Category Archives: Open Innovation

Why Data-Based Decisions Will Lead You Straight to Hell

Why Data-Based Decisions Will Lead You Straight to Hell

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

Many years ago, Clay Christensen visited his firm where I was a partner and told us a story*.

“I imagine the day I die and present myself at the entrance to Heaven,” he said. “The Lord will show me around, and the beauty and majesty will overcome me. Eventually, I will notice that there are no numbers or data in Heaven, and I will ask the Lord why that is.”

“Data lies,” the Lord will respond. “Nothing that lies can be in Heaven. So, if people want data, I tell them to go to Hell.”

We all chuckled at the punchline and at the strength of the language Clay used (if you ever met him, you know that he was an incredibly gentle and soft-spoken man, so using the phrase “go to Hell” was the equivalent of your parents unleashing a five-minute long expletive-laden rant).

“If you want data, go to Hell.”

Clay’s statement seems absolutely blasphemous, especially in a society that views quantitative data as the ultimate source of truth:

  • “In God we trust. All others bring data.” W. Edward Deming, founding Father of Total Quality Management (TQM)
  •  “Above all else, show the data.” – Edward R. Tufte, a pioneer in the field of data visualization
  • “What gets measured gets managed” – Peter Drucker, father of modern management studies

But it’s not entirely wrong.

Quantitative Data’s blessing: A sense of safety

As humans, we crave certainty and safety. This was true millennia ago when we needed to know whether the rustling in the leaves was the wind or a hungry predator preparing to leap and tear us limb from lime. And it’s true today when we must make billion-dollar decisions about buying companies, launching products, and expanding into new geographies.

We rely on data about company valuation and cash flow, market size and growth, and competitor size and strategy to make big decisions, trusting that it is accurate and will continue to be true for the foreseeable future.

Quantitative Data’s curse: The past does not predict the future

As leaders navigating an increasingly VUCA world, we know we must prepare for multiple scenarios, operate with agility, and be willing to pivot when change happens.

Yet we rely on data that describes the past.

We can extrapolate it, build forecasts, and create models, but the data will never tell us with certainty what will happen in the future. It can’t even tell us the Why (drivers, causal mechanisms) behind the What it describes.

The Answer: And not Or

Quantitative data Is useful. It gives us the sense of safety we need to operate in a world of uncertainty and a starting point from which to imagine the future(s).

But, it is not enough to give the clarity or confidence we need to make decisions leading to future growth and lasting competitive advantage.

To make those decisions, we need quantitative data AND qualitative insights.

We need numbers and humans.

Qualitative Insight’s blessing: A view into the future

Humans are the source of data. Our beliefs, motivations, aspirations, and actions are tracked and measured, and turned into numbers that describe what we believed, wanted, and did in the past.

By understanding human beliefs, motivations, and aspirations (and capturing them as qualitative insights), we gain insight into why we believed, wanted, and did those things and, as a result, how those beliefs, motivations, aspirations, and actions could change and be changed. With these insights, we can develop strategies and plans to change or maintain beliefs and motivations and anticipate and prepare for events that could accelerate or hinder our goals. And yes, these insights can be quantified.

Qualitative Insight’s curse: We must be brave

When discussing the merit of pursuing or applying qualitative research, it’s not uncommon for someone to trot out the saying (erroneously attributed to Henry Ford), “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said a horse that goes twice as fast and eats half as much.”

Pushing against that assertion requires you to be brave. To let go of your desire for certainty and safety, take a risk, and be intellectually brave.

Being brave is hard. Staying safe is easy. It’s rational. It’s what any reasonable person would do. But safe, rational, and reasonable people rarely change the world.

One more story

In 1980, McKinsey predicted that the worldwide market for cell phones would max out at 900,000 subscribers. They based this prediction on solid data, analyzed by some of the most intelligent people in business. The data and resulting recommendations made sense when presented to AT&T, McKinsey’s client.

Five years later, there were 340,213 subscribers, and McKinsey looked pretty smart. In 1990, there were 5.3 million subscribers, almost 6x McKinsey’s prediction.   In 1994, there were 24.1M subscribers in the US alone (27x McKinsey’s global forecast), and AT&T was forced to pay $12.6B to acquire McCaw Cellular.

Should AT&T have told McKinsey to “go to Hell?”  No.

Should AT&T have thanked McKinsey for going to (and through) Hell to get the data, then asked whether they swung by earth to talk to humans and understand their Jobs to be Done around communication? Yes.

Because, as Box founder Aaron Levie reminds us,

“Sizing the market for a disruptor based on an incumbent’s market is like sizing a car industry off how many horses there were in 1910.”

* Except for the last line, these probably (definitely) weren’t his exact words, but they are an accurate representation of what I remember him saying

Image Credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

America Needs to Innovate Its Innovation Ecosystem

America Needs to Innovate Its Innovation Ecosystem

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

The world today just seems to move faster and faster all the time. From artificial intelligence and self-driving cars to gene editing and blockchain, it seems like every time you turn around, there’s some newfangled thing that promises to transform our lives and disrupt our businesses.

Yet a paper published by a team of researchers in Harvard Business Review argues that things aren’t as they appear. They point out that total factor productivity growth has been depressed since 1970 and that recent innovations, despite all the hype surrounding them, haven’t produced nearly the impact of those earlier in the 20th century.

The truth is that the digital revolution has been a big disappointment and, more broadly, technology and globalization have failed us. However, the answer won’t be found in snazzier gadgets or some fabulous “Golden Era” of innovation of years long past. Rather we need to continually innovate how we innovate to solve problems that are relevant to our future.

The Productivity Paradox, Then and Now

In the 1970s and 80s, business investment in computer technology was increasing by more than 20% per year. Strangely though, productivity growth had decreased during the same period. Economists found this turn of events so bizarre that they called it the “productivity paradox” to underline their confusion.

Yet by the late 1990s, increased computing power combined with the Internet to create a new productivity boom. Many economists hailed the digital age as a “new economy” of increasing returns, in which the old rules no longer applied and a small initial advantage, a first mover advantage, would lead to market dominance. The mystery of the productivity paradox, it seemed, had been solved. We just needed to wait for technology to hit critical mass.

Yet by 2004 productivity growth fell once again and has not recovered since. Today, more than a decade later, we’re in the midst of a second productivity paradox, just as mysterious as the first one. New technologies like mobile computing and artificial intelligence are there for everyone to see, but they have done little, if anything, to boost productivity.

Considering the rhetoric of many of the techno-enthusiasts, this is fairly shocking. Compare the meager eight years of elevated productivity that digital technology produced with the 50-year boom in productivity created in the wake of electricity and internal combustion and it’s clear that the digital economy, for all the hype, hasn’t achieved as much as many would like to think.

Are Corporations to Blame?

One explanation that the researchers give for the low productivity growth is that large firms are cutting back on investment in science. They explain that since the 1980s, a “combination shareholder pressure, heightened competition, and public failures led firms to cut back investments in science” and point to the decline of Bell Labs and Xerox PARC as key examples.

Yet a broader analysis tells a different story. Yes, while Bell Labs and Xerox PARC still exist, they are but a shadow of their former selves, but others, such as IBM Research, have expanded their efforts. Microsoft Research, established in 1991, does cutting edge science. Google runs a highly innovative science program that partners with researchers in the academic world.

So anecdotally speaking, the idea that corporations haven’t been investing in science seems off base. However, the numbers tell an even stronger story. Data from the National Science Foundation shows that corporate research has increased from roughly 40% of total investment in the 1950s and 60s to more than 60% today. Overall R&D spending has risen over time.

Also, even where corporations have cut back, new initiatives often emerge. Consider DuPont Experimental Station which, in an earlier era, gave birth to innovations such as nylon, teflon and neoprene. In recent years, DuPont has cut back on its own research but the facility, which still employs 2000 researchers, is also home to the Delaware Incubation Space, which incubates new entrepreneurial businesses.

The Rise of Physical Technologies

One theory about the productivity paradox is that investment in digital technology, while significant, is simply not big enough to move the needle. Even today, at the height of the digital revolution, information and communication technologies only make up about 6% of GDP in advanced economies.

The truth is that we still live in a world largely made up of atoms, not bits and we continue to spend most of our money on what we live in, ride in, eat and wear. If we expect to improve productivity growth significantly, we will have to do it in the physical world. Fortunately, there are two technologies that have the potential to seriously move the needle.

The first is synthetic biology, driven largely by advances in gene editing such as CRISPR, which have dramatically lowered costs while improving accuracy. In fact, over the last decade efficiency in gene sequencing has far outpaced Moore’s Law. These advances have the potential to drive important productivity gains in healthcare, agriculture and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing.

The second nascent technology is a revolution in materials science. Traditionally a slow-moving field, over the past decade improved simulation techniques and machine learning have improved the efficiencies of materials discovery dramatically, which may have a tremendous impact in manufacturing, construction and renewable energy.

Yet none of these gains are assured. To finally break free of the productivity paradox, we need to look to the future, not the past.

Collaboration is the New Competitive Advantage

In 1900, General Electric established the first corporate research facility in Schenectady, New York. Later came similar facilities at leading firms such as Kodak, AT&T and IBM. At the time, these were some of the premier scientific institutions in the world, but they would not remain so.

In the 1920s new academic institutions, such as the Institute for Advanced Study, as well as the increasing quality of American universities, became an important driver of innovation. Later, in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, federal government agencies, such as DARPA, NIH and the national labs became hotbeds of research. More recently, the Silicon Valley model of venture funded entrepreneurship has risen to prominence.

Each of these did not replace, but added to what came before. As noted above, we still have excellent corporate research programs, academic labs and public scientific institutions as well as an entrepreneurial investment ecosystem that is the envy of the world. Yet none of these will be sufficient for the challenges ahead.

The model that seems to be taking hold now is that of consortia, such as JCESR in energy storage, Partnership on AI for cognitive technologies and the Manufacturing USA Institutes, that bring together diverse stakeholders to drive advancement in key areas. Perhaps most conspicuously, unprecedented collaboration sparked by the Covid-19 crisis has allowed us to develop therapies and vaccines faster than previously thought possible.

Most of all, we need to come to terms with the fact that the answers to the challenges of the future will not be found in the past. The truth is that we need to continually innovate how we innovate if we expect to ever return to an era of renewed productivity growth.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Four Innovation Ecosystem Building Blocks

Four Innovation Ecosystem Building Blocks

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

It’s hard to find anyone who wouldn’t agree that Microsoft’s 2001 antitrust case was a disaster for the company. Not only did it lose the case, but it wasted time, money and—perhaps most importantly—focus on its existing businesses, which could have been far better deployed on new technologies like search and mobile.

Today, Microsoft is a much different organization. Rather than considering open source software a cancer, it now says it loves Linux. Its cloud business is growing like wildfire and it is partnering widely to develop new quantum computers. What was previously a rapacious monopolist, is now an enthusiastic collaborator.

That’s no accident. Today, we need to compete in an ecosystem-driven world in which nobody, not even a firm as big and powerful as Microsoft, can go it alone. Power no longer comes from the top of value chains, but emanates from the center of networks. That means that strategy needs to shift from dominating industries to building collaborative ecosystems.

1. Connect to Startups

In its heyday, Microsoft enthusiastically followed Michael Porter’s five forces model. It saw threats coming not only from direct competitors, but also suppliers, customers, substitute products and new market entrants. Startups, in particular, were targeted for either acquisition or destruction if they were seen as posing a potential threat.

Today, however, Microsoft actively supports startups. Take, for example, its quantum development effort, in which it is partnering with more than a dozen entrepreneurial companies. These firms also get free access to Microsoft technologies, such as its Azure cloud platform and go-to-market resources and advice, through its Microsoft for Startups program.

Another approach that many firms take is corporate VC programs which actively invest in promising new companies. Unlike a typical investor, corporations bring a wealth of market and technical expertise, can help with things like distribution, supply chain management and marketing acumen. Corporations, for their part, get far more insight into new technologies than they could as an operating company.

Scott Lenet, President of Touchdown Ventures, which operates venture funds for corporations, told me that, “Startups thrive on new ideas and big firms know how to scale and improve those ideas. We’ve seen some of our investments really blossom based on that kind of partnership.”

2. Form Ties to the Academic World

When Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy said, “no matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else,” he was explicitly referring to Bill Gates’s assertion that Microsoft was an “IQ monopolist.” Joy’s position was that “It’s better to create an ecology that gets all the world’s smartest people toiling in your garden for your goals. If you rely solely on your own employees, you’ll never solve all your customers’ needs.”

Make no mistake. Innovation is never a single event. It is a process of discovery, engineering and transformation and those three things almost never happen in the same place or at the same time. That’s why the most innovative companies work hard to build links to the best minds in the academic world.

Today Microsoft has an extensive academic program that extends grants to graduate students and faculty members that are pursuing research that is of interest to the company. Google takes it even a step further, inviting dozens of the world’s top minds to work alongside its scientists and engineers for a sabbatical year.

Microsoft and Google are, of course, firms with enormous resources. However, just about any business can, for example, support the work of a young graduate student or postdoc at a local university. For even a senior researcher to collaborate with your staff is rarely prohibitively expensive. Researchers care far more about genuine support of their work than the size of your investment.

3. Leverage Domain-Specific Consortia

By the mid-1980’s, the American semiconductor industry seemed like it was doomed. Tp respond to what it saw as a national security threat, the American government created SEMATECH in 1986. It was a consortium of government agencies, research institutions and private firms focused on making the industry more competitive. By the mid 1990’s, the US was once again dominating semiconductors.

Any significantly complex technology takes years—and often decades—to develop before it becomes mature enough to engineer into a marketable product. So there is great potential in collaborating, even with competitive firms, in the pre-competitive phase to figure out the basic principles of a nascent technology.

For example, Boeing and Airbus are arch-rivals in aviation, much like DowDupont and BASF are in chemicals. Yet all of these companies, along with many others, collaborate at places like the Composites Institute (IACMI). They do this not out of any altruism, of course, but self-interest, because it is at places like the Composites Institute that they can collaborate with academic scientists, National Labs and startups working in the space.

As technology becomes more complex, domain specific consortia are becoming essential to any ecosystem strategy. The Composites Institute is just one node in the network of Manufacturing Institutes set up under the Obama Administration to support this type of collaboration. In areas ranging from advanced fabrics and biofabrication to additive manufacturing and wide-gap semiconductors, firms large and small are working with scientists to uncover new principles.

And the Manufacturing Institutes are just the start. The Internet of Things Consortium is helping bring computation to the physical world, while the Partnership on AI focuses on artificial intelligence and the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research is helping to develop advanced battery technology. All are open to the largest multinationals and the smallest startups.

4. Move From Hierarchies to Networks

Back in the 90s, when Microsoft still dominated the tech world, markets were still based on linear value chains dominated by one or two industry giants. Yet as I explain in Cascades, we are quickly moving from a world of hierarchies, to one dominated by networks and ecosystems. That changes how we need to develop and grow.

In a hierarchy-driven world, the optimal strategy was to build walls and moats to protect yourself against would-be invaders, which is why Microsoft fought tooth and nail to protect its operating system monopoly. Today, however, industry lines have blurred and technology moves too fast to be able to build effective barriers against disruption.

That’s why today “Microsoft loves Linux”, why it developed an academic program to collaborate with scientists at universities and why it often partners with startups instead of always trying to crush them. The technology being developed today is simply too complex for anyone to go it alone, which is why the only viable strategy is to actively connect to ecosystems of talent, technology and information.

Power today no longer sits at the top of hierarchies, but emanates from the center of ecosystems and you move to the center by widening and deepening connections. Closing yourself by erecting barriers will not protect you. In fact, it is an almost sure-fire way to hasten your demise.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Innovation Ecosystems and Information Rheology

Innovation Ecosystems and Information Rheology

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Rheology is the study of flow. There are many ways to measure flow. For example, Volume Flow is defined as the volume quantity that flows through a given section at a considered time interval. The most common volume units are:m3/s, m3/h, l/h, l/min, GPM (gallons per minute), Nm3/h (normal cubic meter per hour), SCFH (normal cubic foot per hour), among others.

Information rheology is the study of how information passes from the sender to the receiver, the resistance to that flow, and how to address it.

The concept applies also to how products and services flow from one place in the world to another.

A reverse innovation is any innovation that is adopted first in the developing world. To be clear: What makes an innovation a reverse innovation has nothing to do with where the innovators are, and it has nothing to do with where the companies are. It has only to do with where the customers are.

Historically, reverse innovation has been a rare phenomenon. In fact, the logic for innovations flowing downhill, from the rich world to the developing world, is natural and intuitive. After all, it is the richest customers in the richest countries that will always demand the newest technologies. In due time, the costs of new technologies come down, and incomes in the developing world rise. As a result, innovations trickle down. Right?

Be careful. The intuitive assumption that poor countries are engaged in a process of gradually catching up with the rich world has become toxic. It is a strategic blind spot that has the potential to sink an increasingly common aspiration: to generate high growth in the emerging economies. The assumption can even inflict long-term damage in home markets. That is because surprisingly often, reverse innovations defy gravity and flow uphill to the rich world. As a result, a defeat in a developing country half a world away can lead directly to a stinging blow in your own back yard.

How information flows, like on cell phones during riots and protests, is not an exact science. Percolation theory illuminates the behavior of many kinds of networks, from cell phone transmissions to the COVID R number.

Most discussions of innovation ecosystem creation and growth focus on the anatomy i.e. the components necessary to be successful. For example, one author describes the 5P’s of human capital:pillars, patrons, pioneers, professionals and partners.

However, equally as important is the physiology of clusters -how the cluster elements work together .One of the key determinants of an innovative organization or cluster is information rheology. There are three basic elements to the equation.

The first has to do with the number of nodes in the network, both internally and externally. Network theory tells us that the more nodes, the more value. Having one fax machine in the world added nothing. It took a lot to unleash the value , as the development of social media has exemplified.

The second has to do with how the nodes are connected. Some are robust and some are not. The connections between the nodes are called edges.

Finally, and most importantly, the two previous parts are not nearly as important as the velocity, relationships, acceleration and lack of resistance to the flow of information from one node to the next. We usually refer to this as a cluster or innovation district being “user friendly” and is typified by the free and rapid flow of information from one place to the next. Malcolm Gladwell described facilitators in the process as mavens, experts and connectors.

There are many causes of poor information flow, but, fundamentally, they come down to :

  1. 1. The sender does not communicate effectively or in a an appropriate way
  2. The receiver is unaware that the message was sent or does not understand it
  3. The systems for transmitting information and verifying receipt are inadequate
  4. Third party interference muddles the message

Poor information flow in sickcare results in dropped handoffs and referral leaks which are the primary causes of medical errors and waste. The lack of data interoperability is one of the root causes.

There are several kinds of intermediaries that facilitate information flow in an ecosystem.

  • Architects engage in strict agenda-setting and coordination activities
  • Gatekeepers support the knowledge extraction and dissemination of the information
  • Conductors take care of information acquisition, transmission, and task sharing
  • Developers create concrete assets for the network based on knowledge mobility
  • Auctioneers set the agenda and joint vision for the innovation network
  • Leaders motivate and foster the voluntary collaboration and identifying roles of network members
  • Promoter support ecosystem members to work towards the same goal
  • Facilitator bring together quite different, even competing, parties to work together

Whether it is making clinical handoffs better or improving the flow of information in an ecosystem or cluster, the obstacles are substantial and the systems for preventing information flow blockage need to constantly be maintained, which can be costly and time consuming.

If you want to accelerate regional innovation clusters and communities, don’t concentrate so much on connecting the senders and receivers. Focus on removing the barriers to the flow of information and how to push and pull it through the pipes.

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Co-creating Future-fit Organizations

Co-creating Future-fit Organizations

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our second blog in this series of three, we opened the door to a threshold for a new kind of co-creative, collaborative and cohesive team spirit that catalyzes change through “innovation evangelism”. Focusing on building both internal and external talent, through empowering, equipping, and enabling internally cohesive and effective innovation teams.  They apply their collaborative and collective intelligence towards initiating open innovation initiatives co-creating future-fit organizations that are human-centric, adaptive, engaging, inclusive, collaborative, innovative, accountable, and digitally enabled.

Innovation evangelists are change catalysts who courageously experiment with different business models and processes, to crowdsource broad and deep innovation capabilities. Usually in new ways that breakthrough corporate antibodies and barriers and deliver sustainable, meaningful, and purposeful change.  Where, according to the recent Ideascale “Crowd Sourced Innovation Report 2021”crowdsourced innovation capabilities have grown and innovation output indicators like implementation rate and time to implement have improved. In fact, businesses that were able to rapidly adapt and focus on innovation(in 2020) are poised to outperform their peers in the coming years”.

Innovation teams don’t innovate

The purpose of an innovation team is to create a safe environment that unlocks organizational and its key external stakeholder’s collective intelligence and innovation agility (capacity, competence, and confidence) to build the capability to change as fast as change itself.

Where the goal is to create a high performing, connected, and networked workplace culture where people:

  • Understand and practice the common language of innovation, what exactly it means in their organizational context, as well as exactly what value means to current and potential customers as well as to the organization,
  • Develop a shared narrative or story about why innovation is crucial towards initiating and sustaining future success,
  • Have the time and space to deeply connect, collaborate, and co-create value, internally and externally with customers, suppliers, and other primary connection points to build external talent communities and value-adding ecosystems,
  • Maximize differences and diversity of thought within customers as well as within communities and ecosystems,
  • Generate urgency and creative energy to innovate faster than competitors,
  • Feel safe and have permission to freely share ideas, wisdom, knowledge, information, resources, and perspectives, with customers as well as across communities and ecosystems.

How innovation teams learn and develop

Sustaining success in today’s uncertain, unstable, and highly competitive business environment is becoming increasingly dependent on people’s and team’s abilities to deeply learn, adapt and grow. Yet most people and a large number of organizations don’t yet seem to value learning and adaptiveness as performance improvement enablers, especially in enabling people and teams to thrive in a disruptive world.  Nor do they understand how people learn, nor how to strategically develop peoples’ learning agility towards potentially co-creating future-fit organizations that sustain high-impact in VUCA times.

At ImagineNation™ we have integrated the four E’s of learning at work; Education, Experience, Environment, and Exposure with 12 key determining factors for co-creating future-fit organizations that sustain high-impact in VUCA times through our innovation team development, change, learning, and coaching programs.

Case Study Example

  1. Educational customisation and alignment

After conducting desktop research and key stakeholder sensing interviews, we customized our innovation education curriculum specifically to align with the learning needs of the innovation team.

We aligned the program design to the organization’s strategic imperatives, values, and leadership behaviors, we reviewed the results of the previous culture, climate and engagement surveys, as well as the range of business transformation initiatives. We then applied design thinking principles to “bring to life” the trends emerging, diverging, and converging in our client’s and their customer’s industry sectors.

Focusing on:

  • enabling people to perform well in their current roles,
  • building people’s long-term career success,
  • developing their long-term team leadership and membership development capabilities,
  • laying the foundations for impacting collectively towards co-creating future-fit organizations.
  1. Experiential learning a virtual and remote environment

We designed and offered a diverse and engaging set of high-value learning and development experiences that included a range of stretch and breakthrough assignments as part of their personal and team development process.

Focusing on:

  • encouraging people to engage in a set of daily reflective practices,
  • offering a series of customized agile macro learning blended learning options, that could be viewed or consumed over short periods of time,
  • engaging playful activities and skills practice sessions, with structured feedback and debrief discussions,
  • providing an aligned leadership growth individual and team assessment process,
  • introducing key criteria for establishing effective team cohesion and collaboration,
  • linking team action learning activities and evidence-based assignments to their strategic mandate ensuring their collective contribution towards co-creating future-fit organizations.
  1. Environment to support and encourage deep learning

We aimed at creating permission, tolerance, and a safe learning environment for people to pause, retreat, reflect, and respond authentically and effectively, to ultimately engage and upskill people in new ways of being, thinking, and acting towards co-creating future-fit organizations.

Focusing on:

  • developing peoples discomfort resilience and change readiness,
  • encouraging people to be empathic, courageous, and compassionate with one another, to customers as well as to those they were seeking to persuade and influence,
  • allowing and expecting mistakes to be made and valued as learning opportunities and encouraging smart risk-taking,
  • reinforcing individual learning as personal responsibility and team learning as a mutual responsibility and establishing a learning buddy system to support accountability,
  • offering a series of one-on-one individual coaching sessions to set individual goals and support people and the teams’ “on the job” applications.
  1. Exposure to different and diverse learning modalities

We designed a range of immersive microlearning bots by providing regular, consistent, linked, multimedia learning options and a constantly changing range of different and diverse learning modalities.

Focusing on:

  • providing an informative and targeted reading list and set of website links,
  • setting a series of coordinated thought leading webinars, videos, podcasts, and magazine articles aligned to deliver the desired learning outcomes,
  • outlining fortnightly targeted team application and reinforcement tasks,
  • helping the team to collaborate and set and communicate their passionate purpose, story, and key outputs to the organization to build their credibility and self-efficacy,
  • designing bespoke culture change initiatives that the innovation team could catalyse across the organization to shift mindsets and behaviors to make innovation a habit for everyone, every day.

Collectively contributing to the good of the whole

Co-creating future-fit organizations require creativity, compassion, and courage to co-create the space and freedom to discuss mistakes, ask questions, and experiment with new ideas. To catalyse change and help shift the workplace culture as well as crowdsource possibilities through open innovation.

In ways, that are truly collaborative, and energize, catalyze, harness, and mobilize people’s and customers’ collective genius, in ways that are appreciated and cherished by all. To ultimately collectively co-create a future-fit organization that contributes to an improved future, for customers, stakeholders, leaders, teams, organizations as well as for the good of the whole.

This is the final blog in a series of three about catalyzing change through innovation teams, why innovation teams are important in catalyzing culture change, and what an innovation team does, and how they collectively contribute toward co-creating the future-fit organization.

Find out about our learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centred approach and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Scaling-up, the next frontier for innovation organization

Guest Post from Nicolas Bry

How to transform innovative bottom-up initiatives into a movement spread across the company? How to scale your innovation program widely? Here are a few lessons learned from creating innovation programs in Europe, and tweaking them to Africa and Middle-East contexts.

Leveraging local and global innovation

Supplementing wisely central techno-pushed innovation with local innovation, closer to the fields and to the user needs, opening new windows of opportunities, is the goal of the open and local innovation approach developed for Orange Africa.

The purpose is to balance the technical expertise from a central innovation division, with the possibility of bottom-up initiatives, experimenting locally up to 100 innovative solutions every semester with the circa 20 countries where Orange operates in Africa and Middles-East.

The local innovation focus is on agility, pragmatism, and value created for the users and for Orange business, while leveraging a key technological asset that Orange can bring to the innovative service.

Smartphone Noir

One emblematic story is the birth of Orange Money, a mobile money service solving the problem of money transfer and payment for unbanked people. The idea was born in Kenya, and it clearly could not have emerged in Europe where everyone is banked, even kids! Orange developed centrally a platform capable of supporting all African countries in their progressive roll-out over 18 countries: ten years later, 50 millions users signed in for Orange Money. Furthermore, the central Orange Money platform enables local developments blossom, tailored to each country needs, and being picked-up, and replicated from one country to another over the region.

This is probably the most brilliant innovation of Orange over the decade, still no cutting-edge tech embedded: it’s low tech (SMS). As it solves a real user problem, it transforms people’s life, and got a massive adoption rate.

Orange Money map

Conducting short experiments in connection with business units

I created Orange intrapreneurship program 5 years ago, with a view to help innovative ideas transition more fluently into business, with the help of a sponsoring business unit, and to open the innovation doors to every Orange employee, letting them benefit from a tunnel of goodwill around their idea. The program acted like an innovation center of expertise or incubator. It clearly involved the business units very upstream: I’m a strong believer in co-developing innovations that create opportunities for business units, giving them a competitive advantage or solving one of their problems. “Find out the business unit problem that your innovation is solving”, I kept saying to the innovators I mentored!

Now we are adapting the process for the 20 countries of Orange Africa taking into account contextual particularities. We keep the employees participation and the business unit ownership aspects, but we also try to test refinements on the exploration stage. The key here is to conduct innovation exploration with short experiments in connection with business units:

  • achieving quick business wins with innovative process improvement, impacting internal organization, and not only new product and services: for instance, streamlining the authentification process for new customers;
  • mixing employees and business representatives with startups that help experimenting quickly; this has been pioneered by Orange Belgium, and these teams are called innovation squads like in the Spotify vocabulary;
  • keeping the process nimble, in a stretched time frame of a few weeks, so as to conduct a high number of experiments, confronting mock-ups to users, and collecting a maximum of users’ feedback, finding The Right IT before any product development.

Our target is to build proximity with our target users, rather than falling in love with our product, to explore and conduct short experiments, and pave the way to exploitation capitalizing on users’ feedback.

Personne Pointant Sur Un Appareil Photo Noir Et Gris Près De Macbook Pro

Designing innovation program, boosting innovation community

I’ve been through 10 steps to design an corporate entrepreneur program in my book The Intrapreneurs’ Factory. These 10 milestones are also an appropriate framework to design the innovation process with the countries of Orange Africa.

10 steps

It’s important first of all to define the reason why you start the program, what problem you’re trying to solve, what goals and KPIs will make the management team satisfied if they are reached. Then, some delicate gates are:

  1. Finding out the right sponsor, both visible and accessible; sometimes a deputy sponsor can compensate a lack of avaibility!
  2. Involving the business side soon enough in the process to trigger ownership, and  further facilitate the exit, aka the transition from exploration to exploitation;
  3. Closely coaching the process along the way, sharing the innovation tools from design thinking and lean start-up, bespoke tools to design mock-ups, and conduct experiment, but also the very peculiar mindset of the successful innovator: flexible and stubborn at the same time as says Jeff Bezos, as the key relies in the management of iteration in short cycles.

To operate this innovation process, we move together with a community of 20 staggering innovation champions, representing the countries of Orange Africa. Not only we discuss the innovation process to test locally, but we share view on innovation organization, and share success stories during a weekly Radio Innovation.

Radio Innovation

Weekly Radio Innovation also puts forward tremendous testimonials to inspire the innovation community:

  • from innovation managers and communities connected to Africa:  Seedstars startups competition and programs for African entrepreneurs; Make Sense Africa incubator and the Dakar Citylab; Norrsken Kigali innovation hub, the startups gateway to East Africa; YUX Design Agency from Senegal, validating innovation ideas with users; innovation in the informal sector in Africa with GoodPoint/Archipel-co.com; Total Africa open innovation in Chad; Entrepreneurship Communities for innovation in Africa, with Archipel&Co and Africa Farmers Club; Liferay digital platform, and an Africa’s approach to tech and innovation; Innovation in Africa with Vodafone;
  • from startups growing their business in Africa: cloud telephony for SMEs, with Mteja from Kenya, and AfricaTalks; South-African MFS Africa: moving money across countries with one API that makes Africa look like one country; Kenya Pezesha loan marketplace for small African businesses; Chari.ma from Morocco, market place for local businesses; African startups investment report by Briter Bridges;
  • from Orange collaborators illustrating the group assets: Orange Ventures Africa seeds challenge; Social listening with Orange Data Studio in Guinea; Orange Fab Belgium innovation squads; Orange Senegal design thinking toolbox; Orange Slovakia  open innovation; Orange Amman innovation team; First 100% digital mobile offer Flex by Orange Polska; Orange Romania innovation ecosystem, and cooperation with startups;
  • from broader innovation experts: innovation community management at Gefco; Booster incubation studio at Total; innovation in the energy industry, Innovation Vesta Wind Systems; collaborating with startups through the Venture Client Model, by 27pilots.

For these innovation champions in charge of setting-up an organization for innovation in their country, the challenge is to seek for integration (integrating seamlessly innovation with the business) before seeking for success. These mind-boggling testimonials feed them, upgrade their skills, and consolidate their innovation culture.

Scaling-up innovation oragnization

Once the innovation program gets traction, the next step is about scaling-up the approach, engaging progressively all participants. If all Orange countries commit to the innovation process in Africa, that will lead to the tremendous portfolio of 100 creative solutions experimented per semester, 200 on a yearly basis on the regional footprint: what a eye-catching achievement!

At the innovation project level, one can use the scale-up canvas to check whether the project is ready to grow, and move from a start-up to a scale-up stage.

At the program level, Is your innovation organization resilient? is the topic of a short assessment I have designed to know how your innovation organization fare across 10 key areas, and cements its resilience. Whether you are leading open innovation, internal innovation, participative innovation and intrapreneurship, digital factory or disruptive labs, you will learn from this tool which works like an innovation calculator, it’s actually quite fun to run it! To start, click here, see how you rank, and get pieces of advice for improvement.

Image credits: Pexels.com 1, Pexels.com 2

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

The Challenge of Autonomous Teaching Methods

The Challenge of Autonomous Teaching Methods

An estimated 250 million children around the world cannot read, write, or demonstrate basic arithmetic skills. Many of these children are in developing countries without regular access to quality schools or teachers. While programs exist to build schools and train teachers, traditional models of education are not able to scale fast enough to meet demand. We simply cannot build enough schools or train enough teachers to meet the need. We are at a pivotal moment where an innovative approach is necessary to eliminate existing barriers to learning, enabling the seeds of innovation to be imparted to every child, regardless of geographic location or economic status.

XPRIZE Chairman and CEO, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis announced the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE today to help solve these challenges. The Global Learning XPRIZE is a five-year competition challenging teams to develop an open source solution that can be iterated upon, scaled and deployed around the world, bringing quality learning experiences to children no matter where they live. Enabling children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic.

At the same time, XPRIZE will launch an online crowdfunding campaign to mobilize a global street team of supporters to get involved with the Global Learning XPRIZE. Every dollar pledged will go towards optimizing the success of the prize, specifically focusing on supporting team recruitment globally and expanding field testing.

The Global Learning XPRIZE will launch with a six-month team registration period followed by 18 months of solution development. A panel of third-party expert judges will then evaluate and select the top five teams to proceed in the competition, and award each of them a $1M award. Solutions will be tested in the field with thousands of children in the developing world, over an 18-month period. The $10M top prize will ultimately be awarded to the team that develops a technology solution demonstrating the greatest levels of proficiency gains in reading, writing and arithmetic.

The learning solutions developed by this prize will enable a child to learn autonomously. And, those created by the finalists will be open-sourced for all to access, iterate and share. This technology could be deployed around the world, bringing learning experiences to children otherwise thought unreachable, who do not have access to quality education, and supplementing the learning experiences of children who do.

The impact will be exponential. Children with basic literacy skills have the potential to lift themselves out of poverty. And that’s not all. By enabling a child to learn how to learn, that child has opportunity – to live a healthy and productive life, to provide for their family and their community, as well as to contribute toward a peaceful, prosperous and abundant world.

XPRIZE believes that innovation can come from anywhere and that many of the greatest minds remain untapped.

What might the future look like with hundreds of millions of additional young minds unleashed to tackle the world’s Grand Challenges?

The Global Learning XPRIZE is funded by a group of donors, including the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Anthony Robbins Foundation, the Econet Foundation, the Merkin Family Foundation, Scott Hassan, John Raymonds and Suzanne West.

For more information, visit http://learning.xprize.org.

COMMENTARY

I am very excited about this new effort, as I am a big believer that we should live in a world where the next Einstein could come from anywhere, but I have a few of concerns:

  • It seems to be focused on the use of technology
  • Five years is a long time (will they get a five-year-old solution?)
  • It doesn’t engage the target users in co-creation throughout the whole process (it’s outside in)
  • It seems to ignore the infrastructure in place in areas of the greatest need (where students don’t even have desks)
  • The most capable solutions may be too expensive to implement in the target areas
  • The goal should be to build an autonomous learning system that can be used for reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also extended to do much more
  • Teaching students skills autonomously is fine as long as there is social practice as part of the curriculum
  • An over-reliance on autonomous teaching will lead to less innovation not more
  • We are already seeing negative effects in first-world society from too much reliance on technology
  • If we want more innovation, we need to be teaching our kids ICE skills not just STEM, ICE being Invention, Collaboration, and Entrepreneurship – these are all social skills that don’t need technology (but can use it)

For more on my views on improving education (which doesn’t require education reform or new technology), please see my article Stop Praying for Education Reform.

For those of you who are going to enter a team, I look forward to seeing what you come up with and I hope that you’ll keep some of the above in mind!


Build a common language of innovation on your team

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Your Chance to Help Overworked Entrepreneurs

Your Chance to Help Overworked Entrepreneurs

Life for a busy entrepreneur regular working 60 hours a week can lead to a struggle with maintaining a healthy weight. You may find that you are eating out for convenience and getting to the gym very infrequently (if at all). This lifestyle may have been fine through your twenties and early thirties, but after 35, it gets difficult to keep active and you might find those few extra pounds you’ve put on every year are really starting to add up.

Have you had similar struggles?

If you have a way to help motivate overworked entrepreneurs to lay off the takeout and introduce more physical activity into their busy lives, we at Premera would love to hear about it.

Simply post your idea to Premera’s Facebook or Twitter page using the hashtag #IGNITEchange, or as a comment to their stories. You are then automatically entered into a drawing to win a $200 Amazon gift card. Best of all, you have the chance to impact a real person’s life. There will be four chances to win, once every week from now until September 8, 2014 (terms and conditions link expired).

Have a true game-changing idea that will spark families to make lasting, realistic improvements to their health?

Premera is rewarding that type of innovation as well through Premera’s Innovate to Motivate challenge (link expired), which offers a grand prize of $5,000!


Build a common language of innovation on your team

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Your Chance to Help Working Professionals

Your Chance to Help Working ProfessionalsToday life in our college years feels somehow more manageable than the hectic pace of the working professional. Somehow it feels like it was easier then to eat reasonably well and to stay in good shape. Recent college graduates feel the pressure to build a strong foundation for a career and a social life, then add in responsibilities like car payments, pets, rent, and student loan debt, and it’s no wonder many working professionals find a focus on a healthy lifestyle often comes last.

With time short, stress high, and energy running low after work, it is often easier to grab a burger or pizza than to make a kale salad, and skip the gym in favor of the siren’s song of Netflix and the couch.

Are you struggling with a similar issue or is this sounding like the problems of a younger you?

Then here is your chance to help working professionals everywhere!
(and possibly win some cash at the same time)

Simply post your idea to Premera’s Facebook or Twitter page using the hashtag #IGNITEchange, or as a comment to their stories. You are then automatically entered into a drawing to win a $200 Amazon gift card. Best of all, you have the chance to impact a real person’s life. There will be four chances to win, once every week from now until September 8, 2014 (terms and conditions link expired).

Have a true game-changing idea that will spark families to make lasting, realistic improvements to their health?

Premera is rewarding that type of innovation as well through Premera’s Innovate to Motivate challenge (link expired), which offers a grand prize of $5,000!


Build a common language of innovation on your team

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Your Chance to Help Middle-Age Guys (and Gals) Get Fit

Your Chance to Help Middle-Age Guys (and Gals) Get FitHere is your chance to help every middle-aged guy (or gal) who’s struggling with the inevitable progression of age. What used to be easy isn’t anymore!

Maybe you (or a friend) used to be a big runner and counted on running to keep weight down and stay active, but lately the motivation to run has waned, and as as a one-trick pony who’s never developed other ways to get regular exercise, with persistent plantar fasciitis that makes anything longer than a one mile walk moderately painful, the weight is starting to accumulate.

How do you re-energize what formerly were healthy eating and workout routines to accommodate the realities of middle age?

Any ideas for new forms of exercise, for establishing new routines that are realistic for an 8 to 6 office worker?

Premera would love to hear your ideas on a middle age makeover.

Simply post your idea to Premera’s Facebook or Twitter page using the hashtag #IGNITEchange, or as a comment to their stories. You are then automatically entered into a drawing to win a $200 Amazon gift card. Best of all, you have the chance to impact a real person’s life. There will be four chances to win, once every week from now until September 8, 2014 (terms and conditions link expired).

Have a true game-changing idea that will spark families to make lasting, realistic improvements to their health?

Premera is rewarding that type of innovation as well through Premera’s Innovate to Motivate challenge (link expired), which offers a grand prize of $5,000!


Build a common language of innovation on your team

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.