Tag Archives: Business Authors

Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Reality

Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Reality

by Braden Kelley

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Whynde Kuehn, author of the new book Strategy to Reality.

Whynde Kuehn is the Founder and Managing Director of S2E Transformation. Whynde is a recognized global thought leader and a long-time pioneer, practitioner and educator in digital transformation, strategy execution and business architecture, a foundational discipline for enabling end-to-end transformation and organizational agility. She regularly speaks, writes and chairs/co-chairs events with a mission to advance best practices and facilitate community and advocacy across the globe. Whynde is Co-Founder, Vice President, and Academic Committee Chair of the Business Architecture Guild®, a not-for-profit organization focused on the advancement of the business architecture discipline.

The interview dives into how to move big ideas into action, along with exploring several business architecture, strategy and digital transformation topics.

Without further ado, here is the transcript of that interview:

1. What is the difference between an enterprise architect and a business architect?

We can generally think of enterprise architects as professionals who facilitate the development and usage of enterprise architecture to enable effective strategy execution, decision-making, and macro-level design for their organization and the ecosystem in which it operates.
For reference, the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO) characterizes enterprise architecture as “a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a holistic approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies. These practices utilize the various aspects of an enterprise to identify, motivate, and achieve these changes.”

Enterprise architecture is comprised of multiple architecture domains, which we can think of as business architecture + IT architecture, where IT architecture includes application architecture, data architecture, and technical architecture. In practice, some organizations structure with architects practicing within each architecture domain specialty who collaborate with each other (with no overall enterprise architect role) while other organizations have both an overall enterprise architect role in addition to the specialized architect roles. In the latter case, while an enterprise architect focuses across all architecture domains, they often tend to be T-shaped or V-shaped where they are deeper in one specialty over another.

So, what is the difference between an enterprise architect and a business architect? The answer is somewhat dependent on the context of an organization’s structure and practice, but generally speaking, an enterprise architect practices across all architecture domains, where a business architect focuses just on the business architecture domain (and partners with other architects). Additionally, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • All architects should share a base set of competencies as well as those specific to their area of specialization
  • All architects should be fluent in their organization’s business architecture
  • Close partnership and integration across all architecture domains and architect roles is critical for success, this includes cohesiveness of the architecture knowledgebase as well as how architects work together (and with other roles) to deliver value to the organization
  • To maximize value, the business architect role should be business-focused and strategically positioned
  • Business architects can focus on different scopes, from the full enterprise to a set of capabilities to a specific business domain; they always consider the bigger picture though regardless of scope

2. Why do organizations need business architects?

We know that organizations are going through a time of tremendous transformation, and that change and disruption are part of our new normal. A business architecture is most useful in the context of change, which is why we have seen an increase in adoption of the discipline worldwide. Business architects help organizations to create a clear and shared macro level understanding of where the organization is today, where it is going in the future, and how it will get there.

Business architects play a unique (and often missing) role to help inform and translate strategy into the cohesive set of changes needed across people, process, and technology to make that direction real (using value streams and capabilities as a key means to organize changes). They also help to ensure alignment across an organization. This includes both ensuring that the initiatives and solutions delivered meet the original business and architectural direction as well as ensuring that investments in capabilities (implemented through people, process, and technology) are appropriately harmonized across business units, products, and geographies.

Beyond their unique role in helping to inform, translate, and align strategy to execution, business architects also help to steward their organization’s business architecture knowledgebase. A business architecture is like a blueprint that provides a shared language and mental model for an entire organization, and it is owned by the business. A business architecture can and should be used by anyone in an organization for decision-making and an important part of the business architect role is to support others in doing so.

The diagram below reflects the contemporary practice of business architecture as context for questions 1 and 2. Business architecture lives in two worlds, first as part of the enterprise architecture umbrella (right) but also as a key contributor in a strategic management context (left).

Whynde Kuehn Business Architecture Diagram

3. What does it take to be a good business architect?

There are a few characteristics that encapsulate how good business architects think and act. For example, they are value-driven and focus on business value, outcomes, and results for their organization and its customers or constituents. Business architects are business-minded with a strong command of how business works, how to evolve business models and formulate strategies to win, and how to design an organization for effectiveness and agility (this includes having a command of technology and how to leverage it strategically). They are enterprise advocates, always bringing people together across organizational silos and back to the bigger picture of the enterprise. Business architects are bridge builders, knowing that it takes an ecosystem of teams to translate strategy into action and run an organization successfully. While business architects perform unique responsibilities, they also build close partnerships with others because they realize their own success – and the success of the organization – depends on making other people successful. Business architects are also visualizers and storytellers to create clarity and common understanding and they serve as change agents for new ideas. Business architects help to simplify, visualize, and explain complex concepts and show new connections.

Beyond these characteristics, a great business architect needs a depth of knowledge and experience including building a business architecture baseline (capabilities, information concepts, and value streams) at the enterprise level architecting change initiatives, and working across the life cycle from strategy to execution.

Becoming a great business architect is a journey that takes time, but a very rewarding one along the way. A truly successful business architect majors in business architecture, but minors in other disciplines and frameworks. The most adept business architects think strategically and architecturally to facilitate strategy execution and solve complex problems, leveraging business architecture as the foundation, blended seamlessly with many other approaches and abilities. This means that great business architects continually develop and leverage a wide range of knowledge and experiences – much of it beyond the realm of business architecture.

4. What are the key components of a business architecture?

Whynde KuehnThe foundation of a business architecture is comprised of capabilities (i.e., the reusable building blocks that describe what an organization does to deliver its products and services and support its operations), value streams (i.e., the high-level flows that deliver value to an external or internal stakeholder), and a cross-mapping between them (to depict where reusable capabilities are leveraged to deliver business value). In addition, a set of information concepts underpin the capabilities and value streams – and the entire business and IT architecture – and give people a truly shared definition of key terms such as customers, partners, products, assets, and so forth.

In addition to these three fundamental business architecture domains, there are seven additional business domains that are represented through an organization’s business architecture including business units (internal business units and external partners), products (the goods and/or services an organization offers to its customers/constituents), policies (external regulations and internal polices), stakeholders, strategies, metrics, and initiatives.

In addition, business architecture connects to the domains within other disciplines as well such as to journeys from the customer experience discipline, processes from the business process management discipline, requirements from the business analysis discipline, and applications and software services in the application architecture.

A business architecture is essentially an interconnected and multidimensional set of views, stored in a reusable knowledgebase, that can be used to inform many different business scenarios.

5. Who are the key stakeholders for a business architecture?

While the overall value proposition for business architecture is to enable effective strategy execution, business architecture is a bit like a Swiss army knife in that it can be used for a broad range of business usage scenarios and decision-making.

As a result, each organization needs to define its goals for leveraging the discipline for value. For example, while many organizations leverage business architecture for informing, translating, and aligning strategies and transformations, other organizations focus on leveraging the discipline for macro level simplification and effectiveness, business and IT alignment, or even a repeatable way to approach acquisitions.

As a result, the key stakeholders for business architecture within an organization can vary based on how the discipline is being used. However, some of the most common stakeholders for business architecture include strategy and transformation leaders and their teams along with portfolio managers, strategic planners, and technology leaders from CIOs and CTOs and down. Other key stakeholders include C-level business leaders, business unit leaders, product leaders, innovation leaders, risk managers, compliance managers, program and project managers, data management leaders, human-centered designers, organization designers, organizational change managers, business process professionals, business relationship managers, business analysts, IT architects, and many more.

6. How does one “use” a business architecture?

Generally, there are three categories of usage for a business architecture: to (1) facilitate effective strategy execution as mentioned earlier, to (2) help organizations design or redesign for effectiveness and agility, and to (3) inform a wide variety of business and technology decision-making scenarios.

For organization design and redesign, consider that we can assemble capabilities in different ways to deliver new value, products, and services. We can also design our organizations with increased efficiency, for example, by reducing the number of systems needed to automate the same capability.
For decision-making, consider that a business architecture knowledgebase is the go-to place for information about an organization at a macro level. As a result, we can get holistic answers framed in a shared business context to support decision-making around strategic alignment, customer experience, product management, investments, cost, risk, compliance, outsourcing, business and IT alignment, application portfolio management, technical debt, cloud strategy and migration, sustainability, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, and more.

7. Why is it so challenging for organizations to move big ideas into action?

Organizations may formulate excellent strategies, but the challenge often occurs in the translation of those ideas across a large organization with many business units, products, and regions. I believe there are a few foundational challenges that contribute to this.

First, organizations do not always have a formalized, cohesive approach to strategy execution that knits together all the teams from end-to-end to develop strategies, architect changes, plan initiatives, execute solutions, and measure success. We may do this for parts of the process, but we do not necessarily look at the whole of strategy execution with the same criticality and accountability as we do with other functions such as sales, marketing, or finance.

Second, large organizations are still siloed in many ways, which shapes the behavior, thinking, and priorities of individuals. For example, when it comes to investments or problem solving, we may default to what is best for our business area versus thinking about what is best for the customer and the enterprise – especially when organizational structures, motivation mechanisms, and inertia enforce the status quo.

Finally, I believe that both of these challenges are also underpinned by a need to enhance business education to teach a more comprehensive approach from strategy to execution, and normalize the idea of business and IT architecture to supplement strategic thinking and decision making.

8. Digital transformation has become an overused phrase. What is a true digital transformation?

Strategy to RealityA true digital transformation is strategic and customer-driven, leveraging technology to establish business models and ecosystems that unlock new value for organizations to thrive in the digital economy. In other words, automation alone does not constitute a digital transformation. The Institute for Digital Transformation gives us clear guidance in the Digital Transformation Manifesto – that it should “lead to metamorphic change among an organization’s products, services, systems, operations, and culture – amplified by technology.”

I believe that collectively many organizations are now coming to terms with what digital transformation really means and are starting to move beyond the hype. I also think we are reaching the point where digital business is now just regular business – where digital is no longer something separate, but just part of how an organization delivers value, strategizes, and operates.

9. Where does a successful transformation begin?

A successful transformation starts with why. What does the business want to achieve and how will we know when we have achieved it? Clear business direction and outcomes provide the critical starting point so that people across an organization can accurately determine the change that is needed, both to people, processes, technology, assets, and locations – as well as the human side of change. Clear business direction also helps to inspire people to action on a collective vision that is greater than themselves.

10. Why do so many organizations fail to succeed at both strategy and execution?

Organizations can be challenged in formulating strategy, in ultimately executing upon a strategy, or both as suggested here. From a strategy formulation perspective, much has been written by strategy experts, but from my perspective, I see organizations challenged in a few key ways. For example, some organizations lack rigor in the definition of strategy itself, where the strategy does not reflect specific choices or specifies broad (and non-strategic) goals such as to improve operational effectiveness. I also see challenges with articulating strategy where different parts of an organization describe and decompose the strategy in different ways, making goals, objectives, and courses of action difficult to understand and reconcile from an enterprise perspective. Additionally, I see challenges with communicating strategy as it filters through the layers of an organization and becomes diffused – especially without a shared understanding of the courses of action and collective changes that help people relate to the direction and what it means for them.

From a strategy execution perspective, as shared in question #7, the challenges with execution (e.g., building solutions that do not meet business needs or are duplicative) often begin upstream without a well-defined translation through a common blueprint like an organization’s business architecture. This does not mean that improvements are not necessary to execution (and many shifts are happening worldwide today such as around agile delivery), but an organization should assess each major activity from strategy to execution both individually and together as a cohesive end-to-end process.

Achieving a strategy requires clear intent translated into organized effort and the structured methods from strategy management frameworks as well as business architecture and other design disciplines can help. Hopefully the increasing awareness of the opportunity – and necessity – for effective end-to-end strategy execution will inspire and enable organizations to take further action to prepare for an increasingly disruptive and exciting business landscape for years to come.

Conclusion

Thanks to you Whynde for sharing your insights with our global human-centered change and innovation community!

To learn more about Whynde’s views on making your strategy a reality, grab yourself a copy of her new book Strategy to Reality.

Image credits: Whynde Kuehn, Unsplash

 

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Keeping Pace with the Latest Trends in Social Media and Online Video

David Meerman ScottThe ways we communicate continue to evolve. Keeping pace with the latest trends in social media and online video, while preventing your product or service from getting lost in the digital clutter, is a daunting task. David Meerman Scott is a master at helping you speak directly to your audience, make a strong personal connection, and generate attention for your business.

In the eighth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Content Marketing, Podcasting, Social Media, AI, Live Video and Newsjacking to Reach Buyers Directly, David explores the latest approaches for highly effective public relations, marketing, and customer communications – while helping you avoid of the costs of traditional advertising!

New Rules of Marketing and PRI had the opportunity recently to interview David, a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, investor and advisor to emerging companies, and bestselling author of 12 books, including Fanocracy, about the new eighth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Throughout his career he has been fascinated by seeing the future of how people and organizations work together, studied ‘what’s next’, and looked for patterns others don’t see.

Three times a year David (@dsmcott) is the lead marketing speaker at the legendary Tony Robbins Business Mastery events, delivering a two hour session on New Marketing Mastery.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. What is the biggest change in either PR or Marketing that today’s companies face?

I wrote this for the first edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR back in 2007: “There used to be only three ways to get noticed: Buy expensive advertising, beg the mainstream media to tell your story for you, or hire a huge sales staff to bug people individually about your products. Now we have a better option: publishing interesting content on the web, content that your buyers want to consume.” The same is true today upon the publication of the 8th edition!

The tools of the marketing and PR trade have changed. The skills that worked offline to help you buy or beg or bug your way into opportunity are the skills of interruption and coercion. Online success comes from thinking like a journalist and publishing amazing content that will brand you as an organization or person it would be a pleasure to do business with. You are in charge of your own success.

2. Must companies re-think their approach to PR in the digital age?

Many people steeped in the tradition of product promotion naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares about your products and services. Yes, you read that right.

What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable. In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about online. When you get people talking on the Web, people will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.

Sadly, marketers continue to hype products and services instead of understanding buyers and creating interesting content to reach them.

3. Do press releases still have value?

Yes, press releases have value but way less than most PR professionals believe. There is so much more that can be done.

Somehow along the way PR professionals have lost sight of what ‘true’ PR is and have set their focus on the media. What quick steps can PR pros take to get back to the public relations roots of creating mutually beneficial relationships with all of their publics (shareholders, stakeholders, communities, employees, etc.)?

To paraphrase the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), definition: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

Nowhere does this description mention the media!

Somewhere along the line “public relations” became the same as “media relations.” What people need to realize is that these are different activities. Media relations, or working through journalists, is fine. Hey, who doesn’t want to be quoted in an important outlet?

But there are so many other ways to hear attention.

PR is about reaching your audience. There are many more ways to do that than just via the media: YouTube videos, blog posts, eBooks, charts, graphs, photos, a Twitter feed, a presence on Instagram, TikTok and so much more.

4. What role should LinkedIn play in companies’ marketing strategies? Any difference in your answer for B2B vs. B2C companies?

There are many social networks out there and LinkedIn is one of them. Marketers should understand their buyers and be active on the social networks that are most important to them. For many B2B businesses, LinkedIn is super important, so for them yes, LinkedIn is valuable. However many people use LinkedIn as another way to send unwanted sales messages. To be effective people should use LinkedIn to publish content and to engage with other people’s content.

Continue reading the rest of our conversation on CustomerThink

SIX more questions and answers!

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Creating the World’s Best Change & Transformation Book

The Perfect Change & Transformation BookOn Friday I was speaking with my publisher Palgrave Macmillan (now part of Springer) about doing a second edition of Charting Change.

This means that my publisher is interested in having me create a new version of Charting Change that would include most, if not all, of the content contained in the first edition, while also adding thousands of words of new insights (plus new pictures and tools).

This causes me to ask you the following questions:

  1. What human-centered change and transformation topics are missing from Charting Change?
  2. What information would the perfect change & transformation book contain?
  3. What tools do change management professionals and transformation leaders need to enjoy greater success in their jobs, projects, and programs?
  4. Toolkit subscribers – which of my new tools should I highlight in the second edition that I didn’t introduce in the first edition?
  5. Who do you think has something compelling to add to the conversation in an additional guest expert section in the book? And what is the topic you want to hear from them on?

Charting Change introduced my Human-Centered Change™ methodology and a suite of 50+ tools available for purchase (book buyers get access to 26 of the 50+ tools). That toolkit has since grown to a collection of 70+ tools available to toolkit subscribers.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the first edition thus far and also to my Human-Centered Change™ Toolkit subscribers.

I’m interested to hear in the comments below your thoughts on the questions above!
(or send me an email)

If you don’t already have a first edition copy of Charting Change, you can get one here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1137536950/
(support my sharing of free Human-Centered Change & Innovation tools and insights)

And don’t forget to download your Free Human-Centered Change Tools!

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Voting Closed – Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021

Vote for Top 40 Innovation BloggersFor 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

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 2021.

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

The deadline for submitting votes is December 31, 2021 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 2021 will then be announced here in early January 2022.

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

Adi Gaskell – @adigaskell
Alex Goryachev
Andy Heikkila – @AndyO_TheHammer
Arlen Meyers – @sopeofficial
Braden Kelley – @innovate
Chad McAllister – @ChadMcAllister
Chris Beswick
Dan Blacharski – @Dan_Blacharski
Daniel Burrus – @DanielBurrus
Daniel Lock
Dr. Detlef Reis
David Burkus
Douglas Ferguson
Drew Boyd – @DrewBoyd
Frank Mattes – @FrankMattes
Gregg Fraley – @greggfraley
Greg Satell – @Digitaltonto
Janet Sernack – @JanetSernack
Jeffrey Baumgartner – @creativejeffrey
Jeff Freedman – @SmallArmyAgency
Jeffrey Phillips – @ovoinnovation
Jesse Nieminen – @nieminenjesse
Jorge Barba – @JorgeBarba
Julian Birkinshaw – @JBirkinshaw
Julie Anixter – @julieanixter
Kate Hammer – @Kate_Hammer
Kevin McFarthing – @InnovationFixer
Lou Killeffer – @LKilleffer

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Mari Anixter- @MariAnixter
Maria Paula Oliveira – @mpaulaoliveira
Matthew E May – @MatthewEMay
Michael Graber – @SouthernGrowth
Mike Brown – @Brainzooming
Mike Shipulski – @MikeShipulski
Mukesh Gupta
Nick Partridge – @KnewNewNeu
Nicolas Bry – @NicoBry
Pamela Soin
Paul Hobcraft – @Paul4innovating
Paul Sloane – @paulsloane
Pete Foley – @foley_pete
Ralph Christian Ohr – @ralph_ohr
Richard Haasnoot – @Innovate2Grow
Robert B Tucker – @RobertBTucker
Saul Kaplan – @skap5
Scott Anthony – @ScottDAnthony
Scott Bowden – @scottbowden51
Shelly Greenway – @ChiefDistiller
Soren Kaplan – @SorenKaplan
Stefan Lindegaard – @Lindegaard
Stephen Shapiro – @stephenshapiro
Steven Forth – @StevenForth
Tamara Kleinberg – @LaunchStreet
Tim Stroh
Tom Koulopoulos – @TKspeaks
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 2021

Nominations Open for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021Human-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

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 2021.

The deadline for submitting nominations is December 24, 2021 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, 2021.

We will then compile a voting list of all the nominations, and publish it on December 25, 2021.

Voting will then be open from December 25, 2021 – January 1, 2022 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 self-publish on our platform!

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021 will then be announced on here in early January 2022.

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

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Building an Imagination Machine

Exclusive Interview Excerpt from InnovationManagement.se with Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller

Imagination Machine Authors

Imagination is one of the least understood but most crucial ingredients of success. It’s what makes the difference between an incremental change and the kinds of pivots and paradigm shifts that are essential to transformation — especially during a crisis.

Imagination is needed now more than ever—to find new opportunities, rethink our businesses, and discover paths to growth. Yet too many companies have lost their ability to imagine. What is this mysterious capacity? How does imagination work? And how can organizations keep it alive and harness it in a systematic way?

Drawing on the experience and insights of CEOs across several industries, as well as lessons from neuroscience, computer science, psychology, and philosophy, Martin Reeves of Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute and Jack Fuller, an expert in neuroscience, provide a fascinating look into the mechanics of imagination and lay out a process for creating ideas and bringing them to life.

I had the opportunity recently to interview the authors about the concepts behind the book The Imagination Machine: How to Spark New Ideas and Create Your Company’s Future.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. What do we most need to understand about the slowing growth rates you highlight early in the book?

Long term growth rates have been slowing in recent decades and its likely that this will continue, driven by demographic maturation even in countries which have been motors of global economic growth like China, as well as by increasing material saturation and planetary sustainability limits. The consequence is that it will become harder for companies to passively participate in aggregate growth or to merely refocus on faster growing geographic or product markets. Companies will therefore need to compete more aggressively for growth by creating new opportunities through imagination and innovation.

2. How does imagination differ from dreaming and creativity?

Dreaming is fantasy, unconstrained by the laws of physics and economics. Imagination, as we use the term in the book, is conceiving of things which do not exist but could be created. Imagination is therefore grounded in causal thinking. Creativity is a capability which can help individuals generate imaginative ideas but to systematically harness the power of imagination we need to look at the entire life cycle of ideas from inspiration through obsolescence and renewal and we need to consider how ideas develop and spread socially.

3. What makes imagination go?

Imagination is triggered by surprises which do not fit our current mental model for how the world, or a business is supposed to work. These surprises occur in the form of accidents (unintended consequences), anomalies (deviations from normal outcomes), and analogies (comparisons with other situations). In order to leverage a surprise, we need to first perceive it, requiring an external orientation, keen observation and open-mindedness. We also need to care about what we see, in the sense of harboring ideals or frustrations which propel is to pursue further the impetus created by surprise.

4. What is collective imagination, why is it important, and how is it fostered?

An idea which is not communicated or supported and adopted by others can never create new realities and be of economic value. Since an idea cannot be directly observed, it creates what philosophers call the challenge of inter-subjectivity. We can share ideas socially however by creating a prototype, by sharing the experience of developing an idea together, by witnessing its effect or by hearing and being motivated by a narrative which points to the significance of the idea. Put another way, one person’s idea needs to become the next persons surprise and inspiration if an idea is to spread. Organizations can unwittingly create many barriers to the spread of ideas, from functional silos, to local organizational dialects, to applying financial criteria too early, to skeptical cultures which only embrace proven ideas.

5. What gets in the way of imagination?

There are many obstacles to harnessing imagination throughout the lifecycle of ideas. These begin with the internal orientation of large companies, and over-reliance on averages and aggregates which conceal the surprises we need to see. Then we have the fact that few managers are trained in counterfactual thinking and many company cultures reject new ideas, in the name of “practicality”. Then we have obstacles to the spread of ideas, some of which I have already mentioned. As ideas mature, success needs to replicated and scaled through codification, which many companies make too complex to be implementable or too vague to capture essential features. Finally, past success can be toxic to future success if it becomes enshrined in fixed mental models and complacency.

The Imagination Machine6. Why is it important to understand and challenge your mental models?

Mental models are often confused with facts, but constructs like an industry, a strategy or a business model are chosen simplifications, which could be otherwise. If we don’t challenge our existing mental models, we cannot create new ones which then become the basis for new realities. To do this, we need to pay attention to anomalies and use them to update and evolve our mental models. It helps if we hold several mental models in mind at one time and if we are familiar with the techniques of counter-factual thinking – like decomposing models into elements and recombining them or imposing or removing constraints. It also helps if we educate ourselves broadly in several disciplines to build our repertoire of concepts and perspectives.

7. What is the link between action and imagination?

Click to read the rest of the interview on InnovationManagement.se


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Leveraging Alien Thinking

Exclusive Interview Excerpt from InnovationManagement.se with Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade

Alien Thinking

For the past decade, Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade, professors of innovation and strategy at IMD Business School, have studied inventors, scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, and artists. These people, or “aliens,” as the authors call them, are able to make leaps of creativity, and use five patterns of thinking that distinguish them from the rest of us.

Alien Thinking leads to a fresh and flexible approach to problem-solving. Alien thinkers know how to free the imagination so it can detect hard-to-observe patterns. They practice deliberate ways to retreat from the world in order to see the big picture underlying a problem. And they approach ideas in systematic ways that reflect the constraints of reality.

I had the opportunity recently to interview these three IMD professors about the concepts behind the book ALIEN Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. It looks like A.L.I.E.N. is an acronym. What are the key components that make up the approach? And what was the genesis for its creation?

Cyril Bouquet (CB): ALIEN thinking is first and foremost a metaphor that captures the need to approach problems with an open mind and a fresh perspective – like a child or an outsider – in order to develop breakthrough solutions.

About 10 years ago, my colleague Estelle Metayer (now professor at McGill University in Canada) was discussing the importance of avoiding strategic blindspots in a session she ran for groups of executives at IMD. Browsing through a book on change called Future Think, she also brought my attention to the first chapter, which was called “Looking Through Alien Eyes”. I thought this metaphor was very applicable to innovation – and at some point, I made a connection between the letters and some of the themes I was teaching to executives in class. Together with my colleagues, Jean-Louis and Mike, we came up with an acronym that highlights the essence of the creative mindset that we believe executives must embrace.

So, A stands for Attention, which is about noticing problems or opportunities that you and others previously missed by changing where and how you look.

L is for Levitation, which means stepping back to gain perspective and make sense of what you’ve seen to reflect on what you need to do differently.

I stands for Imagination, which involves connecting the dots in new and interesting ways to create original and useful ideas.

E is about Experimentation, which is about testing your promising idea and turning it into a workable solution that addresses a real need.

Finally, N stands for Navigation, which is about finding ways to get your solution accepted without getting shot down in the process.

2. Why is originality important? Why is it difficult to be original?

Jean-Louis Barsoux (JLB): Originality is a key driver of innovation and progress. It’s what fuels economic growth and brings advances in domains from science and medicine to inequality and sustainability, not to mention spiritual and emotional sustenance through the creative and performing arts.

But originality often represents a challenge to the prevailing norms and practices. It can easily trigger an allergic reaction toward the “odd” idea or its “weird” originator. The more disruptive your idea, the harder you need to work to show how it fits with the belief systems of people whose support you need to move the idea forward.

This is especially the case within companies. Intrapreneurs who come up with breakthrough ideas are often shocked to discover how much resistance they elicit from inside the organization that stands to benefit the most.

3. What does it mean to think like an “alien”?

Michael Wade (MW): Urging would-be innovators to think like aliens is similar to what Zen Buddhists call adopting the “beginner’s mind”. It’s about developing an attitude of openness and overcoming the many biases and blindspots that place artificial limits on your creative intelligence.

Perhaps the most insidious of these biases is what the French call “déformation proféssionnelle”. This is your tendency to look at the world through the distorting lens of your job, your training or profession. The very expertise that can help you solve problems can blind you to a wider range of creative possibilities. Instead of seeing the world as it is, you view it in the way an accountant, lawyer, engineer, or professor would see it.

This expertise baggage is problematic because it can impact every phase of the innovation process: starting with what problems we pay attention to or ignore; and how we interpret the information. It influences the types of ideas we generate and what aspects we stress or neglect in testing. Ultimately, it also impacts who we reach out to for support and what arguments we put forward to convince them.

It is vital to be conscious of this conditioning as we develop our ideas, test them, and try to sell them. Whenever possible we need to get input from people who think differently from us – and make sure we listen to them – to counteract our preconceptions.

4. Why do existing innovation frameworks – including design thinking and lean startup – fall short?

CB: The design thinking and lean start up methodologies have done a wonderful job of raising our understanding of innovation and creating a shared vocabulary – with concepts like “minimum viable product”, ideation, and pivot. But we feel that like other innovation frameworks, they fall short in two ways.

First, they are incomplete. They don’t explicitly take account of the vital role of reflection – what we call levitation – throughout the innovation process. Instead they emphasize speed and action, presenting innovation as a series of sprints. Lean startup takes the initial problem as a given, leaving no space for reframing it, before launching into a frenzied cycle of build-measure-learn. Nor do existing models integrate the digital aspect of innovation or show how digital technologies relate, say, to the “human-centric” principles enshrined in design thinking.

Second, existing models are misleading because they gloss over the psychological pitfalls and biases that inhibit your original thinking. They tell you what to do, without acknowledging why it’s difficult. For example, pivoting is a great concept, but to do it, you must overcome some critical cognitive biases, including confirmation biases and sunk cost effects. By contrast, ALIEN thinking surfaces some of the ways we deceive ourselves at different stages of the innovation process – and end up focusing on the wrong problems, or jumping to solutions, or sticking too long with a bad idea.

Our view is that an alien mindset can support and complement design thinking and lean startup by helping to challenge assumptions that these frameworks take for granted.

5. What can or should be the role of digital augmentation be in innovation activities?

MW: Digital technologies can boost ALIEN thinking in several ways – but especially during the attention and experimentation phases.

For example, in terms paying attention to how products or services are actually used and what are some of the unmet needs, we traditionally relied on painstaking direct observation of users. But today, a lot of that observation can be automated. You can remotely monitor people and objects in close to real time through sensors and social listening. For example, the German-based Nivea brand tapped into discussions across social media sites concerning deodorant use. Contrary to expectations, they discovered that the main preoccupation of consumers was not fragrance or effectiveness, but clothes stains. This insight triggered the development of a new category of anti-stain deodorants. Digital tools enable you to collect data without direct observation and on a much larger scale than previously.

Digital technologies also make a dramatic difference at the experimentation stage. You can build digital twins of objects to experiment quickly, safely, and cheaply. This is exactly what Bertrand Piccard’s team did when they built the first solar-powered plane, with the wingspan of an Airbus, the weight of a car and the power of a small motorcycle. Testing multiple full-scale prototypes would have been ruinously expensive. But computer simulation creates the possibility of trial without error – or at least without costly errors.

Alien Thinking6. In an era of digital saturation and burnout, how are people supposed to make time to focus and elevate their thinking?

JLB: Occasionally stepping back from the action to regain perspective and make sense of disparate pieces of information is vital to creativity. Reflection is an integral part of the innovation process – whether it’s to reconsider the problem, or your approach to it – or the solution itself.

But elevating your thinking, which we call “levitation”, has become increasingly difficult in a context where we are inundated with calls, emails, and texts from colleagues expecting quick responses.

Paradoxically, the experience of working from home, which should have given us more control over our agenda, has often exacerbated the problem, with back-to-back or even overlapping zoom calls. And although we save on commuting time, we rarely make use of that time to re-energize or re-assess.

The only way to secure reflection time is to plan for it. This may seem forced, but unless you schedule breaks, you will find that the demands of the problems at hand always win out. It also has to be a meaningful break. Snatching a short lunch at your desk while watching social media for distraction won’t help. Nor does going out a walk and taking your phone with you.

Creativity demands introspection. To leverage your pause, you really need to unplug and see where your mind leads you. You need to protect your boredom! Is it any wonder that people often report getting their best ideas in the shower? It is one of the few mindless activities that remains beyond the reach of digital technology!

Click to read the rest of the interview on InnovationManagement.se


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Voting Closed – Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020

Vote for Top 40 Innovation BloggersFor 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 I am eternally grateful to all of you out there who take the time to create and share great innovation articles, presentations, white papers, and videos and to make a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers available each year.

My lists from the eight previous years have been tremendously popular:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2012
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2013
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2014
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

Business Strategy Innovation is now looking for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020.

Do you, or does someone you know, write articles about innovation?

Or 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, marketing, management, collaboration, or social media (as they relate to innovation)?

Well, Business Strategy Innovation is looking to recognize the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers and you helped us find them with your nominations. Now it is time to vote, and help us narrow things down to a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020.

Build a Common Language of Innovation on your team

The deadline for submitting votes is January 7, 2021 at midnight GMT.

The ranking will be done by me with influence from votes and nominations. The quality and quantity of contributions 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 2020 and the contest winners will then be announced here in early January 2021.

Here is who received nominations (in alphabetical order):

Adi Gaskell – @adigaskell
Alex Goryachev
Andy Heikkila – @AndyO_TheHammer
Arlen Meyers
Braden Kelley – @innovate
Chad McAllister – @ChadMcAllister
Chris Beswick
Dan Blacharski – @Dan_Blacharski
Daniel Burrus – @DanielBurrus
Daniel Lock
Dave Wendland
David Burkus
Douglas Ferguson
Drew Boyd – @DrewBoyd
Frank Mattes – @FrankMattes
Gregg Fraley – @greggfraley
Greg Satell – @Digitaltonto
Hugo de Sousa
Ian Ure
Janet Sernack – @JanetSernack
Jay Boolkin
Jeffrey Baumgartner – @creativejeffrey
Jeff Freedman – @SmallArmyAgency
Jeffrey Phillips – @ovoinnovation
Jorge Barba – @JorgeBarba
Julian Birkinshaw – @JBirkinshaw
Julie Anixter – @julieanixter
Kate Hammer – @Kate_Hammer
Kevin McFarthing – @InnovationFixer
Kevin Namaky – @knamaky
Kevin Popovic
Lou Killeffer – @LKilleffer
Mari Anixter- @MariAnixter
Maria Paula Oliveira – @mpaulaoliveira
Marty Zwilling – @StartupPro
Matthew E May – @MatthewEMay
Michael Graber – @SouthernGrowth
Mike Brown – @Brainzooming
Mike Shipulski – @MikeShipulski
Mukesh Gupta
Nick Partridge – @KnewNewNeu
Nicolas Bry – @NicoBry
Pamela Soin
Paul Hobcraft – @Paul4innovating
Paul Sloane – @paulsloane
Pete Foley – @foley_pete
Ralph Christian Ohr – @ralph_ohr
Richard Haasnoot – @Innovate2Grow
Robert B Tucker – @RobertBTucker
Rowan Gibson – @RowanGibson
Saul Kaplan – @skap5
Scott Anthony – @ScottDAnthony
Scott Bowden – @scottbowden51
Shelly Greenway – @ChiefDistiller
Soren Kaplan – @SorenKaplan
Stefan Lindegaard – @Lindegaard
Stephen Shapiro – @stephenshapiro
Steven Forth – @StevenForth
Tamara Kleinberg – @LaunchStreet
Tim Stroh
Tom Koulopoulos – @TKspeaks
Yoram Solomon – @yoram

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


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Nominations Closed for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020

Nominations Open for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020Business Strategy 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 Business Strategy 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 2012
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2013
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2014
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

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?

Business Strategy Innovation is now looking for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020.

The deadline for submitting nominations is December 31, 2020 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

So, think about who you like to read and let us know by midnight GMT on December 31, 2020.

We will then compile a voting list of all the nominations, and publish it on January 1, 2021.

Voting will then be open from January 1-7, 2021 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 will be a contributing factor.

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020 will then be announced on here in early January 2021.

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


Accelerate your change and transformation success

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

FINAL DAY – Insane Cyber Deal on My Latest Book

Charting Change

Every so often something comes through your inbox that seems too good to be true.

Today was one of those times when an email dropped into my inbox stating that Palgrave Macmillan, the publisher of my latest book Charting Change is offering it at a ridiculous Cyber Week Sale price of $9.99 on the USA web site.

USA – https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781137536952

There is also a European web site offering it for 9,99 Euros if you need it:

EUROPE – https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137536952

You can either get the eBook with INSTANT DOWNLOAD or the hardcover with FREE SHIPPING – It’s your choice!

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: According to the email, this deal ends December 3, 2019

Here is a blurb about the book from the web site to give you a sense of the value it will deliver to your organization:

Research shows that up to seventy percent of all change initiatives fail. Let’s face it, change is hard, as is getting an organization on board and working through the process. One thing that has been known to be effective is onboarding teams not only to understand this change, but to see the process and the progress of institutional change. Charting Change will help teams and companies visualize this complicated process. Kelley has developed the Change Planning Canvas™, which enables leadership and project teams to easily discuss the variable that will influence the change effort and organize them in a collaborative and visual way. It will help managers build a cohesive approach that can be more easily embraced by employees who are charged with the actual implementation of change. This book will teach readers how to use this visual toolkit to build a common language and vision for implementing change.

Here are the links for you again to take advantage of this offer ending December 3, 2019:

USA – https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781137536952 (only $9.99)
EUROPE – https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137536952 (only 9,99 Euros)

Hardcover or eBook!

Coupon Code: CYBER19PAL

—————————————–

SPECIAL BONUS: Anyone who buys a copy of the book will get FOR FREE 26 of the 50+ tools in the Change Planning Toolkit™ – INCLUDING a copy of the Change Planning Canvas™

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If $9.99 is still too much of a barrier to break through to accelerate your change capability, then go ahead and grab the 10 free tools, including a visualization of the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Standard for Change Management® and my popular & powerful collaborative Visual Project Charter™.

 

What People Are Saying

Daniel H Pink“There’s no denying it: Change is scary. But it’s also inevitable. In Charting Change, Braden Kelley gives you a toolkit and a blueprint for initiating and managing change in your organization, no matter what form it takes.”

– Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell is Human

Eric Hieger“Thoughtful, thorough, and practical is the rare blend that Braden has achieved in this Change Management field guide. Much more than a series of tactics, Charting Change will explicitly, sequentially, and visually help users create a diverse set of experiences for stakeholders that will most certainly increase likelihood of success.”

– Eric D. Hieger, Psy.D., Business Transformation and Change Leadership Practice Lead at ADP

Phil McKinney“Braden Kelley and his merry band of guest experts have done a nice job of visualizing in Charting Change how to make future change efforts more collaborative. Kelley shows how to draw out the hidden assumptions and land mines early in the change planning process, and presents some great techniques for keeping people aligned as a change effort or project moves forward.”

– Phil McKinney, retired CTO for Hewlett-Packard and author of Beyond the Obvious

Denise Fletcher“As the pace of change speeds up, the market disruptions and resulting changes can be daunting for all. We all wish we could predict how change will affect our business, our market and our people. No matter what business area you come from, change affects us all and can produce great outcomes when managed well. In Braden Kelley’s newest book, Charting Change, he provides a terrific toolkit to manage this process and make it stick.”

– Denise Fletcher, Chief Innovation Officer, Xerox

Marshall Goldsmith“Higher employee retention? Increased revenue? Process enhancements? Whatever your change goal, Charting Change is full of bright ideas and invaluable visual guides to walk you through change in any area where your organization needs it.”

– Marshall Goldsmith is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Triggers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There


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