Tag Archives: politics

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

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of September 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 September’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. You Can’t Innovate Without This One Thing — by Robyn Bolton
  2. Importance of Measuring Your Organization’s Innovation Maturity — by Braden Kelley
  3. 3 Ways to Get Customer Insights without Talking to Customers
    — by Robyn Bolton
  4. Four Lessons Learned from the Digital Revolution — by Greg Satell
  5. Are You Hanging Your Chief Innovation Officer Out to Dry? — by Teresa Spangler
  6. Why Good Job Interviews Don’t Lead to Good Job Performance — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  7. Six Simple Growth Hacks for Startups — by Soren Kaplan
  8. Why Diversity and Inclusion Are Entrepreneurial Competencies
    — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  9. The Seven P’s of Raising Money from Investors — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  10. What’s Next – The Only Way Forward is Through — by Braden Kelley

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in August 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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What’s Next – The Only Way Forward is Through

What's Next - The Only Way Forward is Throughby Braden Kelley

The world needs you. The United States needs you. Your family needs you.

Both your heart and your mind are needed to work on potentially the greatest innovation challenge ever put forward.

What is it?

We must find a solution to the division and lack of meaning that has become the American experience.

I’m not sure about the country you live in, but here at home in the United States we are more divided than we have been in a long time – if ever. People are feeling such an absence of meaning and purpose in their lives that they are finding it in opposing ‘the other’.

In the most extreme cases, we are so divided that brothers and sisters, and parents and children are no longer speaking with each other or getting together for holiday meals.

We speak often about the importance of diversity of thought, diversity of group composition for innovation, but when a society reaches a point where people cannot productively disagree and debate their way forward together, innovation will inevitably begin to suffer.

When there is no dialogue, no give and take and a culture begins to emerge where opposition is mandatory, progress slows.

As long as the current situation intensifies, there will be no progress on other areas in desperate need of innovation:

  • Climate change
  • Gender equity
  • (Insert your favorite here)

We all need your help creating the idea fragments that we can connect as a global innovation community into meaningful ideas that hopefully lead to the inventions that will develop into the innovations we desperately need.

The innovations that will move social media from its current parallel play universe to one which actually encourages productive dialogue.

The innovations that will help people find the renewed sense of meaning and purpose that can’t be found making Sik Sok videos, watching other people play video games on Kwitch or investing in cryptocurrency pyramid schemes.

Meaning of Life Quote from Braden Kelley

Our entrepreneurs have made a lot of cotton candy the past couple of decades and people are starving, people are hangry.

There are certain constants in the human condition, and when we as a species stray too far away, it creates huge opportunities for innovators to create new things that will bring us back into balance.

But we can’t ignore where we are now.

We must acknowledge our current situation and fight our way past it. The only way forward is through.

As a thought starter, here is an ad campaign from Heineken from 2017:

We need everyone’s help to address the meaning crisis.

We need everyone’s help to bring America (and the rest of the world) back into productive conversation and connection – to end the division.

Are you up to the task?

Are you ready to help?

Let’s start the dialogue below and get that pebble rolling downhill in the winter, gathering snow as it goes.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments on:

  • other great thought starters
  • good idea fragments to build on
  • the way through

Image credit: Pixabay

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We Were Wrong About What Drove the 21st Century

We Were Wrong About What Drove the 21st Century

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

Every era contains a prism of multitudes. World War I gave way to the “Roaring 20s” and a 50-year boom in productivity. The Treaty of Versailles sowed the seeds to the second World War, which gave way to the peace and prosperity post-war era. Vietnam and the rise of the Baby Boomers unlocked a cultural revolution that created new freedoms for women and people of color.

Our current era began with the 80s, the rise of Ronald Reagan and a new confidence in the power of markets. Genuine achievements of the Chicago School of economics led by Milton Friedman, along with the weakness Soviet system, led to an enthusiasm for market fundamentalism that dominated policy circles.

So it shouldn’t be that surprising that veteran Republican strategist Stuart Stevens wrote a book denouncing that orthodoxy as a lie. The truth is he has a point. But politicians can only convince us of things we already want to believe. The truth is that we were fundamentally mistaken in our understanding of how the world works. It’s time that we own up to it.

Mistake #1: The End Of The Cold War Would Strengthen Capitalism

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the West was triumphant. Communism was shown to be a corrupt system bereft of any real legitimacy. A new ideology took hold, often called the Washington Consensus, that preached fiscal discipline, free trade, privatization and deregulation. The world was going to be remade in capitalism’s image.

Yet for anybody who was paying attention, communism had been shown to be bankrupt and illegitimate since the 1930s when Stalin’s failed collectivization effort and industrial plan led him to starve his own people. Economists have estimated that, by the 1970s, Soviet productivity growth had gone negative, meaning more investment actually brought less output. The system’s collapse was just a matter of time.

At the same time, there were early signs that there were serious problems with the Washington Consensus. Many complained that bureaucrats at the World Bank and the IMF were mandating policies for developing nations that citizens in their own countries would not accept. So called “austerity programs” led to human costs that were both significant and real. In a sense, the error of the Soviets was being repeated—ideology was put before people.

Today, instead of a capitalist utopia and an era of peace and prosperity, we got a global rise in authoritarian populism, stagnant wages, reduced productivity growth and weaker competitive markets. In particular in the United States, by almost every metric imaginable, capitalism has been weakened.

Mistake #2: Digital Technology Would Make Everything Better

In November 1989, the same year that the Berlin Wall fell, Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web and ushered in a new technological era of networked computing that we now know as the “digital revolution.” Much like the ideology of market fundamentalism that took hold around the same time, technology was seen as determinant of a new, brighter age.

By the late 1990s, increased computing power combined with the Internet to create a new productivity boom. Many economists hailed the digital age as a “new economy” of increasing returns, in which the old rules no longer applied and a small initial advantage would lead to market dominance.

Yet by 2004, productivity growth had slowed again to its earlier lethargic pace. Today, despite very real advances in processing speed, broadband penetration, artificial intelligence and other things, we seem to be in the midst of a second productivity paradox in which we see digital technology everywhere except in the economic statistics.

Digital technology was supposed to empower individuals and reduce the dominance of institutions, but just the opposite has happened. Income inequality in advanced economies markedly increased. In America wages have stagnated and social mobility has declined. At the same time, social media has been destroying our mental health.

When Silicon Valley told us they intended to “change the world,” is this what they meant?

Mistake #3: Medical Breakthroughs Would Automatically Make Us Healthier

Much like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the Internet, the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 promised great things. No longer would we be at the mercy of terrible terrible diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, but would design genetic therapies that would rewire our bodies to find off disease by themselves.

The advances since then have been breathtaking. The Cancer Genome Atlas, which began in 2005, helped enable doctors to develop therapies targeted at specific mutations, rather than where in the body a tumor happened to be found. Later, CRISPR revolutionized synthetic biology, bringing down costs exponentially.

The rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines have shown how effective these new technologies are. Scientists have essentially engineered new viruses containing the viral genome to produce a few proteins, just enough to provoke an immune response but not nearly enough to make us sick. 20 years ago, this would have been considered science fiction. Today, it’s a reality.

Yet we are not healthier. Worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975 and has become an epidemic in the United States. Anxiety and depression have as well. American healthcare costs continue to rise even as life expectancy declines. Despite the incredible advance in our medical capability, we seem to be less healthy and more miserable.

Worse Than A Crime, It Was A Blunder

Whenever I bring up these points among technology people, they vigorously push back. Surely, they say, you can see the positive effects all around you. Can you imagine what the global pandemic would be like without digital technologies? Without videoconferencing? Hasn’t there been a significant global decline in extreme poverty and violence?

Yes. There have absolutely been real achievements. As someone who spent roughly half my adult life in Eastern Bloc countries, I can attest to how horrible the Soviet system was. Digital technology has certainly made our lives more convenient and, as noted above, medical advances have been very real and very significant.

However, technology is a process that involves both revealing and building. Yes, we revealed the power of market forces and the bankruptcy of the Soviet system, but failed to build a more prosperous and healthy society. In much the same way, we revealed the power of the microchip, miracle cures and many other things, but failed to put them to use in such a way that would make us measurably better off.

When faced with a failure this colossal, people often look for a villain. They want to blame the greed of corporations, the arrogance of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or the incompetence of government bureaucrats. The truth is, as the old saying goes, it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder. We simply believed that market forces and technological advancement would work their magic and all would be well in hand.

By now we should know better. We need to hold ourselves accountable, make better choices and seek out greater truths.

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

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Whither Innovation in Indiana?

Whither Innovation in Indiana?Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about homosexuality and whether it has any impact on innovation. There probably are two no more polarizing topics in the United States than homosexuality and abortion. But the truth is that if both sides of the political and religious spectrum focused on the golden rule, there would be less corruption, we’d all be a lot happier, probably have more innovation, and our politics would be more productive.

Today we have another great case study for how short people’s attention spans have gotten, how the government can help or hinder innovation, how little investigative journalism still remains in the United States, and how easily people are swayed by a soundbite that runs contrary to (or in support of) their own personal religious or political beliefs.

But this article isn’t going to be some diatribe in support or opposition to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) legislation (referred to by the media as an anti-gay law) because I freely admit I don’t fully understand all of the implications of a similar federal law and whether federal protections for gays apply to the state law.

Instead I’d like to focus briefly on what this controversy brings to mind for me in regards to the efforts of hard-working folks attempting to stimulate innovation in Indiana (and elsewhere).

Point #1: People Must Feel Safe to Innovate

If we take Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs as gospel (okay, maybe that’s dangerous word choice), then safety is one of the most important needs for people, and in order to innovate people must feel safe. True innovation usually requires taking risks and doing things in a new way, and if people feel that trying something new or even just being different has a high price, then people won’t step out of their comfort zone and push the boundaries of conventional wisdom. So if we are truly trying to do everything we can to inspire innovation in our region, shouldn’t we also try to do everything we can to make it feel like a place where it is safe to be different and where that difference is potentially even celebrated?

Point #2: Diversity is Important (to a point)

We all look at the same situation through different eyes and a different history of experiences, values and beliefs. This diversity can help create different idea fragments that can be connected together to create revolutionary new ideas with the potential to become innovations. But at the same time, having some shared experiences helps to make it easier to communicate and to have a higher level of trust (assuming those experiences were good ones). So if we are truly trying to do everything we can to inspire innovation in our region, shouldn’t we also do everything we can to make different groups of people look to our region as a good place to move to so we have a diverse talent pool?

Conclusion: If Culture Trumps Strategy, Environment Trumps Startups

The world is changing. It used to be that companies started and grew in the community where they were founded, hiring increasing numbers of people from the surrounding areas and attracting others from elsewhere. Now, an increasing number of companies (especially digital ones) are moving to more distributed models where they create satellite offices where the talent is rather than trying to attract all of the talent to a single location.

Economically this is meaning that it is becoming less important that the next Facebook starts in your town than it is for the next Facebook to want to have an office in your town. This means that for cities, counties, states and countries, the greater economic impact is likely to be made not from trying to encourage lots of startups, but instead from trying to create an environment that young, talented people choose to live in.

And when you create a place that is attractive for smart, creative people to move to, you know what, you’re likely to end up not just with more growing digital companies seeking a presence, but also a larger number of startups than if you started with the goal of specifically trying to encourage startups.

Does your region focus on creating startups as the primary goal or on making itself an attractive place for a young, diverse and talented population to live?

Does this uproar help Indiana establish its as an attractive place to be, or work against that perception?

I’ll let you decide!

P.S. If you’re curious, here are The Metro Areas With the Largest, and Smallest, Gay Populations (for what it’s worth, Indianapolis isn’t on either list)


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Unlock Marketing Innovation with a WGAS Focus

Unlock Marketing Innovation with a WGAS FocusBack in 2011 when election season was fast approaching, one thing that you heard repeatedly during election coverage was analysts talking about the importance of the undecided vote. Often in an election it is the undecided who swing the vote for one candidate over another. As a result, there is an incredible amount of focus placed on understanding why people are still undecided between two major candidates (think Obama vs. Romney) and so as a result campaign strategists and speech writers are obsessed with capturing the imagination of the undecided. But, there is a lot of complexity in those undecided numbers, as they include:

  • People that are truly undecided
  • People that don’t want either candidate to win
  • People that didn’t even know there was an election going on
  • People that feel the whole system is corrupt
  • People that can’t tell the difference between the two candidates
  • And so on

So if the undecided are so important in politics, why shouldn’t they be in business?

If we are the Coca Cola company, do we really think that an advertisement or a marketing campaign is going to turn a loyal Pepsi drinker into a Coke drinker? Are we going to be able to turn Red Bull or milk drinkers into Coke drinkers?

People prefer to drink a lot of other things over something thick and syrupy like Coke and Pepsi most of the time, and while a lot of people may drink Coke either regularly or occasionally, a lot of people don’t and won’t. So if we are the Coca Cola company we are advertising to:

  • Remind Coke drinkers how great Coke is
  • Make occasional Coke drinkers think about having one again soon
  • Convince people that aren’t sure about Coke that they should really try it

This reminds me of the old saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” (John Wanamaker)

Personally, I believe the percentage of waste is much, much higher than fifty percent because:

  • Probably less than fifty percent even see the advertisement
  • Twenty percent or more will never buy the product no matter what you do
  • Twenty percent or less already buy the product
  • Leaving MAYBE ten percent of the people exposed to the advertisement to be swayed by it

The above are just my intuitive estimates. I’m sure someone out there probably has done the research on this and could share a more precise number, and if that’s you, please share in the comments!

A lot of this waste comes from the fact that we as marketers focus on the volume of exposure we can achieve for a product or service, even if we’re using complicated segmentations, personas, and/or behavioral targeting. No matter what, we always end up coming back to the volume of exposure we are able to achieve, because it is something we can measure. We try to segment the market and target our chosen segments with a carefully crafted message and creative, but ultimately most marketers attack the problem by asking this question:

  • What do the people who buy my product look like?

When we should all be asking the question:

  • Who gives a @*!%?

I like to call this WGAS marketing.

The premise behind it is that there is only a very small, diverse subset of people out there who have any interest in what it is that you’re selling. And so, by trying to talk to everyone that looks like that subset – by age, gender, race, tax bracket or whatever other segmentation parameters you might select to target based on, then you’re still wasting a huge amount of time – and money. Instead, we should be looking at creative ways to expose only those people who have a need (or maybe a want) that we can satisfy with what we’re selling.

Jobs-to-be-Done Isn’t Just for Innovation

We talk about identifying unmet needs and jobs-to-be-done when it comes to innovation, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t keep that line of thinking in mind when it comes to our marketing of a potential innovation (or any product or service). Thinking about the jobs-to-be-done or the needs that the customer is trying to satisfy instead of the commonalities of prospective customers from a targeting/segmentation might change the kind of marketing strategy and execution that you come up with.

You might think in different ways about what success looks like, or consider marketing methods you might otherwise skip. For example, while doing in-store demos of a new food or beverage may cost more per potentially engaged person than traditional advertising, you are much more likely to turn the people you do engage with into customers, and to have a conversation with them, so is it really more expensive?

Or you might do something like what Safeway has started doing, as shown in this New York Times article. Safeway is using its vast amounts of shopper data to engage in WGAS Marketing by offering variable pricing – offering different prices to different customers on the same product. But unlike, the variable pricing of airlines that is based on availability and timing, Safeway is varying the price based on individual shopper behavior.

Done properly, pull marketing can use content as a WGAS Marketing strategy. The key of course if to create content that your WGAS audience will find value in and that will cause them to either take action or to develop a stronger affinity for your brand so that when they are ready to take action that you are either the only brand that they will consider, or firmly planted at the heart of their consideration set.

Another way of engaging in WGAS Marketing is to engage in activities that your WGAS audience will engage with. Companies like Red Bull and Life is Good use events very successfully as a WGAS Marketing strategy mixed together with a traditional segmentation and targeting approach. Red Bull focuses so much on their WGAS audience that their product isn’t even featured on their home page.

For better or worse Camel cigarettes and McDonald’s identified kids as the ‘undecided’ potential customers in their markets and chose to target them as a way of increasing their current and future sales. Larry Popelka in his book Moneyball Marketing talked about how Clorox identified new mothers as a group of ‘undecided’ potential bleach buyers who had something that they wanted really white (diapers) that Clorox could target and grow into long-term profitable customers.

So, as you can see, one of the keys of WGAS Marketing is to not just identify what your current customers look like and to try and attract more of them, but to identify the underlying reasons why someone may have a need to consider your solution (think jobs-to-be-done), or become open to a new solution such as yours because their life circumstances have changed.

So, WGAS about your product or service? Or WGAS about the problem that your solution addresses (if it is something new or innovative)?

Finding the answer to one or both of these questions is the key you need to unlock a source of tremendous new revenue and profits for your business. Are you ready to look for the things that will cause people to care? Are you open to considering alternative marketing approaches that will help you reach the people WGAS?

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Building Virtual Diplomacy

Building Virtual DiplomacyThe Setup

Lets look at Innovation, Crowdsourcing, and the United States Government for a minute…

The world continues to move faster than ever and diplomatic responses from the United States are required that are both increasingly more complex and more urgent, and the required solutions must address the inherent situational challenges while also protecting the interests of the United States and its allies. To deal with this diplomatic reality, the United States State Department is embracing the principles of crowdsourcing, eGovernment, and open innovation and partnering with America’s best universities to help solve the World’s biggest challenges as part of a new initiative called Diplomacy Lab. I found the following after meandering through a bread crumb trail of tweets from @AlecJRoss (Hillary Clinton’s former Chief Innovation Officer):

Diplomacy Lab is designed to address two priorities: first, Secretary Kerry’s determination to engage the American people in the work of diplomacy. And second, the imperative to broaden the State Department’s research base in response to a proliferation of complex global challenges. The initiative enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty experts at universities across the country. Students participating in Diplomacy Lab explore real-world challenges identified by the Department and work under the guidance of faculty members who are authorities in their fields. This initiative allows students to contribute directly to the policymaking process while helping the State Department tap into an underutilized reservoir of intellectual capital. Teams that develop exceptional results and ideas are recognized for their work and may be invited to brief senior State Department officials on their findings.

This then led to me to information about another digital diplomacy program.

US State Department Harnesses Interns Around the Globe to Address Digital Needs

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure, the United States State Department introduced an eIntern program, as detailed on the State Department web site:

Virtual Student Foreign ServiceThe Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement. Working from college and university campuses in the United States and throughout the world, eInterns (American students working virtually) are partnered with our U.S. diplomatic posts overseas and State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the U.S. Commercial Service domestic offices to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. This introductory video provides an overview of the VSFS program.

VSFS eIntern duties and responsibilities will vary according to the location and needs of the VSFS projects identified at the sponsoring domestic or overseas diplomatic office. VSFS projects may be research based, contributing to reports on issues such as human rights, economics or the environment. They may also be more technology oriented, such as working on web pages, or helping produce electronic journals. Selected students are expected to work virtually on an average of 5-10 hours per week on VSFS eInternship projects. Students apply in the summer and if selected, begin the eInternship that fall lasting through spring. Most work and projects are internet-based and some have language requirements. Past projects asked students to:

  • Develop and implement a public relations campaign using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, etc. to communicate and reach out to youth
  • Conduct research on the economic situation, prepare graphic representations of economic data, and prepare informational material for the U.S. Embassy website
  • Create a system to gather and analyze media coverage on a set of topics including environment, health, and trade
  • Develop a series of professional instructional video clips to be published by the U.S. Embassy
  • Survey social media efforts of U.S. diplomatic posts, NGOs, and private companies around the world to help establish best practices in a U.S. Embassy’s social media outreach business plan.

The Conclusion

It is fascinating to see the world changing before our eyes and to see the children and young people of today engaged in commerce and government and entrepreneurship in ways that weren’t available to previous generations of young people. This only helps to accelerate the pace of change. But, the reality is that when an organization sits at the fork in the road and is making the decision of whether or not to actively engage people outside their four walls in their strategic efforts, the choice really is to either ride the crest of the wave by embracing and engaging talent outside your organization or choosing instead to get tumbled and drowned by this wave of progress by doing nothing.

What choice is your government or your organization making?

If you’re not sure how your government or your organization needs to change to adapt to these changing realities, check out my previous article:

What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?


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