metaidea

Presenting old ideas to older people

Consider the following order in time

  • Old idea
  • New idea
  • Newer idea

And then consider people in your organization

  • Retiring / planning to retire
  • Old / long timer
  • New age

 

Innovation development as a combination of above Excitement for the idea External Impact of the idea

 

Posing old ideas to older people or sometimes even retiring people Highly excited primarily because they forgot to listen when the old ideas were actually new in their time, and it feels new now Very less impact
Posing new ideas to old people Medium to low depending on acceptability of the idea itself and the listener’s ability to accommodate the idea mentally Medium to high impact
Posing new/newer ideas to the new age High and generally not worried about acceptability Impact cannot be determined

Oldies maintain a default level of excitement for all ideas old/new, that is slightly below the threshold of action.

New age has a strong affinity to newer ideas and can generally go beyond the threshold of action easily, but do not sustain the excitement for long as the ideas become aged.

Inference here is every innovation manager’s portfolio should flow with

  1. only ideas that are above the threshold of action,
  2. both newer ideas of today and the older ideas we forgot to listen
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metaidea

Making case for systematic innovation in consulting

I am in the idea business for about 7 years now, usually my kitty is small in terms of budget to spend, management attention, and customer appetite to ideas. Problems/Opportunities are as always many and wide. Making this a green territory for the consultant in me. 3 realities that I face are pictured below. I will then pick reasons from each and make case for the consultant in you to learn a systematic innovation method this year. It is still not too late for a resolution.

First no one including you, your boss, his/her boss, their customer, his/her investor knows for sure which will be the greatest idea (since sliced bread, iPhone, facebook, flush toilet, the movable type, safety-pin, or whatever). Greatest here is one that gives max return, finds large customer base, impacts life, etc on the outcome side. So I go for safety with numbers, instead of the 2 large bets can I get 200 ideas and later ruthlessly eliminate, or make ideas robust socially from that base before investing. If I knew how to get from 2 to 200 ideas in say 4 hours.

Second, problems manifest as contradictions or trade offs. When I try to solve one problem I have only merely shifted its base to a different department, or another part of the system. Examples could be while increasing revenue there is a disproportionate increase in marketing costs as well, while scaling up operations fast there is also significant loss of critical substance/knowledge, by increasing hourly rates am I killing a customer account slowly, and more such combinations. I don’t want to compromise on anything really, we just yet don’t know how.

Third is on the search for the rare breed genius/creative person that all of us want in our team. My experience is hugely disappointing in this front, because I can never afford this “genius in residence” and wait for the eureka moment. Instead I take safety in history, all problems that can be solved, have already been solved (by all those dead geniuses I don’t have to pay for) and I just have to adapt the solutions for my situation. Again if only I knew how.

So in short here are the 3 different reasons why you need to add ‘systematic innovation’ to your consulting arsenal/portfolio,

  1. To take safety in large number of ideas
  2. To not compromise on outcomes or merely shift problems
  3. Not afford another unpredictable genius to solve problem that have been solved elsewhere

It does not matter much what that specific innovation method is, but Sensei is guaranteeing a sharper edge to you.

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cognoise

How to deal with Avoid Task and Seek Attention behaviours?

Below 2 behaviors are common in the workplace that is necessary for every change agent to understand. They are critical to every change and system roll out.

Task Avoidance Behavior

Task avoidance behavior manifests as excuses even when there is agreement that the system or change is a worthwhile thing to try. There are many games like the Yes, but… that makes it difficult to spark action. To work around this issue, what I do typically is keep collecting excuses, and for each of the excuses find what “the precious” is, it could be time, effort, attention, presence among many others and gift them free.

Attention Seeking Behavior

Attention seeking is not really a problem, but it requires significant effort usually in the form of habits to sustain action. Social media actions like "like", +1 or transactional superlatives like "awesome" or even a simple "pat on the back", “Bravo” are undervalued. So to sustain attention it is necessary to come up with ideas that are high pedestal and keep coming up with ideas for different actions. If the prize or attention is easily gamed then it diminishes in value and no longer encourages action. So here the change agents’ job is to come up with large number of ideas using simple techniques like Forced Association, on what is available and direct attention to the action and not the pedestal.

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Community Stimulation Ideas 2

In this post, I will touch one aspect of the stimulation exercise viz. visioning (not those usual platitudes, but something more real and has utility to the community). Both the methods are very similar and rely on the same simple cognition fact that we cannot tell lies backward in time. We can easily build a grandiose of lies as we move forward in time but try doing it backward, we cannot go farther than 2 steps. The methods are

  1. Ideal Final Result from the TRIZ method portfolio
  1. Future Backwards from the Cognitive Edge method portfolio

IFR/Ideality as it is popularly known is a combination of 3 things is defined as [Benefits/(Cost + Harm)]

Instead of taking incremental steps forward in time, you take a far reaching jump to sometime in future and assume that the functions/benefits of the community is achieved without any harm and cost to the members. As you move backwards you can notice the number of options/choices increase.

Once you have done this, you search for solutions for intermediates back from the IFR, you can bin time as is convenient to the community

3 questions that should be asked in the same order during this process are

  1. What is the IFR of my community?
  1. What is stopping me from achieving that and why?
  1. How could you make that disappear? What resources are available to help?

Finally you can possibly find other communities that have already solved those problems.

During the process of doing IFR you can actually surface many conflicts that exist between community and members, as IFRs tend to be vastly different, mark them as key opportunities or issues that need resolutions/agreements.

Future Backwards is a complexity based facilitation technique that is used "to increase the number of perspectives that a group can take both on an understanding of their past, and of the range of possible futures. It can be used to discover what entrained patterns of past perception in an organization are determining its future"

In a Future backwards you will have

· Current state (the situation that we are currently in and going backwards what decisions, events and turning points led to it)

· Hell (if Murphy’s law was in full action ("everything that can go wrong, going wrong"), what events can lead to it and what would happen to the situation in a specific time period usually 1-2 years)

· Heaven (if everything was going right, what would the situation look like and what events might lead to it in the period)

· Turning points or Accidents (that can lead from one event to previous i.e. backwards in time)

Like in the picture below

You will start with explaining the current state and drawing key ideas/events. Choose one of the most significant idea/event and keep going back in time identifying prior turning points. This is step 1.

Start from top right to map back from the impossibly extreme heaven and do the same process of mapping backwards turning points possibly towards a past event. This is step 2.

Next start from the bottom right to map back from impossibly extreme hell and do the same process of mapping backwards turning points possibly towards a past event. This is step 3. Time stamps are optional for all the events. Facilitation takes 2-3 hrs with some deep silences in between.

Several outcomes are possible from the above 2 methods that include visions, roadmaps, patterns of entrained thinking, seeing how past influences our future, marked differences in different groups’ understanding of the current state etc.

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metaidea

Community Stimulation Ideas 1

I presented the below concept map to one of our client managers for stimulating a community. We did an ideation afterwards and came up with ideas relevant to each facet of the map. This post is a listing of some of those ideas.

To start with I am picking members and their identity, this is one of the most important foundation of the entire community movement itself. Without a shared sense of identity and purpose there is no community action, but it is necessary for us to keep them independent. Example, A local Rajinikanth fan club (the identity) might take up a community drinking water project (the purpose). In IT Services industry we tend to overlay identity and purpose a lot and hence neither becomes magnified well enough for action.

Subroto has this ‘twice away’ rule, that the purpose should be for someone who is twice removed from the community like a ‘customer’s customer’. This rule makes you keep the identity and purpose distinct in a natural way. There have been communities within MindTree that have used this in their roadmap specifically Technical Leadership community.

Here are the ideas on identity

  1. Creating a visual identity, these could be logos, icons, website themes, etc
    1. Better will be to allow the community to come up with its own images
  2. In addition to the visual identity catering to other senses like having a slogan or tag line
  3. Gift these logos in forms that can be used, worn, shown, carried around. I call these ‘props’ these can include mouse pads, bags, pens, vendor ware type t-shirts, mugs, etc
  4. Have the community identity/logo printed in business cards
  5. Introduce members to the community in a rigorous schedule like 3 per week and continuously for 30 weeks. There are several ways to do this
    1. having a standard set of 5 questions and leaving the last question for the member to ask and answer
    2. Sabre asks its employees their hometown while profiling and that is a strong identity
    3. Including a personal version of the vision from every member
    4. Asking specialization while introducing
    5. Allowing for self declaration of expertise
  6. Building expert locator page from above introductions
  7. Have a competency mapping that is not more than 2 levels
  8. In a loosely connected virtual world it is unfair to assume that members will only use your community space, poll for where majority members are and move your community action there
  9. If members are participating in external discussions or conferences magnify them internally. Example that is popular is participation in forums, commenting on external blogs etc
  10. (Re-)Publish case studies of members that are openly available, this will add value and recognition to the virtual space in the set identities
  11. Allow and finance members to take field trips to proximal domain areas in academics or industry. Supply chain community will want to spend a day in UPS to see what is their supply chain process like.
  12. Arrange academics to come in and present new concepts to the community
  13. Identify local chapters of larger communities and get invites for events to members
    1. Get active members to go together
    2. After the event get them to present it internally
  14. Find and encourage behavior of active members. Move peripheral members to participate with one action example is marking “like”, rating content etc
  15. If a member is active, remove any road blocks to further activity
  16. Publish non-intrusively about member activity, live feeds, activity streams are doable
  17. Give active and central members role to play in strategy and plan meetings
  18. Identify at least 5 heartbeat measures example sessions, views on site, discussion responses, connects, new members, introductions, newsletters etc
    1. Support all of them
    2. Set targets for all of them and follow up rigorously
  19. Empower financially to the allowed maximum as per budget
  20. Identify a social object that members relate to

    You have more ideas? please do comment…

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    Commitment versus Compliance part 2

    I had identified a TRIZ contradiction on 2 parameters viz. quality and quantity of content base available in organizational knowledge bases. The next step after identifying the principles is the actual ideation. Principles that the contradiction matrix lists are in the same order of utility/importance. It took me exactly 40 minutes to come up with these ideas, it would useful for conducting this in a group setting and trying the same principle is the suggestion that came from my friend Prakash.

    Here are the ideas… What do you think is absurd? Why do I ask this question, well

    Albert Einstein says “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”.

    13 Otherway around

    1 create knowledge from beginning, instead of waiting till the end of the project
    2 make knowledge creation/capture a continuous process, instead of a single AAR
    3 allow all project members edit the knowledge instead of the select few
    4 remove responsibility of SME/expert for knowledge creation and move the action to the knowledge seeker
    5 instead of maintaining a knowledge base make it robust for all knowledge needs
    6 push content (not email) where people can see relevance and access
    7 move experts from project to project regularly
    8 remove content from knowledge base that are never read/used to archives

    32 Color Changes

    9 make the seekers/creators role switch regularly
    10 bright tag useful knowledgebase documents
    11 tag knowledge creating people in various shades/belts/bands
    12 alert system for inbred/non collaborative content creation
    13 widget for recent changes across wiki with different color
    14 make cross project wiki access/search possible
    15 do not make public pages that are created by gamers unless seekers exist

    15 Dynamization

    16 every workproduct one wiki entry
    17 every conversation one sense made
    18 allow access from everywhere
    19 allow access for everyone willing to create knowledge in context
    20 divide wiki page into sections that are editable
    21 create master from graph of wiki pages from links
    22 make managers role optional
    23 make managers role rotating
    24 make content approver role rotating
    25 make contributors into approvers and approvers into  contributors

    23 Feedback

    26 create daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual reports of activity in knowledge base
    27 report activity of managers to team
    28 enlist customers in the collaboration system
    29 survey usefulness of content pieces/large chunks
    30 create bulletin boards for transactional needs
    31 allow other project readers to write review or rate content
    32 use half life to measure freshness of content
    33 bring seeker and contributor face to face

    24 intermediary

    34 sub contract/delegate to new joinees for knowledge creation
    35 video capture knowledge intensive tasks and avoid hard content creation
    36 symbolise context for quicker description

    18 Resonance

    37 dont manage content/knowledge bases
    38 find frequency/spiral dynamics colors/memes to which people respond
    39 connect/couple resonating roles/people
    40 inspire to believe in the system/medium (wiki) as a powerful enough to change the working life

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