From the monthly archives: September 2011

It’s time to learn

In the coming days 28 to 30 October I hope to participate in Porto Sustainability Jam. Global Sustainability Jam * is a worldwide event, nonprofit that will take into account sustainability.

This is a nice term but has brought me some doubts about its meaning or in other words:

What we want to say when we talk about sustainability?

In recent years this word was used and abused by politicians and then transferred to the business in a curious way. It seemed that politicians write the laws where sustainability was a concern and after that companies justified their actions for reducing the tax evoking the “sustainability”.

Curious, but not surprising, because it’s a dance we have seen with some frequency.

Of course that the GSJAM doesn’t follow this trail and therefore it seems helpful to think of “true sustainability”.

Sustainability is a necessity! Sustainability is an issue that needs a solution or a set of articulated solutions.

Sustainability means that we need to become much more efficient (perhaps effective = results) in the way we use resources.

But what makes a practice or a sustainable approach?

How can we decide what are the real needs or real problems to solve?

To solve problems we have to be creative or is there a manual for solving them.

We can say that to be efficient means doing things according to the procedures, which results in the absence of failures, and be creative also means having the freedom to fail. This seems a contradiction, but it is not!

Scott Berkun says that “Polarizing efficiency and creativity as mutually exclusive is shallow thinking.

Creative efficiency. If efficiency is the goal, there are all kinds of innovations one could research for making a company or team more efficient.

Efficient creativity. If creativity and innovation is the goal, there are ways to speed how long it takes for ideas to get funding, and for staging their development from idea, to incubation, to production, without clipping wings.”

Creativity seems to me essential to both imagine and how to wait (building) a better world.

Creativity is dynamic and evolutionary as new problems arise or new needs emerge. But it is also practical in the sense that makes us move from thought to action or from a dream to decision.

Sustainability is our need to consider what it is worth taking care over time, why and for what! It is a necessity of our ecosystem and neighboring systems. It is global.

Sustainability makes us remember our sons and recall the efforts of some parents but above all it remind us the value of being responsible.

Sustainability helps us find meaning in our dealings with people, with the spaces, with things and, I think, helps us to be happy.

I think until 28 October I will find out more about this wonderful alliance between creativity and sustainability.

And you?

 

Prototypes and storytelling

The world is turbulent and things seem almost always unexpected and perhaps for this reason, we feel the need to sit around a conceptual campfire and storytelling.

This ancient art of storytelling reappears now again to help us resolve problems.

According to Tim Brown the two main tools of design thinking are the prototypes (that produce ideas fast enough to fail and learn) and the narrative (things to be developed with the sale of compelling narratives).

Prototyping requires a change of mentality because it forces you to ask:

How to create a small version of the solution to try to quickly assess and at cheapest way?

An attitude of prototyping means that when we are facilitating in a group and we are developing solutions, we started to make prototypes in short time, that help with the narrowing of options, and facilitate their acceptance internally.

A prototyping approach also means to try solutions in the real world, in a very small scale, to get feedback, saving time and money.

How do we prove to the skeptics that design thinking can really work to meet the challenges of development?

“When it comes to innovation the formulation of the problem is often the most important part of the process leading to design a “unique” game-changing paradigm shift solution. You hear the term “frame” anytime in the field of innovation. Even the managers are using it. In fact a fundamental rule of innovation is not always accepted the problem that put us in hand, but reshapes itself to maximize the changes that we can do in space. “ Bruce Nussbaum

To be able to prove to the skeptics that design thinking can work, presentations, tools (business plans, or PowerPoint) that we have at our disposal to communicate ideas or strategy, are simply insufficient.

A large part of the design thinking involves “storytelling” in a clear and attractive way. Traditional methods to submit ideas summarize our personal perspectives vis-à-vis different forms of interpretation and result in confusion.

Design thinking is based on image by nature and therefore expose our ideas and strategies for easy interpretation.

Making films, or scenarios, prototypes design thinkers allow people to experiment emotionally what their ideas or strategy aims to describe.

Development initiatives must learn to become more involved in the role of convincing “storytellers”, since a large part of its support comes from the construction and maintenance of partnerships.

“I’m interested at the moment when two objects collide and generate a third. The third object is where the work is interesting “. – Bruce Mau

What do you think about this?

This article was adapted from a previous one!

Draw up proposals for new experiences

The knowledge of the sensitivity of our organism is a precious help to understand how our mental processes are constructed.

What I want to say is that our sensory perception, i.e. our senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell are responsible for much of what is happening inside us.

These suffer from the influence of stimuli to which we are subject being this influence variable according to the characteristics or qualities of these stimuli and also according to the surroundings.

But it is mainly the degree of impact that past experiences had on us and we will make our future choices.

“The real experience is not as important as the way it is remembered.” Don Norman

This conditioning course differs from individual to individual and from situation to situation, but without wishing to abuse of labeling, one can say that the standardization touch somewhere a common point to all these elements of the process of perception.

The new experiences that bring with them countless emotions are compared and related with the experiences and records accumulated over the years.

It turns out that we have been trained to believe that there is only one truth, often based on beliefs, but creativity has something to tell us.

If we follow the search path of that truth the perception of what we receive, only serves to eliminate information that doesn’t fit in our patterns. Creativity however has other advantages and allows us to reach “new truths” when we go through new experiences.

A face, a melody, an aroma are similar depending on the degree of compliance with the standards created by past experience and the knowledge of these experiences can lead to proposals for products and services that meet the needs of people and are simultaneously an experience to remember.

We know by experience that human memory strength is governed by the meaning of experience and this leads us to the questions:

Why is, that individuals have different emotional experiences when the same knowledge is “presented” to them?

In fact with the knowledge we have seen a little bit the same demand for analogies to integrate information and assign relevance and importance for immediate registration and classification, but we don’t have all the same frame of reference when this happens.

So how can the process of knowing be designed and implemented to make the experience more meaningful?

It seems to be true that without some relationship structure, i.e. without some kind of classification, the pattern building and the perception of patterns would be impossible to be communicated.

This may mean that using a common language, the same system of encoding and decoding of the other people we can understand each other and make the most comprehensive products or services that we want to propose.

We seek to identify the useful information available and we use frames of reference for classify them about its validity and usefulness in a given context. It is not by chance that, even unconsciously of what we do, we changed our way of response to various stimuli according to the environment and people.

But we must, today with the amount of available information, establish bridges to identify globally accepted standards, or at least accepted by a considerable number of people.

The various cultures that information crosses, produce effects similar to those found in transcriptions of documents during centuries and then becomes necessary to translate the various needs of people in common problems but allowing a solution to scale.

The knowledge of the history of emotional experiences lived and the knowledge of what gives meaning to these experiments, in a new environment, allows us to show the direction of the proposals for new experiences that we want to develop.

Do you want to comment?

 

 

Build by playing the cards

Our ability to innovate is the key to survival and success. But to open the door with that key it is necessary for all employees, not only the leaders of an organization, have a common vision of the game in which they are involved.

Let’s play the “Innovation”!

During the ECCIXII participated in a game (InnovoZone) of innovation, presented by Simon Evans, who exposes the process of innovation through visualization of different scenarios where we create stories so that we can analyze, diagnose and resolve unhealthy innovation ecosystems.

The starting point was the idea that there is a lifecycle in the ecosystem that thrives in an environment characterized by four activities that must be seen as parts of a whole:

-Creativity – How do the ideas are generated?

-Development – How to translate ideas into something with potential value?

-Realization of value – How to generate value from the development of ideas?

-Leadership – How to create an environment where innovation can thrive?

When we join processes (that represent people, technologies, skills, etc.) in these four areas of activity we can build any number of scenarios of innovation and view in the model which may need correcting.

With the help of InnovoZone cards (precious tool and well built), which contains a precious memory aid of factors that can interfere with the ecosystem we can also explore the cases already known or created through not only visualization but also through storytelling.

As a result of my experience with these tools I emphasize the facilitation of a real attitude of collaboration not only between members of a team as among the teams (in this game one by each activity).

Clearly this diversity gave a special colorful choice of cards to build scenarios. For example in my group were present participants from Japan, Argentina and Portugal, with different academic background.

The game helps create a climate of openness and fun and we could say that goes from a divergent phase, where the cards represent ideas not linked to a convergent phase, where we seek to find a sequence that gives meaning to a story. It is truly a fertile exercise in identification of problems.

We know that innovation teams are often lost before they begin! Sometimes members of these teams are faced with tough locks to overcome and an experience with this type of game can be the trigger for a great journey.

For example to provide a technology-centric solution, often the ideas and their development do not seem to present problems, but to create ways to generate value they are faced with great difficulties. The game does converge efforts to achieve a common objective.

Other times the lead, of a team of innovation or the Organization itself, is too absorbed with the effectiveness of design processes and does not give the necessary relevance to aspects related to people, that is, does not create environment that fosters the motivation and consolidate a culture of innovation.

The game can alert to these traps when participants discover through cards the important factors to consider in the leadership of the teams.

From this experience there are still two important notes:

The use of the game as construction of possible scenarios in building innovation ecosystems allows a “trial” procedure of our responsibilities as employees of an organization.

The game promotes a high acquisition of knowledge of the factors involved in the process of innovation.

If you have the opportunity, try to search a little!

 

Thank you!

 

Or the simplicity of attitudes

My last participation in the ECCI XII was in an environment of celebration in honor of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi where I had the opportunity to feed my thoughts on creativity.

Mihaly is a psychologist with long work in the area of creativity and left me to reflect a very interesting aspect of complexity. It is the complexity of personality of creative people.

Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives and if we reflect a bit we find that most things that are interesting and important to us are the result of creativity

If you look at people that normally we call creative we see that their way of thinking and acting is not dominated by thoughts and actions that are being filtered as it seems to happen in the others.

The creative people live in extreme contradictory. They are not a very strong fixed point at anything. They travel between experimentation and discipline or between conservatism and rebelliousness.

What do you think about you?

Personality traits of creative individuals 

As an exercise of reflection I propose you a small challenge:

Select from 1 to 5 which, and write on a blank sheet, which  is the closest point that you think you to lie in your day to day.

1-Great energy, vitality, “bounce” 1 2 3 4 5 Ability to rest, sleep at will.

2-Smartness, convergent thinking 1 2 3 4 5 Naiveté, childishness, divergent thinking

3-Playfulness, openness to experience 1 2 3 4 5 Discipline, responsibility.

4-Imagination, fantasy1 2 3 4 5 Reality, oriented.

5-Extroverted, sociable 1 2 3 4 5 Introverted, solitary.

6-Ambitious, proud, competitive 1 2 3 4 5 Humble, selfless, cooperative.

7-Sensitive, feminine 1 2 3 4 5 Adventurous, masculine.

8-Traditional, conservative 1 2 3 4 5 Rebellious, iconoclast.

9-Attached, involved, passionate 1 2 3 4 5 Detached, aloof, objective.

10-Suffering, vulnerable, insecure 1 2 3 4 5 Joyful, strong, self-confident.

The result is not important, but I would like to remind you that if you don’t like it strive for get where you want.

“Our education is based on a game of chess and not a type of poker!” Why?

Thank you for having shared this “game”!

 

 

It is true! The conflict arises from differences!

When we see people in teams, we can verify that their differences in terms of power, values and attitudes are going to contribute to the creation of conflicts and to avoid the negative consequences that may result from these differences, conflict resolution must be made quickly and openly.

In one of the latest articles written here I made reference to the great benefit that the analysis of networks may have to observe and identify the group dynamics of innovation.

To what extent mapping is useful in resolving conflicts that hinder the pace of implementation desired?

If a person is an important node in the innovation process, which is the result caused by his disappearance of the network?

The connections have a cost to organizations and so it seems to be easy to understand that good management of the networks not only allows the development of a climate of satisfaction as makes it easy to change when necessary within organizations.”

We know that the conflict is not necessarily destructive and that when managed properly, can result in benefits for a team.

Often at the origin of the conflicts are factors of communication, structural factors and personal factors.

Often, barriers, dams of communication are among the most important factors, but this is not new.

The silences are the most difficult obstacles to overcome, because terminate the absence of return. For many questions that we do, the response has been slow or not enough. These silences can be well represented (lateral points without connections) in the resulting image held by Tim Kastelle mapping (see: Network analysis in innovation may surprise us)

The walls erected to communication are often synonyms of insecurity or weak result from specific skills and inadequate sharing of information and sometimes has as underlying a power struggle that generates conflicts.

On the other hand, also favor the conflict differences of interpretation and perception.

But structural differences that give rise to conflict include the dimension and the Organization’s systems, or its lack of stability at the workstation, as is the case of turnover. Participation levels in work teams can be detected in the mapping of connections and are capable of resolution by management.

Although it is possible to detect by mapping the connections that many factors are potentially generators of conflict, we must rely on those hidden eventually and that arise in relations of interdependence between the employees of an organization.

Managers often spend much of its work plan with the personal factors including lack of self-esteem of the contributor, and the weak definition of personal objectives which in no way contribute to the smooth functioning of teams of innovation.

The methodology presented by Tim Kastelle has suggested to me many forms of applicability. This was an attempt to raise the veil on the possibility of identifying and resolving conflicts on the basis of observation of the mapping of connections.

Conflicts in organizations are potential barriers to innovation until they are resolved.

What do you think of this?

 

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Organizations need new mentalities

In one of the good extended times that arose in ECCI XII – Faro, I had the opportunity to participate in the session named “Art and Business Innovation” very well conducted by Han van der Meer, Lucie Huiskens, Paul Corney and Victoria Ward.

Han began work trying to throw the discussion through a set of questions after the presentation of some cases of connection between art and business, led to good sharing opinions. It was growing the spirit of collaboration to find paths.

– What if Beauty is (provoking) a form of energy?

– What if Art is a way to step on the “line” between Knowing and Not Knowing?

– In what ways can we organize Bussiness meeting Art?

When I started to have the notion that the first question would trigger controversy was at the time that some of the participants if they shook on the chairs. The question appeared simple if the word beauty had the same meaning to anyone and anywhere in the world. But it seems that it is not so!

For some, the beauty, must not be confused with aesthetics and is seems to be much more connected to the business than the first.

When we tackle the second question were raised problems of background knowledge and how the different disciplines discuss collaboration and cooperation in the creation and transfer of new knowledge.

To what extent art can provoke a bubbling of ideas?

Art can be seen also the result of co-creation and this way can help in the development of collaborative processes in creativity and innovation. But it can also serve as examples to identify barriers that same process.

“The biggest barrier to co-creation is my need to express myself.”

Co-creation is a creative collaboration between various partners to define, clarify and realize visions that provide value in a deeper sense than has been usual.

The success of co-creation must begin with a good conversation. You have to find what is most interesting and to find creative people, with different perspectives, even if they are not people closer.

We need to create a spirit of compromise. The co-creation is above all collaboration.

When we talk about co-creation, we talk of how we can work together to solve problems, to combine perspectives and different approaches to a problem.

And when we talk about business, this may involve the collaboration of consumers/users to find results from a communications strategy that involves products, services and experiences, but also where everything is based on trust.

Here the major change of direction, and that makes it deeper, is the notion that value co-creation implies.

The co-creation assigns the value of context in the sense of things to involve users and their ecosystem in creating something new.

After overcome the barrier of the artistic “self-absorption” creative write-ups are quickly transferred and integrated into a common result. This can be a step to the meeting between art and business.

Art cannot be seen with a sense of ownership. The art should be seen as the expression of a willingness to share and business can reflect on this.

Do you want to comment?

 

 

People are the nodes

Some of the good reasons, why we should participate in events with speakers or facilitators we already known from social networks, is that we can broaden our perspective and knowledge of the work of those people.

I had the opportunity to meet personally Tim Kastelle at ECCI XII – Faro last week, after more than a year of connection via twitter (@ timkastelle) and after reading his blog “Innovation Leadership Network”. Tim is the extraordinary person that I suspected to be and that I confirmed in our small conversations during the event, where openness, simplicity and sensitivity were well represented.

On the afternoon of the first day of the event I chose to participate in “Managing Networks to Improve Innovation”, and I must confess that I did it more, with the intention to meet Tim as a person, than to avidly absorb a lot of information.

This was the intention!

The result was far beyond what I expected because the way the work was exposed and the momentum achieved with about twenty participants from many points of the globe have led to a profound sharing of concepts and methodologies.

One of the fundamental bases of Tim Kastelle’s work is, as he himself explained, the contact with the outside world, i.e. with the space where action develops. In innovation the key is to execute the ideas and we will only do so if we know and prepared the environment (networks of an organization) where such implementation is going to happen in order not only to create value but also making it accessible to many people.

“Innovation happens in networks!”

According to Tim Kastelle, if we seek to manage innovation within an organization (environment) is easier to be effective if we understand how networks work. For this we need to do an analysis of how networks work and try to understand how people connect with each other and how the knowledge is shared between them.

This methodology used by Tim Kastelle not only allows us to detect the flow of information, but also to verify if there are people who do not have connections, and from there try to establish procedures so that they can be improved or reworked. This analysis seems to me to be extremely useful when you have differentiated physical and distant spaces where the physical contact of persons does not exist and therefore needs a more understanding facilitated by observation of maps.

When we map, through information collected by one or several questionnaires we determine who are the people (nodes) with more connections and in which direction they are established.

Tim Kastelle presented a map (a problem-solving network) where people are the nodes (red from one location and green from another), that shows well how these networks can operate and that despite being a powerful tool for analysis does not cease to be a work of art.

I think that this methodology can lead us to a clarification of the communication processes, distinguishing between the informal and formal process and which is the relevance of each of them in the way people innovate. Everything will depend on the type of questions, but it seems to me that the mapping communication flows can also help in conflict resolution of the innovation teams.

Is there room for informal leadership within these groups of innovators?

To what extent the decision-making in these networks is a purely formal and consequent act?

From the analysis of the data represented in the maps we can begin to raise questions to understand what the real participation of people in the projects they are involved in or trying to understand why A or B that eventually we believe with special talent to a project is not a part of that project.

Is it possible to start thinking mapping the connections when we talk about open innovation?

To what extent mapping is useful in resolving conflicts that hinder the pace of implementation desired?

If a person is an important node in the innovation process, which is the result caused by his disappearance of the network?

The connections have a cost to organizations and so it seems to be easy to understand that good management of the networks not only allows the development of a climate of satisfaction as makes it easy to change when necessary within organizations.

“Managing the networks structure often leads to rapid changes in performance.”

Thanks Tim Kastelle for this opportunity of learning and reflection.

A very strong sense of sharing

Finished the ECCI XII at Faro, Portugal – a Conference that struck me above all because it succeeded with an extensive and diversified programs to keep the attractiveness and collaboration always at a high level.

Two reasons, I think, were fundamental to assure that sharing and welfare were a constant:

-A, the participants were, mostly, in addition to speakers or facilitators, they were attendees and they promote the discussion.

-The other, in many of the various activities, including presentations, there was a place to the game, music and other forms of expression of emotions.

For me, it was an experience that memory will surely confirm as a desire to repeat. The impact of the various activities that I experienced was in fact too large and I say mostly because activities had place to the debate and to “confrontation” with the various contexts there represented.

It was good to have verified this change in concept of Conference that culminated with a tribute to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, translated in a flow of emotions and openness where the audience had an extraordinary relief. Mihaly was the essence of “know-be” and he has sent it so not to forget.

During this event I had the opportunity to “work” with people from Japan, Slovenia, Greece, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Curaçao, Argentina, Brazil, India and many other countries, with different academic and professional background and different approaches on creativity and innovation.

And it is in the combination of different approaches we find the best results of the event. It was not an academic event and was not a “vanity” show. It were mainly moments to listen and to talk, but above all to try to understand where what the other said would fit in what I thought, or denied what I intended to say. There were moments of openness and sharing and it means that it was a journey from concepts to experimentation.

I had the opportunity to meet in real life people who are part of my social network and it encouraged the conversations on creativity and innovation and by that way I could see facilitated my task of integrating of the knowledge transmitted by these people. This was a high point in my presence in ECCI XII.

In this context, I must highlight, and will comment on this in the next article, Tim Kastelle with “Managing Networks to Improve Innovation” that brought me a lot of aspects to which I had not yet awakened.

Now I leave here a very special thanks to the entire organization by opportunity created for a real marathon of collaboration where the opening and sharing have been a constant.

Congratulations to everyone for having built this collaboration space!

What to do and why to do it!

How many times we already feel an impulse to immediately seek to satisfy a desire?

And how many times people follow arguments, based on these desires rather than relying on facts or rationality?

How many people, by virtue of a wish, were slow to realize that his brilliant idea, after all was not so bright?

When we believe in something because we want it to be true we face one of two paths:

-The path of imagination and creativity that makes us to go through the world of connectivity until we find the solution to a problem.

-The path of the consented ignorance of the facts, that is, without appeal to critical thinking, and that can lead to meaningless experimentation, to the limit of our capacity for perseverance.

Through critical thinking, as I understand it, we have a means to evaluate and improve our ability to judge and the options we are placed, or we have built, for deciding (evaluating alternatives, weighing against each other, so as to make it possible to choose between them) about a particular subject.

Critical thinking is the thought that involves the application of principles, standards and criteria in assessing options, practical and theoretical, with the aim of reaching conclusions on the possible options.

So what are the values, considered appropriate at the time, which are reflected in these standards and criteria?

Is not that critical thinking that can give a direction to our beliefs and our actions, unless that in a consistently way, we do the assessment not only of our cognitive abilities, but also of our feelings or emotional states. This would not be eventually the form more natural relaxed of living.

Even so, despite a choice or decision to be a way of thinking, it is not the most relevant part of critical thinking. It is the process of critical thinking that helps to structure and prepare the way for a choice.

This path provides information about relevant aspects, which will give rise to a new option created by us or on the relevant options available to make a choice.

A path where we will have to check, if needs are identified to build a strong enough argument, according to our point of view, to make a choice.

And in the construction of these arguments, what is the role of our emotions?

Emotions or states of consciousness that have to do with the excitement of feelings, i.e. the subjective reactions, pleasant or unpleasant that any of us can experience in a given situation, can easily lead us to “Wishful thinking”.

In the search for dive into pleasant feelings we are often faced with almost invisible, alerts, questioning whether the path we chose is a smart attitude.

If our thinking is reflective and worried about what to do or what to believe this may mean that we are looking for something that can justify our emotions and this something is closely linked to our beliefs and past experiences.

For example:

Watch this video and think how you would respond:

What consequences will have this accident in future decisions of these people?

“I shall argue, in other words, that critical thinking provides the crucial link between intelligence and emotions in the “emotionally intelligent” person. Critical thinking, I believe, is the only plausible vehicle by means of which we could bring intelligence to bear upon our emotional life. It is critical thinking I shall argue, and critical thinking alone, which enables us to take active command of not only our thoughts, but our feelings, emotions, and desires as well. It is critical thinking which provides us with the mental tools needed to explicitly understand how reasoning works, and how those tools can be used to take command of what we think, feel, desire, and do.” – Linda Elder

Some of these comments may have application in organizations, don’t you think?