In a world full of answers you start your journey by asking the right questions
The Ying Yang of Innovation is simply the idea that you can start with a problem and go in search of a solution or you can have a collection of solutions on hand that may one day solve a problem you encounter.
The problem with problems is that they are parameters that limit our way of seeing the world. While solutions are opportunities that open our eyes to a new way of seeing the world. The hardest thing I found to teach students was the idea that you need to forget the problem to solve the problem. If you don’t you’ll never see the best solutions, simply because your head is too busy thinking about the problem. Analysis Paralysis takes over and the pathway to the best solution becomes lost to you.
Another way of expressing this is the old adage “A graphic designer or illustrator is only as good as their reference”. The idea being that your ability to solve problems is limited to the volume of ideas or solutions you have previously encountered and can therefore apply to the problem at hand.
I have known jazz musicians who have expressed this idea in another way. “We love playing the old standards because some times we end up playing tunes we have never heard of before”
For me, problem solving was always the most basic of design skills. It is the entry-level skill if you like. The ability to see solutions all around you and then apply them to a problem when it is encountered is a higher skill. I say this simply because it offers you the speed and the agility to solve that problem more quickly than if you start out with the problem and then go looking for an answer. Wasn’t that after all the Toyota Way? Make the solution readily available and at hand in a just in time fashion rather than having the production line stop while you go looking for an answer?
As it was pointed out in my earlier post on CEMEX, agility and efficiency in business, like oil and water, simply don’t mix. The CEMEX story is about how a company applied an existing solution, an algorithm that replicated the activities of ants, to the problem of delivering cement in an efficient and agile way.
While the competition was busy incrementally optimising their processes using traditional problem solving techniques CEMEX changed the game by applying a radical pre-existing solution to the problem.
Apple has achieved a similar outcome with the iPhone and the Apps Store. The intelligent device (be it iPhone, iPod, iTouch) is the common platform but the customer experience is modelled by over 100,000 permutations developed for Apple’s customers by an ad-hoc pool of enthusiastic and very talented external suppliers. This again is a business model delivering efficiency and agility side by side. (See How Apple dined out on 100,000 free lunches)
And this is the message we can glean from the four random ideas on innovation I wrote about in yesterday’s post.
We are seeing the emergence of a radical new innovation model that is not about location or about talent. It is about agility and efficiency. It is about your organisation’s ability to gather the disparate fragments of ideas, investment, intelligence talent and resources together and model them on the fly to meet the customers requirements in real-time. It is about your organisation’s ability to personalise and optimise each customer’s experience every time you engage with them.
Equally it is also about your organisation’s ability to reshape how your suppliers interact with you each and every time you engage them.
These are the 8 “take aways” from yesterday’s post.
The random collision of ideas creates new ideas and that necessity is the mother of invention.
Fill your innovation engine room with a varied and eclectic group of people hungry and excited enough to change the world,
You are what you measure and (most of the time) you discover what you choose to go looking for.
Find new ways to measure the impact of innovation on your organisation and how it can radically improve shareholder value.
From Start Up Visa’s
You succeed by attracting the best and the brightest and you succeed by sending out your best and your brightest into the world.
Send out your best and brightest outside of the organisation to nurture and attract the world’s best and the brightest to work for you in the future.
From the MobCon
Business is a system of smart people, smart processes and smart technology, and the marketplace is a living entity subject to the dynamics of complex adaptive systems.
The marketplace is not a machine but a complex adaptive system and you need to be able to attract and aggregate on an ad-hoc basis the best customers, suppliers, investors and talent the market has to offer if you’re to be the market leader of the future. This means your most important asset in the future will be your Brand. The key market differentiator will be your ability to leverage it to open up new and more profitable markets. (e.g Apple)