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Archive for November, 2010

Innovation Occurs With L.E.F.T.O.V.E.R.S

Posted by Plish on November 25, 2010

After Thanksgiving we often have to deal with the leftovers.  While we view the Thursday meal as the culinary focus, it’s the leftovers that result in innovation.  So, I created an acronym for the innovation process from the word “leftovers”.  It can apply to cooking a meal from leftovers or designing a new product.

L ook at the situation and define the problem (I’ve got a few people over for a party, leftovers in the fridge and beer chilling and people will be hungry.  In what ways can I feed them?)

E ntertain possible combinations of solutions (I could order pizza…hmm, looks like an awful lot of turkey left, some stuffing, stuffing croquettes maybe?, gravy and a lot of cranberry sauce, a little pumpkin pie,  some spicy  hot mustard looks lonely in the fridge…hmm…I yell out some possible food combos to get feedback)

ocus on the best solutions  (…turkey sandwiches with cranberry mustard sauce – sweet!)

T est the best (throw together some cranberries and mustard in a shotglass and dip my finger in…niiiiice…grab some bread and start toasting it, try nuking a little turkey…)

O bserve and learn what works and what doesn’t  (The microwave dries out the turkey too much, I heat up the oven and warm the turkey in there. Noticed that there’s too much juice in the bottom of the cranberry container- it’s making the mustard too watery…)

V alidate the results with more testing and feedback (Finished mixing the bigger batch of cranberry mustard and let my wife try it – she dunks in a piece of warm turkey from the oven and bites a piece of bread- amazing!!)

E scalate the scale of the implementation of the solution (Slice the bread, call the friends into the kitchen and have them build their sandwiches)

R eflect on what worked and what didn’t (Sandwiches were a hit, but the beer might have been too hoppy for that dish.  Red meat only may actually have worked better, maybe chipotle pepper in the mustard for some smoke…)

S avor the Successes…

So there you have it – innovation from the leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in creativity, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, Food, idea generation, imagination, innovation, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Brilliant Insights Into Creativity, Experience and Human Nature From Joe Howard

Posted by Plish on November 18, 2010

I came across this article/video over at the Jerusalem Post -it’s a short interview with Joe Howard, an archaeologist turned advertiser.  Amazing insights into creativity and creating engaging experiences.  So, I followed the links and came across a three part keynote address.  I’ve put all three parts here for your convenience.  Each piece is about 9 minutes long and contains observations into human nature, creativity, idea generation and more.   Do yourself a favor and watch.  It’ll be time well spent, and you’ll probably find yourself at least a little inspired as well.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Posted in Authenticity, cognitive studies, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Education, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Interviews, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

At Least 12 Lessons in Innovation From Flowers

Posted by Plish on November 13, 2010

I was reading an article yesterday, don’t even remember what it was about, but my mind went to when I was a kid and I became fascinated with cross-pollinating my mom’s African Violets.  I was constantly trying to come up with cool color combos of white and purples – something new: Innovation, African Violet Style…

Usually when people speak about innovation and plants, the metaphor is one of seeds and planting.  I like that metaphor, but one that is even more rich is the metaphor of pollination.  After all, pollination is the process by which flowers reproduce.  It’s how flowers survive (and have survived for millions of years!).  The mixing of genetic material results in new fruit, new flowers that have  the best (and/or worst) of the parent plants.  It’s just like ideas.  Different ideas commingle and the result is often a fantastic amalgam of the parent ideas.

Not surprisingly,  the innovation/pollination metaphor can be taken much further.  But, before we do, let’s do a quick primer in plant reproductive biology.

Pollen (see the diagram below), which originates on the Anthers of the Stamen,  gets carried via various mechanisms, to the Stigma of the Pistil.  Once Pollen lands there, a tube grows down the Style so that the sperm nuclei can be conducted to the ovules.  That’s it.   Fertilization occurs and a fruit is the result.   

To flesh out some more ways in which innovation is like pollination, I made a simple mindmap describing  various types of flowers and the processes by which fertilization occurs.  Here it is:

Click for a Larger Version

So, how else can we learn to innovate by looking at the pollination metaphor? Let’s walk around the above mindmap starting at the lower right and flesh this out.

  1. Wind.  It’s effective for some plants, but not for all.  Plants that use the wind usually don’t rely on much else and they usually don’t have fancy flowers.  The wind does all the work and the rest is up to chance.  You probably Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, nature, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Team-Building, The Human Person, The Senses, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Path to Innovation…

Posted by Plish on November 5, 2010

Posted in creativity, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Design, Disruptive Innovation, idea generation, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Want to Change Your Organization’s Mindset? Rename your ‘Strategic Plan’

Posted by Plish on November 1, 2010

We use metaphors all the time – most of the time we don’t even really think about it. 

For example, we say, “What’s your position on that topic?” Here position implies an actual location of some type, which gets reinforced by terms like ‘left of center’.

In the business world we encounter metaphors all the time.   We hear terms like ‘action’, ‘operations’, ‘Chief’, ‘Officer’, ‘target customer’, ‘hostile takeover’, ‘strengths’, ‘weaknesses’, ‘threats’, ‘resources’, ‘capture a lead’, ‘sales force’, ‘war room’, and the biggie: ‘Strategic Plan’.

Why is ‘Strategic Plan’ the biggie?

Because while all the other terms clearly have military connotations, ‘Strategic Plan’ has become so common that we don’t even think of it being militarily based. Everyone uses the term: non-profits, churches, businesses of all types.  It’s the accepted phrase that describes the process of assessing where an organization stands, where it needs to go and how it’s going to get there.  It also carries the connotation that it is to be done by the ‘Generals’, those that chart the way for the entire organization, those that are in charge (‘in charge’, another military metaphor from leading the charge in the battle). 

Is this bad?

Not necessarily, but all metaphors have their limits and as a result can get developed and applied to situations that they probably shouldn’t be. 

Let’s step back for a moment. 

If  a business believes in bringing value to a customer and improving their experiences, how effectively will a military metaphor instill these orientations in employees of that company? 

If a business believes its customers should be partners in developing value, how does a “Strategic Plan”, a metaphor that by definition, needs to come from the ‘Officers’ of a company, contribute to the desired cooperative mindset?

It doesn’t – at least not effectively.   To really use metaphor effectively and empower the hearts and souls of an organization, it’s better to use consistent metaphor/language that reflects a spirit of cooperation, of empowerment.

The good news is that ‘planning’ doesn’t necessarily carry military connotations.  We plan meals, weddings, buildings, routes.  Planning is a good thing.  But, if we want to foster cooperation, to look at customers as partners and people and not targets of acquisition; if we want to provide value and delightful experiences, we need to replace the word ‘strategic’.

To get some ideas, I stuck the above desired concepts (cooperation, partners, people, provide value, delightful experiences) into a reverse dictionary and received some provocative possibilities from which I’ll give the following suggestions for renaming  the ‘Strategic Plan’:

  • Service Plan
  • Partner Value Plan
  • Relationship Building Plan
  • Aid Design Plan
  • Community Support Plan
  • ….Wellness Design Plan (Patient, Community, Economic, etc. could be placed before ‘Wellness’ for a healthcare company, non-profit community assistance organization,  bank, etc., respectively)
  • Partner Experience Development Plan

Think about it.

If a company or organization’s Strategic Plan was renamed to one of the above, who would be involved in the drafting process? Who would the shareholders be?  Would the word ‘customer’ even be used?  How would employees of an organization view their relationship to the organization and its ‘partners’?  Where would an organization focus its resources to track how well its being true to its plan? What metrics might be used? How would companies view others in the same market space?

What do you think?

Posted in Authenticity, Creativity Leadership, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Society, The Human Person, Wellness, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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