Category Archives: Strategy

Stop Doing What You Did Last Time

Stop Doing What You Did Last Time

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

If there’s no discomfort, there’s no novelty.
When there’s no novelty, it means you did what you did last time.
When you do what you did last time, you don’t grow.
When you do what you did last time, there’s no learning.
When you do what you did last time, opportunity cost eats you.
If there’s no discomfort, you’re not trying hard enough.

If there’s no disagreement, critical thought is in short supply.
When critical thought is in short supply, new ideas never see the light of day.
When new ideas never see the light of day, you end up doing what you did last time.
When you do what you did last time, your best people leave.
When you do what you did last time, your commute into work feels longer than it is.
When you do what you did last time, you’re in a race to the bottom.
If there’s no disagreement, you’re playing a dangerous game.

If there’s no discretionary work, crazy ideas never grow into something more.
When crazy ideas remain just crazy ideas, new design space remains too risky.
When new design space remains too risky, all you can do is what you did last time.
When you do what you did last time, managers rule.
When you do what you did last time, there is no progress.
When you do what you did last time, great talent won’t accept your job offers.
If there’s no discretionary work, you’re in trouble.

We do what we did last time because it worked.
We do what we did last time because we made lots of money.
We do what we did last time because it’s efficient.
We do what we did last time because it feels good.
We do what we did last time because we think we know what we’ll get.
We do what we did last time because that’s what we do.

Doing what we did last time works well, right up until it doesn’t.
When you find yourself doing what you did last time, do something else.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Fighting for Innovation in the Trenches

Fighting for Innovation in the Trenches

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

The first principle of managing innovation is that there are three distinct returns on innovation one can invest to achieve.

They are:

  1. “Unmatchable” differentiation, which confers enormous bargaining power as customers who want what you have “must” select you and “must” pay a premium for your offer. We call this DIFF for short.
  2. “Speedy” neutralization, which catches you up to some new market norm set by a competitor, thereby enabling you to stay in the game rather than be eliminated for lacking this feature. This is NEUT for short.
  3. “Rigorous” optimization, which extracts high-value talent and other scarce resources from non-differentiating work in order to free up investment in highly differentiating work or high-speed neutralization efforts. This is OPT for short.

The second principle is that these three outcomes are mutually exclusive, meaning you do not want to combine any two of them into the same work stream. Most innovation programs bind DIFF objectives with NEUT objectives, tying both to the same release cadence. This either slows down NEUT or dumbs down DIFF, both of which outcomes are painfully counterproductive.

The third principle is that most innovation investment is wasted (which is actually good news, because it means you can get a much bigger bang for your innovation buck once you learn how to avoid the waste). The three great sources of waste are:

  1. DIFF initiatives that do not result in “unmatchable” offers that create unequivocal customer preference. You end up being different but not different enough to gain real bargaining power.
  2. NEUT initiatives that take too long or go too far (or, more typically, both). Here the team has become obsessed with its competitor and is doing extra work that the customer will not value, meanwhile delaying the “good enough” state that the customer would value.
  3. OPT initiatives that do not address “sacred cow” resources. You end up moving around a lot of junior resources, meanwhile leaving the senior ones trapped in context instead of being deployed against core.

A corollary that can help teams avoid waste is to pay attention to their reference points.

  • If your goal is DIFF, then your reference point should be a prospective customer’s use case, one where purchase preference will be determined by you achieving “unmatchable” performance in your key area of innovation.
  • If your goal is NEUT, then your reference point is a competitor, then your innovation focus should be to get “good enough” fast enough.
  • A behavior you must avoid is to use a competitor as a reference point for DIFF. The all too likely outcome here is that you will create a difference that the customer either will not notice, will not acknowledge, or will not value. Meanwhile, the competitor will debate the fact that you even achieved it or that it is relevant if you did.

Finally, in light of these principles, the role of the leader is to deconstruct the overall workload of the team to tease out the DIFF from the NEUT from the OPT, and to charter specific work-streams accordingly. This rarely results in a perfectly pure outcome, but the more pure it is, the more productive your team’s efforts will be.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Dall-E via Bing

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Value Doesn’t Disappear

It Shifts From One Place to Another

Value Doesn't Disappear

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

A few years ago, I published an article about no-code software platforms, which was very well received. Before long, however, I began to get angry — and sometimes downright nasty — comments from software engineers who were horrified by the notion that you can produce software without actually understanding the code behind it.

Of course, no-code platforms don’t obviate the need for software engineers, but rather automate basic tasks so that amateurs can design applications by themselves. These platforms are, necessarily, limited but can increase productivity dramatically and help line managers customize technology to fit the task at hand.

Similarly, when FORTRAN, the first real computer language, was invented, many who wrote machine code objected, much like the software engineers did to my article. Yet Fortran didn’t destroy computer programming, but democratized and expanded it. The truth is that value never disappears. It just shifts to another place and that’s what we need to learn to focus on.

Why Robots Aren’t Taking Our Jobs

Ever since the financial crisis we’ve been hearing about robots taking our jobs. Yet just the opposite seems to be happening. In fact, we increasingly find ourselves in a labor shortage. Most tellingly, the shortage is especially acute in manufacturing, where automation is most pervasive. So what’s going on?

The fact is that automation doesn’t actually replace jobs, it replaces tasks. To understand how this works, think about the last time you walked into a highly automated Apple store, which actually employs more people than a typical retail location of the same size. They aren’t there to ring up your purchase any faster, but to do all the things that a machine can’t do, like answer your questions and solve your problems.

A few years ago I came across an even more stark example when I asked Vijay Mehta, Chief Innovation Officer for Consumer Information Services at Experian about the effect that shifting to the cloud had on his firm’s business. The first order effect was simple, they needed a lot less technicians to manage its infrastructure and those people could easily be laid off.

Yet they weren’t. Instead Experian shifted a lot of that talent and expertise to focus on creating new services for its customers. One of these, a cloud enabled “data on demand” platform called Ascend has since become one of the $4 billion company’s most profitable products.

Now think of what would have happened if Experian had merely seen cloud technology as an opportunity to cut costs. Sure, it would have fattened its profit margins temporarily, but as its competitors moved to the cloud that advantage would have soon been eroded and, without new products its business would soon decline.

The Outsourcing Dilemma

Another source of disruption in the job market has been outsourcing. While no one seemed to notice when large multinational corporations were outsourcing blue-collar jobs to low cost countries, now so-called “gig economy” sites like Upwork and Fiverr are doing the same thing for white collar professionals like graphic designers and web developers.

So you would expect to see a high degree of unemployment for those job categories, right? Actually no. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for graphic designers to increase 4% by 2026 and web developers to increase 15%. The site Mashable recently named web development as one of 8 skills you need to get hired in today’s economy.

It’s not hard to see why. While it is true that a skilled professional in a low-cost country can do small projects of the same caliber as those in high cost countries, those tasks do not constitute a whole job. For large, important projects, professionals must collaborate closely to solve complex problems. It’s hard to do that through text messages on a website.

So while it’s true that many tasks are being outsourced, the number of jobs has actually increased. Just like with automation, outsourcing doesn’t make value disappear, but shifts it somewhere else.

The Social Impact

None of this is to say that the effects of technology and globalization hasn’t been real. While it’s fine to speak analytically about value shifting here and there, if a task that you spent years to learn to do well becomes devalued, you take it hard. Economists have also found evidence that disruptions in the job market have contributed to political polarization.

The most obvious thing to do is retrain workers that have been displaced, but it turns out that’s not so simple. In Janesville, a book which chronicles a small town’s struggle to recover from the closing of a GM plant, author Amy Goldstein found that the workers that sought retraining actually did worse than those that didn’t.

When someone loses their job, they don’t need training. They need another job and removing yourself from the job market to take training courses can have serious costs. Work relationships begin to decay and there is no guarantee that the new skills you learn will be in any more demand than the old ones you already had.

In fact, Peter Capelli at the Wharton School argues that the entire notion of a skills gap in America is largely a myth. One reason that there is such a mismatch between the rhetoric about skills and the data is that the most effective training often comes on the job from an employer. It is augmenting skills, not replacing them that creates value.

At the same time, increased complexity in the economy is making collaboration more important, so often the most important skills workers need to learn are soft skills, like writing, listening and being a better team player.

You Can’t Compete With A Robot By Acting Like One

The future is always hard to predict. While it was easy to see that Amazon posed a real problem for large chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, it was much less obvious that small independent bookstores would thrive. In much the same way, few saw that ten years after the launch of the Kindle that paper books would surge amid a decline in e-books.

The one overriding trend over the past 50 years or so is that the future is always more human. In Dan Schawbel’s recent book, Back to Human, the author finds that the antidote for our overly automated age is deeper personal relationships. Things like trust, empathy and caring can’t be automated or outsourced.

There are some things a machine will never do. It will never strike out in a little league game, have its heart broken or see its child born. That makes it hard — impossible really — for a machine ever to work effectively with humans as a real person would. The work of humans is increasingly to work with other humans to design work for machines.

That why perhaps the biggest shift in value is from cognitive to social skills. The high paying jobs today have less to do with the ability to retain facts or manipulate numbers (we now use a computer for those things), but require more deep collaboration, teamwork and emotional intelligence.

So while even the most technically inept line manager can now easily produce an application that it would have once required a highly skilled software engineer, to design the next generation of technology, we need engineers and line managers to work more closely together.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog and previously appeared on Inc.com
— Image credits: Pixabay

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Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023After a week of torrid voting and much passionate support, along with a lot of gut-wrenching consideration and jostling during the judging round, I am proud to announce your Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023:

  1. Robyn Bolton
    Robyn BoltonRobyn M. Bolton works with leaders of mid and large sized companies to use innovation to repeatably and sustainably grow their businesses.

  2. Janet Sernack
    Janet SernackJanet Sernack is the Founder and CEO of ImagineNation™ which provides innovation consulting services to help organizations adapt, innovate and grow through disruption by challenging businesses to be, think and act differently to co-create a world where people matter & innovation is the norm.

  3. Greg Satell
    Greg SatellGreg Satell is a popular speaker and consultant. His first book, Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age, was selected as one of the best business books in 2017. Follow his blog at Digital Tonto or on Twitter @Digital Tonto.

  4. Mike Shipulski
    Mike ShipulskiMike Shipulski brings together people, culture, and tools to change engineering behavior. He writes daily on Twitter as @MikeShipulski and weekly on his blog Shipulski On Design.

  5. Braden Kelley
    Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a Human-Centered Experience, Innovation and Transformation consultant at HCL Technologies, a popular innovation speaker, workshop leader, and creator of the Human-Centered Change™ methodology. He is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons and Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan. Follow him on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

  6. John Bessant
    John BessantJohn Bessant has been active in research, teaching, and consulting in technology and innovation management for over 25 years. Today, he is Chair in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Research Director, at Exeter University. In 2003, he was awarded a Fellowship with the Advanced Institute for Management Research and was also elected a Fellow of the British Academy of Management. He has acted as advisor to various national governments and international bodies including the United Nations, The World Bank, and the OECD. John has authored many books including Managing innovation and High Involvement Innovation (Wiley). Follow @johnbessant

  7. Pete Foley
    A twenty-five year Procter & Gamble veteran, Pete has spent the last 8+ years applying insights from psychology and behavioral science to innovation, product design, and brand communication. He spent 17 years as a serial innovator, creating novel products, perfume delivery systems, cleaning technologies, devices and many other consumer-centric innovations, resulting in well over 100 granted or published patents. Find him at pete.mindmatters@gmail.com

  8. Geoffrey A. Moore
    Geoffrey MooreGeoffrey A. Moore is an author, speaker and business advisor to many of the leading companies in the high-tech sector, including Cisco, Cognizant, Compuware, HP, Microsoft, SAP, and Yahoo! Best known for Crossing the Chasm and Zone to Win with the latest book being The Infinite Staircase. Partner at Wildcat Venture Partners. Chairman Emeritus Chasm Group & Chasm Institute

  9. David Burkus
    David BurkusDr. David Burkus is an organizational psychologist and best-selling author. Recognized as one of the world’s leading business thinkers, his forward-thinking ideas and books are helping leaders and teams do their best work ever. David is the author of five books about business and leadership and he’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, CNN, the BBC, NPR, and more. A former business school professor turned sought-after international speaker, he’s worked with organizations of all sizes and across all industries.

  10. Shep Hyken
    Shep HykenShep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

  11. Build a common language of innovation on your team


  12. Howard Tiersky
    Howard TierskyHoward Tiersky is an inspiring and passionate speaker, the Founder and CEO of FROM, The Digital Transformation Agency, innovation consultant, serial entrepreneur, and the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance. IDG named him one of the “10 Digital Transformation Influencers to Follow Today”, and Enterprise Management 360 named Howard “One of the Top 10 Digital Transformation Influencers That Will Change Your World.”

  13. Dennis Stauffer
    Dennis StaufferDennis Stauffer is an author, independent researcher, and expert on personal innovativeness. He is the founder of Innovator Mindset LLC which helps individuals, teams, and organizations enhance and accelerate innovation success. by shifting mindset. Follow @DennisStauffer

  14. Stefan Lindegaard
    Stefan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor. His work focuses on corporate transformation based on disruption, digitalization and innovation in large corporations, government organizations and smaller companies. Stefan believes that business today requires an open and global perspective, and his work takes him to Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia.

  15. Douglas Ferguson
    Douglas FergusonDouglas Ferguson is an entrepreneur and human-centered technologist. He is the founder and president of Voltage Control, an Austin-based change agency that helps enterprises spark, accelerate, and sustain innovation. He specializes in helping teams work better together through participatory decision making and design inspired facilitation techniques.

  16. Teresa Spangler
    Teresa SpanglerTeresa Spangler is the CEO of PlazaBridge Group has been a driving force behind innovation and growth for more than 30 years. Today, she wears multiple hats as a social entrepreneur, innovation expert, growth strategist, author and speaker (not to mention mother, wife, band-leader and so much more). She is especially passionate about helping CEOs understand and value the role human capital plays in innovation, and the impact that innovation has on humanity; in our ever-increasing artificial/cyber world.

  17. Soren Kaplan
    Soren KaplanSoren Kaplan is the bestselling and award-winning author of Leapfrogging and The Invisible Advantage, an affiliated professor at USC’s Center for Effective Organizations, a former corporate executive, and a co-founder of UpBOARD. He has been recognized by the Thinkers50 as one of the world’s top keynote speakers and thought leaders in business strategy and innovation.

  18. Steve Blank
    Steve BlankSteve Blank is an Adjunct Professor at Stanford and Senior Fellow for Innovation at Columbia University. He has been described as the Father of Modern Entrepreneurship, credited with launching the Lean Startup movement that changed how startups are built; how entrepreneurship is taught; how science is commercialized, and how companies and the government innovate.

  19. Diana Porumboiu
    Diana PorumboiuDiana heads marketing at Viima, the most widely used and highest rated innovation management software in the world, and has a passion for innovation, and for genuine, valuable content that creates long-lasting impact. Her combination of creativity, strategic thinking and curiosity has helped organisations grow their online presence through strategic campaigns, community management and engaging content.

  20. Robert B Tucker
    Robert TuckerRobert B. Tucker is the President of The Innovation Resource Consulting Group. He is a speaker, seminar leader and an expert in the management of innovation and assisting companies in accelerating ideas to market.

  21. Dainora Jociute
    Dainora JociuteDainora (a.k.a. Dee) creates customer-centric content at Viima. Viima is the most widely used and highest rated innovation management software in the world. Passionate about environmental issues, Dee writes about sustainable innovation hoping to save the world – one article at the time.

  22. Accelerate your change and transformation success


  23. Arlen Meyers
    Arlen MyersArlen Meyers, MD, MBA is an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, an instructor at the University of Colorado-Denver Business School and cofounding President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ameyers/

  24. Ayelet Baron
    Ayelet BaronAyelet Baron is a pioneering futurist reminding us we are powerful creators through award winning books, daily blog and thinking of what is possible. Former global tech executive who sees trust, relationships and community as our building blocks to a healthy world.

  25. Leo Chan
    Leo ChanLeo is the founder of Abound Innovation Inc. He’s a people and heart-first entrepreneur who believes everyone can be an innovator. An innovator himself, with 55 US patents and over 20 years of experience, Leo has come alongside organizations like Chick-fil-A and guided them to unleash the innovative potential of their employees by transforming them into confident innovators.

  26. Rachel Audige
    Rachel AudigeRachel Audige is an Innovation Architect who helps organisations embed inventive thinking as well as a certified Systematic Inventive Thinking Facilitator, based in Melbourne.

  27. Art Inteligencia
    Art InteligenciaArt Inteligencia is the lead futurist at Inteligencia Ltd. He is passionate about content creation and thinks about it as more science than art. Art travels the world at the speed of light, over mountains and under oceans. His favorite numbers are one and zero.

  28. Paul Sloane
    Paul SloanePaul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader and editor of A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, both published by Kogan-Page.

  29. Phil McKinney
    Phil McKinneyPhil McKinney is the Author of “Beyond The Obvious”​, Host of the Killer Innovations Podcast and Syndicated Radio Show, a Keynote Speaker, President & CEO CableLabs and an Innovation Mentor and Coach.

  30. Ralph Christian Ohr
    Ralph OhrDr. Ralph-Christian Ohr has extensive experience in product/innovation management for international technology-based companies. His particular interest is targeted at the intersection of organizational and human innovation capabilities. You can follow him on Twitter @Ralph_Ohr.

  31. Jeffrey Phillips
    Jeffrey Phillips has over 15 years of experience leading innovation in Fortune 500 companies, federal government agencies and non-profits. He is experienced in innovation strategy, defining and implementing front end processes, tools and teams and leading innovation projects. He is the author of Relentless Innovation and OutManeuver. Jeffrey writes the popular Innovate on Purpose blog. Follow him @ovoinnovation

  32. Dean and Linda Anderson
    Dean and Linda AndersonDr. Dean Anderson and Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson lead BeingFirst, a consultancy focused on educating the marketplace about what’s possible in personal, organizational and community transformation and how to achieve them. Each has been advising clients and training professionals for more than 40 years.

  33. Get the Change Planning Toolkit


  34. Shilpi Kumar
    Shilpi KumarShilpi Kumar an inquisitive researcher, designer, strategist and an educator with over 15 years of experience, who truly believes that we can design a better world by understanding human behavior. I work with organizations to identify strategic opportunities and offer user-centric solutions.

  35. Scott Anthony
    Scott AnthonyScott Anthony is a strategic advisor, writer and speaker on topics of growth and innovation. He has been based in Singapore since 2010, and currently serves at the Managing Director of Innosight’s Asia-Pacific operations.

  36. Anthony Mills
    Anthony MillsAnthony Mills is the Founder & CEO of Legacy Innovation Group (www.legacyinnova.com), a world-leading strategic innovation consulting firm working with organizations all over the world. Anthony is also the Executive Director of GInI – Global Innovation Institute (www.gini.org), the world’s foremost certification, accreditation, and membership organization in the field of innovation. Anthony has advised leaders from around the world on how to successfully drive long-term growth and resilience through new innovation. Learn more at www.anthonymills.com. Anthony can be reached directly at anthony@anthonymills.com.

  37. Paul Hobcraft
    Paul HobcraftPaul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities. Follow @paul4innovating

  38. Jorge Barba
    Jorge BarbaJorge Barba is a strategist and entrepreneur, who helps companies build new puzzles using human skills. He is a global Innovation Insurgent and author of the innovation blog www.Game-Changer.net

  39. Chateau G Pato
    Chateau G PatoChateau G Pato is a senior futurist at Inteligencia Ltd. She is passionate about content creation and thinks about it as more science than art. Chateau travels the world at the speed of light, over mountains and under oceans. Her favorite numbers are one and zero.

  40. Jesse Nieminen
    Jesse NieminenJesse Nieminen is the Co-founder and Chairman at Viima, the best way to collect and develop ideas. Viima’s innovation management software is already loved by thousands of organizations all the way to the Global Fortune 500. He’s passionate about helping leaders drive innovation in their organizations and frequently writes on the topic, usually in Viima’s blog.

  41. Alain Thys
    Alain ThysAs an experience architect, Alain helps leaders craft customer, employee and shareholder experiences for profit, reinvention and transformation. He does this through his personal consultancy Alain Thys & Co as well as the transformative venture studio Agents of A.W.E. Together with his teams, Alain has influenced the experience of over 500 million customers and 350,000 employees. Follow his blog or connect on Linkedin.

  42. Bruce Fairley
    Bruce FairleyBruce Fairley is the CEO and Founder of The Narrative Group, a firm dedicated to helping C-Suite executives build enterprise value. Through smart, human-powered digital transformation, Bruce optimizes the business-technology relationship. His innovative profit over pitfalls approach and customized programs are part of Bruce’s mission to build sustainable ‘best-future’ outcomes for visionary leaders. Having spearheaded large scale change initiatives across four continents, he and his skilled, diverse team elevate process, culture, and the bottom line for medium to large firms worldwide.

  43. Tom Stafford
    Tom StaffordTom Stafford studies learning and decision making. His main focus is the movement system – the idea being that if we can understand the intelligence of simple actions we will have an excellent handle on intelligence more generally. His research looks at simple decision making, and simple skill learning, using measures of behaviour informed by the computational, robotics and neuroscience work done in the wider group.

If your favorite didn’t make the list, then next year try to rally more votes for them or convince them to increase the quality and quantity of their contributions.

Our lists from the ten previous years have been tremendously popular, including:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2015
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2016
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2017
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2018
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2019
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022

Download PDF versions of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020, 2021 and 2022 lists here:


Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020 PDF . . . Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 . . . Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023

Happy New Year everyone!

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Voting Closed – Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023

Vote for Top 40 Innovation BloggersHappy Holidays!

For more than a decade I’ve devoted myself to making innovation insights accessible for the greater good, because I truly believe that the better our organizations get at delivering value to their stakeholders the less waste of natural resources and human resources there will be.

As a result, we are eternally grateful to all of you out there who take the time to create and share great innovation articles, presentations, white papers, and videos with Braden Kelley and the Human-Centered Change and Innovation team. As a small thank you to those of you who follow along, we like to make a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers available each year!

Our lists from the ten previous years have been tremendously popular, including:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2015
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2016
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2017
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2018
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2019
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022

Do you just have someone that you like to read that writes about innovation, or some of the important adjacencies – trends, consumer psychology, change, leadership, strategy, behavioral economics, collaboration, or design thinking?

Human-Centered Change and Innovation is now looking to recognize the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023.

It is time to vote and help us narrow things down.

The deadline for submitting votes is December 31, 2023 at midnight GMT.

Build a Common Language of Innovation on your team

The ranking will be done by me with influence from votes and nominations. The quality and quantity of contributions to this web site by an author will be a BIG contributing factor (through the end of the voting period).

You can vote in any of these three ways (and each earns points for them, so please feel free to vote all three ways):

  1. Sending us the name of the blogger by @reply on twitter to @innovate
  2. Adding the name of the blogger as a comment to this article’s posting on Facebook
  3. Adding the name of the blogger as a comment to this article’s posting on our Linkedin Page (Be sure and follow us)

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023 will then be announced here in early January 2024.

Here are the people who received nominations this year along with some carryover recommendations (in alphabetical order):

Adi Gaskell – @adigaskell
Alain Thys
Alex Goryachev
Andy Heikkila – @AndyO_TheHammer
Annette Franz
Arlen Meyers – @sopeofficial
Art Inteligencia
Ayelet Baron
Braden Kelley – @innovate
Brian Miller
Bruce Fairley
Chad McAllister – @ChadMcAllister
Chateau G Pato
Chris Beswick
Chris Rollins
Dr. Detlef Reis
Dainora Jociute
Dan Blacharski – @Dan_Blacharski
Daniel Burrus – @DanielBurrus
Daniel Lock
David Burkus
Dean and Linda Anderson
Dennis Stauffer
Diana Porumboiu
Douglas Ferguson
Drew Boyd – @DrewBoyd
Frank Mattes – @FrankMattes
Geoffrey A Moore
Gregg Fraley – @greggfraley
Greg Satell – @Digitaltonto
Helen Yu
Howard Tiersky
Janet Sernack – @JanetSernack
Jeffrey Baumgartner – @creativejeffrey
Jeff Freedman – @SmallArmyAgency
Jeffrey Phillips – @ovoinnovation
Jesse Nieminen – @nieminenjesse
John Bessant
Jorge Barba – @JorgeBarba
Julian Birkinshaw – @JBirkinshaw
Julie Anixter – @julieanixter
Kate Hammer – @Kate_Hammer
Kevin McFarthing – @InnovationFixer
Leo Chan
Lou Killeffer – @LKilleffer
Manuel Berdoy

Accelerate your change and transformation success

Mari Anixter- @MariAnixter
Maria Paula Oliveira – @mpaulaoliveira
Matthew E May – @MatthewEMay
Michael Graber – @SouthernGrowth
Mike Brown – @Brainzooming
Mike Shipulski – @MikeShipulski
Mukesh Gupta
Nick Jain
Nick Partridge – @KnewNewNeu
Nicolas Bry – @NicoBry
Nicholas Longrich
Norbert Majerus and George Taninecz
Pamela Soin
Patricia Salamone
Paul Hobcraft – @Paul4innovating
Paul Sloane – @paulsloane
Pete Foley – @foley_pete
Rachel Audige
Ralph Christian Ohr – @ralph_ohr
Randy Pennington
Richard Haasnoot – @Innovate2Grow
Robert B Tucker – @RobertBTucker
Robyn Bolton – @rm_bolton
Saul Kaplan – @skap5
Shep Hyken – @hyken
Shilpi Kumar
Scott Anthony – @ScottDAnthony
Scott Bowden – @scottbowden51
Shelly Greenway – @ChiefDistiller
Soren Kaplan – @SorenKaplan
Stefan Lindegaard – @Lindegaard
Stephen Shapiro – @stephenshapiro
Steve Blank
Steven Forth – @StevenForth
Tamara Kleinberg – @LaunchStreet
Teresa Spangler – @composerspang
Tom Koulopoulos – @TKspeaks
Tullio Siragusa
Yoram Solomon – @yoram

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We’re curious to see who you think is worth reading!

Nominations Closed – Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023

Nominations Closed for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023Human-Centered Change and Innovation loves making innovation insights accessible for the greater good, because we truly believe that the better our organizations get at delivering value to their stakeholders the less waste of natural resources and human resources there will be.

As a result, we are eternally grateful to all of you out there who take the time to create and share great innovation articles, presentations, white papers, and videos with Braden Kelley and the Human-Centered Change and Innovation team. As a small thank you to those of you who follow along, we like to make a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers available each year!

Our lists from the ten previous years have been tremendously popular, including:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2015
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2016
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2017
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2018
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2019
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022

Do you just have someone that you like to read that writes about innovation, or some of the important adjacencies – trends, consumer psychology, change, leadership, strategy, behavioral economics, collaboration, or design thinking?

Human-Centered Change and Innovation is now looking for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023.

The deadline for submitting nominations is December 24, 2023 at midnight GMT.

You can submit a nomination either of these two ways:

  1. Sending us the name of the blogger and the url of their blog by @reply on twitter to @innovate
  2. Sending the name of the blogger and the url of their blog and your e-mail address using our contact form

(Note: HUGE bonus points for being a contributing author)

So, think about who you like to read and let us know by midnight GMT on December 24, 2023.

We will then compile a voting list of all the nominations, and publish it on December 25, 2023.

Voting will then be open from December 25, 2023 – January 1, 2024 via comments and twitter @replies to @innovate.

The ranking will be done by me with influence from votes and nominations. The quality and quantity of contributions by an author to this web site will be a contributing factor.

Contact me with writing samples if you’d like to publish your articles on our platform!

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2023 will then be announced on here in early January 2024.

We’re curious to see who you think is worth reading!

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Re-engineering the Incubation Zone for a Downturn

Re-engineering the Incubation Zone for a Downturn

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

In a prior post, written during the tech boom, I outlined how established enterprises could re-engineer their approach to managing innovation in order to catch the next wave before it caught them. Now we are in a different time, where capital is more expensive, and near-term profitability more necessary. We still need to innovate our way through the challenges ahead, and the management playbook is fundamentally the same, but there are enough nuances to attend to that it is worth revisiting the topic end to end.

The guiding principle is unchanged. Publicly-held enterprises routinely mismanage incubation to such an extent that, when they are successful, the market is actually surprised. Their approach is based on a process model, typically involving crowd-sourcing a large funnel of potential ideas from the workforce, taking those ideas through a well-structured qualification process with clear benchmarks for progressing to the next stage, and funding a handful of the best ideas to get through to a minimum viable product (MVP) and market validation. The problem is that this is a Productivity Zone operating model, not an Incubation Zone model. That is, these enterprises are treating the Incubation Zone as if it were another cost center. Needless to say, no venture capitalist operates in this manner.

Meanwhile, the venture capital industry is routinely successful at managing incubations, be they to successful exits or timely shut-downs. Their operating model has over forty years of established success—and yet it is a rare public enterprise indeed that even tries to implement it. Some of this is due to confusing the venture industry’s business model, which is not appropriate for a publicly held firm, with its operating model, which is perfectly suitable to emulate. It is that model that I want to describe here.

Anchor Tenets

There are at least five key principles that successful Venture Capitalists (VC’s) keep close to their hearts. They are:

  1. Trapped value. VC’s are nothing if not coin-operated, and in that context, the first thing to do is find the coins. In B2B markets, this typically equates to identifying where there is trapped value in the current way of doing business. The value may be trapped in the infrastructure model (think cloud computing over data centers), the operating model (think self-organizing ride dispatching from Uber over the standard call center dispatcher), or the business model (think software subscription over license and maintenance). The point is, if you can release the trapped value, customers will enjoy dramatic returns, enough to warrant taking on the challenge of a Technology Adoption Life Cycle, even in a downturn. This is key because in a downturn, absent a compelling reason to act immediately, pragmatic customers will defer their buying decisions as long as possible. So, innovation for innovation’s sake is not the play for today’s market. You should be looking for disease-preventing vaccines, not life-extending vitamins.
  2. 10X technology. VCs are fully aware that there are very good reasons why trapped value stays trapped. Normally, it is because the current paradigm has substantial inertial momentum, meaning it delivers value reliably, even though far from optimally. To break through this barrier requires what Andy Grove taught us to call a 10X effect. Something has to be an order of magnitude better than the status quo to kick off a new Technology Adoption Life Cycle. Incremental improvements are great for reinforcing the status quo, as well as for defending it against the threat of disruption, but they do not have the horsepower to change the game. So, do not let your Incubation Zone “major in minors.” If there is not something truly disruptive on your plate, wait for it, and keep your powder dry.
  3. Technology genius. 10X innovations do not fall out of trees. Nor are they normally achieved through sheer persistence. Brilliance is what we are looking for here, and here publicly held enterprises face a recruiting challenge. They simply cannot offer the clean slate, venture funding, and equity reward possibilities that private capital can. What they can do, however, is pick up talent on the rebound and integrate it into their own playbook (see more on this below). The point is, top technology talent is a must-have. This puts pressure both on the general manager of any Incubation Zone operating unit and on the Incubation Zone board to do whatever it takes to put an A Team together. That said, there is a loophole here one can exploit in a downturn. If your enterprise needs to catch up to a disruptive innovation, that is, if it needs to neutralize a competitive threat as opposed to instigating a new adoption life cycle, then a “fast follower” leader is just the ticket. This person does not think outside the box. This person catches the box and jumps on it. Microsoft has been the premier example of this playbook from its very inception, so there is definitely money to be made here!
  4. New design rules. The path for breakthrough technology to release trapped value involves capitalizing on next-generation design rules. The key principle here is that something that used to be expensive, complex, and scarce, has by virtue of the ever-shifting technology landscape, now become cheap, simple, and plentiful. Think of DRAM in the 1990s, Wi-Fi in the first decade of this century, and compute cycles in the current decade. Prior to these inflection points, solution designers had to work around these factors as constraints, be that in constricting code to run in 64KB, limiting streaming to run over dial-up modems, or operating their own data center when all they wanted to do was to run a program. Inertia holds these constraints in place because they are embedded in so many interoperating systems, they are hard to change. Technology Adoption Life Cycles blow them apart—but only when led by entrepreneurs who have the insight to reconceive these assets as essentially free.
  5. Entrepreneurial general manager. And that brings us to the fifth and final key ingredient in the VC formula: entrepreneurial GMs. They are the ones with a nose for trapped value, able to sell the next new thing on its potential to create massive returns. They are the ones who can evangelize the new technology, celebrate its game-changing possibilities, and close their first visionary customers. They must recruit and stay close to their top technology genius. They must intuit the new design rules and use them as a competitive wedge to break into a market that is stacked against them. Finally, they must stay focused on their mission, vision, and values while course-correcting repeatedly, and occasionally pivoting, along the way. It is not a job description for the faint of heart. One last thing—in a downturn, instead of starting with visionaries in the Early Market, a far better play is to focus on a beachhead, chasm-crossing market segment from Day One. The TAM is smaller, but the time to close is much shorter, and this gets you traction early, a critical success factor when capital is costly and funders are impatient.

Now, assuming we can embrace these anchor tenets from the VC playbook, the key question becomes, How can a public enterprise, which does not have the freedom or flexibility of a venture capital firm, construct an Incubation Zone operating model that incorporates these principles in a way that plays to its strengths and protects itself against its weaknesses?

An Enterprise Playbook for the Incubation Zone

We should acknowledge at the outset that every enterprise has its own culture, its own crown jewels, its own claim to fame. So, any generic playbook has to adapt to local circumstances. That said, it is always good to start with a framework, and here in outline form is the action plan I propose:

  • Create an Incubation Board first, and charter it appropriately. Its number one responsibility is not to become the next disruptor — the enterprise already has a franchise, it doesn’t need to create one. Instead, it needs to protect the existing franchise against the next technology disruption by getting in position to ride the next wave as opposed to getting swamped by it.
  • In this role, the board’s mission is to identify any intersections between trapped value and disruptive technologies that would impact, positively or negatively, the enterprise’s current book of business. We are in the realm of SWOT threats and opportunities, where the threats take precedence because addressing them is not optional. Another way to phrase this is that we are playing defense first, offense second. This is particularly critical in a downturn because that is a time when visionaries lose power and pragmatists in pain gain power.
  • Given a chasm-crossing mentality, the first piece of business is to identify potential use cases that emerge at the intersection of trapped value and breakthrough technology, to prioritize the list in terms of import and impact, and to recruit a small team to build a BEFORE/AFTER demo that highlights the game-changing possibilities of the highest priority case. This team is built around a technology leader and an entrepreneur. The technology leader ideally would come from the outside, thereby being less prone to fall back on obsolete design rules. The entrepreneur should come from the inside, perhaps an executive from a prior acquisition who has been down this path before, thereby better able to negotiate the dynamics of the culture.
  • The next step is to socialize the demo, first with technology experts to pressure test the assumptions and make improvements to the design, and then with domain experts in the target use case, whether from the customer base or the enterprise’s own go-to-market team, who have a clear view of the trapped value and a good sense of what it would take to release it.
  • The next step is to pitch the Incubation Zone board for funding.

a) This is not an exercise in TAM or SAM or anything else of the sort. Those are tools for determining ROI in established sectors, where category boundaries are more or less in place. Disruptive innovation creates whole new boundaries, or fails altogether in the process, neither of which outcomes are properly modeled in the normal market opportunity analysis frameworks.

b) Instead, focus on beachhead market potential. Could this use case gain sufficient market adoption within a single target segment to become a viable franchise? If so, it will give the enterprise a real option on an array of possible value-creating futures. That is the primary goal of the Incubation Zone.

Whether the effort succeeds or fails, the enterprise will gain something of real value. That is, success will give it a viable path forward, and failure will suggest it need not spend a lot of resources protecting against this flank. The job of the board is to determine if the proposal being pitched is worth prioritizing on this basis.

  • To pursue the opportunity, you want to create an independent operating unit that looks like a seed-stage start-up. Once funded, it should target a specific, value-trapping process in a single industry, ideally managed by a single department, and apply breakthrough technology and laser focus to re-engineering the process to a much better outcome. This will require developing a whole product, defined as the complete solution to the customer’s problem, organized around a core product plus ancillary supporting products and services. The latter can be supplied by third parties, but the effort has to be orchestrated by you.
  • With this problem-specific solution in hand, the final step is to bring it to market via restricted distribution, not general availability. Your goal is to target a beachhead market with a single use case—just the opposite of what general distribution is designed to accomplish. Thus, the entire go-to-market effort, from product launch to pipeline generation, to sales, post-sales implementation, and customer success needs to be under the direct management of the GM of the Incubation Zone operating unit. Success here is measured by classic chasm-crossing metrics, focused on winning a dominant share of the top 30 accounts in the target market segment.

In a downturn, crossing the chasm—not winning inside the tornado—represents the fulfillment of the Incubation Zone’s real option mandate. You want to create a cash-flow-positive entity that protects your franchise from disruption by coopting an emerging technology while at the same time solving a mission-critical problem for a customer who needs immediate help. That is value, in and of itself, over and above the optionality it creates for future category creation.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Reinventing the Retail Store

Online orders are increasingly fulfilled through stores, making retailers much more efficient and competitive

Reinventing the Retail Store

GUEST POST from Howard Tiersky

I’ve worked with a lot of online retailers over the years, and a frequent question I’ve received is, “When you have physical stores and you also have an online presence, where should you be shipping goods from?”

In the early days, a lot of retailers were trying to ship from their stores because that’s where the merchandise was.

Further, these retailers didn’t necessarily have the infrastructure or process in their warehouses to ship directly to the consumer. Their warehouses were just for shipping goods to the store.

But when e-commerce started to take off in a major way and orders jumped, those retailers that we’d think of as traditional large brick and mortar stores started to do the vast majority of their e-commerce shipping from centralized distribution centers, so much so that some actually had quite different inventory from their stores.

As a result, there was a period where chains were shipping from centralized distribution centers for the most part.

In some cases, these chains didn’t even expose you to what was available in the store when ordering online.

BUY ONLINE, PICK UP IN THE STORE

After that, retailers started trying to show us alternatives.

“Buy online, pick up in the store” became increasingly prevalent, with retailers creating more integrated systems that allow us to see the online merchandise that may not be available in the store, as well as the store merchandise that might not be available online.

Some of the merchandise was available in both places, and you could at least see the full universe through these systems.

You would know if an item was carried in the retailers’ stores, then you could find out if your local store had it, buy it online, and arrange to pick it up there.

Once retailers got to that point, it became more and more logical to have the store ship at least some merchandise out, as they did in the early days.

And today, we’re seeing even more shipping from stores because e-commerce orders that are “order online, pick up in the store” have risen substantially with Covid.

With more and more orders being fulfilled this way, it’s imperative that stores are able to handle e-commerce effectively.

NEWFOUND ADVANTAGE

In fact, Best Buy reported recently that 60% of their e-commerce orders are either buy online, pick up in store or buy online, pick up curbside.

More than half of their online orders are not only being fulfilled through the store, but they’re actually being physically picked up at the store.

As physical retailers continue their effort to compete with Amazon, they realize that one of the assets that they have that Amazon does not have at that scale is a physical store location.

It makes sense to use this shift as an opportunity to either make it convenient to pick up items that are ordered online or even start to use stores as distribution hubs to permit faster delivery for items that are ordered to the home.

In their recent announcement, Best Buy also reported that of their thousand stores, they have designated 250 of them as distribution hubs.

This means that they will be using those stores not only as physical showrooms but also as fulfillment centers for e-commerce orders.

So if you order something on the Best Buy website, it’s increasingly likely to come from the back room of your local Best Buy.

DISRUPTIVE CHANGE

This shift is interesting because it’s not just Best Buy—we’re seeing it across the industry.

And when you have a lot of retailers repurposing their physical locations as e-commerce hubs, there are bound to be greater implications.

For one, this change is going to affect store design, as stores will need larger storage areas and shipping facilities.

As a result, the ratio of the back of the store to the front of the store will probably shift.

It may also make a shift in terms of how stores think about real estate.

A location that may not have been viable due to a lack of foot traffic may all of a sudden make sense if it’s in a convenient spot for pickup or in a central location that allows online orders to be distributed to a large geographic area.

In focusing more and more on fulfilling orders through their store locations, Best Buy may see additional, industry-specific benefits.

In the electronic space, we know that there are a lot of SKUs, and it’s hard to keep some items on stock, particularly the ones that are popular.

The opportunity to leverage not only the inventory at a warehouse or distribution center but all the inventory sitting in their stores expands Best Buy’s ability to provide a great customer experience.

Today’s top retailers are making sure that if they’ve got that new iPhone, or camera lens, or obscure cable, or whatever it is that you’re looking for anywhere in their ecosystem, they are going to find a way to get it to you one way or the other.

This article originally appeared on the Howard Tiersky blog
Image Credit: Unsplash

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Framing Your 2024 Strategy

Framing Your 2024 Strategy

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

Fall is in the air, which brings to mind the season’s favorite sport—no, not football, strategic planning! Let’s face it, 2023 has been a tough year for most of us, with few annual plans surviving first contact with an economy that was not so much sluggish as simply hesitant. With the exception of generative AI’s burst onto the scene, most technology sectors have been more or less trudging along, and that begs the question, what do we think we can do in 2024? Time to bring out the strategy frameworks, polish up those crystal balls that have been a bit murky of late, and chart our course forward.

This post will kick off a series of blogs about framing strategy, all organized around a meta-model we call the Hierarchy of Powers:

Geoffrey Moore Strategy Framework

The inspiration for this model came from looking at how investors prioritize their portfolios. The first thing they do is allocate by sector, based primarily on category power, referring both to the growth rate of the category as well as its potential size. Rising tides float all boats, and one of the toughest challenges in business is how to manage a premier franchise when category growth is negative. In conjunction with assessing our current portfolio’s category power, this is also a time to look at adjacent categories, whether as threats or as opportunities, to see if there are any transformative acquisitions that deserve our immediate attention.

Returning to our current set of assets, within each category the next question to answer is, what is our company power within that category? This is largely a factor of market share. The more share a company has of a given category, the more likely the ecosystem of partners that supports the category will focus first on that company’s installed base, adding more value to its offers, as well as to recommend that company’s products first, again because of the added leverage from partner engagement. Marketplaces, in other words, self-organize around category leaders, accelerating the sales and offloading the support costs of the market share leaders.

But what do you do when you don’t have company power? That’s when you turn your attention to market power. Marketplaces destabilize around problematic use cases that the incumbent vendors do not handle well. This creates openings for new entrants, provided they can authentically address the customer’s problems. The key is to focus product management on the whole product (not just what your enterprise supplies, but rather, everything the customer needs to be successful) and to focus your go-to-market engine on the target market segment. This is the playbook that has kept Crossing the Chasm on entrepreneur’s book lists some thirty years in, but it is a different matter to execute it in a large enterprise where sales and marketing are organized for global coverage, not rifle-shot initiatives. Nonetheless, when properly executed, it is the most reliable play in all of high-tech market development.

If market power is key to taking market share, offer power is key to maintaining it, both in high-growth categories as well as mature ones. Offer power is a function of three disciplines—differentiation to create customer preference, neutralization to catch up to and reduce a competitor’s differentiation, and optimization to eliminate non-value-adding costs. Anything that does not contribute materially to one of these three outcomes is waste.

Finally, execution power is the ability to take advantage of one’s inertial momentum rather than having it take advantage of you. Here the discipline of zone management has proved particularly valuable to enterprises who are seeking to balance investment in their existing lines of business, typically in mature categories, with forays into new categories that promise higher growth.

In upcoming blog posts I am going to dive deeper into each of the five powers outlined above to share specific frameworks that clarify what decisions need to be made during the strategic planning process and what principles can best guide them. In the meantime, there is still one more quarter in 2023 to make, and we all must do our best to make the most of it.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Pixabay, Geoffrey A. Moore

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AI and Human Creativity Solving Complex Problems Together

AI and Human Creativity Solving Complex Problems Together

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

A recent McKinsey Leading Off – Essentials for leaders and those they lead email newsletter, referred to an article “The organization of the future: Enabled by gen AI, driven by people” which stated that digitization, automation, and AI will reshape whole industries and every enterprise. The article elaborated further by saying that, in terms of magnitude, the challenge is akin to coping with the large-scale shift from agricultural work to manufacturing that occurred in the early 20th century in North America and Europe, and more recently in China. This shift was powered by the defining trait of our species, our human creativity, which is at the heart of all creative problem-solving endeavors, where innovation is the engine of growth, no matter, what the context.

Moving into Unchartered Job and Skills Territory

We don’t yet know what exact technological, or soft skills, new occupations, or jobs will be required in this fast-moving transformation, or how we might further advance generative AI, digitization, and automation.

We also don’t know how AI will impact the need for humans to tap even more into the defining trait of our species, our human creativity. To enable us to become more imaginative, curious, and creative in the way we solve some of the world’s greatest challenges and most complex and pressing problems, and transform them into innovative solutions.

We can be proactive by asking these two generative questions:

  • What if the true potential of AI lies in embracing its ability to augment human creativity and aid innovation, especially in enhancing creative problem solving, at all levels of civil society, instead of avoiding it? (Ideascale)
  • How might we develop AI as a creative thinking partner to effect profound change, and create innovative solutions that help us build a more equitable and sustainable planet for all humanity? (Hal Gregersen)

Because our human creativity is at the heart of creative problem-solving, and innovation is the engine of growth, competitiveness, and profound and positive change.

Developing a Co-Creative Thinking Partnership

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review “AI Can Help You Ask Better Questions – and Solve Bigger Problems” by Hal Gregersen and Nicola Morini Bianzino, they state:

“Artificial intelligence may be superhuman in some ways, but it also has considerable weaknesses. For starters, the technology is fundamentally backward-looking, trained on yesterday’s data – and the future might not look anything like the past. What’s more, inaccurate or otherwise flawed training data (for instance, data skewed by inherent biases) produces poor outcomes.”

The authors say that dealing with this issue requires people to manage this limitation if they are going to treat AI as a creative-thinking partner in solving complex problems, that enable people to live healthy and happy lives and to co-create an equitable and sustainable planet.

We can achieve this by focusing on specific areas where the human brain and machines might possibly complement one another to co-create the systemic changes the world badly needs through creative problem-solving.

  • A double-edged sword

This perspective is further complimented by a recent Boston Consulting Group article  “How people can create-and destroy value- with generative AI” where they found that the adoption of generative AI is, in fact, a double-edged sword.

In an experiment, participants using GPT-4 for creative product innovation outperformed the control group (those who completed the task without using GPT-4) by 40%. But for business problem solving, using GPT-4 resulted in performance that was 23% lower than that of the control group.

“Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, current GenAI models tend to do better on the first type of task; it is easier for LLMs to come up with creative, novel, or useful ideas based on the vast amounts of data on which they have been trained. Where there’s more room for error is when LLMs are asked to weigh nuanced qualitative and quantitative data to answer a complex question. Given this shortcoming, we as researchers knew that GPT-4 was likely to mislead participants if they relied completely on the tool, and not also on their own judgment, to arrive at the solution to the business problem-solving task (this task had a “right” answer)”.

  • Taking the path of least resistance

In McKinsey’s Top Ten Reports This Quarter blog, seven out of the ten articles relate specifically to generative AI: technology trends, state of AI, future of work, future of AI, the new AI playbook, questions to ask about AI and healthcare and AI.

As it is the most dominant topic across the board globally, if we are not both vigilant and intentional, a myopic focus on this one significant technology will take us all down the path of least resistance – where our energy will move to where it is easiest to go.  Rather than being like a river, which takes the path of least resistance to its surrounding terrain, and not by taking a strategic and systemic perspective, we will always go, and end up, where we have always gone.

  • Living our lives forwards

According to the Boston Consulting Group article:

“The primary locus of human-driven value creation lies not in enhancing generative AI where it is already great, but in focusing on tasks beyond the frontier of the technology’s core competencies.”

This means that a whole lot of other variables need to be at play, and a newly emerging set of human skills, especially in creative problem solving, need to be developed to maximize the most value from generative AI, to generate the most imaginative, novel and value adding landing strips of the future.

Creative Problem Solving

In my previous blog posts “Imagination versus Knowledge” and “Why Successful Innovators Are Curious Like Cats” we shared that we are in the midst of a “Sputnik Moment” where we have the opportunity to advance our human creativity.

This human creativity is inside all of us, it involves the process of bringing something new into being, that is original, surprising useful, or desirable, in ways that add value to the quality of people’s lives, in ways they appreciate and cherish.

  • Taking a both/and approach

Our human creativity will be paralysed, if we focus our attention and intention only on the technology, and on the financial gains or potential profits we will get from it, and if we exclude the possibilities of a co-creative thinking partnership with the technology.

To deeply engage people in true creative problem solving – and involving them in impacting positively on our crucial relationships and connectedness, with one another and with the natural world, and the planet.

  • A marriage between creatives, technologists, and humanities

In a recent Fast Company video presentation, “Innovating Imagination: How Airbnb Is Using AI to Foster Creativity” Brian Chesky CEO of Airbnb, states that we need to consider and focus our attention and intention on discovering what is good for people.

To develop a “marriage between creatives, technologists, and the humanities” that brings the human out and doesn’t let technology overtake our human element.

Developing Creative Problem-Solving Skills

At ImagineNation, we teach, mentor, and coach clients in creative problem-solving, through developing their Generative Discovery skills.

This involves developing an open and active mind and heart, by becoming flexible, adaptive, and playful in the ways we engage and focus our human creativity in the four stages of creative problem-solving.

Including sensing, perceiving, and enabling people to deeply listen, inquire, question, and debate from the edges of temporarily hidden or emerging fields of the future.

To know how to emerge, diverge, and converge creative insights, collective breakthroughs, an ideation process, and cognitive and emotional agility shifts to:

  • Deepen our attending, observing, and discerning capabilities to consciously connect with, explore, and discover possibilities that create tension and cognitive dissonance to disrupt and challenge the status quo, and other conventional thinking and feeling processes.
  • Create cracks, openings, and creative thresholds by asking generative questions to push the boundaries, and challenge assumptions and mental and emotional models to pull people towards evoking, provoking, and generating boldly creative ideas.
  • Unleash possibilities, and opportunities for creative problem solving to contribute towards generating innovative solutions to complex problems, and pressing challenges, that may not have been previously imagined.

Experimenting with the generative discovery skill set enables us to juggle multiple theories, models, and strategies to create and plan in an emergent, and non-linear way through creative problem-solving.

As stated by Hal Gregersen:

“Partnering with the technology in this way can help people ask smarter questions, making them better problem solvers and breakthrough innovators.”

Succeeding in the Age of AI

We know that Generative AI will change much of what we do and how we do it, in ways that we cannot yet anticipate.

Success in the age of AI will largely depend on our ability to learn and change faster than we ever have before, in ways that preserve our well-being, connectedness, imagination, curiosity, human creativity, and our collective humanity through partnering with generative AI in the creative problem-solving process.

Find Out More About Our Work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, which can be customised as a bespoke corporate learning program.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique innovation context. Find out more about our products and tools.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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