Tag Archives: questions

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

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

  1. Human-Centered Design and Innovation — by Braden Kelley
  2. Four Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change — by Greg Satell
  3. What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do — by Mike Shipulski
  4. 5 Simple Steps for Launching Game-Changing New Products — by Teresa Spangler
  5. Why Small Teams Kick Ass — by Mike Shipulski
  6. Crabby Innovation Opportunity — by Braden Kelley
  7. Music Can Make You a More Effective Leader — by Shep Hyken
  8. Lobsters and the Wisdom of Ignoring Your Customers — by Robyn Bolton
  9. Asking the Wrong Questions Gets You the Wrong Answers — by Greg Satell
  10. Brewing a Better Customer Experience — by Braden Kelley

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in October 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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Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation

Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

16 year-old girl Gracie Cunningham created a firestorm recently when she posted a video to TikTok asking “is math real?” More specifically, she wanted to know why ancient mathematicians came up with algebraic concepts such as “y=mx+b.” “What would you need it for?” she asked, when they didn’t even have plumbing.

The video went viral on twitter, gathering millions of views and the social media universe immediately pounced, with many ridiculing how stupid it was. Mathematicians and scientists, however, felt otherwise and remarked how profound her questions were. Cornell’s Steve Strogatz even sent her a thoughtful answer to her question.

We often overlook the value of simple questions, because we think intelligence has something to do with ability to recite rote facts. Yet intellect is not about knowing all the answers, but in asking better questions. That’s how we expand knowledge and gain deeper understanding. In fact, the most profound answers often come from seemingly silly questions.

What Would It Be Like to Ride on a Bolt of Lightning?

Over a century ago, a teenage boy not unlike Gracie Cunningham asked a question that was seemingly just as silly as hers. He wanted to know what it would be like to ride on a bolt of lightning shining a lantern forward. Yet much like Gracie’s, his question belied a deceptive profundity. You see, a generation earlier, the great physicist James Clerk Maxwell published his famous equations which established that the speed of light was constant.

To understand why the question was so important, think about riding on a train that’s traveling at 40 miles an hour and tossing a ball forward at 40 miles an hour. To you, the ball appears to be traveling at 40 miles an hour, but to someone standing still outside the train the ball would appear to be going 80 miles an hour (40+40).

So now you can see the problem with riding on a bolt of lightning with a lantern. According to the principle by which the ball on the train appears to be traveling at 80 miles an hour, the light from the lantern should be traveling at twice the speed of light. But according to Maxwell’s equations, the speed of light is fixed.

It took Albert Einstein 10 years to work it all out, but in 1905, he published his theory of special relativity, which stated that, while the speed of light is indeed constant, time and space are relative. As crazy as that sounds, you only need to take a drive in your car to prove it’s true. GPS satellites are calibrated according to Einstein’s equations, so if you get to where you want to go you have, in a certain sense, proved the special theory of relativity.

A bit later Einstein asked another seemingly silly question about what it would be like to travel in an elevator in space, which led him to his general theory of relativity.

Who Shaves the Barber’s Beard?

Around the time young Albert Einstein was thinking about riding on a bolt of lightning, others were pondering an obscure paradox about a barber, which went something like this:

If the barber shaves every man who does not shave himself, who shaves the barber?

If he shaves himself, he violates the statement and if he doesn’t shave himself, he also violates the statement.

Again, like Gracie’s question, the barber’s paradox seems a bit silly and childish. In reality it is a more colloquial version of Russell’s paradox about sets that are members of themselves, which shook the foundations of mathematics a century ago. Statements, such as 2+2=4, are supposed to be either true or false. If contradictions could exist, it would represent a massive hole at the center of logic.

Eventually, the crisis came to a head and David Hilbert, the greatest mathematician of the age, created a program of questions that, if answered in the affirmative, would resolve the dilemma. To everyone’s surprise, in short order, a young scholar named Kurt Gödel would publish his incompleteness theorems, which showed that a logical system could be either complete or consistent, but not both.

Put more simply, Gödel proved that every logical system would always crash. It was only a matter of time. Logic would remain broken forever. However, there was a silver lining to it all. A few years later, Alan Turing would build on Gödel’s work in his paper on computability, which itself would usher in the new era of modern computing.

Why Can’t Our Immune System Kill Cancer Cells?

The idea that our immune system could attack cancer cells doesn’t seem that silly on the surface. After all, it not only regularly kills other pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses and, in some cases, such as with autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, even attacks our own cells. Why would it ignore tumors?

Yet as Charles Graeber explains in his recent book, The Breakthrough, for decades most of the medical world dismissed the notion. Yes, there had been a few scattered cases in which cancer patients who had a severe infection had seen their tumors disappear, but every time they tried to design an actual cancer therapy based on immune response it failed miserably.

The mystery was eventually solved by a scientist named Jim Allison who, in 1995, had an epiphany. Maybe, he thought, that the problem wasn’t that our immune system can’t identify and attack cancer cells, but rather that the immune response is impeded somehow. He figured if he could block that process, it would revolutionize cancer care.

Today, cancer immunotherapy is considered to be the 4th pillar of cancer treatment and nobody questions whether our immune system can be deployed to fight cancer. Jim Allison won the Nobel Prize for his work in 2018.

The Power of a Question

Answers are easy. They resolve matters. Questions are harder. They point out gaps in our knowledge and inadequacies in our understanding. They make us uncomfortable. That’s why we are so apt to dismiss them altogether. So we can go about our business unhindered.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that young Gracie Cunningham’s TikTok garnered such strong reactions. It’s much easier to dismiss questions as silly than to take them on. That’s why Einstein was reduced to working in a patent office rather than at a university, why so many dismissed Russell’s paradox as meaningless and why Jim Allison had doors shut in his face for three years before he found a company willing to invest in his idea.

Yet what should also be obvious by now is that there is enormous value in raising questions that challenge things that we think we already know. Before questions were raised, it seemed obvious that time and space are absolute, that logical statements are either true or false and that our immune system can’t fight cancer.

The truth is that great innovators are not necessarily smarter, harder working or more ambitious than anyone else, but rather those who are constantly looking for new questions to ask and new problems to solve.

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

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Taking Personal Responsibility – Seeing Self as Cause

Taking Personal Responsibility – Seeing Self as Cause

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our last two blogs on Taking Personal Responsibility, we stated that when people aren’t taking personal responsibility, they cannot be accountable, they will fail in their jobs, and their teams, and fail to grow as individuals and as leaders. Taking personal responsibility is an especially crucial capability to develop self-awareness and self-regulation skills in the decade of both disruption and transformation. It all starts with seeing self as the cause of what happens to us, rather than baling it on the effects events and problems have on us! Where people can learn to recognize the structures at play in their lives and change them so that they can create what they really want to create in their lives, teams, or organizations.

In the last two blogs, we shared a range of tips for shifting people’s location, by creating a line of choice, to help them shift from being below the line and blaming others for their reactive response, to getting above the line quickly.  Through shifting their language from “you, they and them” to “I, we and us” and bravely disrupting and calling out people when they do slip below the line. How doing this allows people to also systemically shift across the maturity continuum, from dependence to independence and ultimately towards interdependence.

In a recent newsletter Otto Scharmer, from the Presencing Institute states “Between action and non-action there is a place. A portal into the unknown. But what are we each called to contribute to the vision of the emerging future? Perhaps these times are simply doorways into the heart of the storm, a necessary journey through the cycles of time required to create change”.

Creating the place – the sacred pause

When I made a significant career change from a design and marketing management consultant to becoming a corporate trainer, one of the core principles I was expected to teach to senior corporate managers and leaders was taking personal responsibility.

Little knowing, that at the end of the workshop, going back to my hotel room and beating myself up, for all of the “wrongs” in the delivery of the learning program, was totally out of integrity with this core principle.

Realising that when people say – those that teach need to learn, I had mistakenly thought that I had to take responsibility for enacting the small imperfections I had delivered during the day, by berating myself, making myself “wrong” and through below the line self-depreciation!

Where I perfectly acted out the harmful process of self-blame, rather than rationally assessing the impact of each small imperfection, shifting to being above the line where I could intentionally apply the sacred pause:

  • Hit my pause button to get present, accept my emotional state,
  • Connect with what really happened to unpack the reality of the situation and eliminate my distortions around it,
  • Check-in and acknowledge how I was truly feeling about what happened,
  • Acknowledge some of the many things that I had done really well,
  • Ask myself what is the outcome/result I want for participants next program?
  • Ask myself what can I really learn from this situation?
  • Consciously choose what to do differently the next time I ran the program.

I still often find myself struggling with creating the Sacred Space between Stimulus and Response and have noticed in my global coaching practice, that many of my well-intentioned clients struggle with this too.

The impact of the last two and a half years of working at home, alone, online, with minimal social interactions and contact, has caused many of them to languish in their reactivity, and for some of them, into drowning in a very full emotional boat, rather than riding the wave of disruptive change.

Being the creative cause

In our work at ImagineNation, whether we help people, leaders and teams adapt, innovate and grow through disruption, their ability to develop true self-awareness and be above the line is often the most valuable and fundamental skill set they develop.

It then enables us to make the distinction that creating is completely different from reacting or responding to the circumstances people find themselves in by applying the sacred pause.

When people shift towards seeing self as the cause they are able to create and co-create what they want in their lives, teams or organization by learning to create by creating, starting with asking the question:

  • What result do you want to create in your life?
  • What is the reality of your current situation?

This creates a state of tension, it is this tension that seeks resolution.

In his ground-breaking book The Path of Least Resistance Robert Fritz, goes on to describe and rank these desired results as “Fundamental Choices, Primary Choices, and Secondary Choices.”

Because there is one thing that we can all do right and is totally in our control – is to shift towards seeing self as the cause and make a set of conscious choices, with open hearts, minds, and wills, as to how we think, feel and choose to act.

“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.”

We all have the options and choices in taking responsibility, empowering ourselves and others to be imaginative and creative, and using the range of rapid changes, ongoing disruption, uncertainty, and the adverse pandemic consequences, as levers for shifting and controlling, the way we think, feel.

Benefits of seeing self as the cause and being above the line

Applying the sacred pause to make change choices in how we act – and being brave and bold in shifting across the maturity continuum, will help us to cultivate the creativity, interdependence, and systemic thinking we all need right now because it:

  • Helps people self-regulate their reactive emotional responses, be more open-hearted and emotionally agile, and helps develop psychologically safe work environments where people can collaborate and experiment, and fail without the fear of retribution or punishment.
  • Enables people to be more open-minded, imaginative, and curious and creates a safe space for continuous learning, maximizing diversity and inclusion, and proactive intentional change and transformation.
  • Promotes ownership of a problem or challenging situation and helps develop constructive and creative responses to problems and an ability to take intelligent actions.
  • Gives people an opportunity to impact positively on others and build empowered trusted and collaborative relationships.
  • Enables entrepreneurs and innovators to invent creative solutions and drive successful innovative outcomes.
  • Building the foundations for accountability, where people focus their locus of control on what they promise to deliver, enables them to be intrinsically motivated, and take smart risks on negotiating outcomes that they can be counted on for delivering.

Tips for seeing self as the cause and operating above the line

Taking personal responsibility and seeing self as the cause involves:

  • Acknowledging that “I/we had a role or contributed in some way, to the fact that this has not worked out the way “I/we wanted.”
  • Clarifying the outcome or result in you want from a specific situation or a problem.
  • Seeking alternatives and options for making intelligent choices and actions, and using the language of “I/we can” and “I/we will” to achieve the outcome.
  • Replacing avoiding, being cynical and argumentative, blaming, shaming, controlling, and complaining with courageous, compassionate, and creative language and acts of intention.
  • People become victors who operate from “self as cause” where they are empowered to be the creative forces in their own lives by making fundamental, primary, and secondary change choices.
  • Trust your inner knowing and deep wisdom that everything has a specific and definable cause and that each and every one of us has the freedom to choose how to respond to it.

Back to leadership basics

As Stephen Covey says, people need to deeply and honestly say “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” because it’s not what happens to us, it’s our reactive response to what happens that hurts us.

Being willing to step back, retreat, and reflect on the gap between the results you want, and the results you are getting all starts with stepping inward, backward, and forwards, using the sacred pause, to ask:

  • What happened? What were the key driving forces behind it?
  • How am I/we truly feeling about it?
  • What was my/our role in causing this situation, or result?
  • What can I/we learn from it?
  • What is the result/outcome I want to create in the future?
  • What can I/we then do to create it?

As a corporate trainer, consultant and coach, I found out the hard way that developing the self-awareness and self-regulation skills in taking personal responsibility and seeing self as the cause is the basis of the personal power and freedom that is so important to me, and almost everyone else I am currently interacting with.

It’s the foundation for transcending paralysis, overwhelm, and stuck-ness and activating our sense of agency to transform society and ourselves.

This is the third and final blog in a series of blogs on the theme of taking responsibility – going back to leadership basics. Read the previous two here:

Find out about our 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, October 18, 2022. 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.

Image credit: Pixabay

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What is design thinking? – EPISODE FIVE – Ask the Consultant

Live from the Innovation Studio comes EPISODE FIVE of a new ‘Ask the Consultant’ series of short form videos. EPISODE FIVE aims to answer a question that many people struggle to answer or accurately discuss:

“What is design thinking?”

Design Thinking is often misunderstood and sometimes even maligned because too many people think it is a process. It doesn’t help when visuals like this one from the Stanford d.School label it as such:

Stanford d.School Design Thinking Process

Instead design thinking should be thought of as a mindset, or a collection of mindsets, including the novice mindset.

There is a big difference between knowing the design thinking components and being a design thinker. Design Thinking is not a technical skill, it is a collection of soft skills, so buyer beware.

One of the key things to remember about design thinking (or human-centered design) is that it is a highly iterative process intended to leverage extensive prototyping and testing.

Another important thing to remember is that unlike other problem solving methods, good design thinking professionals will spend as much, if not more, time and energy on the problems(s) than on the solution(s).

Preparing to Solve the Right Problem

To help with this I’ve created a Problem Finding Canvas to help you identify all of the potential problems in a particular search area.

It’s available for only $9.99 here in the shop.

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Help Shape the Next ‘Ask the Consultant’ Episode

  1. Grab a great deal on Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire on Amazon while they last!
  2. Get a copy of my latest book Charting Change on Amazon
  3. Contact me with your question for the next video episode of “Ask the Consultant” live from my innovation studio

Below are the previous episodes of ‘Ask the Consultant’:

  1. EPISODE ONE – What is innovation?
  2. EPISODE TWO – How do I create continuous innovation in my organization?
  3. EPISODE THREE – What is digital transformation?
  4. EPISODE FOUR – What is the best way to create successful change?
  5. All other episodes of Ask the Consultant


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Change Planning Toolkit™ Ask Me Anything Transcript

Change Planning Toolkit™ Ask Me Anything Transcript

On Thursday, June 8th I took all questions about the Change Planning Toolkit™ on TWITTER via hashtag #cptoolkit and my contact form. Here were the questions and the answers:

1. I bought your insightful book Charting Change – How can I get the supplementary materials (26 of 50 Change Planning Toolkit™ tools) that go with the book?

Charting Change book buyers can contact me using my contact form here and get me their proof of purchase. Then I will send out the Change Planning Toolkit™ Basic License to them as an 11″x17″ scalable pdf download.

Book buyers can upgrade from the Basic License to the Bronze License or get their organization on the path to success with a site license at any time.

2. Who is the Change Planning Toolkit™ designed for?

The Change Planning Toolkit™ was designed for change leaders, project managers, and program managers to make it easier to successfully plan and execute projects, programs, change initiatives, business transformations, and digital transformations.

Change Planning Canvas

3. I’ve heard amazing things about the Change Planning Canvas™ – How can I get a copy of it? Is there a poster size?

Buy a copy of my latest book Charting Change, contact me with proof of purchase and I’ll send out the 11″x17″ of the Change Planning Canvas™ along with 25 other great tools!

Or, purchase a basic individual educational license and you’ll get instant access to these same 26 of 50+ tools along with a digital copy of the book (hardcover option in certain geographies).

Or, purchase a bronze individual educational license for the Change Planning Toolkit™ and you’ll get all 50+ tools, including the Change Planning Canvas™ in a scalable 11″x17″ pdf PLUS a Quickstart Guide PLUS several discounts.

There is a 35″x56″ poster size version of the Change Planning Canvas™ available for commercial site licensees. Consulting and training companies looking to grow their business, or organizations looking to increase their organizational agility and beat the 70% change failure rate should contact me about site licenses starting at $2/yr per employee.

4. What exactly is the Change Planning Toolkit™?

The Change Planning Toolkit is collection of 50+ tools to make change planning more visual, collaborative, and fun!

It is designed to be used by PMP’s in project management as well, and dovetails nicely with the ACMP Change Standard for change management professionals. In fact you can get a nice ACMP Standard Visualization in the ten free downloads.

5. What do people get when they purchase the Change Planning Toolkit™ Bronze License?

People who purchase the individual educational license of the Change Planning Toolkit™ Bronze License $1,200 worth of items for the extremely low price of $99.99/year (or $999.99 for a lifetime license) that will fundamentally transform how you plan and execute ALL of your projects and change initiatives, from this point forward, greatly increasing:

  • Project success rates
  • Organizational agility
  • Ability to beat the competition
  • Collaboration levels inside the organization
  • The innovation capacity of the organization
  • Employee retention
  • And more!

I answered most of the specifics in question three, but just to recap in a simpler way, if you purchase the bronze license, you get access to:

  • 11″x17″ scalable pdf version of all 50+ tools (including the Change Planning Canvas™)
  • QuickStart Guide
  • Use of the tools for individual educational use unless a commercial site license is purchased (starting at $2/yr per employee + small setup fee)
  • 35″x56″ poster size scalable downloads for key tools (COMMERCIAL SITE LICENSES ONLY)

6. What differentiates the Change Planning Toolkit™ from the competition?

First of all, I created the Change Planning Toolkit™ because so much of what project managers and change practitioners need to be successful didn’t exist!

So, it has been designed to play well with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Change Standard from the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP), and ADKAR from ProSci. But, the Change Planning Toolkit™ delivers value for project managers and change practitioners that those can’t.

In fact, I created a Visual Project Charter™ and a visualization of the ACMP Change Standard as free downloads to help ACMP and PMP practitioners be more successful within their existing frameworks.

So, no matter what project management or change management methodology you like to use, the Change Planning Toolkit™ will feel familiar, and will increase your ability to achieve success with the kinds of projects and change initiatives you’re already running!

7. What’s your view on change management versus project management?

Most people talk about change management as if it is a subset of project management, but that’s so not true!

People need to change this thinking because it’s a big reason why so many projects fail.

Instead what we need to do is to flip this thinking on its head and start seeing project management as a subset of change management. One of the 50+ tools in the toolkit (and in the book) visualizes what such a world can and SHOULD look like. It’s called Architecting the Organization for Change:

Architecting the Organization for Change

You’ll notice that all five of the Five Keys to Change Success are all represented here. 🙂

What’s next?

Look for more AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions on the Change Planning Toolkit™ and The Experiment Canvas™ in future weeks!

FYI – On Twitter I am @innovate if you aren’t already following me.


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