Designing Unique Workshops is hard work

Finding opportunities for Innovation and Growth is hard work. It is the value of having good, interactive, highly particpative workshops breaks much of those initial barriers to allow the hard work to begin in a more cohesive and collaborative way.

I believe any design of workshops must meet your needs, to push the thinking and to generate new returns in innovation understanding.

Boilerplate designs might look initially attractive but knowing your needs, limitations, concerns, and ambitions can transform a workshop into one that lasts in the participant’s minds as they felt it was “clearly” designed for them

Which end of the innovation spectrum do we need to go?

  • Workshops can mean different things to different people. Find ones that are 100% focused on engaging with and accelerating innovation. They need a couple of simple rules
  • Conducting ‘open’ dialogues or focused conversations should always have a sound context so the contributions slowly build-out and hold real promise
  • Discoveries can start with different ‘fields of enquiry’ to achieve different connections and deepen our perspectives

A great book, written by Bill Sharpe, explaining the Three Horizons often comes to mind. I wrote about it here “Three Horizons- fields of future, full of foresight”

Then I find the Divergent / Convergent approach in thinking as highly valuable

We need to always challenge ourselves and taking you through a set of lenses of discovery that go from ‘divergent to convergent‘ is important.

You need both to explore and exploit the multiple possible solutions. Divergent thinking is the ability and opportunity to offer different, unique or variant ideas adherent to one theme, while convergent thinking is the (eventual) ability to find the ‘correct’ solution to the given problem.

You encourage and ideate many solutions, both possible and impossible, and then use convergent thinking to move towards a realizable resolution or solution.

I use this ‘divergent and convergent’ structure for many of my workshops, it allows for broader engagement and involvement and that eventual drawing together from this process. Once or twice you have to be nimble on your feet to move from one to the other but the discipline comes from timing these as shared spaces but giving each a clear discipline of dedicated time as you do need a very different mindset to think openly then begin to narrow the options down.

Creativity makes use of divergent thinking, which is solving problems with many possible solutions, as opposed to convergent thinking, which is solving problems

The process of figuring out a concrete solution to any problem is called Convergent Thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of thinking that explores multiple possible solutions in order to generate creative ideas. It’s a straight forward process that focuses on figuring out the most effective answer to a problem.

Divergent thinking” is the process of coming up with new ideas and possibilities. We are more in a creative and intuitive mindset. We explore lots of possibilities and stay more at this point on the conceptual abstractions.

We work this through then we go more into  “Convergent thinking”, this is associated with analysis, judgment, and decision-making. We become more analytical, rational, sequential and objective. We begin to explore constraint driven issues. It is the process of taking a lot of ideas and sorting them, evaluating them, analyzing the pros and cons, and making decisions, and exploring options that reveal, over time and discussion emerging value

These journeys are personal ones as well as team forming opportunities and form the backbone of good workshops.

 Understanding innovation requires a deep awareness- through a variety of tailored or purpose-designed workshops, dialogues or discovery trips you can rapidly enhance your awareness and grasp of what ‘makes up’ innovation. 

Innovation is our 100% of our focus and we can, without question, advance your knowledge and insights across all of its complexities to be simplified through our workshops, dialogues and discovery approaches.

Building the workshop it is deliberately designed to help you need to think through many areas of productive innovation opportunity. For example:

1. Understand the trends and drivers in your industry as well as explore alternative perspectives allows you to look at not just ‘best practice’ but leading and emerging practice.

2. Look constantly outside your organization to ‘see’ and collaborate from the values of applying open innovation principles and techniques

3. Fostering the culture and climate for Innovation to workinside your organization can create the environment you are looking for but it takes a real understanding.

4. We all need to be aware of the way we earn our profit and where and why and it becomes absolutely vital that our innovation activity fully aligns to the strategic needs

5. Complete differently in the value chain- what it gives from new Business Models and discovering new opportunities to energize your business in different ways

6. When we stop and look at customers in different ways so as to listen to their needs we can discover new innovation opportunities and then how do you discover those unarticulated ones?

7. Expand into new markets and customers thoughtfully using the core within your business, in exploring the adjacency spaces and probing those ‘white spaces’ needs careful consideration.

8. Develop new product, services, structures and processes needs debate and understanding

9. Pursue a range of degrees of novelty to generate a greater sense of innovation possibility

10. Being able to sustain your momentum and make innovation repeatable does needs a broad identification and set of discussions to raise awareness, and build those capabilities and capacities well.

These journeys are personal ones as well as team forming opportunities.

 Understanding innovation requires a deep awareness- through a variety of tailored or purpose designed workshops, dialogues or discovery trips you can rapidly enhance your awareness and grasp of what ‘makes up’ innovation. 

Innovation is our 100% focus and we can, without question, advance your knowledge and insights across all of its complexities to be simplified through our workshops, dialogues and discovery approaches.

Building Capability and Capacity to Expand Capabilities for Innovation

A new equation

For innovation to be successful, the bottom line is the commitment and focus made for the building the capabilities and competencies in innovation as people make us the real value and ARE the innovation success equation in my opinion,

So we must simply invest in them by focusing on the 3 C’s of developing peoples Capability, Competency and Capability.

As we set about to build and expand capabilities we need to consider:

  • How we can accelerate uptake of innovation activity around the conditions provided through investing in them
  • The need to trigger engagement and achieve a growing attainment of knowledge acquisition and dispersion skills- essential for collaborative innovation
  • Setting about building practices for greater synergies, relationships and networking conditions, for ongoing learning and absorptive capacity
  • Extracting the right cultural, design, climate and environmental conditions,
  • Placing increasing value on evolving the structures, processes and technology application
  • Investing in lessons learnt, in validation and resolutions to challenges to build an ongoing adaptive capacity.
  • Recognizing people solve the critical bottlenecks and find solutions to overcome the constraints, they become increasingly motivated to find solutions and resolve gaps through their ability to be creative and inquisitive.
  • The ongoing building of capabilities and competencies clearly leads to a more sustaining and determined innovation future.

Increasing capacity through coaching

There are many benefits from having an intense course of one-on-one coaching, irrespective of the level of responsibility you have for innovation within your organization.

It is very similar to management behavioural coaching to change perceptions, to reorientate your thinking and approach, to open up to different thinking to build out your innovation understanding. Coaching yields a clear return but the hard work lies with the one being coached, wanting to see the alternatives and add these into their daily actions and lives.

Increasingly your innovation knowledge through coaching, you can accelerate different insights that can form a vital part of any innovation comprehension that can reduce uncertainties, encourage experimentation and draw others towards a changing relationship of trust, increasing productivity and engagement.


Through working with us through some fairly intensive and context specific sessions you quickly deepen personal knowledge and accelerate your critical business awareness and contribution.

Our innovation coaching approach provides ideal safe environments to enable innovation to quickly take hold and be translated.

Leaders, champions, sponsors and teams can gain from this coaching as well as the individual.

The Real Tipping Point in your understanding comes through ‘tailored’ Innovation Coaching where you see real benefits by discussing why and this, in my opinion always is framed around content and context:

•Context matters a great deal

•Content needs to offer a total solution

•Success takes time & effort

•Finding a release of working time to focus on adding new value to the Business (hard-wiring) becomes essential to achive this shift

I wrote this sometime back “Learning the Mantra of Innovation Context”It has value to read.

I take th approach in coaching innovation in multiple ways:

•Our approach is a mix of questioning, listening and re-skilling techniques and why this makes sense

•We recommend coaching is normally on a 1to1 basis as ideal but this can be in team situations as well, although this has a different approach

•This coaching is always innovation centric in everything we do in these 1on1 sessions

•Ownership lies with the person being coached and we seek to transfer the necessary insight and knowledge quickly and effectively

•We facilitate the unscrambling of many random thoughts and provide the clarity of piecing the innovation puzzle all together

It is yours alone to finally assimilate and use this new knowledge gained; we will help you in achieving your personal goals and provide the fresh dimension and place innovation understanding into the context necessary.

Why not contact me to find out more about a number of unique ways we approach innovation through coaching. Many of these become ‘deep dives’ to provide the necessary breakthroughs.

Then we have Peer-to-Peer Mentoring

There are certainly growing benefits in using external advisor’s and innovation mentors

To find someone who is empathetic and experienced in business innovation is growing harder so as to avoid many typical, sometimes unseen ‘pitfalls’ on innovation.

Someone who has a depth gained from their own business experiences; working in large organizations, managing complexity, projects and starting up fresh initiatives or taking them over to turn them around.

Someone who can empathize with the managing of innovation; in learning and leading significant activities.

A mentor or advisor can certainly provide:

* The opportunity and environment for you to step back from the day-to-day detail to take fresh stock, to re-engage in the bigger picture of what innovation can provide. They can help you to refocus and re-energize innovation activities. They can be timely.

* They can be a great sounding board as they listen they can prompt and stimulate your thinking. They can challenge it and help in arriving at new ideas towards solutions to your challenges. They can offer a series of directions and courses of actions to be considered.

* Growth or the needs for Renewal needed are often tough areas to manage and deliver through innovation activities. Timely advice can instil a growing confidence, the chance to debate and explore alternatives, and explore emerging options. A mentoring approach can help in avoiding ‘classic’ mistakes made by others.

* Today, we need to leverage the connections within our networks more and more. Knowing who, where and why becomes increasingly of value so as to avoid loss of time, energy and basic mistakes.

A mentor who has a wide network to tap into can seek out the best advice to support assumptions or offer even more clarification.

Each mentoring or advisory engagement will be different

Discussing constantly changing business challenges often values external evaluation. Often you can forget one issue as another one ‘pops up’ into the crowded agenda.

A mentor can remind, prompt and connect issues and bring a fresh perspective to these. Having the opportunity to revisit the different complexities within innovation so you have available a knowledge resource to share and reflect on constant changes since the last conversation or meeting can provide a catalyst to taking the appropriate action.

Having the opportunity to engage around different topics of discussions that surface around innovation can become a powerful motivational force for you to recalibrate, stay motivated, and have added incentives to think through these again.

In our view an innovation advisor or mentor needs to offer:

A good innovation mentor or trusted advisor should offer a different perspective based on a combination of their own practical business experiences along with a real depth of innovation understanding to provide a real return to your needs from innovation.

So to build the 3 C’s of Capabilities, Capacities and Competencies we can follow a peoples equation and invest in coaching and mentoring to really accelerate these.

Adjusting to a changing world

 Reflecting on a rapidly changing business world.

The issue we must tackle today, is how we go about adapting to the changing world? One that will be able to take all the advantages of the changes all businesses are undergoing, how societies will be adjusting and responding. We are facing a time of unprecedented economic and social crisis but this is a time equally for seizing and sizing different opportunities.

We clearly need to find ways to navigate ourselves back into some (new) order; to stabilize the chaos we are in. What we first need to do is make sense of what is going on around us, we need to determine what actions to take and the level of action, resource and support each part needs. We are in a period of (great) change. How are we thinking about how to adjust, not just to the immediate challenges but the greater ones that are certainly heading our way.

Within business, the present crisis is offering a chance to make significant changes to how we operate in the future. I am not sure many of you feel the same, it seems disruption is in everything, in what we need to undertake, in what is coming towards us in change. We are challenged but we have ample signals to amplify and explore. 

Disruption actually has a common purpose, often far less sinister than promoted or we suspect, it requires us to re-equip and open up, as we learn to deal in this changing world where connections can emerge from anywhere at any time, offering a new ‘line of sight’ onto an existing problem to begin to break down the barriers and find new fresh ways forward. Continue reading

We are searching for new pathways

Ecosystems and Platforms are our pathways to a new innovation future. Ecosystems have suddenly become of age, as they can be formed around common concepts fairly rapidly, they can enable cross-cutting innovation to be delivered in highly collaborative ways. They can, through shared platforms achieve a closer relationship with the customer, to understand their needs and experience through increased collaboration, and engagement.

Connecting and collaborating opportunities for business seem to be really powerful networks of value-adding effect, for finding new economic opportunity. This calls for some radical rethinking of the existing business and deciding the design of the future business. We are at a critical point of change. Business needs to explore the future is far more highly collaborative ways.

This calls for thinking through a different designed structure for the business and different skills needed. The shifting from the current state to the future designed state is no easy task. It requires a radical redesign of the organization, as it significantly increases complexity and where any digital transformation has to center upon as the critical enabler to enable this shift.

Clarifying the new critical capabilities Continue reading

Energy technology needs more rapid innovation cycles

I have been consuming the latest flagship report, released today, 10th September 2020, by the IEA called “Energy Technology Perspectives 2020

The report’s comprehensive analysis maps out the technologies needed to tackle emissions in all parts of the energy sector, including areas where technological progress is still lacking such as long-distance transport and heavy industries.

It shows the amount of emissions reductions that are required from electrification, hydrogen, bioenergy and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. It also provides an assessment of emissions from existing infrastructure and what can be done to address them.

Within the work going into this report, the IEA has identified over 800 technology options that need to be further examined, explored, validated, and accelerated for the World to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. That is an awful lot of innovation to get us to a clean energy transition from where we are today.

Continue reading

We need to shift from scalable efficiency to scalable learning.

We need to shift from scalable efficiency to scalable learning but how can we liberate creative energy, how can we achieve higher engagement?

The best way is to encourage everyone to have the ongoing experience, to get really involved and caught up in projects and initiatives that have the potential for impact. Learning from failures needs to be part of this.

Yet the very best thing is to encourage connected minds for value-creating opportunities and knowledge sharing for innovation to flow across an organization. For this, we need to think about some modern engagement platforms that have ’engagement and knowledge’ at their heart.

Let me offer some thoughts on this engagement need. It is (really) valuable to relate too.
Continue reading

Those that learn to frame the Strategic Innovation discussion are the big winners

discussion

Constructing an innovation conversation framework is never easy, we all come at it in different ways and when it comes to those strategic conversations, we feel a sense of panic and growing tension as our messages begin to fray at the edges and slip more into tactical, the more we talk.

If you just diving into innovations, this sort of strategic conversation can change the goalposts, alter the perspective, and can give the innovation a more focused framing to build propositions around. It enables you to stand out as you are able to articulate the “bigger picture”

The framing of an innovation conversation framework

Continue reading

Taking Final Ideas to Market is the Hardest Part

 

It seems so simple doesn’t it – “bringing final ideas to market”. So easy to say, yet it does seem so very hard to achieve.

Everything we should be aiming at is ‘successful execution’, it’s the last, hard five yards of all the work that went into something, which can be finally realized and come to ‘commercial life’

Here in Europe, it is often suggested that “Europe is the cradle of creativity”, perhaps but I think the United States is “the crucible of innovation”, it forges ideas and takes them to market far better. In the US there is this powerful push to make money far more and to realize innovation, as clearly you must focus on the ‘making money part2 otherwise it remains a good idea but not fully market executed.

Europe has many good ideas but they seem to get lost in this final stage, the execution of the concept, turning it into something realizable and commercially valuable, or socially needed. Much of Europe’s hard work in the discovery and validation stages fail to gain scale due to this lack of sustaining commitment until the concept is firmly established. There is far more emphasis on this final step within the Horizon 2020 funds to show ‘proof of concept’ or commercial value than in the past and that is a good thing.

Putting more resources behind the likely winners, rather than on projects that simply stay ‘blue sky’ or conceptual, then get picked up by others to commercialize. It is the final go-to-market that makes a real difference in wealth creation and job creation.

Continue reading