Tag Archives: The Nine Innovation Roles

Harnessing the Power of Diversity

How to Leverage Different Perspectives in Innovation

Harnessing the Power of Diversity

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Innovation is essential for any organization to stay competitive in today’s ever-changing business landscape. Companies need to learn how to empower their teams to come up with creative solutions to challenging problems in order to remain ahead of the curve. Harnessing the power of diversity is a proven way to spur innovation and drive positive outcomes. A diverse team offers multiple perspectives, enabling them to develop creative, out-of-the-box solutions.

Organizations should be committed to creating an inclusive work culture that promotes collaboration and innovation amongst its employees. They can do this by establishing strong values for diversity and inclusion that encourage different opinions and ideas. Companies should also encourage employees to share their own knowledge and experiences; creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to leverage different perspectives within your organization to drive innovation:

1. Encourage diverse teams: When forming teams and project groups, aim to have a diverse team of individuals who can bring different skills and perspectives to the table. Having a variety of views will foster more creative solutions and lead to better problem solving.

2. Foster an environment of open dialogue: Allowing people to openly discuss their ideas and experiences encourages idea-sharing amongst team members. Create a safe environment where everyone is open and willing to express their ideas and point of view.

3. Promote flexible working arrangements: Allowing for flexible working arrangements enables individuals to work remotely or in different locations, thus leveraging different perspectives. Making sure that everyone can stay connected and access all the resources they need is essential for collaboration and innovation.

4. Leverage technology and tools: Organizations can use technology to promote collaboration and idea-sharing across different locations. Utilizing tools such as video conferencing, online collaboration software, and cloud-based communication platforms will enable team members to exchange ideas effectively and stay connected.

In conclusion, diversity is a powerful source of creativity and innovation. Harnessing the power of different perspectives can lead to improved problem solving and productive solutions. By promoting an inclusive and collaborative work culture, organizations can best leverage different perspectives to spur innovation and drive positive outcomes.

Case Study 1 – Proctor & Gamble

Proctor & Gamble showed the power of leveraging different perspectives when launching their Swiffer mop product. In order to best assess the potential for Swiffer’s success, P&G assembled an R&D team made up of both men and women with varied experience in both household chore and chemical engineering. The team was able to identify potential issues with the product’s use within households and developed creative solutions, ensuring the success of the product in the market.

Case Study 2 – Microsoft

Microsoft showed the power of embracing different perspectives when developing their Kinect game console. Microsoft brought together a diverse team of engineers, designers, and software developers from a variety of cultural, educational, and technical backgrounds, and tasked them with the challenge of developing the console. The team was able to identify opportunities and potential pitfalls of the product, leading to the successful launch of Kinect.


Both of these examples demonstrate how organizations can effectively leverage different perspectives to develop innovative solutions and spur growth. By encouraging open dialogue, embracing flexible working arrangements, and leveraging technology and tools, organizations can best leverage the power of diversity and reap positive outcomes.

One of the great tools I haven’t mentioned that is very useful for increasing the effectiveness of innovation teams is The Nine Innovation Roles created by Braden Kelley, which has been translated into multiple languages and are used by innovation professionals in companies all around the world.

Image credit: Pexels

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What’s Your Innovation Story?

What's Your Innovation Story?

Many, but not all, innovations involve some kind of technology, and start as an invention. Many of these technology-based inventions that may eventually become innovations are created by startups, but many are created inside large companies as well. In both cases, these technology-based potential innovations are often created by engineers or technologists that are well-versed in the problems they are solving to make the technology work, but not always with the problems that the technology may solve for customers. Often the inventors speak the languages of science and technology, which is not always the same language as that understood by the potential customers for their invention that they hope will become an innovation.

As I wrote before in the always popular, and often linked and liked – Innovation is All About Value – there are three keys to achieving a successful transition from invention to innovation:

1. Value Creation

Value Creation is pretty self-explanatory. Your innovation investment must create novel or incremental value large enough to overcome the switching costs of moving to your new solution from the old solution (including the ‘Do Nothing Solution’). New value can be created by making something more efficient or effective, possible that wasn’t possible before, or by creating new psychological or emotional benefits. This creation of new value is what most people focus on, but you can’t achieve innovation without achieving success in the next two components as well.

2. Value Access

Value Access can also be thought of as friction reduction or experience design. How easy do you make it for customers and consumers to access the value you’ve created? How well has the product or service (or the experience of using it) been designed to allow people to access the value easily? How easy is it for the solution to be created? What is the employee experience like? How easy is it for people to do business with you?

These are some of the questions you must ask and answer as you seek to create success in the value access component of innovation.

3. Value Translation

Value Translation is all about helping people understand the value you’ve created and how it fits into their lives. Value translation is also about understanding where on a continuum your solution falls between the need for explanation and education. Incremental innovations can usually just be explained to people because they anchor to something they already understand, but radical or disruptive innovations inevitably require some level of education (often far in advance of the launch).

Done really well, value translation also helps to communicate how easy it will be for customers and consumers to exchange their old solution for the new solution.

Unfortunately, not all three parts of innovation success are equally understood or valued.

Most people understand that the creation of new value (aka value creation) is a key component of innovation success.

Many people understand the concept of barriers to adoption and that value access is thus also a key component to whether or not an invention successfully makes the transformation into an innovation.

BUT, few understand that value translation is probably the most critical component to innovation success. Because value translation inevitably requires both explanation AND education in varying amounts, having a good Evangelist (see The Nine Innovation Roles) that is a gifted storyteller on your innovation team will prove crucial to your innovation success. If people don’t understand how your new solution fits into their lives and why they should abandon their old solution, even if it is the ‘do nothing’ solution, then you stand no chance of your invention becoming an innovation.

And what’s the difference between an invention and an innovation? Wide adoption…

Achieving wide adoption comes not from some catchy advertising campaign, but from creating ridiculous amounts of value in the solution itself, the way that people access the solution (or the experience that they have), and in the story you create around it.

The Role of Experience in Your Innovation Story

Many true innovations create an experience that someone wasn’t able to have before, or take a painful experience and turn it into a delightful one. The automatic transmission liberated millions of people from the struggle of successfully starting a car on a hill and the worry of grinding their gears every time they go to shift gears.

How does using your potential innovation make people feel?

What is the experience like?

Where is the experience awkward or full of friction?

Could it be better?

Experience design has become increasing important because a good or bad user experience, customer experience, or employee experience creates stories, stories that get shared, stories that sometimes take on a life of their own. This is what happens when something goes viral. Sharing of the story itself becomes a new story, meaning that people are now sharing two stories (the original story, and a new story about the sharing of the original story). The power of these shared stories is why the various fields of experience design are growing both in terms of visibility and the numbers of people employed in these kinds of roles (customer experience, customer success, user experience, human-centered design, etc.).

When it comes to innovation, experience and design matter.

Bringing It All Together

Crafting a compelling innovation story requires both a compelling value proposition and a memorable experience. When you have both, your innovation story will be more engaging, easier to tell, and more likely to be shared.

Your innovation story also requires the same type of design thinking process to achieve. You must:

  1. Understand who your audience is
  2. Define what they will find convincing about the value proposition and the experience that your innovation will create
  3. Come up with ideas on how you will tell your innovation story (including the appropriate level of explanation vs. education)
  4. Choose one and prototype your innovation story
  5. Test it with people
  6. And iterate until you find that your innovation story (as well as your potential innovation) is resonating strongly with your target customers

So, plan ahead. Design your innovation story at the same time you’re designing a compelling innovation value proposition and innovation experience. Think about what people will say about your potential innovation as they begin using it. Show it to people and ask them for feedback about your potential innovation. Craft an explanation for it, build an education plan, and test both. Take all of what you learn from asking and testing these things to begin crafting your innovation story, while also refining the design of the product or service, and the experience of using it, to make both more compelling. In doing so, at the same time you’ll also make help your innovation story that much more powerful, and increase your chances of achieving innovation success!

If you need help telling your innovation story, I can help you on the tactical side (commissioned articles, white papers, webinars, collateral, keynotes, workshops, etc.) or by building you a complete innovation evangelism strategy (for an external audience, an internal one, or both). Click here to contact me.

This article originally appeared on CIO.com

Image credit: Dreamlightfugitive.wordpress.com

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Building a Culture of Continuous Innovation

Building a Culture of Continuous Innovation

Excerpt from the May/June 2017 edition of The European Business Review

Every company begins as the nimble startup, organized around the solution to a single customer problem and executing that solution better than anyone else in the market (including incumbents with deep pockets). But this emerging leader soon becomes a follower as the organization evolves and scales into a more complex (but capable) next generation incumbent. Inevitably, every growing organization finds itself so focused on capturing all of the business for its existing solutions, that it finds itself becoming disconnected from evolving customer preferences.

The companies that last the longest manage to fulfill existing customer needs with well-delivered solutions, and identify new customer needs to satisfy as customer preferences continue to shift. But many large or growing companies fail to do so quickly enough, especially in our new digital reality where it is easier than ever to start and scale a solution around the globe with limited resources. Innovation is the key to remaining relevant with customers. Winning the War for Innovation is the key to remaining alive.

Click to access a PDF version of the Building a Culture of Continuous Innovation article
Click to continue reading the article on The European Business Review site

Innovation Audit from Braden Kelley

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Nine Innovation Roles – A New Tool

In my book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, one of the last tools I ended up adding has turned out to be one of the most intriguing parts of the book for people – especially in helping to build successful innovation teams. That tool is the Nine Innovation Roles, which I have written about before on this blog.

Now, after my latest innovation speech at the Farm Credit Services of America in Omaha, Nebraska and some conversations I had with the leadership there, it has become clear that people would like to have some additional tools to use to help identify which roles people tend towards on their teams so that they can use these tendencies as talking points and possibly to help organize effective innovation teams.

Nine Innovation Roles - A New ToolOne of the things that was discussed as a possibility was having team members fill out a simple worksheet to identify what roles they believe their teammates tend towards, while also self-identifying themselves. If the whole team were to complete this exercise it should yield some interesting and actionable data.

But why stop there with one organization?

I truly believe in the power of the Nine Innovation Roles, and because of this belief I’ve created and uploaded a simple worksheet for people to use. I only ask one thing in return from those who download and use the worksheet.

  1. Please send info at braden kelley dot com the data you collect (without the names)
  2. In exchange I will collect it and share it in aggregate at the end of every quarter


In case you missed it, the Nine Innovation Roles are:

  1. Revolutionary
  2. Artist
  3. Troubleshooter
  4. Conscript
  5. Connector
  6. Customer Champion
  7. Judge
  8. Magic Maker
  9. Evangelist

In addition to providing you a pre-built worksheet you can customize and send out to your teams, the worksheet also has embedded in it definitions of the nine roles and the columns on the data entry tab have comments with the definitions as well or people can click the column headers to jump to the tab with a definition (yes, there are tabs that define each of the nine roles).

Please also feel free to share any observations from your use of the Nine Innovation Roles in your organization.

For more information about the Nine Innovation Roles, please get some copies of my book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire for your team or check out my previous article highlighting them.

Happy innovating!

Special Bonus

Download 'Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire' sample chapterIf you’ve read all the way to the bottom, then you deserve a free sample chapter from my new book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire. I hope you enjoy the sample chapter and consider purchasing the book as a way of supporting the future growth of this community.

Download the sample chapter

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