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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.

 

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.