Happy World Innovation Day

Happy World Innovation Day

Today is World Innovation Day - the final celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Week. This week marked World Creativity and Innovation Week which has the stated purpose of: Open minds, hearts, eyes to new ideas, new decisions, new actions: one week worldwide. The movement has gained so much momentum in fact that the United Nations has added World Innovation Day on April 21 to its UN Days of Observance alongside Earth Day, Water Day, and World Humanitarian Day. Today you are encouraged to celebrate innovation and problem-solving, in particular against the big world problems: social, humanitarian, environmental, learning, children, etc. You can add your own initiative to the growing list of Innovation Celebrations happening today around the world at https://wciw.org/wciw-2017/. As of April 16 there were 85 celebrations and initiatives planned across 28 countries around the world. Join in the worldwide movement. Show your passion for innovation. Be the change you want to see in the world. Innovate....
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Scaling to Differentiation

Scaling to Differentiation

I recently wrote about the importance of "Framework Thinking" as a way to simplify how you look at problems, structures, and processes so I thought I would extend that thinking as an example of how you can think about how you organize your business structure. Scaling an organization requires an evolution of maturity in your structures, your processes, and your approach to priority management and without recognizing that need for evolution and a focus on building a solid foundation you can quickly find yourself in crisis mode as you grow. I have written about the importance of foundation as well in the past as it related specifically to building an innovation capability in your organization, but the same concept of foundation applies as you think about your organizational structure. (more…)...
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ROI Comes From Customer Value Creation

ROI Comes From Customer Value Creation

I read a post the other day looking at the ROI (Return On Investment) in immediate payment systems (banking speak for instant payments) and one particular statement made by the author made the hair on the back of my neck stand up... In fact, the real driver may not be the ROI but just keeping up with customer and regulatory needs. The reality is that if the ROI is some sort of fuzzy "feel good" or "customer experience" story without any strong numbers most businesses won't invest in these types of problems. In this example, if all of the major banks in a country (such as Britain or Canada) decide that "instant payments" don't have a positive ROI they will all choose to not build that capability since it isn't "worth it". If they do choose to build it it will be based on a "loss aversion" or "cost reduction" ROI and it will likely be built at a high cost and...
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Failing Forward

Failing Forward

I was reading today about a number of the biggest product failures of all time (kind of a fun read actually), and one of the things that jumped out at me was the number of companies that are known for being really innovative that made the list of failures. Normally if you were to put together a list that included Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Starbucks you would be reviewing the "most innovative brands" or something similar. What does it tell you if some of the best known innovators are also on the list of the biggest innovation failures of all time? Easy... Everybody fails. It's what you do with those failures that matters. Just for fun let's highlight a few of the "big failures" to illustrate my point: (more…)...
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Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

I was doing my morning reading today and I came across a few posts and thoughts the value of opposing ideas, disagreement, and controversy and it reminded me of the value of curiosity when we are going about our daily lives. More and more often we see leaders just "speaking louder" on the belief that if they just talk louder they will convince more people to agree with their position (as radical as it might be). We see our friends and family getting into comment wars on social media and posting articles and ideas that are clearly intended to create tension and disagreement. We see people who are shocked by the fact that there are people with ideas and opinions that don't align perfectly with their own. We see more and more people with a clear false consensus bias which is reducing the quality of our societal conversation (and making it very challenging to maintain our own curiosity). False Consensus Bias = People have a...
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Flawless Execution – In Innovation

Flawless Execution – In Innovation

I've had many bosses who spoke about the need for "flawless execution" in our organization. They spoke of delivering with excellence, achieving plan, and a relentless pursuit of productivity in our work. And then they spoke about how innovative we were going to be - how we were going to try new things, adapt and increase our pace, and become more agile. And when they were done you could look around the room and see confusion and fear. "How can I take chances, try new things, adapt and increase pace, and be more agile while I am delivering with excellence, making no mistakes, achieving my plan, and delivering productivity?" was the thought going through everyone's mind... "Aren't those the exact opposite approaches?"... And then nothing changed. (more…)...
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Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

One of my favourite tools when I'm working on innovation, strategic planning, marketing, or even just preparing for an important meeting where a key decision is needed is Empathy Mapping. Put simply Empathy Mapping is a way to discover new insights into people, customer segments, or personas you have developed for your new product or marketing campaign. Those insights might help you to better position your new product or service for them to see the value it creates. They might provide you a glimpse into a change in behaviours or approach which is hindering your ability to push a project forward. New insights might help you identify new differentiating product or service features which will give you an advantage in the market. Ultimately Empathy Mapping is all about understanding people better by reflecting on them and attempting to put yourself into their shoes. (more…)...
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Leading to Outcomes

Leading to Outcomes

One of the more successful strategies I have seen managers take in their organizations has been shifting their focus from managing the process to managing for outcomes. In the age of employee empowerment one of the best ways to allow your team to feel like they have a say in the work is to allow them some flexibility in the process and approach provided that they are able to deliver the desired outcomes and meet the organizational targets. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt I would suggest that the act of simply managing for outcomes isn't enough in the current corporate environment. Setting goals and offering some flexibility in the process and approach is more effective than micro-managing every step of the work and is an improvement over older management science but if you retain the...
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Change = Weakness?

Change = Weakness?

Last week I was in the car driving and listening to the Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan and while discussing the pitching situation with the Toronto Blue Jays coming out of the trade deadline he said something that really stuck out to me. He had recently changed his position and opinion on whether pitcher Aaron Sanchez should move to the bullpen or stay in the starting line-up and he was catching a lot of listener ire for that change in position. The thing that really caught my ear was the fact that the listener issues were largely with the fact that he had changed his mind, not with whether the listeners agreed with his position (new or old). People simply didn't like the fact that he had CHANGED his position. Somewhat flipantly Jeff said something that I think is a pretty profound statement on our society and one of the reasons that creativity and innovation is so hard in our organizations: Changing your...
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Innovation Requires a Solid Foundation

Innovation Requires a Solid Foundation

Those of you who know me won't be shocked by the fact that I have a serious passion for innovation. I believe you always need to be pushing your organization (and your life) forward, reinventing what you do and how you do it as often as possible to continually drive new value to your customers and your organization. Companies like GE or IBM who have consistently changed their business, sold off core components, reinvented their primary revenue base, and evolved how they execute based on the demands of an evolving market are great examples of companies that do innovation very well. (more…)...
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