An Opportunity for Better Ideas [Yes! And Blog 181]

by | Oct 23, 2015 | Collaborate, Develop Opportunities, Free Articles, Innovate

“Know what the opportunity really is, before generating ideas”   Opportunity. Solution. Two words that  have a chasm of difference in meaning when you want to innovate. In a workshop in Bahrain, I asked teams to identify an opportunity to work on. One of the teams wrote as their opportunity, “Train staff better in our sales outlets.” I questioned what problem the customers have, as you have an opportunity when someone has a difficulty of some kind, a problem. “They have to queue too long in store to pay bills or buy our products,” was the response. So, a question for you: is “train staff better in our sales outlets” an opportunity or a solution? Training staff is one solution to excessive queuing in store. But what is the problem the client has? Is it not being able to pay a bill quickly in store? Or do they find stores an inconvenient way to pay? Or is it that they want to buy an expensive product but have to queue behind people paying bills? Or… the list could be long and the customer could have many problems. [Please refer to Yes! And blog 147 for a tool to map problems]. Equally, there could be many valid solutions from “stagger the billing date” to “introduce new channels for bill payment”, to…we don’t really know until we have explored and clarified the opportunity. One way to state this team’s initial opportunity is to say simply, “We have a lot of people queuing in stores, especially at certain times in the week and month. This causes customer complaints, lost sales…etc.” Why is...

Inspire Through Quotations [Yes! And. Blog 186]

“Inspiring quotations are often seen but not heard.” John Brooker How might you use inspiring quotations? I use inspiring quotations in my articles, I post inspiring quotations on workshop walls and on Pinterest. I’ve even developed some of my own. Advertisers use them, e.g. “Good things come to those who wait”, which certainly inspired a lot of people to drink Guinness. However, I notice that many people treat them like “wallpaper”; and if they see them I sometimes wonder if they “hear” them and understand what they mean. Or perhaps overuse has left them uninspired How might you encourage people to “hear” inspirational quotations so that they are inspired, and how can you use them in a practical way to get the best impact from them? Here are four ideas: In workshops, if the energy slips, you might have people review the inspirational quotations on the wall (or floor). Each person chooses their favourite one, then I form pairs or threes and have them chat about why their chosen quotation is their favourite. This is a good way for people to reveal something about themselves without asking a direct question. For example, my favourite quotation: “There is no truth, only points of view.” (You will see it written in different ways and accredited to Roman generals, French authors and English poets) It reveals that; a) I am willing to listen to many viewpoints before making up my mind and b) I think it essential that if we are to be innovative and make meaningful change, people must listen to the ideas of other people. What might your favourite quotation...

How to Facilitate Operations to Innovate [Yes! And. Blog 185]

How might you facilitate Operations to innovate? When I inquired further on this, he explained that he could not understand why the Operations people in his area seemed to have an attitude of blocking innovation or at best, ignoring it. It was clearly very frustrating for him, as I know it is for other innovation teams. The innovation team leader had invited to the workshop one of the Operations leaders who was very supportive of innovation. Over a cup of tea, he explained to me that many people did not appreciate that the Operations managers were totally focussed on achieving their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). He had spent a year turning round an underperforming team and while he was supportive of innovation and had encouraged it on his unit, unless the innovation initiative helped him improve his operation and did not divert resources, why would he support it? So here are three actions you might take: Focus on their pain Entrepreneurs look for where people have pain and develop (create) and implement (innovate) solutions to eradicate that pain (at a price). So look for where the Operations manager is having pain and focus on the challenge that provides the opportunity to create innovative solutions. This makes innovation real, not abstract, not “the fad of the month”. Once there is some payback on initial innovation, people become more willing to take risks. Make sure everybody knows about the innovation too. Success breeds. Make it simple. Make it real. I worked in the payment industry and one thing I learned is that if you make the product simple enough for the user, they will use it (and vice versa). My son...

How to Simplify Complex Situations [Yes! And. Blog 162]

“Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it” Alan Perlis – Computer Scientist How might you have a team explore complex situations? I was facilitating a workshop in August in which people had to explore a situation. I decided I would use Rich Pictures. Rich Pictures are used in the method known as “Soft Systems Methodology”. This is a method used to structure thinking about complex organisational systems. I first came across the Rich Pictures technique in the Open University course on Creativity, Innovation and Change and have used it for many years with groups. The example  shows a Rich Picture. It represents just one perspective of the situation and would need to be brought together with other pictures to discuss and create an overall picture. This is a technique that people sometimes misunderstand, so I put together an explanation and some guidelines for the attendees. I thought you might find this useful, though you might want to adapt the guidelines to suit your style. People use Rich Pictures to portray complicated situations in a snapshot. A Rich Picture can help you summarise the situation using cartoons, sketches, line drawings, stick people, symbols and key words. I have also used photographs that people cut from magazines. In it you represent as much of the situation as possible e.g. its structure, how things connect and relate, what is important, what influences different aspects etc. This is all fairly objective, so it is also useful to include some more subjective aspects as well. Principles To help interpret a situation, choose symbols, scenes or images that represent...

Six Tips To Innovate [Yes! And Blog 160]

“As innovation becomes a management discipline, there is a risk that it is seen as the end rather than the means.” John Brooker  How can you start to innovate? A while ago I was travelling quite a lot, delivering training courses for a client in Asia. One Saturday, I arrived at Beijing airport and went to the ATM to withdraw cash on my UK debit card. I entered the PIN, a few seconds later the cash appeared and I got a little kick of satisfaction. Every time I use a cash dispenser abroad I get the same kick because I led the original team that made it possible for people to get cash from machines throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa using a Visa Card. No matter that it was almost thirty years ago when we started, that feeling returns. It is this feeling that I want to pass on to others when I facilitate workshops; to get that great kick when something you have put a lot of creativity and effort in to achieves successful fruition. So here are six tips to help you innovate: Don’t talk about innovation. Innovate! Don’t learn to innovate. Innovate to learn. Don’t leave it up to a few. Have everyone innovate. If THEY won’t innovate, innovate yourself. Don’t boil the ocean. Start small and scale up.  Commit to move the proposition forward. Tip 1 – Don’t Talk About Innovation. Innovate! As innovation becomes a management discipline, there is a risk that it is seen as the end rather than the means. Many organisations talk too much about innovation but don’t innovate. In...