Innovation a Prisoner of Inductive and Deductive Logic

I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the Seattle office of design firm NBBJ yesterday. The event featured Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and author of “The Design of Business” and “The Opposable Mind.” I’d like to share a video interview I did with Roger before the event:

Interview – Roger Martin – Author “The Design of Business” from Braden Kelley on Vimeo.

I’d also like to share some of the key insights from Roger’s talk at the event:

  • People think in ways that form rules in their brains, and they are not always aware of the ways that those rules constrain them
  • That which tends to get you more reliability often gets you less validity
    • IQ tests have test/re-test reliability, but only 30% of life outcomes are related to IQ, 70% is attributable to other factors
    • Emotional intelligence measures may be more valid, but not reliable

  • If you insist on reliability, you can’t prove in advance that your heuristic of a mystery is correct
  • Innovation is a prisoner of deductive and inductive logic
  • We learn to analyze quantities, but what matters more often are the qualities
  • Abductive logicians welcome variance because they want to try and understand the outliers. Our modern education system beats abductive logic out of you. Are you focusing on quantities or qualities?
  • We depend too much on quantities – Having more Science Technology & Math (STeM) graduates is not the way to invent the future
  • Our businesses run on abstractions to help us understand the world, so new ones can be created and existing ones can be questioned
  • Outliers in data can be significant sources for growth and innovation. Take the example of Intuit’s QuickBooks – it was created because of the persistent existence of Quicken outliers trying to use the program to run their business instead of their personal finances.
  • From the book – “It’s not necessarily that some young whippersnapper’s going to come up with some better idea than you. They’re going to start from a different premise and they’re going to come to a different conclusion that makes you irrelevant.””
  • Sometimes you have to marinate on wicked problems. Instead of trying to simplify them, wade in a ways and then take a break and ruminate.
  • If you live in a way that sets up your mind to determine whether things are true or false, then you can’t invent the future.
  • Innovation is more about combining and synthesizing existing conceptualizations and models. There are three main ways to do this:
    1. Disaggregation – Target is a good example – In packaged goods, they focus on price, but in soft goods the focus on design.
    2. Doubling-Down – To get the buzz of exclusivity that Cannes gets, the Toronto Film Festival pushed so hard on inclusivity that they created the buzz through the People’s Choice Awards
    3. Mixing – Hidden gems

  • “It’s not the job of the customer to invent the future.”
    • Quantitative and qualitative surveys force customers to make something up when they don’t know how to answer
    • Customers only know themselves and are happy to talk about themselves

  • Interesting question – Should we be teaching intuitive thinking to science, technology and math majors? – Yes! – We should focus more energy in science on the intuitive leaps of the mind necessary to come up with interesting hypotheses.
  • CEOs should see themselves as the Chief Validity Officer because of the overwhelming reliability-focus of our organizations
  • Heuristics are a drug for strategy & design consultants – Often they are so busy with the heuristics that they don’t take the time to push heuristics down into algorithms or to explore new mysteries

My book review of “The Design of Business” can be found here.

My previous interview with “The Design of Business” author Roger Martin can be found here.

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