Tag Archives: transformation

Engaging Consciousness in the Emotional Work of Organizational Transformation

Engaging Consciousness in the Emotional Work of Organizational Transformation

GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson

Organizational transformation is a uniquely human endeavor. Navigating the journey to change starts with understanding the employee experience and creating space for emotional safety in the workplace.

According to organizational behavior expert Sigal Barsade, emotions are the key to encouraging higher performance and achievement. Her research shows that emotions influence employees’ wellness in addition to driving productivity. Thus, to influence organizational transformation, leaders need to take a closer look at how emotions factor into the employee experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss emotions and their role to change management in the following topics:

  • The Employee Experience
  • The Transformation Timeline
  • Emotions at Work
  • An Engagement of Consciousness

The Employee Experience

Without a keen understanding of the employee experience and your team’s emotional state, sustainable change is more fantasy than reality. In your efforts to initiate organizational transformation, consider first transforming employees’ work experience to promote a sense of emotional well-being.

In shaping the employee experience, it’s critical to understand employees’ expectations for emotional safety in the workplace. As most employees value their mental health above all else, they expect their working environment to promote trust, purpose, and social cohesion. Moreover, they want to know that leadership recognizes their contributions and that there is room and opportunity for sustainable growth and development. Similarly, team members want their personal sense of purpose to be in alignment with the organization.

With increased emotional wellness comes higher employee engagement and a more motivated workforce. With a stronger sense of emotional safety in the employee experience, leaders will find that their team is prepared to engage in organizational transformation.

The Transformation Timeline

 “You have to attract people… you can’t bribe or coerce transformation.”
Greg Satell

Once you prioritize the employee experience in your change strategy, you can begin the organizational transformation timeline. Organizational transformation is a process that happens through gradual change, resulting in sustainable behavioral transformation. This type of comprehensive change can only occur through a series of repeatable actions and innovative systems, not one-time initiatives.

Take steps towards sustainable change with the following phases of organizational transformation:

Phase One: Fight Resistance

To sustain organizational transformation, leaders and team members need a solid strategy for managing resistance. Resistance often stems from the discomfort that change brings.

To move beyond this fear, leaders should explain that while transformation involves many unknown factors, the forthcoming change will bring overall positive results. By showing team members how they will benefit from a change, leaders can overcome resistance and encourage their employees to support the initiative.

  • Freezing of Behaviors
    In Lewis’ Change management model, change is broken into three steps: freezing, changing, and refreezing.

    In the first phase of organizational transformation, the “unfreezing” process will occur. This involves recognizing one’s need for change and defining new behaviors that replace the former methods and practices. During this very fluid phase, team members and leaders identify and share data that supports a need for change.

Phase Two: Facilitate Adjustment

After strategically managing resistance to change, the next phase in achieving organizational transformation is facilitating the adjustment period. During this phase, team members are no longer actively resisting transformation but still need time to adjust to the changes the new initiative brings.

In the adjustment period, changes are discussed in detail, and team members are invited to provide criticism and feedback. This phase allows team members to personalize the change as they recognize their individual roles in achieving organizational transformation. In a successful adjustment phase, every team member is aligned with the necessary actions for the next phase: acceptance.

  • Changing

Within the adjustment phase of organizational transformation, team leaders will actively change their old habits. At this time, all stakeholders work to replace undesired behaviors with desired ones.

Phase Three: Foster Acceptance

In phase three of the organizational transformation timeline, you’ll lead your team into the acceptance phase with a solid vision and strategy for sustaining the changes over time.

  • Refreezing

In the foster acceptance phase, refreezing occurs when changes are stabilized and become the new normal. As the organizational transformation nears completion, team members are in the best position to cement these changes by ensuring a legacy of growth.

Phase Four: Ensure Consistency

The fourth phase of organizational transformation establishes consistent and sustainable growth. Consistency is a direct result of repeatable actions from strategic processes, intentional routines, and innovative practices that allow each team member to enact changes that carry into the future continuously.

Emotions at Work

A clear strategy for long-term change is only a roadmap to organizational transformation. After setting the stage for change to take place, leaders must engage in the emotional work of transformation.

Change takes emotional labor, requiring an environment that is uniquely attuned to address employees’ emotional needs. In the workplace, emotions can be an accelerator for transformation. To engage emotions in the most effective way, leaders can create conditions that ensure psychological safety.

Research shows that to solidify organizational transformation, we must mitigate emotional harm and, in doing so, foster emotional commitment from team members. While emotional harm isn’t tangible, it presents itself in certain ways that can create anxiety, fear, and similar negative responses in employees. Essentially, working to facilitate positive experiences alongside potentially negative emotions is the key to harnessing a safe space for transformation. Leaders that are able to manage the effects of stress successfully can transform a high-pressure environment into a space for high performance.

Sonja Kresojevic, the founder of Spinnaker Co. and a proponent of using agile principles for organizational change, firmly believes that true transformation is a product of an empowered organization. According to  Kresojevic, the more we humanize change through emotional labor and healing initiatives, the more we are able to influence others and start shifting organizations in the direction of transformation.

Leaders can promote healing and psychological safety by allowing employees to share their thoughts and criticisms freely and without retribution. With an increase in support and emotional safety, your team will be ripe for organizational transformation.

An Engagement of Consciousness

An organization’s penchant for the unknown is essential in driving organizational transformation. In your efforts to humanize change management, it’s crucial to understand and accept human nature’s role in experiencing change. In understanding our natural inclinations toward risk aversion in the face of change, we can work to replace this avoidance of uncertainty with curiosity, vulnerability, and authenticity in the workplace. This approach to change management will transform the way we work, the risks we take, and our willingness to accept change.

Much of organizational transformation is dependent on accepting uncertainty: that the future is unclear and we don’t have all the answers. The real secret to driving organizational transformation is empowering people to develop and accept new ideas on their own. Managing the uncertainty of organizational transformation takes time, allowing for the unfreezing, changing, and refreezing process to take place as stakeholders consider their options.

Rob Evans, Master Coach of Collaboration and Transformation Designer, shares that giving people a chance to court the unknown, is essential for change acceptance as it allows new ideas to seep in and take hold.

Practicing patience during the change management process allows for “engagement in the full consciousness,” in which leaders can kickstart the organizational transformation timeline and encourage employees to buy into the change. By pairing deliberate strategy with time for authentic employee engagement, radical transformation is an inevitability.

Ready to start the journey to organizational transformation? Consider a new approach to the employee experience. Voltage Control can help you and your team define the best path for your organization’s transformation. 

This article originally appeared at VoltageControl.com

Image credit: Pixabay

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Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022

Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022

2021 marked the re-birth of my original Blogging Innovation blog as a new blog called Human-Centered Change and Innovation.

Many of you may know that Blogging Innovation grew into the world’s most popular global innovation community before being re-branded as InnovationExcellence.com and being ultimately sold to DisruptorLeague.com.

Thanks to an outpouring of support I’ve ignited the fuse of this new multiple author blog around the topics of human-centered change, innovation, transformation and design.

I feel blessed that the global innovation and change professional communities have responded with a growing roster of contributing authors and more than 17,000 newsletter subscribers.

To celebrate we’ve pulled together the Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022 from our archive of over 1,000 articles on these topics.

We do some other rankings too.

We just published the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 and as the volume of this blog has grown we have brought back our monthly article ranking to complement this annual one.

But enough delay, here are the 100 most popular innovation and transformation posts of 2022.

Did your favorite make the cut?

1. A Guide to Organizing Innovation – by Jesse Nieminen

2. The Education Business Model Canvas – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

3. 50 Cognitive Biases Reference – Free Download – by Braden Kelley

4. Why Innovation Heroes Indicate a Dysfunctional Organization – by Steve Blank

5. The One Movie All Electric Car Designers Should Watch – by Braden Kelley

6. Don’t Forget to Innovate the Customer Experience – by Braden Kelley

7. What Latest Research Reveals About Innovation Management Software – by Jesse Nieminen

8. Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability? – by Braden Kelley

9. Free Innovation Maturity Assessment – by Braden Kelley

10. Cognitive Bandwidth – Staying Innovative in ‘Interesting’ Times – by Pete Foley

11. Is Digital Different? – by John Bessant

12. Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021 – Curated by Braden Kelley

13. Can We Innovate Like Elon Musk? – by Pete Foley

14. Why Amazon Wants to Sell You Robots – by Shep Hyken

15. Free Human-Centered Change Tools – by Braden Kelley

16. What is Human-Centered Change? – by Braden Kelley

17. Not Invented Here – by John Bessant

18. Top Five Reasons Customers Don’t Return – by Shep Hyken

19. Visual Project Charter™ – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) and JPG for Online Whiteboarding – by Braden Kelley

20. Nine Innovation Roles – by Braden Kelley

21. How Consensus Kills Innovation – by Greg Satell

22. Why So Much Innoflation? – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

23. ACMP Standard for Change Management® Visualization – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) – Association of Change Management Professionals – by Braden Kelley

24. 12 Reasons to Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

25. The Five Keys to Successful Change – by Braden Kelley

26. Innovation Theater – How to Fake It ‘Till You Make It – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

27. Five Immutable Laws of Change – by Greg Satell

28. How to Free Ourselves of Conspiracy Theories – by Greg Satell

29. An Innovation Action Plan for the New CTO – by Steve Blank

30. How to Write a Failure Resume – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.


Build a common language of innovation on your team


31. Entrepreneurs Must Think Like a Change Leader – by Braden Kelley

32. No Regret Decisions: The First Steps of Leading through Hyper-Change – by Phil Buckley

33. Parallels Between the 1920’s and Today Are Frightening – by Greg Satell

34. Technology Not Always the Key to Innovation – by Braden Kelley

35. The Era of Moving Fast and Breaking Things is Over – by Greg Satell

36. A Startup’s Guide to Marketing Communications – by Steve Blank

37. You Must Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable – by Janet Sernack

38. Four Key Attributes of Transformational Leaders – by Greg Satell

39. We Were Wrong About What Drove the 21st Century – by Greg Satell

40. Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire – by Braden Kelley

41. Now is the Time to Design Cost Out of Our Products – by Mike Shipulski

42. Why Good Ideas Fail – by Greg Satell

43. Five Myths That Kill Change and Transformation – by Greg Satell

44. 600 Free Innovation, Transformation and Design Quote Slides – Curated by Braden Kelley

45. FutureHacking – by Braden Kelley

46. Innovation Requires Constraints – by Greg Satell

47. The Experiment Canvas™ – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) – by Braden Kelley

48. The Pyramid of Results, Motivation and Ability – by Braden Kelley

49. Four Paradigm Shifts Defining Our Next Decade – by Greg Satell

50. Why Most Corporate Mindset Programs Are a Waste of Time – by Alain Thys


Accelerate your change and transformation success


51. Impact of Cultural Differences on Innovation – by Jesse Nieminen

52. 600+ Downloadable Quote Posters – Curated by Braden Kelley

53. The Four Secrets of Innovation Implementation – by Shilpi Kumar

54. What Entrepreneurship Education Really Teaches Us – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

55. Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World – by Janet Sernack

56. You Can’t Innovate Without This One Thing – by Robyn Bolton

57. Why Change Must Be Built on Common Ground – by Greg Satell

58. Four Innovation Ecosystem Building Blocks – by Greg Satell

59. Problem Seeking 101 – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

60. Taking Personal Responsibility – Back to Leadership Basics – by Janet Sernack

61. The Lost Tribe of Medicine – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

62. Invest Yourself in All That You Do – by Douglas Ferguson

63. Bureaucracy and Politics versus Innovation – by Braden Kelley

64. Dare to Think Differently – by Janet Sernack

65. Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Reality – by Braden Kelley

66. Innovation vs. Invention vs. Creativity – by Braden Kelley

67. Building a Learn It All Culture – by Braden Kelley

68. Real Change Requires a Majority – by Greg Satell

69. Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit – by Braden Kelley

70. Silicon Valley Has Become a Doomsday Machine – by Greg Satell

71. Three Steps to Digital and AI Transformation – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

72. We need MD/MBEs not MD/MBAs – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

73. What You Must Know Before Leading a Design Thinking Workshop – by Douglas Ferguson

74. New Skills Needed for a New Era of Innovation – by Greg Satell

75. The Leader’s Guide to Making Innovation Happen – by Jesse Nieminen

76. Marriott’s Approach to Customer Service – by Shep Hyken

77. Flaws in the Crawl Walk Run Methodology – by Braden Kelley

78. Disrupt Yourself, Your Team and Your Organization – by Janet Sernack

79. Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation – by Greg Satell

80. Breaking the Iceberg of Company Culture – by Douglas Ferguson


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81. A Brave Post-Coronavirus New World – by Greg Satell

82. What Can Leaders Do to Have More Innovative Teams? – by Diana Porumboiu

83. Mentors Advise and Sponsors Invest – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

84. Increasing Organizational Agility – by Braden Kelley

85. Should You Have a Department of Artificial Intelligence? – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

86. This 9-Box Grid Can Help Grow Your Best Future Talent – by Soren Kaplan

87. Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space – by Chris Rollins

88. Developing 21st-Century Leader and Team Superpowers – by Janet Sernack

89. Accelerate Your Mission – by Brian Miller

90. How the Customer in 9C Saved Continental Airlines from Bankruptcy – by Howard Tiersky

91. How to Effectively Manage Remotely – by Douglas Ferguson

92. Leading a Culture of Innovation from Any Seat – by Patricia Salamone

93. Bring Newness to Corporate Learning with Gamification – by Janet Sernack

94. Selling to Generation Z – by Shep Hyken

95. Importance of Measuring Your Organization’s Innovation Maturity – by Braden Kelley

96. Innovation Champions and Pilot Partners from Outside In – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

97. Transformation Insights – by Bruce Fairley

98. Teaching Old Fish New Tricks – by Braden Kelley

99. Innovating Through Adversity and Constraints – by Janet Sernack

100. It is Easier to Change People than to Change People – by Annette Franz

Curious which article just missed the cut? Well, here it is just for fun:

101. Chance to Help Make Futurism and Foresight Accessible – by Braden Kelley

These are the Top 100 innovation and transformation articles of 2022 based on the number of page views. If your favorite Human-Centered Change & Innovation article didn’t make the cut, then send a tweet to @innovate and maybe we’ll consider doing a People’s Choice List for 2022.

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 1-6 new articles every week focused on human-centered change, innovation, transformation and design insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook feed or on Twitter or LinkedIn too!

Editor’s Note: Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all the innovation & transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have a valuable insight to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, contact us.

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Voting Closed for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022

Voting Closed for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022CLICK HERE TO SEE WHO HAS BEEN NOMINATED

For more than a decade I’ve devoted myself to making innovation insights accessible for the greater good, because I truly believe that the better our organizations get at delivering value to their stakeholders the less waste of natural resources and human resources there will be.

As a result, we are eternally grateful to all of you out there who take the time to create and share great innovation articles, presentations, white papers, and videos with Braden Kelley and the Human-Centered Change and Innovation team. As a small thank you to those of you who follow along, we like to make a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers available each year!

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHO HAS BEEN NOMINATED

Our lists from the ten previous years have been tremendously popular, including:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2015
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2016
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2017
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2018
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2019
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021

Do you just have someone that you like to read that writes about innovation, or some of the important adjacencies – trends, consumer psychology, change, leadership, strategy, behavioral economics, collaboration, or design thinking?

Human-Centered Change and Innovation is now looking to recognize the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022.

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

The deadline for submitting votes is December 31, 2022 at midnight GMT.

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHO HAS BEEN NOMINATED

Build a Common Language of Innovation on your team

The ranking will be done by me with influence from votes and nominations. The quality and quantity of contributions to this web site by an author will be a BIG contributing factor (through the end of the voting period).

You can vote in any of these three ways (and each earns points for them, so please feel free to vote all three ways):

  1. Sending us the name of the blogger by @reply on twitter to @innovate
  2. Adding the name of the blogger as a comment to this article’s posting on Facebook
  3. Adding the name of the blogger as a comment to this article’s posting on our Linkedin Page (Be sure and follow us)

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 will then be announced here in early January 2023.

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHO HAS BEEN NOMINATED

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

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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Voting Closed – Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022

Vote for Top 40 Innovation BloggersFor more than a decade I’ve devoted myself to making innovation insights accessible for the greater good, because I truly believe that the better our organizations get at delivering value to their stakeholders the less waste of natural resources and human resources there will be.

As a result, we are eternally grateful to all of you out there who take the time to create and share great innovation articles, presentations, white papers, and videos with Braden Kelley and the Human-Centered Change and Innovation team. As a small thank you to those of you who follow along, we like to make a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers available each year!

Our lists from the ten previous years have been tremendously popular, including:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2015
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2016
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2017
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2018
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2019
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021

Do you just have someone that you like to read that writes about innovation, or some of the important adjacencies – trends, consumer psychology, change, leadership, strategy, behavioral economics, collaboration, or design thinking?

Human-Centered Change and Innovation is now looking to recognize the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022.

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

The deadline for submitting votes is December 31, 2022 at midnight GMT.

Build a Common Language of Innovation on your team

The ranking will be done by me with influence from votes and nominations. The quality and quantity of contributions to this web site by an author will be a BIG contributing factor (through the end of the voting period).

You can vote in any of these three ways (and each earns points for them, so please feel free to vote all three ways):

  1. Sending us the name of the blogger by @reply on twitter to @innovate
  2. Adding the name of the blogger as a comment to this article’s posting on Facebook
  3. Adding the name of the blogger as a comment to this article’s posting on our Linkedin Page (Be sure and follow us)

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 will then be announced here in early January 2023.

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

Adi Gaskell – @adigaskell
Alain Thys
Alex Goryachev
Andy Heikkila – @AndyO_TheHammer
Annette Franz
Arlen Meyers – @sopeofficial
Art Inteligencia
Braden Kelley – @innovate
Brian Miller
Bruce Fairley
Chad McAllister – @ChadMcAllister
Chris Beswick
Chris Rollins
Dr. Detlef Reis
Dainora Jociute
Dan Blacharski – @Dan_Blacharski
Daniel Burrus – @DanielBurrus
Daniel Lock
David Burkus
Dean and Linda Anderson
Diana Porumboiu
Douglas Ferguson
Drew Boyd – @DrewBoyd
Farnham Street
Frank Mattes – @FrankMattes
Geoffrey A Moore
Gregg Fraley – @greggfraley
Greg Satell – @Digitaltonto
Helen Yu
Howard Tiersky
Janet Sernack – @JanetSernack
Jeffrey Baumgartner – @creativejeffrey
Jeff Freedman – @SmallArmyAgency
Jeffrey Phillips – @ovoinnovation
Jesse Nieminen – @nieminenjesse
John Bessant
Jorge Barba – @JorgeBarba
Julian Birkinshaw – @JBirkinshaw
Julie Anixter – @julieanixter
Kate Hammer – @Kate_Hammer
Kevin McFarthing – @InnovationFixer
Lou Killeffer – @LKilleffer
Manuel Berdoy

Accelerate your change and transformation success

Mari Anixter- @MariAnixter
Maria Paula Oliveira – @mpaulaoliveira
Matthew E May – @MatthewEMay
Michael Graber – @SouthernGrowth
Mike Brown – @Brainzooming
Mike Shipulski – @MikeShipulski
Mukesh Gupta
Nick Partridge – @KnewNewNeu
Nicolas Bry – @NicoBry
Nicholas Longrich
Norbert Majerus and George Taninecz
Pamela Soin
Patricia Salamone
Paul Hobcraft – @Paul4innovating
Paul Sloane – @paulsloane
Pete Foley – @foley_pete
Ralph Christian Ohr – @ralph_ohr
Randy Pennington
Richard Haasnoot – @Innovate2Grow
Robert B Tucker – @RobertBTucker
Robyn Bolton – @rm_bolton
Saul Kaplan – @skap5
Shep Hyken – @hyken
Shilpi Kumar
Scott Anthony – @ScottDAnthony
Scott Bowden – @scottbowden51
Shelly Greenway – @ChiefDistiller
Soren Kaplan – @SorenKaplan
Stefan Lindegaard – @Lindegaard
Stephen Shapiro – @stephenshapiro
Steve Blank
Steven Forth – @StevenForth
Tamara Kleinberg – @LaunchStreet
Teresa Spangler – @composerspang
Tim Stroh
Tom Koulopoulos – @TKspeaks
Tom Stafford
Yoram Solomon – @yoram

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

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

Nominations Closed for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022

Nominations Closed for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022Human-Centered Change and Innovation loves making innovation insights accessible for the greater good, because we truly believe that the better our organizations get at delivering value to their stakeholders the less waste of natural resources and human resources there will be.

As a result, we are eternally grateful to all of you out there who take the time to create and share great innovation articles, presentations, white papers, and videos with Braden Kelley and the Human-Centered Change and Innovation team. As a small thank you to those of you who follow along, we like to make a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers available each year!

Nominations are now closed.

Our lists from the ten previous years have been tremendously popular, including:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2015
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2016
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2017
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2018
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2019
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021

Do you just have someone that you like to read that writes about innovation, or some of the important adjacencies – trends, consumer psychology, change, leadership, strategy, behavioral economics, collaboration, or design thinking?

Human-Centered Change and Innovation is now looking for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022.

The deadline for submitting nominations is December 24, 2022 at midnight GMT.

Nominations are now closed, but people were able to submit a nomination in either of these two ways:

  1. Sending us the name of the blogger and the url of their blog by @reply on twitter to @innovate
  2. Sending the name of the blogger and the url of their blog and your e-mail address using our contact form

(Note: HUGE bonus points for being a contributing author)

So, think about who you like to read and let us know by midnight GMT on December 24, 2022.

We will then compile a voting list of all the nominations, and publish it on December 25, 2022.

Voting will then be open from December 25, 2022 – January 1, 2023 via comments and twitter @replies to @innovate.

The ranking will be done by me with influence from votes and nominations. The quality and quantity of contributions by an author to this web site will be a contributing factor.

Contact me with writing samples if you’d like to publish your articles on our platform!

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 will then be announced on here in early January 2023.

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

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

Forbidden Truth About Innovation

Forbidden Truth About Innovation

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

If you heard it once, you heard it a thousand times:

  • Big companies can’t innovate
  • We need to innovate before we get too big and slow
  • Startups are innovative. Big companies are dinosaurs. They can’t innovate.

And yet you persevere because you know the truth:

Big companies CAN innovate.

They CHOOSE not to.

Using Innovation to drive growth is a choice.

Just like choosing to grow through acquisition or expansion into new markets is a choice.

All those choices are complex, uncertain, and risky. In fact:

Hold on. The odds of failure are the same!

All three growth drivers have similar failure rates, but no one says, “Big companies can’t acquire things” or “Big companies can’t expand into new markets.”

We expect big companies to engage in acquisitions and market expansion.

Failed acquisitions and market expansions prove us (or at least our expectations) wrong. Because we don’t like being wrong, we study our failures so that we can change, improve, and increase our odds of success next time.

We expect big companies to fail at innovation.

In this case, failure proves us right. We love being right, so we shrug and say, “Big companies can’t innovate.”

We let big companies off the hook.

Why are our expectations so different?

Since the dawn of commerce, businesses engaged in innovation, acquisitions, and market expansion. But innovation is different from M&A and market expansion in three fundamental ways:

  1. Innovation is “new” – Even though businesses have engaged in innovation, acquisitions, and market expansion since the very earliest days of commerce, innovation only recently became a topic worthy of discussion, study, and investment. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960s that Innovation was recognized as worthy of research and deliberate investment.
  2. Innovation starts small – Unlike acquisitions and new markets that can be easily sized and forecasted, in the early days of an innovation, it’s hard to know how big it could be.
  3. Innovation takes time – Innovation doesn’t come with a predictable launch date. Even its possible launch date is usually 3 to 5 years away, unlike acquisition closing dates that are often within a year.

What can we do about this?

We can’t change what innovation is (new, small, and slow at the start), but we can change our expectations.

  • Finish the sentence – “Big companies can’t innovate” absolves companies of the responsibility to make a good-faith effort to try to innovate by making their struggles an unavoidable consequence of their size. But it’s not inevitable, and continuing the sentence proves it. Saying “Big companies can’t innovate because…”  forces people to acknowledge the root causes of companies’ innovation struggles. In many ways, this was the great A-HA! of The Innovator’s Dilemma: Big companies can’t innovate because their focus on providing better (and more expensive) solutions to their best customers results in them ceding the low-end of the market and non-consumers to other companies.
  • Be honest – Once you’ve identified the root cause, you can choose to do something different (and get different results) or do everything the same (and get the same results). If you choose to keep doing the same things in the same ways, that’s fine. Own the decision.
  • Change your choice. Change your expectations – If you do choose to do things differently, address the root causes, and resolve the barriers, then walk the talk. Stop expecting innovation to fail and start expecting it to be as successful as your acquisition and market expansion efforts. Stop investing two people and $10 in innovation and start investing the same quantity and quality of resources as you invest and other growth efforts.
  • The first step in change is admitting that change is needed. When we accept that “big companies can’t innovate” simply because they’re big, we absolve them of their responsibility to follow through on proclamations and strategies about the importance of innovation as a strategic driver of growth.

It’s time to acknowledge that innovation (or lack thereof) is a choice and expect companies to own that choice and act and invest accordingly.

After all, would it be great to stop persevering and start innovating?

Image credit: Pixabay

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Nominations Closed – Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022

Nominations Closed for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022Human-Centered Change and Innovation loves making innovation insights accessible for the greater good, because we truly believe that the better our organizations get at delivering value to their stakeholders the less waste of natural resources and human resources there will be.

As a result, we are eternally grateful to all of you out there who take the time to create and share great innovation articles, presentations, white papers, and videos with Braden Kelley and the Human-Centered Change and Innovation team. As a small thank you to those of you who follow along, we like to make a list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers available each year!

Our lists from the ten previous years have been tremendously popular, including:

Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2015
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2016
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2017
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2018
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2019
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021

Do you just have someone that you like to read that writes about innovation, or some of the important adjacencies – trends, consumer psychology, change, leadership, strategy, behavioral economics, collaboration, or design thinking?

Human-Centered Change and Innovation is now looking for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022.

The deadline for submitting nominations is December 24, 2022 at midnight GMT.

You can submit a nomination either of these two ways:

  1. Sending us the name of the blogger and the url of their blog by @reply on twitter to @innovate
  2. Sending the name of the blogger and the url of their blog and your e-mail address using our contact form

(Note: HUGE bonus points for being a contributing author)

So, think about who you like to read and let us know by midnight GMT on December 24, 2022.

We will then compile a voting list of all the nominations, and publish it on December 25, 2022.

Voting will then be open from December 25, 2022 – January 1, 2023 via comments and twitter @replies to @innovate.

The ranking will be done by me with influence from votes and nominations. The quality and quantity of contributions by an author to this web site will be a contributing factor.

Contact me with writing samples if you’d like to publish your articles on our platform!

The official Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 will then be announced on here in early January 2023.

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

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3 Steps to Find the Horse’s A** In Your Company (and Create Space for Innovation)

3 Steps to Find the Horse's A** In Your Company (and Create Space for Innovation)

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

Innovation thrives within constraints.

Constraints create the need for questions, creative thinking, and experiments.

But as real as constraints are and as helpful as they can be, don’t simply accept them. Instead, question them, push on them, and explore around them.

But first, find the horse’s a**

How Ancient Rome influenced the design of the Space Shuttle

In 1974, Thiokol, an aerospace and chemical manufacturing company, won the contract to build the solid rocket boosters (SRBs) for the Space Shuttle. The SRBs were to be built in a factory in Utah and transported to the launch site via train.

The train route ran through a mountain tunnel that was just barely wider than the tracks.

The standard width of railroad tracks (distance between the rails or the railroad gauge) in the US is 4 feet, 8.5 inches which means that Thiokol’s engineers needed to design SRBs that could fit through a tunnel that was slightly wider than 4 feet 8.5 inches.

4 feet 8.5 inches wide is a constraint. But where did such an oddly specific constraint come from?

The designers and builders of America’s first railroads were the same people and companies that built England’s tramways. Using the existing tramways tools and equipment to build railroads was more efficient and cost-effective, so railroads ended up with the same gauge as tramways – 4 feet 8.5 inches.

The designers and builders of England’s tramways were the same businesses that, for centuries, built wagons. Wanting to use their existing tools and equipment (it was more efficient and cost-effective, after all), the wagon builders built tramways with the exact distance between the rails as wagons had between wheels – 4 feet 8.5 inches.

Wagon wheels were 4 feet 8.5 inches apart to fit into the well-worn grooves in most old European roads. The Romans built those roads, and Roman chariots made those grooves, and a horses pulled those chariots, and the width of a horses was, you guessed it, 4 feet 8.5 inches.

To recap – the width of a horses’ a** (approximately 4 feet 8.5 inches) determined the distance between wheels on the Roman chariots that wore grooves into ancient roads. Those grooves ultimately dictated the width of wagon wheels, tramways, railroad ties, a mountain tunnel, and the Space Shuttle’s SRBs.

How to find the horse’s a**

When you understand the origin of a constraint, aka find the horse’s a**, it’s easier to find ways around it or to accept and work with it. You can also suddenly understand and even anticipate people’s reactions when you challenge the constraints.

Here’s how you do it – when someone offers a constraint:

  1. Thank them for being honest with you and for helping you work more efficiently
  2. Find the horse’s a** by asking questions to understand the constraint – why it exists, what it protects, the risk of ignoring it, who enforces it, and what happened to the last person who challenged it.
  3. Find your degrees of freedom by paying attention to their answers and how they give them. Do they roll their eyes in knowing exasperation? Shrug their shoulders in resignation? Become animated and dogmatic, agitated that someone would question something so obvious?

How to use the horse’s a** to innovate

You must do all three steps because stopping short of step 3 stops creativity in its tracks.

If you stop after Step 1 (which most people do), you only know the constraint, and you’ll probably be tempted to take it as fixed. But maybe it’s not. Perhaps it’s just a habit or heuristic waiting to be challenged.

If you do all three steps, however, you learn tons of information about the constraint, how people feel about it, and the data and evidence that could nudge or even eliminate it.

At the very least, you’ll understand the horse’s a** driving your company’s decisions.

Image credit: Pixabay

Endnotes:

  1. To be very clear, the origin of the constraint is the horse’s a**. The person telling you about the constraint is NOT the horse’s a**.
  2. The truth is never as simple as the story and railroads used to come in different gauges. For a deeper dive into this “more true than not” story (and an alternative theory that it was the North’s triumph in the Civil War that influenced the design of the SRBs, click here

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Shark Tanks are the Pumpkin Spice of Innovation

Shark Tanks are the Pumpkin Spice of Innovation

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

On August 27, Pumpkin Spice season began. It was the earliest ever launch of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte and it kicked off a season in which everything from Cheerios to protein powder to dog shampoo promises the nostalgia of Grandma’s pumpkin pie.

Since its introduction in 2003, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has attracted its share of lovers and haters but, because it’s a seasonal offering, the hype fades almost as soon as it appears.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for its counterpart in corporate innovation — The Shark Tank/Hackathon/Lab Week.

It may seem unfair to declare Shark Tanks the Pumpkin Spice of corporate innovation, but consider the following:

  • They are events. There’s nothing wrong with seasonal flavors and events. After all, they create a sense of scarcity that spurs people to action and drives companies’ revenues. However, there IS a great deal wrong with believing that innovation is an event. Real innovation is not an event. It is a way of thinking and problem-solving, a habit of asking questions and seeking to do things better, and of doing the hard and unglamorous work of creating, learning, iterating, and testing required to bring innovation — something different that creates value — to life.
  • They appeal to our sense of nostalgia and connection. The smell and taste of Pumpkin Spice bring us back to simpler times, holidays with family, pie fresh and hot from the oven. Shark Tanks do the same. They remind us of the days when we believed that we could change the world (or at least fix our employers) and when we collaborated instead of competed. We feel warm fuzzies as we consume (or participate in) them, but the feelings are fleeting, and we return quickly to the real world.
  • They pretend to be something they’re not. Starbucks’ original Pumpkin Spice Latte was flavored by cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. There was no pumpkin in the Pumpkin Spice. Similarly, Shark Tanks are innovation theater — events that give people an outlet for their ideas and an opportunity to feel innovation-y for a period of time before returning to their day-to-day work. The value that is created is a temporary blip, not lasting change that delivers real business value.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you’re serious about walking the innovation talk, Shark Tanks can be a great way to initiate and accelerate building a culture and practice of innovation. But they must be developed and deployed in a thoughtful way that is consistent with your organization’s strategy and priorities.

  • Make Shark Tanks the START of an innovation effort, not a standalone event. Clearly establish the problems or organizational priorities you want participants to solve and the on-going investment (including dedicated time) that the company will make in the winners. Allocate an Executive Sponsor who meets with the team monthly and distribute quarterly updates to the company to share winners’ progress and learnings
  • Act with courage and commitment. Go beyond the innovation warm fuzzies and encourage people to push the boundaries of “what we usually do.” Reward and highlight participants that make courageous (i.e. risky) recommendations. Pursue ideas that feel a little uncomfortable because the best way to do something new that creates value (i.e. innovate) is to actually DO something NEW.
  • Develop a portfolio of innovation structures: Just as most companies use a portfolio of tools to grow their core businesses, they need a portfolio of tools to create new businesses. Use Shark Tanks to the surface and develop core or adjacent innovation AND establish incubators and accelerators to create and test radical innovations and business models AND fund a corporate VC to scout for new technologies and start-ups that can provide instant access to new markets.

Conclusion

Whether you love or hate Pumpkin Spice Lattes you can’t deny their impact. They are, after all, Starbucks’ highest-selling seasonal offering. But it’s hard to deny that they are increasingly the subject of mocking memes and eye rolls, a sign that their days, and value, maybe limited.

(Most) innovation events, like Pumpkin Spice, have a temporary effect. But not on the bottom-line. During these events, morale, and team energy spike. But, as the excitement fades and people realize that nothing happened once the event was over, innovation becomes a meaningless buzzword, evoking eye rolls and Dilbert cartoons.

Avoid this fate by making Shark Tanks a lasting part of your innovation menu — a portfolio of tools and structures that build and sustain a culture and practice of innovation, one that creates real financial and organizational value.

Image credit: Unsplash

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