Tag Archives: future

What Business Are You In?

(Hint: It’s Probably Not What You Think)

What Business Are You In?

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

“What business are you in?”

How do you answer this all-too-common question?

Do you name the company you work for?

The industry you’re in?

The function you perform?

Bad news, your business isn’t defined by the company, the industry, and even your function.

Good news, the business you’re in is defined by your customers.

And their definition unlocks incredible potential for innovation and growth.

The 2:00 am Answer

In my first few months as an Assistant Brand Manager at P&G, I had a truly terrifying experience. Sitting in a training session, a senior executive locked eyes with me and asked, “What is Brand Equity?”

My first thought was, “you tell me, buddy. I’m the newbie here.”  My second thought, and the one that came out of my mouth, was probably something straight out of a marketing textbook.

“Wrong!” he exclaimed. “Brand equity is what a consumer says if you wake them up from a dead sleep at 2:00 am and scream ‘What is [brand]?’ in their face.”

I don’t know what scared me more, being yelled at for being wrong or the idea that breaking and entering and screaming brand names at unsuspecting sleepers was suddenly part of my job description.

The 2:00 am Answer is the business you’re in

The 2:00 am answer applies to more than just brand equity.

It reveals the business you’re in.

Because it’s the Job-to-be-Done your customers hire you to do

As the training went on, we learned how this mantra manifests in everything a brand (or company) does – its products, pricing, packaging, distribution, and marketing.

For example, if the most important thing to you about laundry is that clothes come out of the washing machine clean, you have dozens of options and probably buy the cheapest one.

But, if you want to be sure that clothes will be immaculate after the first wash because you know your kids will wear anything, even if it has stains, which will lead the other parents to judge you, you have one option – Tide.

Why the 2:00 am Answer matters

The 2:00 am Answer also defines where you have a right to play and to win.

Sometimes this space is bigger than you expect, revealing incredible opportunities for innovation and growth.

Sometimes it’s smaller than you want, exposing a strategic misalignment between what you offer and what your customers want. This happened to LEGO and took the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

In 1998, LEGO posted its first loss in company history. To reinvigorate growth, it shifted from being in the business of Toys to being in the business of Play. This led to two decisions that, while strategically aligned with Play, almost bankrupted the company. First was the introduction of new toys specifically designed to be built in less than 10 minutes so kids could start playing quickly. The second decision took LEGO into other aspects of play – video games, amusement parks, and a TV show supported by a line of action figures.

In 2003, LEGO reported a $238M loss, and with only one profitable product line, the future was bleak. So, LEGO started talking to customers (though probably not at 2:00 am). Through the conversations, LEGO learned that its expansion into all forms of play and the prioritization of Play over creation (building) wasn’t LEGO-y in the minds of consumers. So they rejected the new offerings. Instead, people loved LEGO because it offered “creative play” – the freedom and ability to turn ideas into tangible and interactive 3D models.

LEGO listened and went “back to the brick.”  The results speak for themselves. In 2015, LEGO overtook Ferrari to become the world’s most powerful brand. In 2021, LEGO earned $8.06B in revenue, a 27% increase from the prior year.

How to get and use the 2:00 am Answer (without committing a felony)

First, get clear on the business you WANT to be in. Ask yourself and your colleagues, what do we want our customers to hire us to do? Push beyond the easy and obvious answers (usually functional Jobs to be Done). How do you want customers to feel after hiring your company (emotional Jobs to be Done)? How do you want them to be perceived (social Jobs to be Done)? What Job to be Done do you want to do uniquely well?

Second, talk to your customers one-on-one at a time and place of their choosing. Ask them why they hire your business. Again, push beyond the easy and obvious answers to understand what they want to feel and be perceived after choosing you. Ask what other options they considered and why they hired your business.

Find and close the gap. What’s the difference between what you wanted to hear and what you actually heard? If the gap is bigger than expected, how can you expand and innovate your business to grow into all the Jobs people want to hire you to do? If the gap is smaller, how can you shift or redirect efforts to grow in ways where you have permission to operate?

The 2:00 am Answer can be the key to defining, growing, and transforming your business.

Who says nothing good happens after midnight?

Image credit: Unsplash

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3 Steps to a Truly Terrific Innovation Team

3 Steps to a Truly Terrific Innovation Team

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

“What had a bigger impact on the project? The process you introduced or the people on the team?”

As much as I wanted to give all the credit to my brilliant process, I had to tell the truth.

“People. It’s always people.”

The right people doing the right work in the right way at the right time can do incredible, even impossible, things. But replace any “right” in the previous sentence, and even the smallest things can feel impossible. A process can increase the odds of doing the right work in the right way, but it’s no guarantee. It’s powerless in the hands of the wrong people.

But how do you assemble the right group of people?  Start with the 3 Ts.

Type of Innovation

We’re all guilty of using ‘innovation’ to describe anything that is even a little bit new and different. And we’ve probably all been punished for it.

Finding the right people for innovation start with defining what type of innovation they will work on:

  • Incremental: updating/modifying existing offerings that serve existing customers
  • Adjacent: creating new offerings for existing customers OR re-positioning existing offerings to serve new customers
  • Radical: new offerings or business models for new customers

Different innovation types require teams to grapple with different levels of ambiguity and uncertainty.  Teams working on incremental innovations face low levels of ambiguity because they are modifying something that already exists, and they have relative certainty around cause and effect.  However, teams working on radical innovations spend months grappling with ambiguity, certain only that they don’t know what they don’t know.

Time to launch

Regardless of the type of innovation, each innovation goes through roughly the same four steps:

  1. Discover a problem to be solved
  2. Design solutions
  3. Develop and test prototypes
  4. Launch and measure

The time allotted to work through all four steps determines the pace of the team’s work and, more importantly, how stakeholders make decisions. For example, the more time you have between the project start and the expected launch, the more time you have to explore, play, create, experiment, and gather robust data to inform decisions.  But if you’re expected to go from project start to project launch in a year or less, you need to work quickly and make decisions based on available (rather than ideal) data.

Tasks to accomplish

Within each step of the innovation process are different tasks, and different people have different abilities and comfort levels with each.  This is why there is growing evidence that experience in the phase of work is more important than industry or functional expertise for startups.

There are similar data for corporate innovators. In a study of over 100,000 people, researchers identified the type and prevalence of four types of innovators every organization needs:

  1. Generators (17% of the sample): Find new problems and ideate based on their own experience.
  2. Conceptualizers (19%): Define the problem and understand it through abstract analysis, most comfortable in early phases of innovation (e.g., Discover and Design)
  3. Implementers (41%): Put solutions to work through experiments and adjustments, most comfortable in later stages of innovation (Develop and Launch)
  4. Optimizers (23%):  Systematically examine all alternatives to implement the best possible solution

Generators and Conceptualizers are most comfortable in the early stages of innovation (i.e., Discover and Design).  Implementers and Optimizers are most comfortable in the later stages (e.g., Develop and Launch).  The challenge for companies is that only 36% of employees fall into one of those two categories, and most tend to be senior managers and executives.

Taking Action

Putting high performers on innovation teams is tempting, and top talent often perceives such assignments as essential to promotion.  But no one enjoys or benefits when the work they’re doing isn’t the work they’re good at.  Instead, take time to work through the 3Ts, and you’ll assemble a truly terrific innovation team.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Designing Innovation – Accelerating Creativity via Innovation Strategy

Designing Innovation - Accelerating Creativity via Innovation Strategy

GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson

To innovate is to survive.

As an overwhelming 80% of founders believe innovation to be the heart of organizational growth, employing an innovation strategy that promotes,  facilitates, and feeds innovation is essential.

Developing a solid plan for facilitating innovation in your organization is a necessary step in your company’s growth. In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to harness innovation as we explore the following topics:

  • The Source of Innovation
  • What is an Innovation Strategy?
  • Strategizing for Innovation
  • Innovating from Within
  • A System of Innovation

The Source of Innovation

Innovation often feels like a form of magic: it’s a powerful yet elusive force that drives the best ideas and creates the greatest breakthroughs. While some prefer to wait for inspiration to strike, happenstance is hardly the driving force behind innovation.

The true source of innovation is the organization itself. Leaders must intentionally create systems, processes, and strategies that allow for innovation at every turn.

Innovation is similar to any other corporate function as it requires careful strategizing to make the best ideas come to life. In doing this, leaders can set the stage and make the most innovative ideas and processes a regular practice in their organization. Ultimately, innovation may appear in the initial spark of a great idea, but it takes purposeful, thoughtful, and conscious planning for a great idea to exist beyond that moment of genius.

What is an Innovation Strategy?

Driving organizational innovation starts with creating an innovation strategy. An innovation strategy identifies processes that allow for the most creative and effective solutions.

The ideal innovation strategy allows an organization to zero in on its audience’s expectations by:

  •  Identifying customers’ unmet needs
  • Targeting these needs for growth

A healthy innovation strategy allows an organization to create the most efficient pathways to resolving these needs and growing its company. Effective strategies for innovation follow a prioritization method to help teams understand which ideas hold the highest return. In creating a solid innovation strategy, leaders must develop a system that can be repeated time and again.

Strategizing for Innovation

From defining your goals to using tech to transform your organization into a hybrid model, the possibilities are endless when it comes to innovation. As you design your innovation strategy, it’s essential to understand the nuances of innovation. Working with an innovation consultant can help you iron out a strategy that’s best for your team. With an expert in innovation, you’ll be able to better determine effective next steps toward the business’s goals.

Consultants are equipped to explain the subtleties in innovative strategizing, such as the various types of innovation:

  • Routine Innovation.

Routine innovation is a building block that adds to the company’s pre-existing structure, such as its customer base or earlier versions of a product.

  • Disruptive Innovation.

Disruptive innovation results in a new business model that disrupts or challenges the competition’s business models.

  • Radical Innovation.

Radical innovation introduces new inventions, software, or technology to completely transform an existing business model. This type of innovation is best used to help organizations achieve a competitive advantage in the market.

  • Architectural Innovation.

Architectural innovation uses new technology to create new markets. Essentially, architectural innovation changes the entire overall design of a product by redesigning existing components.

In creating the best innovation strategy for your current needs, take into account the following guidelines:

  • Clarifying your goals and priorities.

The right innovation strategy outlines your organizational goals and efforts to identify the best actionable steps to achieve these goals.

  • Fostering alignment within your organization.

Alignment should be at the center of any innovation strategy. Everyone must be aligned in pursuing a common goal for an organization to achieve new ideas and an innovative way of working.

  • Encouraging your team to keep improving.

Complacency kills innovation. Make sure your company is always ready to move on to the next great idea by making continuous growth and development a key part of your innovation strategy.

  • Reaching long-term success.

Focusing on reaching long-term success is an essential part of any innovation strategy.

Innovating From Within

An innovation strategy becomes the most effective when leaders can ingrain the processes and practices into their culture. Once innovation becomes an integral part of how a team works, they’ll be able to keep innovation top-of-mind.

By innovating from within, you’ll create a sustainable innovation strategy that becomes part of your company culture. Consider these pillars of innovation as you center innovation strategy at the heart of your company:

  1. Models: Innovation strategies fall into two models:
  • Business model innovation
    In this process, an organization completely adapts its business model to add value to its customers.
  • Leveraging an existing business model
    This process allows an organization to use its existing business model while bringing innovation to the business itself.
  1. Intrapreneurship
    Intrapreneurship empowers employees to act as entrepreneurs while working within the company. This encourages each person to create and act on their ideas, thus fostering a culture of ongoing company-wide innovation.
  2. Corporate Accelerator
    Corporate accelerators are programs started by larger enterprises, offering aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to find mentors, access seed capital, and make important connections.
  3. Innovation Labs
    Innovation labs are a starting point for R&D teams and startups to facilitate new ideas.
  4. Open Innovation Program
    This model of R&D encourages existing employees to collaborate on new business ideas that add value to the company.
  5. External Accelerators
    Though external accelerators don’t meet in-house, they can add incredible value to an organization. Businesses can use external accelerators to advance startups and drive concepts that align with their goals and needs without covering the costs of running an in-house program.
  6. Collaboration
    Collaboration is an integral component in shaping a cohesive innovation strategy. Through constant discussion, interaction, and creative collaboration, all members of an organization work together to bring their ideas to life.
  7. Ideation
    Managing innovation requires organizations to manage ideation. In doing so, leaders work to identify the best plans for analyzing, gathering, and implementing the right ideas. Ultimately, companies need an effective system that will transform an idea into a process that gets results.
  8. Measurement
    Innovation strategies should include a plan to measure success by considering relevant metrics for each goal. For example, KPIs such as email subscribers, website traffic, and social shares are excellent metrics for tracking brand awareness.

A System of Innovation

Developing a comprehensive innovation strategy must go beyond general objectives such as achieving growth, creating value, and beating competitors. To truly create company-wide change through innovation, organizations should clearly articulate specific objectives that will allow for the most sustainable competitive advantage.

A thorough innovation strategy successfully embeds innovation in the very system of an organization. To implement such systemic innovation, design your innovation strategy with the following objectives:

  • Creating Long-Term Value for Potential Customers

An innovation strategy should always consider the most effective ways to create long-term value for customers. In developing a cohesive strategy, consider the type of value you’re aiming to create through innovation. Value can be created in many ways, including improving customer experience, making a product more affordable, or benefiting society at large.

In your efforts to identify what values to zero in on, consider those that will have the greatest impact in the long term. This way, your innovation strategy will include continuously iterating towards better designs in the future.

  • Capturing Value Generated From Innovations 

Innovations easily attract competitors that can pose a risk to the original product or idea. In your efforts to create a thorough innovation strategy, consider how your company plans to capture the value its innovations create.

For example, a company that creates an exciting new product should be prepared for its competition to create more affordable prototypes. In the worst-case scenario, the competition may capture the value of the innovation.

Consider these risks in your innovation strategy by identifying what complementary services, products, assets, and capabilities may improve customer loyalty. This way, you’ll already have a plan in place to ensure your organization continues to profit from every innovation.

  • Strategizing for Business Model Innovation

Technology plays an important role in innovation but isn’t the only path to new ideas. In developing a robust innovation strategy, consider the level of technology and your preferred method of innovation to pursue.

Harnessing the magic of innovation takes careful planning. Need help driving innovation in your organization? At Voltage Control, we help leaders develop innovative strategies through change! Contact us today to discuss the best path to innovation. 

Image credit: Pexels

Article first published here: voltagecontrol.com

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Imagine Your Next

Planning for the Future!

Imagine Your Next

GUEST POST from Teresa Spangler

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.” – Charles Kettering

The line between humans and machines is blurring by the day. The future, as we know it today may be tomorrow’s history book; with our exponential technological advancement in fields like Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, automation etc., there will come a time when machine intelligence could exceed human capabilities to an extent that would require us to contemplate on how this might affect society for better or worse.

The question of whether AI can take over has been at the forefront among futurists ever since computers began matching human abilities—albeit not entirely replacing them just yet! Although no one knows what lies ahead for humanity, these advancements are certainly going bring changes in every sphere from socioeconomics all the way up to space exploration.

So how best can we do future planning with so many priorities sitting on our day-to-day plates? Here is a simple exercise you and your organization can use to get imaginative about your future and design the best possible outcomes you desire.

In order to formulate the best possible outcomes for your organization, you need to get imaginative and plan. One way of doing this is by looking 10 years into the future! Can you predict what the future will look like in 10 years? Probably not. But, with a little time and creativity, we can get close!

Using this first strategy that may help you started planning a possible future.

Exercise:

Look forward 10 years

Divide a wall, white board or use a conference table into two sections

  • Doom– most negative possible outcomes that could happen
  • Boom– most positive possible outcomes that could happen

Considerations in your scenarios:

  • How will the world be impacted?
  • How will humanity be impacted?
  • How will your company be impacted?
  • How will you personally be impacted?
  • How did each of the above contribute to these scenarios?
  • + Any other points you feel need to be considered

Using sticky notes 

  1. Write as many worse possible outcomes as the team can imagine
  2. Write as many of the best possible outcome you can imagine impacting the world and humans positively.

Have each person contributing to craft a mini story of each scenario as if it’s happened already with as much detail as possible.  Each person read out their mini story and collectivity design one story scenario from everyone’s input.

Now you have two possible future worlds one worst case and one best case.

Now for the planning:

Take the best case and reimagine your vision and mission as a company. What products, technologies, services, solutions will you have (no barriers! Imagine anything is possible)? 

What roles will you have, what skills will everyone have, what does the organization look like, how have your customers and their needs changed?

This is not a one-hour or one-day exercise. The idea of designing the future is ongoing.

In the future, humans will coexist with machines.

The question is: how?

What do you think about this and what are your thoughts on adapting to it now?

How does company’s products change in relation to human-machine relationships or interactions reflected by technology usage habits of today’s youth who grew up using smartphones from an early age they can type faster than 5 WPM typing speed?

Consider the possibilities!

Let us help you start your journey into the future. We’d love to help!

Request our free two-hour facilitated workshop and see what you come up with!

Image credit: Pixabay

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Reset and Reconnect to Increase our Connectedness

Reset and Reconnect to Increase our Connectedness

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our second blog in the Reconnect and Reset series of three blogs, we stated that now is not the time to panic. Nor is it a time to languish from change fatigue, pain, and emotional lethargy. It is a significant moment in time to focus, rehabilitate, rebuild, repair, regrow and reset to increase our connectedness through linking human touchpoints that increase people-power in the fourth industrial revolution.

In the current environment, where chaos and order are constantly polarizing, it’s crucial to touch people with empathy, reignite their social skills, and enable them to become healthily self-compassionate and more self-caring to:

  • Patiently support, lead, manage, mentor, and coach them towards finding their own balance to flow with mitigating the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.
  • Take advantage of new technologies, networks, and ecosystems to re-engage and collaborate with others and with civil society in positive ways that contribute to the whole.
  • Do the good work that creates a more compelling, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future, that serves the common good.

The Landscape Has Changed and So Have the Solutions

As the fourth industrial revolution continues to implode, we need to zoom out and consider the bigger picture. Where a recent Harvard Review article What Will Management Look Like in the Next 100 Years?” states that we are entering an era, which is fundamentally transforming the way we operate. Which is defined by the disruptive growth in blockchain technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and other core digital capabilities.

All of which, in some way, is dependent on linking the key human touchpoints that increase people’s power and our connectedness.

  • An era of empathy

In the same article, management scholar Rita Gunther McGrath argued that management practices based on command and control, and expertise would ultimately make way for empathy.

Where work is centred around value creation conducted through networks and collaboration, that rely on increasing the connectedness between machines and humans rather than through rigid structures and relationships to thrive through increasing people-power in the fourth industrial revolution.

  • Capable of better

The Qualtrics 2022 Employee Experience Trends Report also states that the landscape has changed.  Where people are choosing to work flexibly, to work in the places that work best for them, and to take time for their own well-being, families, and friends.

Where people are demanding change because they care, about their leaders and their organizations, and want to be capable of developing better ideas; better innovations; and delivering better performances.

The report outlines the four things your people need you to know:

  1. There will be an exodus of leaders – and women will be the first out the door.
  2. People will demand better physical and digital workspaces.
  3. The lack of progress in diversity, inclusion, and belonging won’t be accepted.

People don’t want to become irrelevant, nor do they want their managers, leaders, and organizations to become irrelevant. People know that they can’t, and won’t go back to the old ways of doing things. People also know that they are already living in the new normal and that they need to start working there, too and to do that, we need to increase our connectedness.

Which is especially important for building people’s power and mitigating the challenges emerging in the fourth industrial revolution.

  • A transformative moment for employees and employers

Businessolver’s Eighth Annual Report on the State of Workplace Empathy describes how the pandemic has impacted on employees’ personal lives, the labor market, and the economy, and states that “we are living through a renegotiation of the social contract between employees and employers”.

Their data shows that amid the return to the office, fewer employees view their organizations as empathetic, and that workplace empathy has clear implications for employee well-being, talent retention, business results, and increases people-power:

  • About 70% of employees and HR professionals believe that empathetic organizations drive higher employee motivation.
  • While 94% of employees value flexible work hours as empathetic, the option is only offered in 38% of organizations.
  • 92% of CEOs say their response to returning to in-person work is satisfactory, compared to 78% of employees.
  • 82% of employees say their managers are empathetic, compared to 69% who say the same about their organization’s chief executive.

Yet, there seems to be a true lack of understanding, especially in the corporate sector, of what it means to be empathetic, and a shortage of time and energy to develop the mindsets, behaviors, and skills to practice it and make it a habit.

It is also a fundamental way of being to increase our connectedness and building peoples-power.

Make a Fundamental Choice to Increase our Connectedness

Even though each person is a distinct physical being, we are all connected to each other and to nature, not only through our language but also by having a deeper sense of being.

Human connectedness is a powerful human need that occurs when an individual is aware and actively engaged with another person, activity, object or environment, group, team, organization, or natural environment.

It results in a sense of well-being.

The concept is applied in psychology as a sensation or perception where a person does not operate as a single entity – we are all formed together to make another, individual unit, which is often described as wholeness.

Which is especially important for our well-being and people power in the face of the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.

Strategies for Developing Quality Connections

  • Be grounded, mindful and conscious

Being grounded and mindful enables people to become fully present to both themselves and to others. It is a generous gift to unconditionally bestow on others. Especially at this moment in time, where the pandemic-induced social isolation, has caused many people to become unconsciously and unintentionally self-absorbed.

There is an opening to become aware of, and to cultivate our attending and observing skillsets, to sense and see the signals people are sending, at the moment they are sending them. To help people identify the source of their issues to re-establish a sense of influence and control that reduces their autonomic nervous system reactions and help them restore their calmness.

This is the basis to increase our connectedness, by attuning and becoming empathetic as to what thoughts and feelings lay behind their behaviours and actions, with detachment, allowing and acceptance.

  • Be open-hearted and open-minded 

Being curious about what others are feeling and thinking, without evaluating, judging, and opposing what they are saying. By knowing how to listen deeply for openings and doorways that allow possibilities and opportunities to emerge, to generate great questions that clarify and confirm what is being both said and unsaid.

To support people by creating a safe and collective holding space, that reduces their automatic unconscious defensive responses.  To defuse situations by being empathic and humble and increase our connectedness by asking how you might help or support them, and gaining their permission and trust to do so.

Increase our connectedness through being vulnerable in offering options so they make the best choice for themselves, to reduce their dependence, help them identify and activate their circles of influence and control and sustain their autonomy.

  • Help people regenerate

Now is the moment in time to focus on building workforce capabilities and shifting mindsets for generating a successful culture or digital transformation initiative by harnessing, igniting, and mobilizing people’s motivation and collective intelligence and building people power.

It is crucial to acknowledge and leverage the impact of technology through increasing people-power by developing new mindsets, behaviors, skills, and new roles, which are already emerging as fast as other roles change.

Be willing to invest in the deep learning challenges that build people’s readiness and receptivity to change, so they can embrace rather than resist it, and be willing to unlearn, and relearn, differently, by collaborating with other people, leaders, teams, and organizations across the world.

Ultimately, it all depends on being daring and willing to increase our connectedness, through adapting, innovating, and collectively co-creating strategies, systems, structures that serve the common good, and contribute to the well-being of people, deliver profits and nurture a sustainable planet.

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, a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

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 increase people-power, upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique context. Find out more about our products and tools.

This is the final in a series of three blogs on the theme of reconnecting and resetting, to create, invent and innovate in an increasingly chaotic world.

You can also check out the recording of our 45-minute masterclass, to discover new ways of re-connecting through the complexity and chaos of dis-connection to create, invent and innovate in the future! Find out more.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of October 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of October 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are October’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Reality — by Braden Kelley
  2. How Do You Judge Innovation: Guilty or Innocent? — by Robyn Bolton
  3. Scaling New Heights – Building Resilience — by Teresa Spangler
  4. What Great Transformational Leaders Learn from Their Failures — by Greg Satell
  5. Your Brand Isn’t the Problem — by Mike Shipulski
  6. What’s Next – Through the Looking Glass — by Braden Kelley
  7. Don’t Blame Quiet Quitting for a Broken Business Strategy — by Soren Kaplan
  8. The Ways Inflection Points Define Our Future — by Greg Satell
  9. How to Use TikTok for Marketing Your Business — by Shep Hyken
  10. Making Innovation the Way We Do Business (easy as ABC) — by Robyn Bolton

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in September that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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Reset and Reconnect to Transform your World

Reset and Reconnect to Transform your World

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

Our blog, Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World was the first in a series of three, on the theme of reconnecting and resetting, to create, invent and innovate in an increasingly chaotic world. In this blog, we described how we have opportunities, to focus on being kinder to both ourselves and to others we interact with. To help us shift our mental states to transition effectively through the shock and pain of the pandemic, and rehabilitate in ways that transform our worlds.

We also outlined the range of key reasons as to why it is critical to take personal responsibility for understanding, helping, and supporting those we depend upon, and who depend upon us, to respond in ways that are respectful and compassionate, creative and courageous.

That enables and empowers people to recover and rehabilitate from the shock and pain they are experiencing from their elevated levels of stress, discomfort, and anxiety, occurring in our relentlessly uncertain and chaotic environments, through allowing, accepting, and acknowledging where people are at – and that it’s OK to not be OK!

Neither a time to panic nor languish

Right now, it is neither a time to panic, stall nor to languish in the face of change fatigue and mental lethargy.

It is a time to shift from making binary (either/or) judgements towards making linear (both/and) judgements to re-think and create a mental state, that is open and receptive to emerging possibilities and embraces change in ways that are fair and inclusive.

To transform your world through:

  • Choosing a range of constructive and positive responses to the rising levels of global economic, civic, and social uncertainty and unrest in our own local environments.
  • Generously and kindly demonstrating care, respect, and appreciation for the value everyone brings, and by being collaborative, appreciative, helpful, and supportive.
  • Being unconditionally willing to take the “sacred pause” that allows ourselves, teams, organizations, and to reconnect and reset, through intentionally using constraints and developing a mental state that supports them to become adaptive, creative, inventive, and innovative.

Transforming your world involves co-creating a deeper sense of belonging and a more optimistic outlook, to enhance our collective intelligence toward discovering and navigating new ways of thriving, flourishing, and flowing in the face of ongoing disruption.

Integrating and balancing chaos and rigidity

Dr. Dan Siegal, in Mindsight, applies the emerging principles of interpersonal neurobiology to promote compassion, kindness, resilience, and well-being in our personal lives, our relationships, and our communities.

In our global coaching practice at ImagineNation™ we have observed that many of our clients are experiencing mental states that embody varying levels of discord, dissonance, and dis-order, which are deeply unconscious and are impacting them neurologically.

Dr. Dan Siegal states:

“At the heart of both interpersonal neurobiology and the mindsight approach is the concept of ‘integration’ which entails the linkage of different aspects of a system – whether they exist within a single person or a collection of individuals. Integration is seen as the essential mechanism of health as it promotes a flexible and adaptive way of being that is filled with vitality and creativity.

The ultimate outcome of integration is harmony. The absence of integration leads to chaos and rigidity—a finding that enables us to re-envision our understanding of mental disorders and how we can work together in the fields of mental health, education, and other disciplines, to create a healthier, more integrated world.”

We have seen a vast range of evidence of peoples’ internal and external, mental chaos, and self-imposed internal rigidity in many of our clients’ coaching sessions.

Knowing that when chaos and rigidity are prolonged – it creates unproductive or dysfunctional mental states and inflexible thought processing.

This makes people non-adaptive and mostly inflexible because their natural well-being is impaired (dis-order).

Our approach is to partner with clients to co-create a relationship, that supports and helps facilitate a set of more integrated mental states. This entails each person’s being respected for his or her autonomy and differentiated self through deep empathic communication, which creates the space and an opening for shifting mindsets and behaviors, to ultimately pull them towards a new possibility that may transform their world.

Allowing, accepting, and acknowledging

When we allow, accept, acknowledge and support people to recover and rehabilitate from the shock and pain they are experiencing as a result of recent global events and conflicts, including feelings of overwhelm, isolation, loneliness, and disconnection, we can enable them to initiate making these shifts.

According to Gallops Global Emotions 2022 Report – these are considered “negative emotions – the aggregate of the stress, sadness, anger, worry and physical pain that people feel every day” and have reached a new record in the history of their tracking.

Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallop stated in the report that their data reveals that unhappiness has been rising for more than a decade and that the world is also struggling from a silent pandemic – loneliness.

“Gallup finds that 330 million adults go at least two weeks without talking to a single friend or family member. And just because some people have friends, it doesn’t mean they have good friends. One‑fifth of all adults do not have a single person they can count on for help.”

No emotion or mental state is permanent!

It’s time to focus on exploring how to better help ourselves, our clients, people, and teams by paying deep attention and being intentional as to how we might experiment and collaborate, with three key steps, to make these shifts:

  1. Co-create relationships focused on supporting integration, by being respectful and empathic in all communications, to open space of possibility, and pull people towards what creative ideas and breakthroughs might transform their world.
  2. Artfully and masterfully generatively listen, inquire, question, and disagree, to evoke, provoke and create ideas for thinking and acting differently both today and in the future.
  3. Maximize people’s strengths, differences, and diversity, to sense, see and solve problems and be creative and inventive in delivering breakthrough ideas and innovative solutions that add value to the quality of people’s lives, in ways they appreciate and cherish.

Rehabilitate with intention

At the same time, paradoxically, extending options and choices that help them shift and transition through the shock and pain of the past two and half years.

Enabling and empowering people to rehabilitate, with intention rather than regret, adopting a systemic lens through:

  • Creating safe collective holding spaces, that embrace presence, empathy, and compassion.
  • Helping people get grounded, become mindful, and fully present, enables them to make quality connections, rebuild their confidence and recreate a sense of belonging.
  • Enabling, equipping, and empowering people with new mindsets, behaviors, and skills through unlearning, learning, and relearning so they can adapt, grow and be resourceful and resilient in the face of the range of emerging problems, opportunities, and challenges.
  • Amplifying people’s strengths, reinforcing positive emotions, mitigating and reducing the way they filter information to re-ignite their intrinsic motivation and re-engage them in what they can control, what care deeply about value, or need, to survive and thrive.

A decade of both transformation and disruption

As most of us are aware, we are currently experiencing a decade of both transformation and disruption, where chaos and order are constantly polarizing, making it imperative to support, mentor, and coach people to integrate and find their balance.

To help them become more flexible and open to being adaptive, and effectively “dance in dis-equilibrium” between the constant and consistent states of chaos and order.

To enable people to see themselves as the cause in actively unlearning and letting go of old mental models, unresourceful mental states, and thinking patterns, to reimagine and redesign how they work to transform their world and create a more compelling, inclusive, and sustainable future.

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, starting Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

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 context. Find out more about our products and tools.

This is the second in a series of three blogs on the theme of reconnecting and resetting, to create, invent and innovate in an increasingly chaotic world.

You can also check out the recording of our 45-minute masterclass, to discover new ways of re-connecting through the complexity and chaos of dis-connection to create, invent and innovate in the future!

Image credit: Unsplash

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What’s Next – Through the Looking Glass

What's Next - Through the Looking Glass

by Braden Kelley

Humanity is obsessed with the future, and we always want to know what’s next for us.

Sometimes we want to know the future so badly that we stress ourselves out about imagined futures that won’t ever come to pass instead of dealing with what is right in front of us.

Time is Not Linear

Most people think of time in a linear fashion, but this is the wrong way of thinking about it.

It is more helpful instead to think of time as a wave (or as a pulse) emanating from a central point in an outward direction, representing all of the possible futures. Then as the next point in one of those possible futures becomes fixed, then another wave emanates from this new point representing all of the new possible futures. The math of what the future MIGHT look like gets really big, really fast – as you might imagine.

This is what makes predicting the future so difficult.

The number of inputs influencing the next step in your future journey is massive, and the number of potential next steps that are outputs of your next best action is equally massive.

So, while it is important to plan for the future and to develop a point of view on the future you would like to be the result of your actions, it is still just a guess. Making it more important and impactful to look at the near future more often than not.

Recently I came across a video from CableLabs that looks at one potential near future:

We Are Already Living in a Virtual Reality

The first choice the creators faced was augmented reality versus virtual reality, and you’ll see that they chose to highlight augmented reality instead of virtual reality. I think this is the right choice as many people would say we are living in a virtual reality already.

Our eyes and other sensory organs do their best to provide inputs to our brain about the physical reality we live in, but the information is often inaccurate and incomplete. Our brain tries to fill in the gaps, but there is some much we don’t understand about how the reality we live in operates.

The world we live in is already amazing, and there is more value in augmenting our experience of the reality we live within, than there is escaping into another reality that is more clumsy, awkward and lower fidelity than our experience of the virtual reality we live in now.

Our world is changing so fast that it is important for organizations and individuals to not just plan for the next month or the next quarter, but to plan for what we would like the near future to look like and think about the ways in which we would like to, and realistically can, influence it.

FutureHacking™ is Within Our Grasp

But the concepts of futurology and the role of the futurist seem pretty nebulous at best. It is because of this that I’ve begun creating a collection of FutureHacking™ tools to help you.

These tools will be available to license soon, and I’ll be holding virtual, and possibly in-person, workshops to explain how to use these simple tools to identify a range of potential futures, to select a preferred future, and activities to help influence its realization.

I think you’ll really like them, but in the meantime, I invite you to check out the embedded YouTube video and to share your thoughts on how you look at and plan for the future in the comments below.

Finally, make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to get our weekly collection of articles, along with updates on the forthcoming FutureHacking™ set of tools.

Keep innovating!

To read more about what scientists say we get wrong about time, check out this BBC article

Image Credit: Pixabay

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The Ways Inflection Points Define Our Future

The Ways Inflection Points Define Our Future

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

Humans tend to think in a linear fashion. If something is growing, we expect it to keep growing. If it is decreasing, we expect it to continue to decrease. We are natural trend watchers and instinctively look for patterns. Yet it is often the discontinuities, rather than the continuities, that have the biggest impact.

The mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot referred to this cycle of continuity punctuated by discontinuity as “Noah effects and Joseph effects.” Joseph effects, as in the biblical story, support long periods of continuity. Noah effects, on the other hand, are like a big storm creating a massive flood of discontinuity, washing away the previous order.

Throughout history, inflection points have defined the future. Business models, built on top of Joseph effects, are disrupted by Noah effects, creating new opportunities for those who are able to identify and adapt. Today, we’re in the midst of a series of inflection points in what was already a time of enormous flux. We can’t predict the future but we can prepare for it.

1920s: A Second Industrial Revolution

By 1920, electricity was already nearly a 40-year old technology. In 1882, just three years after he had almost literally shocked the world with his revolutionary electric light bulb, Thomas Edison opened his Pearl Street Station, the first commercial electrical distribution plant in the United States. By 1884 it was already servicing over 500 homes.

Yet although electricity and electric lighting were already widespread in 1919, they didn’t have a measurable effect on productivity and a paper by the economist Paul David helps explain why. It took time for manufacturers to adapt their factories to electricity and learn to design workflow to leverage the flexibility that the new technology offered. It was the improved workflow, more than the technology itself, that drove productivity forward.

Automobiles saw a similar evolution. It took time for infrastructure, such as roads and gas stations, to be built. Improved logistics reshaped supply chains and factories moved from cities in the north — close to customers — to small towns in the south, where labor and land were cheaper. That improved the economics of manufacturing further.

It was the confluence of electricity and internal combustion, along with the secondary innovations they spawned, that led to mass manufacturing and mass marketing. Enterprises scaled up into huge bureaucracies exemplified by the organization Alfred Sloan built at General Motors. Firms were designed to move large numbers of men and materiel efficiently. Information flowed up, orders went down and your rank determined your responsibility.

1990s – Globalization and Digitization

In November 1989, there were two watershed events that would change the course of world history. The fall of the Berlin Wall would end the Cold War and open up markets across the world. That very same month, Tim Berners-Lee would create the World Wide Web and usher in a new technological era of networked computing.

Much like in the 1920s, these forces had been building for some time. Commercial computers had been around since the 1950s and global trade as a percentage of GDP began to sharply increase in the 1970s. Yet 1989 marked an inflection point and the world would never be the same after that.

The combined forces of globalization and digitization favored the quick and agile over the large and powerful. Rather than spending months or years to develop products, startup firms could rapidly prototype and iterate their way to launching a product in months or weeks. So called “unicorns”, startup companies valued at over a billion dollars, began to emerge and disrupt incumbent industry giants.

Perhaps the biggest shift of the globalized, digital world was from hierarchies to networks. While in the industrial era strategy was focused on linear value chains and the sum of all efficiencies, in the networked world strategy increasingly focused on the sum of all connections. A leader’s role was no longer simply to plan and direct action, but to inspire and empower belief.

Yet much like technologies that came of age in the 1920s, the second and third order effects of globalization and digitization were very different than anyone had predicted. Instead of the triumph of democracy we got a rise in authoritarian populism. Instead of a new era of prosperity, we got stagnant wages, reduced productivity growth and weaker competitive markets.

2020s – A New Era of Innovation

Today, as Moore’s law nears its theoretical limits, the digital revolution is coming to a close and we’re about to embark on a new era of innovation. Much like in the 1920s and the 1990s, the future is likely to surprise us, but the rough outlines of new inflection points are already beginning to take shape.

The first is in energy. The World Economic Forum reports that wind and solar now produce energy cheaper than coal and gas in North America. In fact, in some sunny parts of the world, solar costs less than half as much as coal. Costs for energy storage are still too high, but here too there is significant progress and we’re likely to see a scaled solution within a decade.

Another is the rise of synthetic biology. Driven by new technologies such as CRISPR, we’re beginning to go beyond merely reading genomes and starting to write them. Andrew Hessel, CEO of Humane Genomics, told me that we’re nearing the point that the value of a genome exceeds the cost to produce one. That will unleash a new wave of biologically driven business models. A similar revolution is underway in materials science.

Over the next decade we will also see the emergence of post-digital computing architectures such as quantum and neuromorphic computing, which are potentially thousands, if not millions of times more powerful than today’s technology. Although we don’t expect much of an impact from either of these for at least a decade, they will accelerate advancements in biology, materials and artificial intelligence.

Clearly these new technologies will open up new possibilities, but right now it’s impossible to see beyond first order effects. Nobody looked at a light bulb and saw household appliances empowering women to enter the workplace, or looked at a Model T and saw suburbs and the transformation of retail, or came across an IBM mainframe and said, “Gee, this thing will put journalists out of work one day.”

Preparing For the Future

Six years ago, I wrote how 2020 was shaping up to be a pivotal year. Boy, I had no idea! In addition. In addition to the convergence of longstanding trends in technology, energy and transportation, Covid-19 and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement burst onto the global consciousness.

Two things stick out about these new inflection points. First, they were not only predictable, but were, in fact, predicted by a number of people. Second, both will accelerate already existing trends. Covid-19 has shifted digital transformation and synthetic biology into high gear. Black Lives Matter will likely expedite the shift in political power from Boomers to Millennials.

We can think of various scenarios that can play out. Covid may catalyze nascent trends, such as telemedicine and genomic medicine to greatly improve healthcare in the US. Black Lives Matter may cause a shift in hiring patterns that may help to accelerate productivity. On the other hand, the tensions both inflection points create may exacerbate underlying divisions and make things worse.

Those are just two possible scenarios. There are many more, each of which will create their sets of Noah and Joseph effects and then combine secondary and tertiary changes in ways that are unknowable today. What we can do, however, is explore new possibilities and prepare for them. The most important inflection points are often the ones that we create ourselves through the choices we make. No future is inevitable.

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

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Your Next Best Action is Up to You

Your Next Best Action is Up to You

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you can try to remember why you started the whole thing or you can do something else. Either can remedy things, but how do you choose between them? If you’ve forgotten your “why”, maybe it’s worth forgetting or maybe something else temporarily came up that pushed your still-important why underground for a short time. If it’s worth forgetting, maybe it’s time for something else. And if it’s worth remembering, maybe it’s time to double down. Only you can choose.

If you still remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, you can ask yourself if your why is still worth its salt or if something changed, either inside you or in your circumstances, that has twisted your why to something beyond salvage. If your why is still as salty as ever, maybe it’s right to stay the course. But if it’s still as salty as ever but you now think it’s distasteful, maybe it’s time for a change.

When you do what you did last time, are you more efficient or more dissatisfied, or both? And if you imagine yourself doing it again, do you look forward to more efficiency or predict more dissatisfaction? These questions can help you decide whether to keep things as they are or change them.

What have you learned over the last year? Whether your list is long or if it’s short, it’s a good barometer to inform your next chapter.

What new skills have you mastered over the last year? Is the list long or short? If you don’t want to grow your mastery, keep things as they are.

Do the people you work with inspire you or bring you down? Are you energized or depleted by them? If you’re into depletion, there’s no need to change anything.

Do you have more autonomy than last year? And how do you feel about that? Let your answers guide your future.

What is the purpose behind what you do? Is it aligned with your internal compass? These two questions can bring clarity.

You’re the only one who can ask yourself these questions; you’re the only one who can decide if you like the answers; and you’re the only one who is responsible for what you do next. What you do next is up to you.

Fork in the road” by Kai Hendry is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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