products and sold them under their own brand. Many are still not fully integrated – 30 years later. Instead of putting all the resources, time, and money into building the solution, they needed to fulfill their vision they acquired them. Microsoft’s real innovation is to create a user experience through integration and seamless exchange of data that nobody else saw as important. Nobody else did as well as they did. The experience innovation did not need a product but an architecture. The other innovation was a business model innovation. From the very early days, they committed not to build their own computers but pushed computer manufacturers to use their software. The non compete commitment from Microsoft was compelling enough to get an exclusive commitment from the computer vendors. And knowing that all the office apps will need their operating system was good enough to give the OS away for peanuts. Business model innovation and experience innovation were strong. Understanding how the company operates and what they offer was so confusing for most competitors that nobody cracked their dominance – till today. As we will discuss other innovation types in the following posts, you will see the difference of those innovation types relative to the ‘good old’ product innovation. You will see that product innovation is not going away – it’s still an important part of an innovative business. Product innovation is becoming a commodity – but is no longer a differentiator.

#ProductInnovation

In the next parts, 2, 3, 4, and 5, we will go into the other innovation types’ details. Here just a quick snapshot to put the above in context.

Experience Innovation

The most effective way to innovate, only recognized by users, and communicated through advocacy. Experiences include general customer experience all the way to entire entertainment solutions such as theme parks or highly interactive restaurant types, and lately, space travel. Experience innovation is very hard to copy and very hard to compete with. Usually, it takes highly creative minds to piggyback on a concept and develop a different model that makes the experience unique.

#ExperienceInnovation


Business Model Innovation

The most successful way to innovate with a big impact on the industry. Typically, business model innovation goes hand in hand with experience innovation. It is the hardest innovation type for any competition to copy, even to compete with. Changing a business model is hard enough for a business to develop – it takes years for the competition to emulate and follow. Business model innovation has been the most successful type of innovation in the past 20 years. The biggest number of business model innovations emerged from the US.

#BusinessModelInnovation


Organizational Innovation

Innovation within the organization, mainly for process acceleration, customer experience, resulting in increased profitability. It is tough to copy (if not done by consultants), making it very hard to understand from the outside and even the inside. Organizational innovation often requires a deep injection of new processes, different employees, and often a different management team. In large organizations, hundreds or even thousands of people may be affected by organizational innovation when they cannot unlearn and learn new ways of conducting their work. One question quickly rises to the top: “Is innovation killing jobs or the wrong team killing innovation?”

#OrganizationalInnovation


Structure Innovation

Supra-Enterprises, companies bigger than 25,000 employees, seem to have the hardest time to create truly ground-breaking innovation. In particular, in the western world, Top Executives, Board, Investor representatives, Unions, Industry associations, local government representatives, and maybe more have to agree on creating a new leadership structure to bring innovation forward. Inventing disruptive solutions often require major changes in the current teams as skills and experiences may shift significantly. Disruption in the automotive, energy, food industry requires knowledge and deep experiences in those industries not only on the enterprise side but also in external structures. A startup as a small company can go under the radar – a public company cannot.

#StructureInnovation


 

A billion-dollar innovation
is not done with a few
brainstorming meetings.

We started with a big problem (see history below) and have the vision to develop technology for innovation teams to innovate like never before imaginable. Now we are ready to go.

Ready to Callomize

On Wed, Oct 15, we introduced our “Neuro Ideation” methodology. On Tue Nov 24, we will open up for Beta Teams to start beta testing the system and build groundbreaking innovations. The beginning of an amazing journey.

 

A billion-dollar innovation is not done with a few brainstorming meetings.

There is no free lunch. And reading 30 days to get rich isn’t helping you either. There is no known highly disruptive startup that got to their initial concept, product, and market validation in a heartbeat. And there has been no disruptive innovation from larger enterprises in the past 20 years.

Innovation Management Software

We changed how to interact with your computer by helping you move from linear thinking to lateral thinking. You may already know from design thinking that iteration is a big part of the process. On our multi-user digital canvas, you see the facts, research, market data, or other given or provided information on the left-hand side –  right across your logical brain hemisphere. You see your creative responses and constructs, answers, or activities to your right, across your creative brain hemisphere. And the middle field, i.e., Field-9, is the “negotiated summary” or initial outcome. Very much like the brain halves exchange and negotiate information via the Center Callom (Corpus Callosum). Going further down, you find the execution of relevant information. When you start, you will possibly find it odd that everything is so small and so much information. Over time, however, you will not want to go back to lists of data where you need to go back and forth in that linear order. It takes a bit of mind training to get familiar with it, but your thought process will not only become much faster but less distracted.

Innovation is a highly unique process.

Hundreds of thousands of innovative concepts get turned down every year by CFOs in corporations or venture investors by startups. My blog post, “The Initial Value of an Idea is Zero,” is one of my most read blog posts.  And that addresses one of the biggest counterintuitive aspects of innovation. Why spending so much time on ideation if the value is initially zero. And since many executives know that the value is created in the execution, the ideation process became a second class citizen. If we look at the full scope of the Innovation Life Cycle below, you will realize that many steps look like ordinary business activities like producing a prototype or go to market and scaling. But there is a reason we added them to the methodology toolbox of the “Deep Innovation Design” model.

Each of the steps that are supposed to make an innovation successful is profoundly different relative to bring an improved product to market. Market validation is not done when a prototype is created but before any penny is spent building one. Why? Because you can build a prototype of an existing but improved product, and it becomes quickly obvious if it will work or not. Not in the innovation space. With your next-generation product, you go obviously to your biggest customer s first to get this massive initial volume you need to support the massive production line you have. There is no way to do that successfully with groundbreaking innovation. To gain fast access to global markets, you will probably need very different and far more creative ways to enter the markets than the growth strategy from existing improved products. On the other hand, scaling seems to be not a big deal in your existing production environment. The scaling of groundbreaking innovation is fundamentally different because your initial customer base of early adopters is by order of magnitude smaller.

The Deep Innovation Design process superseded any current innovation processes by its width of the end to end innovation lifecycle and the depth of the neuro ideation method.

Innovation Financing

Yet another big challenge is to get funding for an innovative project. You may get paid to innovate, but the innovation will not materialize. Or, as a startup, you build an amazing opportunity, but investors turn you down. Why is that? There is a multitude of reasons, but most have to do with “communication.” It’s an interesting pattern that most highly innovative businesses did not get any funding when they started. Google was not given the tiniest chance, yet the became the global leader. Salesforce had to initially bootstrap for the longest time to get of the ground with funding. Two of my companies the same. The simple answer is:  any groundbreaking innovation is challenging to understand and hard to believe in becoming successful. Only now, when we understand how we compose ideas, going far deeper into our minds to answer, we know how difficult it was to cross the chasm of the obvious ideas and get to the impossible ideas and back to something we can start realizing. A CFO or investor needs to be taken to the very same journey to understand the concept AND its importance. Without a diverse innovation team, this is virtually impossible.

Ready to rock

We are exceptionally excited to open up the door for beta users to join us, help us shape the future of innovation, maybe even the future of learning, thinking, communicating, and a future of human collaboration. Please consider joining our Neuro Ideation intro on Wed, Oct 15, and if you like to beta test BlueCallum com to our beta test webinar on Tue Nov 24.  Or simply get in touch with us at any time. we would love to explore what YOUR ideal way to innovate would be.

P.S.   History

Interestingly, we are a groundbreaking innovation in itself. 2016 we began to help startups methodically create disruptive business models. In 2018 we went deeper into how groundbreaking innovative ideas were created with little to no findings. The entire Internet could not provide an answer – we hit the wall, BOOM. In 2019 we ran by accident into some eye-opening presentations and talks from neuroscientists about how our neural system processes experiences and associates those experiences with each other on the fly. That it helped them to solve all kinds of brain illnesses was less interesting for us. But we found a way to apply those discoveries in the research to find out how innovation is created. After our amazing discovery, how our minds compose and process ideas, we feverishly created methods to apply the newly gained knowledge to innovate like never before imaginable. During initial work with a few big clients, we hit the wall again – BOOM. The early experiments showed that the participants created so many valuable ideas that it was impossible to capture the time [when ideas had been composed], and date volume killed our canvas-based model. With 25 people, it was easy to create 250 valuable idea snippets. If we included customers, we would run into the thousands. The only option to solve the problem was to build a computer model that could capture any number of idea snippets entered at any given point in time, including outside any brainstorming meeting, and include selected customers from around the world to contribute. Mid-February, when the earth seemed to stand still because of covid-19, we started our software development project. The first lines of code were written end of February. The early Beta (more an Alpha Version) was ready 6 months later, and a month later, we had the first two pioneer customers on the system. We knew that, when dealing with the brain, we are opening a can of worms. Today we know it isn’t just a can; it’s a full-size metal oil barrel. We realize we are at the beginning of an all-new era of cognitive technology.

 

 

When understanding how our mind composes and processes ideas, we must ask how we can leverage those cognitive abilities, control them, influence them, and improve our thinking skills? The Neuro Ideation method is the first step in that direction.

0) Experiences are Innovation Silver
There is no more relevant experience owner in the market than our customers. The value of the “Open Innovation Theory” is now scientifically proven. The Innovation Opportunity Discovery method uses that knowledge and helps identify the biggest innovation opportunities and provides the inputs to turn the inputs into groundbreaking innovation. For that very reason, represent customers a strategic companion in any market-facing innovation project. We should add a diverse set of customers to our ideation process. If we compare it with climbing a big mountain, we are now at basecamp, together with our customers.

1) Brainstorming
The oldest and still not a bad starting point for innovation is Brainstorming. However, a typical brainstorming session takes about an hour and brings the most obvious ideas forward. Our energy-conscious brain does not go very deep into analogous situations, let alone into distant experiences. It also won’t weave more complex experience networks to produce rather exceptional results. At the end of most brainstorming sessions, the team is already exhausted but finds very cool ideas, and most of the team are excited. The team’s excitement stems from the fact that most of them could comprehend the best idea right away. Those obvious ideas get usually selected as the best and processed further. This means that most everybody else will understand them, and some could easily replicate those ideas. They may become nice improvements, but never true innovations. But we reached our camp 1 on our quest to go to the top of the “idea mountain.”

2) Post Brainstorming ideas
Almost everybody had already experienced that in the following days after brainstorming, participants of such meetings come with new ideas – often better ideas – in the following days.  However, most teammates consider those “latecomer” as distracting and fear that the ideation process will never get done and turns them down if more come. This is rather unfortunate because the brain continues searching for more great ideas. But since we did not know how our mind works, we turned it down.  Assuming that we are looking for truly groundbreaking innovation, we will let the brain continue to work for 48 hours and allow brainstorm participants to add those ideas into the innovation system whenever those ideas seem to be very relevant. And this is just the beginning. At this point, we reached camp 2 on our trip to the mountain top.

3) Analogous experience connections
When we have enough time to think about problems, our brain has another powerful tool: analogous experience search. It does that by taking the results from past thinking and tries to find similar but unrelated experiences. That means that our brainstorming was a good first step to stimulate the brain to find various alternative situations that would normally not come to mind. For most of the past 2 million years, we needed our brain to survive, circumvent danger, and save ourselves from far more powerful animals and other risks. Decisions needed to be made fast. And an obvious idea was just right. But there was also time to muse. In that time, the brain was able to search deeper and wider, had more time, and could come up with completely “useless” questions like what this space up in the air could be. Time to think was and still is one of the most valuable times for our minds. Today we use it to purposely reach further in our neural networks for solutions that are definitely not “obvious ideas.” The compositions of our obvious ideas with analogous ideas are producing already far better results. We can say we reached camp 3.

4) Post analogous idea development
And like with the first brainstorming result, the ideas, augmented by analogous ideas, are growing over the next 48 hours. Interestingly enough, we learned that our mind is not looking for more analogous ideas but different connections in our “past experience” repertoire from our own experience.  Our mind searches for verification during that process if the analogous ideas are really in synch with our original problem. Simultaneously, it looks for variations of the idea in the context of the analogous situation. In BlueCallum, we were using extreme sports development and how it evolved to find a parallel to our current development, understanding how our mind can become significantly more powerful when we understand how it works. At this point, we are reaching camp 4 on our ideation journey.

5) CallomBurst
We are calling the next phase “CallomBurst.” We are taking our ideas to a level where the solution is most likely impossible to realize. We are asking ourselves what would the perfect solution look like in 100 years. What would this solution look like if resources, financing, and time would be irrelevant? The word “Impossible” is banned from the discussion. We are getting to ideas that would be literally unconditionally ideal. We want to reach the limit of possible perfection. Only if we are at the limit, we know nothing can compete with our vision. And the purpose of the CallomBurst is to create the level of impossibility. It can become our vision, with the understanding that we may achieve it over the next 5, 10, or even 50 years. That vision will differentiate us and our idea and doable concept from the rest of the industry. Even if our biggest competitor uses the same technique, they cannot come to the same vision but will have a different vision. And that means a different company with a different goal. After the CallomBurst, we reached our 5th camp, and the last before the summit.

6) BlueCallum Summit Day
A few days after the CallomBurst, the team climbs the last piece of the journey and recaps all their experiences. The final and impossible idea continues to entertain our minds, and it creates a picture of where everything we have worked on could end up. BlueCallum Summit Day is where the visions are shared with everybody. On that day, it may fuse to an overall vision for the team and the company. That vision will be clearly unique and become the disruptive and innovative concept the company may want to realize. Obviously, the product would not exist on day one. But it gives the whole solution a long term direction that will be a reality one day. But everything that will be available in the first version of the new product will be an innovative and disruptive solution from day one.

During school and later in business 90%+ of humans become unknowingly and with no bad intention from others an ever more linear thinker. Everything – and I mean everything – is structured in the next 3, 5, 10 steps to do this or that. Moreover after we see positive results from that mechanism, we even ask : “What are the 3 most important steps to do this or that” or “the 5 most important activities, getting to this or that result” and so forth. When you look at Question and answer board, “Quora”, hundreds of people ask for the three most important skills an entrepreneur should have, not even wonder, if “skills” are needed in the first place. When getting older you hold onto your 7 steps of “anything” that had been most successful throughout your life. Entering a completely new job is terrifying for most people because of ONE FEAR: There must be more than the top 10 steps to success. Yes, we intuitively feel that it is more than that. But we don’t know. All we know is step by step, or linear thinking. Moreover, nobody ever really taught us any different way. But we absolutely can. Being change averse stems from our simplified education to become successful – step by step.

Do we need to think lateral to be innovative?

We have to break one of the biggest rules in our education or in our business lives: to think step by step. As we started to think of methods and techniques to leverage our born ability to be creative, we needed to break something that seem to have nothing to do with innovation: Breaking Linear Thinking. Once we began to address that issue we realized how sever the damage is in our innovation management theories, methods and even technologies when going by the “step by step” model. The next problem was to educate people to think lateral. After trying to tell people how the brain composes ideas from previous experiences by having some of our 86 Billion Neurons connect in new ways with each other – could not come and train them in lateral versus linear thinking. Teach how to think is the hardest training in the first place – so we had to find different ways. The theoretical answer to the question is yes, you need to understand how to think lateral. A far more practical solution however is to experience the results. This goes back to our analogy between the greatest thinker in the world and the most amazing athletes. Both achieve amazing results by using their body in a perfect way – without necessarily knowing each action in each microsecond of their doing. We wanted our innovators to not think how they thing but literally “see” idea streams and focus on the idea, not on the mechanics of your brain.

BlueCallom Canvas Explained

The objective is: to “see” the state of an activity in a lateral representation. We use a pattern that our brain is actually using as well: One part of the information in our thinking process comes from the right half of our brain, the other from the left. A very powerful apparatus, the Corpus Callosum sits in the middle and not only connects the two brain halves it also helps negotiating the idea pieces. And it is the “messenger” between to halves that tries to make sense from the rational impressions and gets the feelings from the other halve. This is why we arranged the fields in a non linear and actually lateral arrangement. Left is what is (rational) – right is what we could consider “creative”. We work on both sides and get to the middle where the signals – the messages – from both sides get negotiated. If in the middle is no agreement we need to go back to rational and see if we considered everything and go to the right side and see if we got the best possible outcome. Once we got a first set of information in phase 1 and some good ideas in phase 2 we bring the core summary int the middle. When verified with the inputs from phase 1, in nearly 100% of the cases, the team goes back to phase 2 and fine tunes whatever they have here. Once satisfying, the needs or requirements etc. get collected and the haves and wants weigh in. At the end of the episode, a decision shall be made how to move forward. For simple processes like in a business model canvas there is not necessarily a decision to be made. But in a ‘BlueCallom’, an entire innovation project, which may take years to complete, the earlier key decisions can be made the higher the success potential or the earlier the whole process can be stopped before it needs serious investments. Instead of verifying and iterating after major milestones, we do the iteration WITHIN EACH EPISODE. It saves time and cost and more importantly it accelerates the act of innovation. Lateral thinking is necessary, yet we don’t need to focus on BEING lateral – instead, SEEING  the process in a lateral way. 

This is why and how we say goodby to linear thinking. A lock-stepped process, going from one to the next, until we finished would be a linear thinking process. We find error or imperfection in either process. BUt in the linear process far too late and it is far too expensive.

The Corpus Callosum has been so inspiring for us that it gave us the name for the company – Callum as short form and the blue from the technical representation of this genius part of nature.

 

After Corona (Covid-19) there will rarely be anything as it was. The understanding of the fragility of our global economy, the huge digital divide, our ability to collaborate, and much more is changing right now faster than ever before. And there is no reason to go back.
We are experiencing an amazing transformation and shift, realizing what our various societies are capable of under pressure. What the most powerful people in the world failed to achieve in the past 10+ years, managed a 0.3 µ small virus — Global Digitization within 3 months.

Massive digitization amplification

The amplification in connectedness, however, is also exposing a widening gap between digitally empowered people and the still massive digital illiteracy. Digital Interaction is a skill. That skill is composed of fast cognitive recognition, heightened content differentiation, a digital body language, multi-language communication, the ability to cut loose from old needs that every exchange needs to be physical, understanding the power of asynchronous communication and much more. We learned to walk, read, write, speak, hear, and now we extend all these skills into the digital world that is no less real than our physical world. Once it is experienced over a timeframe of 6 months more people will want to keep and expand those powers than go back.
One of the big questions is arising: Will the digital literate look down on others and enjoy their added powers or will they help to elevate those who have a hard time to expand their capability of experiences?

Profound changes in production

Another gap is widening to a degree that most people cannot even comprehend the consequences. Our global economy lost trillions of dollars almost overnight due to the lack of production continuation strategies. Companies with a very high degree of automation could continue to have their robots and autonomous machines run and produce, and even shift gear to produce what’s needed. Those doing pretty ok. Those that require armies of workers have all of a sudden multiple challenges all at the same time: Production if anything at all, is only possible in a very limited capacity. Plus, the social liability having to send people home by the thousands. And, opening doors for the competition to come in with more automated companies. On top of all the fully digital businesses rise to phenomenal heights in value and revenue. The consequences may be dramatic: In order to compete in future crisis – no matter in what form or reason, Large manufacturer will need to substantially increase their degree of automation in production, digitization in processes and world market interactions – not for profit improvements but sheer protection of production continuation AND to ensure product availability for our ever more complex society. Even political pressure is already on the horizon that business continuation plans and capabilities to maintain the product flow in the local society must be ensured. What was thought to be Artificial Intelligence, that takes away jobs just because we can, is now a very different reason. Some companies will not even survive this pandemic – but a next pandemic may increase the closing of businesses and jobs by order of magnitude. Once the pandemic is over this effort may actually just begin.

Accelerating Innovation

We have been working under huge pressure to modify our Deep innovation Design program so that a nine-month program can be run as a crash course in six weeks. In order to train as many scientists as possible to move from experimentation to a methodical ideation process we needed to move from in-person training to digital – but moreover from 25 people classrooms to online classrooms with some hundred attendees if necessary. Every top educator would say it is crazy and cannot work. But we don’t even had an option, other than making it work. Innovation is seen all over right now – with or without professional support. The degree of ingenuity hasn’t been that high for decades. New types of virus testers pop up in almost every industrialized nation. We see all kinds of innovative solutions, which only needs a bit more coordination and information flow. And all this will not stop after the pandemic is over. Also here it will actually begin to fully unfold.

Sanitation

Will we go back to be dirty and sloppy after the pandemic is over? Sure, some will, but the majority most likely will keep the positive habit of more careful hygiene.

Keeping relationships online

Will we go back to always meet people face to face for everything we want to discuss. Of course not. We appreciate the learning that a quick video call is for both parties quicker and more efficient. For sure we will remain to be social and want to meet people in person – at least the first connection. But we don’t need to meet for every little detail.

Home Delivery

Will we go back to shop for everything by going from shop to shop? Most certainly not. Of course, we will still go shopping, having the experience and the fun doing so – but the hugely increased percentage of shopping online compared to the past will not go back to “normal” because the majority has a whole new set of experience by now.

Modernizing Operations

Will we go back to endless considerations, pilot projects and eventually still not upgrade? Only the very weak companies will. Those who realized how much faster we are doing things right now, will keep the pace – and if it is only to not let the competition take over. My old mantra: “Speed is more important than perfection” found its biggest proponent being a virus.

Home Offices

About ten years ago home offices have been seen as a large part of a companies way of workplaces. Why did it not work out? Nobody did actually try it for a more extended period of time. Now we do. We get quickly used to do it even full time for weeks. We chat regularly with the team, exchange notes via WhatsApp or email. Meetings are much shorter and also if they are still mega long – everybody can work while some others ramble on. The only short interruption: “can you still hear me”. :)

The list gets longer every day. Every week, new experiences carve out deepening neuro-pathways in our brain that make us learn without even knowing that we learn. And every adult between 30 and 50 learned faster than ever before. Not only about dealing with a virus but also ourselves our needs, and our capability to adapt.

What is your learning ?

How do you see the near post-corona future? What do you hope will change when we finally eradicated covid-19 or at least contained it relatively well? Please share your thoughts – so we all can learn from each other!!!!

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 step by step”, there was no tangible answer. When I was asked that very question, in particular the “step by step” part, it daunted to 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” 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 a communication between the two, that 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, were creating a disruptive model – on demand. They created what we call a “Disruptive Moment”. Disruptive moments are the part in 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 a innovative concept to create innovation. We called it the “deep innovation design method”.

Four ‘T”s, one “M” of Deep Innovation Design

1) TALENT
We need people who have a “talent” in 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. The 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 lessen, you need to repeat it tomorrow in class”…
2) TEAM
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 player in the “Innovation Play”, are the affected people: Customers, users, victimes. 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 mono culture called R&D center, 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 counter intuitive activities humankind is conducting – yet mother nature is pushing it out wherever she can.
3) TRAINING
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 brain. 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”.
4) TOOLS
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. Since the last 12,000 years we experience this more and more often and we 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 it 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 driver 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 then 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 ground breaking ideas out of it.
5) MARKET
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 an innovation, evenpatended 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 the Internet) are key to the success of any innovation. This success is seen best, when we look through the macroeconomic lense: 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 get involved in this new model. www.society3.com/webinars/. The World Innovations Forum is providing the training programs and support in emerging countries and is able to provide stipends for talented innovators to learn how to be extremely innovative.

How about Innovator or an Innovation Design Manager or Innovation Paradigm Executive?
Find out what suits you best:

The pressure to be more innovative is big. This pressure comes from various sources at the same time. Customers want better, easier, more useful solutions. Investors want to see the company they invested in more agile and more innovative. The board simply amplifies the pressure from the market onto the executive bench. Top talents want to work in innovative companies and the competition from fast growing and scaling young companies on top of all that. A CEO of a global enterprise cannot be the same innovator as the CEO of a startup. But the enterprises can look for innovative talents who may perform that role without taking the entrepreneurial risk of starting and driving their own business.

The Innovator

The title says it all, the person innovates. However, in our today’s complex business organizations, we need to not only think of innovative solutions for customers but also innovative solutions internally. Many marketing departments conduct their business in more or less the same way, with the same KPIS and the same methods like 25 years ago. Marketing innovation can have extremely positive effects on a companies market presence. Innovation itself is another even more dramatic challenge. How can a perfectly organized company with a top level employee utilization craft out time for innovation? Whether for internally or externally faced innovations, the innovator is a top talent that has a wide open mind, is a stellar listener and amazing observer. That person has lots of experiences with which they can compose new ideas and are trained to “play” with their brain and produce ground breaking ideas. The innovator is the person who literally produces innovation without being the expert that actually builds the product or service that will rock the market. The developing and building process remains in the engineering or other specialists hands. The innovator typically would report to a Deep Innovation Design Manager.


The Deep Innovation Design Manager

We all learned that the value of an idea is zero. The value of an innovation grows with its distribution throughout global markets. The Deep Innovation Design Process needs managers with a 360° view of all aspects, steps, processes, stakeholders and activities who can navigate and moderate the process with whole teams, partners, contributors and other stakeholders. He or she is the Innovation Success Manager and would typically report to a Innovations Paradigm Executive or directly to the CEO in smaller organizations.


 

The Innovation Paradigm Executive

In large enterprises with different business units, countless departments and many products need an executive level person to craft a corporate wide innovation strategy, work with the C-Level of the company, coordinate the innovation engagements across all business units and ensure the financial engagements and capital distribution throughout the various projects, run by the Deep innovation Design Managers.

In the new world of Innovation Paradigm Models and Deep Innovation Design methods, innovation is demystified and turned into predictable and manageable activities that can be planned, budgeted, and managed. And to do so, businesses need talents to perform these new jobs.

If this should become your career path, Join one of our free online events.

The Innovation Challenge

Corporations of all sizes, older than 15 years are in jeopardy. It is NOT LACK OF INNOVATION as such, it is lacking the UNDERSTANDING HOW TO INNOVATE. TEST: Tell your teams to be more innovate. The response to the question may be: “Yes, we’d love to do that, but please teach me what I must do to be innovative”. Your team learned to handle machines, compile algorithms, develop strategies and business plans, how to sell and how to market, create a long term financial forecast or how to hire talents. They never learned how to innovate or how to create a disruptive business model. Most even set innovation equal to invention. The real challenge is:
1) We need to understand how one creates ideas in the first place?
2) How these ideas may turn into an ‘innovation’?
3) How do we know that those ideas are actually something the market will buy?
4) When do we invest in such an innovation and how much?
5) How do we organize an innovation process from idea creation to market success?

Not lack of innovation but lack of understanding how to innovate

 

IN SEARCH OF INNOVATION

Most businesses are seriously challenged and try all kinds of ways: Creating an innovation lab, investing in startups, trying to observe young innovators, hire teams to be creative and innovate – and all kinds of random actions in the pursuit of “finding innovation”. This already went on for decades with no serious success. Young businesses continue to disrupt entire industry segments. Whether it is the car industry, the taxi industry, the hotel industry, the mobile communication industry, the micropayment industry, the mobile payment industry, and on and on and on. Who is next: the insurance industry, the airline industry, the food industry, the waste industry, the ITC industry, the automobile industry, the mechanics parts industry, the legal advice industry…  Every industry will experience major disruption in the coming years. And this is NOT because some come up with some crazy ideas and think differently. 200 to 500 out of 1 million startups make it. So that is not much . But those 200 – 500 disrupt any available industry. And will not wait for anybody.

LEARNING TO INNOVATE

Each and every corporation has its own innovations paradigm. Most don’t even know. The innovations paradigm is the entire complex from idea development in an R&D center or innovation lab to successful market entry. Today this is all experimentation, trial and error. And we apply the mechanisms that we know to find out. Yes we need to think very differently – but not how we try today. Funny enough we need to follow age old rules:

  • We need to find out how ideas are actually created and processed
  • Once we understand how our brain works, we can apply strategies to use it.
  • We then will need to dive far deeper into our business ecosystem than ever before
  • And finally develop radically different solutions that unfold an ideal way for customers
  • Leadership in this entire process can make it a repeatable process so one can continuously innovate

Implementing such a “Innovations Paradigm” into the enterprise is far less difficult as it may look, yet it is not done over night and requires the buy-in of the C-Level. When anybody says we need to think like a startup, WE is all of the company. And the key driver is always the CEO – Startup or Global Enterprise. Carl Benz, Henry Ford, Robert Bosch, Graham Bell, Robert Noyce, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos were all young crazy entrepreneurs when they started. And many of that league are just about to get disrupted from people who think and act different – but that thinking is no secret any more and not unique.

You may want to join our webinar series of how to innovate and how to get your team to true innovation.
https://www.society3.com/webinars/

@AxelS