The Innovation Master Plan, a blueprint for innovation success. 

After building four innovative businesses, two growing into the billion Dollar revenue range and later helping several hundred startups to become innovative; we decided to create this Innovation Master Plan as a blueprint for innovation success.

The foundation of this Innovation Master Plan is the Deep Innovation Design method. The method is highly influenced by neuroscience, how our brain composes ideas. Creativity and innovation are done laterally in our brains. Lateral thinking and lateral processes are becoming of strategic importance in empowering teams to create the disruptive concepts, businesses need to stay competitive.

The full details and additional insights can be downloaded as a Whitepaper.

(1) Pillars of Innovation

When having a chance to learn from neuroscience how ideas get created in our brain and extrapolate the impact of that learning, we also see several aspects of innovation like purpose to innovate, the time and finance to innovate as well as the overall outcome in a very different light. Also, the entire innovation process can be seen in a very different light and the necessity for a stringent process is rising. The least used but biggest power of our brain is lateral thinking. When putting the key learnings together, the pillars of innovation become an important part of innovative thinking.

(2) Preparation for Innovation

When preparing for innovation there are several key components to take into consideration, starting with an Innovation Readiness Check. By completing a simple checklist you can determine if your top executives are on board, understand your current access to customers, and grasp your readiness to create groundbreaking innovations.

Leadership buy-in is key to your success. Genuine Innovation is a long-term engagement. It usually takes less than six months to create an innovative solution, but on average 5 to 10 years to be recognized as an innovation in the market. Innovation is a CEO mandate. Without a dedicated innovation strategy that comes from the very top of an organization, no innovation is realistically possible.

Next, craft an innovation mandate and an innovation strategy. An Innovation Mandate is similar to a declaration, mission statement, or manifesto. It is therefore not just the wish to be more innovative but building an entirely new operation within the company that may be able to compete and disrupt an existing business for the benefit of the market and the benefit of staying highly competitive. Once the executive team agrees on becoming an innovative business an innovation strategy needs to be crafted. Such a strategy is not focused on a certain innovation target, product, audience, or technology but the strategic position of the company, the fact that innovation is not a single event but a continuum, and what value the company sees in innovating.

Finally, assemble an innovation dream team and establish an innovation culture. Every business starts with a team. Our research and our own experience have shown that a highly diverse team will always beat a team of specialists. Make very clear what the goal and objectives are. The team must know the magnitude of that venture and make sure there are unique rewards for the team. Intelligent people argue with logic and facts, not ego and self-interest. The smartest people don’t work for money but for self-fulfillment. Have a base innovation culture statement ready before you attract talents. Then shape it together with the team you hire.

Innovation is the duality of brilliant ideation and relentless execution.

(3) Innovation Life Cycle

An innovation effort is a long-term engagement that deserves thorough planning. None of the highly innovative disruptors has hit the billion-dollar mark within just a year or two. The complete innovation life cycle is best described with an innovation journey map. That map shows the very origin or starting point of an innovation effort and all the major episodes of the innovation life cycle, all the way to global market acceptance. Even the greatest idea ever is no innovation unless it is recognized as such in the designated market. Like every journey, innovation has a destination. However, in our case, the destination is “Innovation Continuum”.

To help navigate the journey, BlueCallom created a methodical approach that starts at a point where a team may have no idea where to start, includes getting market feedback, from that point creates an innovative concept. From there the concept gets verified in the market and with positive feedback, it is much easier to finance. Then we are building prototypes that we call MVPs (Minimum viable Products) and bring those to market. After the market introduction, we spend a lot of effort in scaling the innovative business and go global. We purposefully do not go step-by-step through that journey but work in episodes and may jump back to an episode as needed. It’s part of the lateral thinking process. This is why the Innovation Journey map is not a linear path from one activity to the next but allows the freedom to go back and forth.

Putting the Innovation Master Plan to work

To implement a successful innovation master plan be PREPARED:

  1. Complete an Innovation Readiness Assessment
  2. Get the buy-in from the CEO
  3. Develop an innovation strategy
  4. Assemble your Innovation Dream

Finally, EXECUTE the entire Innovation Life Cycle. Start with the Innovation Opportunity Discovery all the way to bringing the innovation to market. There are many good reasons why the conventional sales and marketing teams cannot successfully bring disruptive innovation to market while working on the conventional and main solution offering.

Time is money – literally, execute relentlessly and focus on a 1% growth rate per day, creating exponential growth.

To download the complete whitepaper, please visit here.

 

The different innovation flavors and terms are confusing and oftentimes are only used to distract from an inability to innovate. But what is the meaning and how can you focus on genuine innovation.

Groundbreaking vs. Disruptive innovation

Those two flavors of innovation are rather close. Yet, when looking under the hood, there is a slight difference.


1) Disruptive Innovation assumes creating a new market that will eventually disrupt existing players in related existing market segments. Indomie noodles for instance created an all-new market in Africa. The automobile is another example of disruptive innovation, creating an entire market that displaced coaches and other transportation. On the one hand, the opportunity to create a new market is becoming smaller and smaller. On the other hand, disrupting existing markets is exponentially growing as most technologies or products reached an age that it is time to completely rethink what is out there.

2) Groundbreaking Innovation does not necessarily create a new market but breaks new ground in an existing market as well as possibly create a new market. Groundbreaking Innovation is always disruptive whether it is in a new or existing market. Tesla is a great example as the car market existed but is newly defined by Tesla. Same with Space-X. It existed and was developed by NASA and others, but was newly defined through disruptive technologies by Space-X. Apple’s iPhone is another example. The phone market existed but Apple disrupted that market with groundbreaking innovation, the iPhone. Groundbreaking innovation is always disruptive. Groundbreaking innovation is simply not limiting innovation to a specific case but genuine innovation in general. The personal computer did not disrupt the computer industry, even though it thought it would. Instead, it created an all-new computer market. Groundbreaking innovation addresses innovation needs to disrupt a market or create new markets. A nap cafe for a 20 min sleep for instance would not disrupt anything but create an additional and new groundbreaking business segment.

Groundbreaking innovation is not limited to new or existing markets. Radical innovation is similar to groundbreaking innovation but is focused on addressing existing markets.

Fake Innovation Flavors & their Risk

There are floating many more flavors of innovation such as gradual innovation, architectural innovation, and improvement innovation. Breakthrough innovation is described as an innovation from within a company that pushes something to the next level and can be considered similar to gradual innovation. These flavors of innovation are a big risk to innovation because all it is just an improvement. Gradual innovation, improvement innovation, or architectural innovation do not produce genuine innovation. Moreover, they bear a high innovation risk because they make those who are trying to innovate believe that the result is a type of innovation. However, if a competitor develops a genuine innovation, stays under the radar for a while, and disrupts that market segment, the fake innovation will implode immediately and the disrupter enters the market without any problem.

Most consumers cannot differentiate between innovation types and they do not care – there is no reason to even look at it. They chose the best product for them. With large business customers, it’s a bit different but still like consumers they are not impressed.  The financial market however looks more closely than ever before at what the innovation effort is, as they calculate valuation based on the long-term effects of innovation. Fake innovation is not only immediately uncovered, it leads to extra distancing from the brand because the company either does not understand what innovation is or purposely faking innovation. Both have very negative connotations.

Recommendations

  1. Stay away from using gradual, architectural, improvement, or other fake innovation types. It does not help in any way and is not really innovation.
  2. Ask yourself what would be a possible disruption to your business and how can you pre-empt a possible disruptive attack? The answer is simple: Be the one who moves first and don’t allow a position of following others.
  3. Learn more about ideation, deep innovation design, the innovation duality of brilliant ideation, and relentless execution.
  4. Develop an innovation strategy that addresses the terminology, how to achieve innovation, c-level empowerment, team composition, budgets, and more.
  5. Reach out to the BlueCallom team and ask for free advice or even better participate in a free Innovation Readiness Assessment.

 

Innovation opportunity for enterprises. What worked for startups can now also work for enterprises. Even the innovation process would be the same. And purpose and reasoning should be the same too. The only difference is the leadership structure. And that requires a new understanding of what actually makes the difference between the two company types today.

No – it has nothing to do with size or capital, And yes both are driven by human beings.

Over the past four years, we learned so much about the difference between innovation in corporations and in startups that we today realize: Enterprises had not even a chance to be innovative even when acquiring a startup.  The full details can be downloaded as a Whitepaper

HOW ARE INNOVATIVE IDEAS CREATED
When thinking of innovation it is most helpful to understand how homo sapiens is performing the creation of innovative ideas. Without knowing how innovation is done, it is hard to manage the process and innovation remains to be a process. The key learning is that ideas are composed by our neurons from past experiences. There is no mechanism that just “creates” ideas.

INNOVATION PURPOSE
Without exception, the most innovative solutions were created in an attempt to solve a problem. Random experimentation and hoping to find a great idea never led to groundbreaking innovation. Innovation is an outcome – it cannot be a desire.

RETHINKING INNOVATION
When we know how innovation is created, we can request certain results, request to provide insights, and measure and manage the effort. Most importantly executives know what they are asking, even where and what to innovate.

INNOVATION READINESS
When you know the “what and how”, you can make sure that your business is ready to innovate in the first place and prevent unnecessary costs and delays.

INNOVATION MANAGEMENT
After all – innovation management can be performed like most other mission-critical activities, teams can be selected in accordance with the requirements and tasks and results become predictable and timely.

INNOVATION FINANCING
Successful innovations consumed more than $100 Million in funding, some reached into two-digit billion-dollar investments. Obviously, this is done in stages and in line with progress, KPIs, and timelines. Comparing it with a $500,000 startup would be a huge mistake because that was only their starting point.

FOLLOWING IS NO INNOVATION
Obviously, you can catch up with the market to survive. But the financial market will recognize it accordingly. A follower will not beat the innovator – not on the market cap.

RELENTLESS EXECUTION
Innovation is one of the intellectually most demanding jobs. Not only does it take 100% focus, it also requires relentless execution and the motive to do so. The Innovation Culture, team selection, and motivations are the ultimate driver of successful innovation.

The BlueCallom Deep Innovation Design method was modeled and shaped based on all the findings from our research and our own experiences, building 4 innovative businesses and helping hundreds of startups to get there too.

Whitepaper Download here.

 

 

In a recent research project, interviewing or discussing the entire innovation process in mid-market to global enterprises,  we found a high concentration in 7 areas of counter-intuitive behavior or innovation traps. We have been aware of 5 of them but No. 2 and 7 were also new to us. We will continue expanding our research effort to determine more innovation traps and what you can do.

1) RESEARCH TRAP

Having trouble analyzing your market to discover real innovation opportunities or risks to get disrupted?

STATUS QUO
Today we ask questions hoping to hear that our customers tell us what they need and how you can improve. We ask far too many questions. The results are at the very best improvements for the here and now – never innovation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Using a methodical approach for a needs & dreams analysis leads to current and future visions. There are only two times one question. What is the best possible product for you? And in a different interview another question about their dreams. Then it’s all about the analysis of that two times one question.

2) EXPERTS TRAP

Are you still working with innovation teams that are loaded with experts and only a few market-facing minds?

STATUS QUO
The majority of innovation labs are assembled with top experts. If you add more, you get more of the same but it is impossible to get to groundbreaking innovation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Assemble a highly diverse Innovation Dream Team with carefully selected talents – not skills. It’s all about intelligent team compositions.

3) BRAINSTORMING TRAP

Are you still using yellow post-its, whiteboards, and brainstorming as your top ideation tools?

STATUS QUO
Ideation is done in one, two, or three brainstorm meetings. But our brain is not releasing deeply rooted groundbreaking innovations. Because it is structured to work very differently.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Learn all about Neuro Ideation, how our mind composes thoughts and ideas, and how we can stimulate it to release amazing concepts in just a few weeks – yes, it isn’t just a brain dump.

4) CREATIVITY TRAP

Do you feel you are super creative only the infrastructure and organization are not up to par?

STATUS QUO
The majority of innovation center members reported that they feel they are exceptionally creative but are limited by the organization, infrastructure, or otherwise.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Review the degree of impossibility of the idea and conduct a methodical market validation. You will know in just two weeks if organization and infrastructure are the biggest limitations. In most cases, it is a natural misperception.

5) APPROVAL TRAP

Struggling with getting your executives to finance and approve disruptive innovation concepts?

STATUS QUO
In particular, the most innovative ideas fail to get attention, financial support, and approval from the executive teams.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
When learning about Neuro Ideation it becomes obvious why most disruptive ideas get initially rejected, no matter from whom. “Experience Transmission” is part of the staged Financing Method.

6) EXPERIMENTATION TRAP

Are you still believing that experimentation, pivoting, and prototyping will unfold all of a sudden a magical innovation?

STATUS QUO
The idea that experimentation, pivoting, and rapid prototyping is a preferred innovation method. Fail and fail fast to try as much as possible. If we don’t know how our mind composes ideas, it is our only way to move forward.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Build your target innovation on the needs and dreams analysis, compile the inputs, and conduct Neuro Ideation sessions, involve the management in all episodes. You will experience an unimaginable logical result that is fundable without random experimentation.

7) THE GUESSWORK TRAP

Are you still HOPING you have a great idea, HOPING your customers will like it, HOPING you get the funding, and HOPING it will be a success?

STATUS QUO
The act of innovation is largely built on hope. Even though nobody would actually admit it.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Think through the entire innovation life cycle from finding out what and where to innovate all the way to bring such innovation successfully to market. Explore the Deep Innovation Design model. You may notice that the Neuro Ideation method has a far-reaching influence on all facets of the Innovation Life Cycle.

 

Obviously, you can manage the “Status Quo” with a project management tool. But isn’t that making something dysfunctional even worse and you can get caught in one or more of these innovation traps? Prior to founding BlueCallom, we did that too – and despite the love and energy for innovation, the process never really excited us. We just didn’t know why.

After learning a lot about neuroscience and how ideas are composed in our minds, we created the neuro ideation method. Little did we know that Neuro Ideation is changing the entire Innovation Life Cycle and unfolds all of a sudden a logical, natural, and manageable innovation flow.

Hope it was insightful.

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 commitment to organizational innovation. Soon thereafter, they also started an experience innovation project and became a great example of multi-facet innovations. Let’s explore the big five innovation types.

The 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.

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 the vision they acquired. 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 is 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 creating truly ground-breaking innovation. In particular, in the western world, Top Executives, boards, 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

Learn more about the General Innovation Type Differences.

 

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 past brainstorming. 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 no brainstorming. And thinking 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

Unlike conventional processes, where brainstorming plays an important role, 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. You will start innovating and experience less brainstorming.

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 customers 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 are 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 on 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.

Intelligent Neuro Ideation

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. Every idea created is a composition of past experiences. This understanding based in neuroscience is the foundation for Neuro Ideation – a technique that goes far beyond brainstorming.

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 as 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 is 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 almost everybody else will understand them, and some could easily replicate those ideas. They may become nice improvements, but never true innovations. But we reached 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 “latecomers” 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 brainstorming 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 BlueCallom, 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. This direction may encompass the development of an innovative concept that is the product of Neuro Ideation. But everything that will be available in the first version of the new product will be an innovative and disruptive solution from day one.

To learn more about neuro ideation, you may want to watch our Webinar Recording.

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 the 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 seems to have nothing to do with innovation: Breaking Linear Thinking. Once we began to address that issue we realized how severe 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 think 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 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 two halves that tries to make sense from the rational impressions and gets the feeling from the other halve. This is why we arranged the fields in a nonlinear 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 the rationale and see if we considered everything and go to the right side and see if we got the best possible outcome. Once we got the first set of information in phase 1 and some good ideas in phase 2 we bring the core summary in 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 on 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 – Callom as short form and the blue from the technical representation of this genius part of nature.

 

The end of an exceptional project, and the beginning of a new journey, BlueCallom.

In 2015 we asked ourselves: “how can we help startups in our accelerator to create a disruptive business model?” The initial response was – impossible. Impossible was all my life a ‘wake word’ triggering my mind like no other word. With first successes and countless questions about how we came up with all our innovative ideas, in 2016 we began to seek answers that go beyond ‘thinking big’ and ‘out of the box’. Our quest, finding out how innovative and disruptive ideas are created in our minds, has been overwhelmingly successful. The beginning of a new journey, BlueCallom. The project “BlueCallom” took unexpected turns and eventually an unexpected finish for all of us. Not only did we find amazing insights and made surprising discoveries, our work even resulted in an all-new business opportunity. BlueCallom became a methodology and eventually a software solution (SaaS). We even consider renaming the company Society3 into BlueCallom. The origin of the name BlueCallom has been shared already in the previous post. I want to thank a few exceptional people who have been part of this journey in different capacities: Dr. Matthes Fleck (Prof. for entrepreneurship at the University for Arts and Science, Lucerne, Switzerland, Marita Schultze co-founder of Society3, George Parish VP Sales Society3 Silicon Valley, Huong BK Holdings, Vietnam, Tobias Gunzenhauser, Yamo, Switzerland, Sandipan, Sonect Switzerland, two global enterprises that I hope to be able to name any soon, and many others who encouraged and supported us on this journey.

A new beginning

After we have transferred all our startup support activities into our foundation “World Innovations Forum“, the Society3 Website became actually dormant and was used to report about our quest. This quest was so amazing and the findings so overwhelming that we gave the site a new name: BlueCallom. Now we are proceeding with the company by sharing what we learned and providing tools (software) to easily apply the learning. Society3 is on its way to re-launch and morphs into BlueCallom, the digital augmentation of our two brain halves with a digital brain extension.

An almost infinite journey

Please join us in this new way of understanding how our mind is composing ideas in general and innovation in particular. It may help us to not only better understand how to innovate. It may help us understand how we can leverage the single most powerful tool, homo sapiens has been given by nature, that will continue to set us far above any machine: Our ability to compose billions of experiences to more new ideas than stars in our universe.