The other day I was revisiting our list of potential ideas to explore further. It is a list we keep in our Studio team to jot down ideas and problems for potential future exploration, and – who knows – a new, exciting startup.
As I went through the list I was reminded of some of the thoughts that went through my mind, when I made the original list and how some of them at the time seemed very far-fetched. A very good example of this is this one:
When I wrote it down in autumn 2019 it seemed pretty sci-fi. Now, nobody can travel, and tourist destinations are equipping locals with strap-on cameras to assist people in remote exploration of now in-accessible places. And it is being louded as breakthrough innovation.
This just goes to show that what may seem far-fetched today may be totally relevant and a real opportunity tomorrow. Therefore, don’t ever hold yourself back from having those borderline crazy ideas. You may in fact be on to the next big thing.
I am an avid fan of the hit series “Homeland”. And watching Episode 10 of Season 8 yesterday, something resonated for me:
In the episode Carrie asks a helicopter flight mechanic, why the crew of the chopper that crashed with the US president aboard didn’t clearly articulate that they were going down and crashing due to a technical malfunction. And the mechanic answers referencing to the order of battle for an inflight emergency: “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate” – or in other words: Focus on the situation at hand and managing that first.
It resonated with me because I believe it goes for innovation as well; it is not about how much we talk about what we do. It is all about what we do in the moment, what we learn from it and then – only then – how we communicate about those learnings.
Truth be told it is also what makes working with innovation so much fun; that you’re in it neck deep, learning to fly as you go along and trying to always do one better through the learnings you acquire underway.
Not at all. It is just not something we talk about in the same way as we did only a few months ago.
Disruption has moved from the rostrums, talks, columns and what have you and from people who basically have little idea about what the notion means to the lab, the office, the daily grind, where experienced brilliant people are working at it instead of talking about it.
There is nothing new in that. Far from it actully. We have always been like that: Faster, longer, higher. It is an anxient phenomon; always looking to improve and – at best – with a significant margin. It is just human nature. And it’s best left to action rather than babble.
Considering all the progress electricity, the combustion engine and other major breakthroughs generated inside 50 years of inception, digital still has very little impactful progress to show for it. At least that’s the argument, Greg Satell makes.
To some extend he is absolutely right. Even though some real breakthroughs have happened and made a lot of things easier – shopping, booking travel etc. – if you think about the money spent, the money wasted, real challenges uncovered and real challenges created by digital, you could argue that he has a point.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is still possible to put real challenges – global challenges – at the centre of digital innovation and have those as our guiding posts. It is just a matter of our will. Human will. Not digital as such. Digital is just an enabler. And a potent one at that.
Great teams succeed together. A team full of individual stars lacking coordination and communication between the various positions fail no matter how good and expensive they individually are.
If those things are true in sports, does it come as a surprise that it goes for corporate innovation as well? A great football manager knows that in order to be successful with the team you recruit for players who fit the team and style of play centered around a shared philosophy for how the team should play – and win.
Greg Satell does a good job of noting the reasons why most corporate innovation teams fail. I think in many cases it can be boilt down to team – or the lack thereoff. Instead of building new teams, you should be focusing on augmenting the strengths you already have that have made your company successful so far. Succeeding in innovation is and always will be a team effort.
When you’re looking to solve a problem and improve something for someone, empathy matters. You need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, feel their pain and use the insight generated to fuel your product development efforts.
When we fail to employ empathy and other soft skills like it, we may get to fabulous solutions but we run short of understanding the problem. Solving a problem. And when we do that, the odds for success are very much stacked against us.
So treasure your soft skills. And if you don’t feel you have too many of them yourself, treasure the ones in your team who do. Because you need them in order to be successful in a truly outstanding way.
When you start looking at problems in the world, one of the interesting indicators of a problem is to look at the number of people trying to solve problems within a sector outside of the established system.
Personally, I find it mindblowing to read that a survey done across a number of countries from 2010-2015 documented that more than a million people where involved in seeking solutions to their own medical needs. Essentially patients doing the work of doctors or the healthcare industry.
I am sure the healthcare sector is not the only one where this is the case, so the big idea here is: Instead of insisting on having all the answers yourself, look at how many people – preferably customers – are looking towards fixing the issues, they have. The more they are trying, the bigger the pain. The bigger the pain, the bigger the opportunity.