Sunday, 8 April 2018

'The next big thing always starts out looking like nothing at all'

One of my favourite authors and speakers on all things innovation is Greg Satell.
He is a regular contributor to Inc. magazine and always has interesting insights into the future of innovations that will affect how we work.
In 'Why the future will always surprise us' he takes a look back at how past innovations emerged that at first appeared to be inconsequential.
Fleming's 'discovery' and failure to develop penicillin is well known, but this article gives several other examples of emergent technologies that turned out to be game changers.
Quantum computing looks like it may be one of those - nobody is certain how it will change everything, but we're absolutely certain it will.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Do you have a 'rider' to prepare interviewees?

Post-Oscars, 'riders' seem to be all over the news.

I've always taken great care in ensuring all participants about to be involved in a knowledge transfer interview, understand the process and my role.

This is for a few of reasons. 

  • As a facilitator, I want the trust of everyone involved 
  • That they know they will have control over any written outputs*.
  • I need them to put aside plenty of time to have a meaningful, in-depth conversation and not worry about missing a meeting
  • They may think about others that they would like to be involved, in addition to those who may have an obvious need to be involved.
  • I always audio record discussions, with permission. After explaining this is purely to ensure that I create an accurate representation of what was discussed (I can't take verbatim notes of a 3 hour discussion).

I was prompted to mention this, as Josh Berhoff has written an interesting blog post about how to prepare an interviewee. Before he asks a question, he always says

'This interview is on the record. However, as we conduct the interview, if there is something you would like to share off the record, let me know at the time. Before I publish anything, I’ll share with you the passage that’s about you, so you can check that the facts are accurate and the quotes accurately reflect what you wanted to say. OK?'

This 'rider' is good journalistic advice and very necessary for anything that will be published in a public forum. * With his opening statement, Bernhoff retains control over what is written. Only the facts and direct quotes can be challenged by the interviewee before publication. This is very different for a knowledge transfer output, where the sentiment and nuance, as well as facts, can make a big difference to how the know-how is conveyed. 

The very best knowledge transfer 'interviews' are where there is a free-flowing dialogue between those that have deep expertise and those who have a need to know. In practice, the facilitator's role is critical in ensuring a deep-dive and all key topics are fully explored, but in a light-touch way.

Bernhoff's post contains a lot of sound advice for interviewers, but remember that his purpose is journalistic, not as a knowledge transfer facilitator.

Friday, 23 February 2018

The secret sauce of TED's storytelling

I've just been reminded an old HBR article by Chris Anderson about giving killer presentations

It was fascinating to read about and see how TED prepares its speakers.
I've often wondered how TED speakers come across so confident and compelling. No, they don't use teleprompters or note cards. Whilst there is definitely a process to follow in preparing a story, in the end it comes down to a lot of preparation and feedback.  

I'm certainly going to take the storytelling route in preparing for the KIN Spring Workshop - I hope you find Chris' advice useful too.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Procrastination and innovation

It's pretty counter-intuitive that procrastination and creativity are connected, right?
There is plenty of evidence however that by delaying completion of something, you end up with a better, perhaps more innovative, result.

Think of the process as a shape of a 'U'. Those that get right to it and come up with an idea really quickly (the big downward slope of the U) may miss ideas. Dwelling on concepts and applying considered design may result in other, better alternatives. Conversely, those that leave everything until the very last minute (the upward slope of the U) are likely to also miss opportunities that dwelling-on may offer.

It seems that those who quickly come up with one or two ideas, then think on them for a while, maybe try a few out (the Design Thinking process) and finally make a decision down the line, may come up with more innovative and successful solutions.

A similar phenomenon that we've all experienced is when faced with a tricky problem and we decide to 'sleep on it'.

Take a look at Tim Urban's very funny and illuminating TED Talk on being a master procrastinator and his 'instant gratification monkey'.

Adam grant also wrote a nice post in the New York Times 'Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate'

If you need an external stimulus to stop you procrastinating, try 
Stikk is a fee goal-setting app from behavioural economists at Yale. The idea is that you make a public goal, set the stakes or pledge, get a referee and add friends for support. I love the idea that some of the most successful pledges are apparently those that result in something you don't want to happen. For example, '$100 goes to the National Rifle Association if I don't meet my deadline' (assuming you don't support the NRA!). 

I've been  preparing for the KIN Spring Workshop on 22nd March at The Shard.'Reimagining the Innovative Organisation'. Adam Billing of Treehouse Innovation will be running an experiential exercise for us. This will be a fun interactive session that will use Design Thinking principles to stimulate ideas for innovative management practice. Treehouse have an app called Sprintbase that helps organisations systematically tackle tough challenges by including design thinking into problem solving.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

'Think like a system, act like an entrepreneur' - RSA Innovation Report

In the run-up to the KIN Spring Workshop at The Shard on 22nd March, we will be sharing some insights on 'Reimagining the Innovative Organisation' (the theme of the workshop).

The first of these is an excellent RSA paper* that illustrates the value of melding Design Thinking, Systems Thinking and entrepreneurship.

KIN has looked at Design Thinking in the past and the Spring workshop will feature a Design Thinking exercise from Treehouse.  The paper posits that this approach is not sufficient without a holistic perspective or context in which an innovation is to be deployed or scaled. We also recently had an excellent Systems Thinking masterclass led by the School of Systems Change, so we are clearly on the right path!

A brief extract that underlines the importance of human-centred approach to innovation...

"In Democratising Innovation, Eric von Hippel argues that we have moved into a ‘user-centred’ as opposed to ‘manufacturer-centric’ era of innovation. As Jeanne Liedtka said in the 2015 Batten Briefing on Innovation and Growth : “The most secure source of new ideas that have true competitive advantage, and hence, higher margins, is customers’ unarticulated needs.” Businesses are now routinely generating innovation using human centred methods. These processes employ user research, experimentation, prototyping, and iteration and foster innovations that meet a particular human need rather than being purely product-driven. These methods have been used to inform design innovations in everything from airline flatbeds at British Airways to breathable sportswear at Nike. 

Whilst Design thinking has obvious benefits in product innovation, it's application to management processes and service solutions is less clear. We will be considering this in depth at the workshop. The RSA report supports this application...

Design-led innovation has demonstrated a clear dividend in consumer facing industries, and design thinking is no longer the preserve of product developers. The process also generates service solutions, new concepts and governance models, and it is being used to envisage new business strategies and services across sectors, including the public sector". 

* Thanks to Izzy Taylor of Plan International for bringing the RSA report to KIN's attention