End of an exceptional project

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 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 mind, has been overwhelmingly successful. 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 the 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 on 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. 

 

Corporate Innovation Labs – Counter Intuitive

Ingenuity – The corporate innovation teams are typically composed of brilliant minds, top notch experts. It they can’t solve a problem, nobody can. Is that wrong? Seriously would you expect a sales manager sits down and innovates and finds a new algorithm? Certainly not. Or maybe a financial controller who may know how to deal with algorithms, should they come up a new way of building the next generation rocket system? Not very likely. Or?

Experimentation – It is globally understood that it takes a huge amount of creativity to come up with truly groundbreaking ideas. And since creative outcomes cannot be ordered, innovators get a great deal of freedom to experiment with all kinds of ideas and try new ones whenever something seems to make no sense. In other words experimentation is a key in innovation design. How else?

Competing Ideas – Of course once an idea is born and needs to hit road to market we need them but first we need an idea, a prototype and so forth, maybe approvals,  certification and so forth. And that is expensive. Therefor the decision needs to be made that only the best, most plausible, most viable, most promising idea gets chosen. Right?

Realization – And once it is chosen we do what needs to be done to build and make first small production batch to surprise the market. And since that is expensive. the other ideas who are too risky won’t make it. Correct?

Startup Mania – All the cases we see and hear about disruption, come from startups. Therefor we need to understand what they do, how they do, how they come up with those innovative ideas and learn for our own innovation labs. So far no enterprise put another out of business based on any disruptive idea. Buying or investing in startups looks like a good idea. Is it?

I’m sure you noticed that all the above is today’s normal, yet I was trying to provoke you and kind of question everything.

For more than 6 years, we ran a startup accelerator based on our experience of starting, growing and successfully exiting companies. We also thought all the above is sort of a logical approach. But it is not. We came to realization, that innovation and the rise of startups is loaded with counter intuitive steps and behavior.

  • Innovation lab packt with experts? The worst thing that can happen.
  • Experimentation? Once we understand how ideas are created, experimentations steps back.
  • Competing ideas? Actually guarantees that innovation is not happening.
  • Parth of realization? Not even the richest enterprise can afford that path.
  • Not a single startup that was acquired or invested in brought any kind of significant innovation

 

The Hidden Enterprise Innovation Power

Analyzing the main differences between a startup and an enterprise (I had the pleasure to be in both 2 enterprises than 4 startups) opened my eyes but it took 30 years. Enterprises have an inherited massive advantage over startups only that they don’t use those qualities in a way that makes them truly innovative. And when we are using the term “innovative” we mean groundbreaking innovation either as a product innovation, an organizational innovation or a business model innovation – ideally all three.

Talents
Large enterprises have many extraordinary people, superbly educated, top talented, well connected. However the skills that are needed to become a top innovator. are never captured, never developed and maybe often times to understood.

Market Access
What startups need to explore in a painful process, enterprises have on a silver plate: customers with needs and dreams. The focus on efficiency, effectiveness, employee utilization and more clogg the single most important access to innovation relevant information.

Ideation Power
The top talents of any trait, diverse and far reaching experiences,high level of qualification and intellectual capacity are resources of an enterprise that dwarf any startup on the planet. How to leverage that power is completely unknown inside the enterprise organizations and only unfold themselves by the sheer urge to survive in the better startups.

Realization Power
Laboratories to play and experiment in the final stage of the innovation journey map is a piece of cake in any enterprise. Startups build their MVPs with the most rudimentary tools. Sound really interesting and maybe is seen as the better solution. But only to the day when enterprise leader get the idea to make a radical and strategic shift.

Financial Power
Almost needless to say that enterprises have no problem at all to finance the first steps of an inner startup. Again a huge advantage over startups – but already in the next steps when first market tests and prototypes are complex and stretch the boundaries of physics, money runs out in enterprises. This is when VCs only begin and have no problem to put hundreds of millions in their startups. Yet a new car cost billions to develop.

What is the real problem?

When we look into the enterprise versus startup discussion, we simply look in the wrong direction. Every single successful enterprise has been an equally successful startup 20, 50 or 200 years ago. And even relatively young tech startups that have successfully completed their IPO and crossed the $5Billion revenue range almost forgot what happened when they were innovative year over year.

After four years of research we realized: Enterprises had no other chance than fail. The way an enterprise is managed is structured in a way that the operation is optimized, employees best utilized and every aspect of sales, marketing, production, logistics, engineering finance and so forth is woven together in a way that leaves no room for anything else. And in the past, there was nothing else. But today there is: Every innovation triggers two new innovations, which trigger two new innovations. The innovation explosion – which only now is part of the competitive advantage – is simply not part of the enterprise management carta.

How do you use all those discoveries?

You need to turn the counterintuitive situations on its head and redesign your thinking and innovation itself:

  1. Find ways to identify, develop, empower and stimulate the best available talents
  2. Leverage the market access to understand the needs and dreams of their customers
  3. Going far beyond brainstorming and leveraging “neuro ideation” getting to truly ground breaking innovation
  4. Again leverage the market access to validate the extreme ideas that come out of best possible ideation
  5. Trying to redesign business models based on all inputs to find their “disruptive moment”
  6. Create a long terme “Staged Funding” plan before a penny was burned through experimentation
  7. Now build the MVP while going to market, creating “Market Born Products”
  8. Once the product is stable, scaling the operation as fast as possible.

And once done you start all over – never stop innovating, like never stop producing, marketing servicing….
Enter into the “Innovation Continuum”

 

For me, finding out how innovation is actually created and making it a repeatable process was the most exciting business journey in my life.

Let me know what you think.

 

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!!!!