Yet another innovation taxonomy…

this, that and more

I will be a little inarticulate here, specifically when it comes to innovation, what do we talk when we talk innovation internally. Depending on background, perspective, role, among other factors, it could be any of the above.

Capability I use it here within a very specific boundary, Honda’s example illustrates this point clearly, from seeing itself as an automobile maker, it sees itself as a power systems designer, with such a simple shift in outlook it has been able establish itself as a leader in many related fields like portable power, boat engines,   etc. Technology companies confuse capabilities a lot, as there are too many of them. So easier way to classify further would be to pick specific business outcomes that gets affected by a technology. For example capability to A/B test designs, capability to cut down ROI with new technologies, etc… One of the popular side to this classification is seeing creativity in relation with innovation and trying to build creativity / creative talent internally, usually through training.

State is like “being pregnant”, a very clear yes / no, and it gets theoretical to philosophical to spiritual when the nature of state discussion starts, and some are inclined to this specifically, usually the ones that also pick on innovation as a concept at a mental level. Concepts are related and complexities from subsumption / differentiation plays here and really no basis needs to be given, as long as it makes sense as a valid argument. None of these 2 has any outcomes guaranteed and safely so. Else we have to wait for a long time for that state or the concept argument to end.

Department is a space, earmarked for all those innovation action, in Apple it happens to be the design department, in IBM it is either Sales or research, I can no longer tell which, in GE it happens in research. Mostly a centrally funded structure with clear mandate on outcomes and how the units will use those. But with availability of information across boundaries becoming easier, it is very hard to keep an edge from within one single department. Still a preferred choice for old, hierarchical companies.

Process/Action is the distribution of what used to happen within the department and making it easy for anyone to do innovation with clear steps and results. Behavior/Culture I feel enough has been said and is absolutely not my favorite, as I put personal responsibility ahead of popular inaction.

So whichever way you want to define innovation internally and classify it, some things do not change, those include “tasking” around whichever metaphor you picked, managing risks on action, investment and market, measuring outcomes and reporting it out to investor/bosses, of course responding to politics that is there in any human/social system among other action.

Standard, somedaymaybe

Taxonomy of Beer

For me to do a reasonable coverage and consume as many varieties possible in this life, I needed a concise and broad classification for beer. I searched for sometime and realized may be I need to do one for myself. Really it seemed unfair for wine and whiskey to take majority of the literature on alcoholic beverages while beer being the third most popular drink of the world (water and tea, the top 2 are not really something to write or talk much about with passion). So I embarked on this extensive beer taxonomy project. I was not interested in the appearance (including color and clarity), the popular confusing terminologies, the brands or the packaging of the beers.

That left me with the following facets and further orthogonal categories within each facet. I have included a brief definition for each of them in the visual.

  • Origin
    • Malt
    • Yeast
    • Hops
    • Fruits
    • Geography and History of the brew
  • Product
    • Palate and Body
    • Froth
    • Flavour
  • Process
    • Roast
    • Fermentation
    • Temperature of brewing
    • Time for brewing
  • Serving
    • Glassware
    • Serving temperature
    • Pour customs

With category definitionsIn short the below floral for the classification is something I will use. I can go further in each of the categories and it could make a decent salable visual, if there is an artist amongst/within you and passionate about beer, do leave me a note. Chill…

Taxonomy Of Beer Map


5 essential meeting room filters

I feel meeting rooms have to be equipped with special filters to shorten meetings, make them meaningful and useful. I will start with the simple one and gradually build complex filters.

1. Clichés Filter: This filter will simply cut out all the clichés uttered in the room from the grand global database of clichés

2. If Only Filter: “If only, …simple past blah blah blah” is almost like visioning in hindsight with no possibility ever to change anything in the present, but can go on through the meeting and its next 4 occurences.

3. Me more me some more me Filter: Although can be avoided with a good time-keeper, there is an interesting instance of this filter under the name of “hide updates from this user without unfriending” feature on Facebook.

As we move from words to word collections to me me me, filters get complex as below

4. Plati Atti Servi tudes Filter: This is a seeded learning filter, inputs vary across organizations due to varying limits of acceptable platitudes and attitudes, and the number of people adopting servitude in a specific meeting. It operates on many principles like deepening organization hierarchy,  modes of operation range from total internal reflection of words (when speaker starts to meditate in the meeting room or usually sleeps off before completing the sentence), substitution of words with antonyms, thus disrupting any units of conveyable meaning.

5. Blame the Culture Filter: BTC filter operates on instances of not taking personal responsibility for failure and vaguely attributing to a figureless culture. Like “tudes” filter this is also a seeded learning filter. Performance of this filter varies based on initial org conditions, retirement age, hiring and firing volumes, country of origin among other variables.


When taxonomies of music do not suffice?


I am never happy with usual organization of music collections as album, artist, genre, year, compilation etc type classification because the joy of finding new music is lost in a dead grid of valid/default values. So on my collections I play only random/shuffle-all mode always, and this serendipity has its cheap thrills of trying to guess the album, artist in first 10 seconds, or the first few words of the lyrics. But besides that there is a key taxonomy question, what if I want a totally different class of music for myself. Like say woman solo rap interlude with profane lyrics, unplugged with acoustic guitar, jimmy page after led zeppelin playing kashmir, etc. Arguably it can be just tags in a linear field (like #solo #rap #interlude  #profane #unplugged)  I am not using them to find these songs but these patterns form after I hear them many times and associate in ways convenient to me. 

And they invented play lists and play lists on the go…

Think about it, if you are so proud of a content base and you know people will discover in more ways than you can arrange and form patterns that you cannot predict prior, is it not necessary to support that with a simple workflow in your taxonomy system than just adding a “miscellaneous” or “others”?


Making a process ‘social’ on your intranet

Consider a project plan, i.e. only the artifact and now you want to make the plan review process ‘social’ on a platform. How will it happen, say on your collaboration or other platform? My idea for this post is to enlist actions from various dimensions and possibly facet them for doing requirements to make a process ‘social’.

Content Responses:

Predominantly 2 types of responses depending on where

In-situ, in this case wherever the plan is located

While we are looking primarily at text, the responses could actually be a same content type e.g. idea on top of an idea or just a related idea, responding to an youtube video with another video, in this case responding to a plan with another plan that may be similar or related

Ex-situ, example as a link back from elsewhere or even back channels

These off site response could be within the intranet, or outside. I have not seen simple ping backs being implemented within intranets, so we are little far away from this future.

Giving some direction to content responses have been tried for example deBono’s 6 Thinking Hats or simple cost/risk/revenue comments

Emotional Responses:

We will only consider ‘like’ emotional response here, this will get overly complex when we add other emotions e.g. hope/fear, happy/sad, pride/shame

“Why only ‘like’, why not ‘dislike’?” is a fundamental question. Response to this comes from Max Weber "I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am."

If you see too much of what I dislike, you may not like me, and I don’t like it.

So what if there are 20 ‘likes’ for the project plan in question, would you commission them for the project?

Would it affect adversely on recruitment for the project if many ‘dislike’ the plan

Social demand / Cost-benefit Actions:

In our example, Project has a plan > Project has a Manager > Plan has a reviewer > Reviewer is a volunteer > Reviewer spends time (cost) > Reviewer benefits from review > Manager benefits from review > Review costs the Manager > Review costs/benefits others (externality)

While these are not direct actions on the artifact, they provide an important basis for reasons to act. Specifically on the demand side i.e. desire to get the plan reviewed, ability to review, and willingness to review.

Network Actions:

These include share, tag, and follow type actions across a network. Every intranet worth its salt respects its users to subscribe on content, tags, person, groups, with almost no push to inbox actions. Negative action here would be removal from personal stream, reporting spam or abuse.

Another phenomenon that has to be taken into account is the back-channel of social. In the case of a plan, there may be a private email thread floating around or a twitter conversation that neither the PM nor others are even aware. But it happens socially anyways.

Here is the taxonomy for all actions from above


Biomimicry has this great way to classif…

Biomimicry has this great way to classify nature’s functions, that I find useful to do Function Attribute Analysis.