Hi friends, 👋
Innovation has become a buzzword.
I’ve seen and heard many examples over the past five years of companies trying to ‘be innovative’ yet often failing to do little more than build a little excitement in what is an ad hoc ‘hackathon’ event.
“Please don’t be so pessimistic; I hear you say.”
And you’re right.
I encourage, welcome, and support anyone trying to innovate.
And more, they inspire me to become better and keep focused on the immense importance of today’s companies to become innovative.
Looking back at the ‘innovation ecosystem’ progress, I see little change.
Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place?
Maybe I’m looking for a significant shift rather than many incremental changes?
But one thing is sure; change is hard.
And to effect change, we are talking about the individual behaviours that collectively form an organisation’s culture.
That begs the question, How might we enable people within organisations to become innovative?
And that’s precisely what I’ll try to help you do today.
Let’s dive in!
But before we do, I’m introducing a new section called VB’s Journal.
I’ve been journaling for about five years, recording challenges, things I’ve learnt, interesting concepts, resources and reflections.
This is where I’ll share what’s been happening behind the scenes regarding innovation and entrepreneurship.
Let me know what you think.
Now, back to this week’s issue…
Nurturing the Pillars of Innovation: Curiosity, Creativity and Clarity
Three pillars of innovation must be nurtured: Curiosity, Creativity and Clarity.
Amongst the business-as-usual mindset, nurturing curiosity is a vital first step. Without curiosity, at best, people become blind to problems and may only respond at a surface level to remedy a situation rather than taking the time and effort needed to start exploring the problem.
At worst, it becomes ‘not my problem’ to fix.
Here are some tips you can apply today:
Cultivate Empathy: At the core of innovation lies empathy—understanding the end user’s needs and desires. Start with your team. For example, we recently had a team-building activity using Lego Serious Play to learn more about each team member and build a metaphor of our team all from Lego: result – a deeper understanding of how each person views the world.
Encourage Problems: “Don’t bring me problems; bring me solutions!” We’ve all heard that before, where people are rewarded for problem-solving rather than identifying (and exploring) problems. To get beyond surface-level reactive problem-solving often takes time to sit with the problem and explore the whole connected space. Hear what Adam Grant has to say:
Like crafting successful business strategies, cultivating creativity requires a blend of analytical thinking and imaginative exploration. That’s right; we need both left-brain and right-brained people for innovation. The truth is, we all are a mix of both. And creativity is a muscle that can be exercised and grown.
Here are some ways to build more creativity in your team:
Question storming: Generate ideas by starting with descriptive questions or challenging the assumptions about the problem: What is…? What caused…? Then move to the future-state thinking, Why or Why not…? What if…?
Get to the bottom of the stack: Give every person a stack of Post-it notes. Everyone has to write one idea on each Post-it note and get to the bottom of the pile.
Go for a walk: Let your analytical mind rest and have the subconscious do some lifting. Trust me (and Nietzsche); it’s been waiting for you to relax.
Clarity is where the rubber meets the road. Clarity is about taking and implementing everything you’ve learned (aka behaviour change).
And as we identified before, change is hard. It’s hard because:
- The environment
- Group dynamics
Here are some tips to help with implementation:
Prototype, test, and refine: Transform ideas into rough prototypes, expose them to feedback and iterate them. Technically, this is part of creativity; in practice implementing is a continual learning process to find what will work with an organisation’s culture.
Wait, didn’t you say that corporate culture needs to change?
Yes, but culture change is incremental, and a good, well-implemented solution is better than a great one that sits on the sidelines.
Use the switch method: Chip and Dan Health’s model of behaviour change is still one of the best out there. Here is a video to give you an inside look.
More Tips to Integrate Innovation and Design Thinking in Your Organisation
The journey toward infusing innovation begins with top-down leadership. Here’s a roadmap to incorporate Design Thinking into your organisation:
- Leadership Buy-In: Just as you’ve gained buy-in for strategic initiatives, champion the cause of Design Thinking. Communicate its potential to transform challenges into opportunities.
- Cultivate Cross-Functional Collaboration: Design Thinking thrives on diverse perspectives. Encourage collaboration between departments, applying your knack for enabling others to excel.
- Training and Workshops: Develop informative workshops that highlight Design Thinking’s principles. Your structured approach ensures that employees comprehend its value and application.
- Measure and Adapt: Utilise your data-informed mindset to measure the impact of Design Thinking initiatives. Adapt strategies based on insights, mirroring your ability to adjust business strategies to achieve optimal outcomes.
⚡️ The Short of It
Innovation relies on three pillars: Curiosity, Creativity and Clarity.
Innovation is hard and requires culture change.
You can start today using the tips and techniques outlined in this newsletter.
✍🏻 VB’s Journal
The first five weeks of teaching design thinking to business masters students has flown by.
- Imposter syndrome can rise anytime
- I know my stuff, keep going
- Fitting the learning style to the audience has given the best progress, ie more incremental exposure to challenging their comfort zones has helped these students build the courage required for innovation.
- This week they’ll be ‘pitching’ ideas to the class – a milestone here
Completed two of the there FREE 45 minute design thinking coaching sessions
- Coaching is learning
- Hearing the stories of challenges and how different people approach problem-solving inspires me and confirms that the need for design thinking has never been greater.
This keeps me going:
Even though it was a 45-minute call, I have no idea how the time flew! Thanks for explaining the templates. I am excited to try the training available on the website. You will hear from me soon after! ” – Sanjana
That’s all for today friends! 👋
If you learned something useful, would you share the newsletter with a friend?
And if you have an idea for a future issue, send ’em my way.
Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next week.
Keep future-state thinking,