From the monthly archives: January 2012

Working and integrating variables

Tim Kastelle in a recent article “Eight Models of Business Models, & Why They’re Important” says, to refer to business models, that “They are an important tool that can be used to augment product and service innovations, to link innovation to strategy, to co-ordinate activities within an organization, and they can be a source of innovation as well.”.

With those eight models possibly many leaders seek to verify which of them will be the one that best fits their organization in order to create value for its clients and to retain a portion for themselves as an organization.

We can choose between various models or we can try a business model and work its variables, or we can do this not choosing one, but building a new model.

The experimentation of business model is a way to explore alternative approaches to creating value quickly, with low cost and wherever possible through “thought experiments”.

“Systematically exploring alternative approaches to value creation can allow companies to find new opportunities for growth.

… by treating the business model as a variable and not a constant — can serve as a critical enabler of growth, allowing executives to anticipate, adjust to and capitalize on new technologies or customer insights… At a conceptual level, a business model includes all aspects of a company’s approach to developing a profitable offering and delivering it to its target customers.”- MITSloan

A company that has questions about new business opportunities will need to confront its current model with a new and verify what the possible alternative answers that there is.

This article by Joseph v. Sinfield and …, points to an interesting path for the creation of new business models through the treatment of some variables before considered constants.

It becomes a path even more interesting if we go for this trip equipped with a new way of seeing the world.

Let us imagine that we have ahead of us, two opposite models and that eventually are useful for solving a problem.

We have the ability to create positively, even in situations of anxiety generated by doubt, alternative solutions when faced with these opposing models. Then instead of choosing one over the other we generate a new model that contains elements of each of the templates available, but the end result is better than each one of the parties (models).

“Integrative thinkers build models rather than choose between them. Their models include consideration of numerous variables — customers, employees, competitors, capabilities, cost structures, industry evolution, and regulatory environment — not just a subset of the above. Their models capture the complicated, multi-faceted and multidirectional causal relationships between the key variables in any problem. Integrative thinkers consider the problem as a whole, rather than breaking it down and farming out the parts. Finally, they creatively resolve tensions without making costly trade-offs, turning challenges into opportunities.” – Roger Martin

In fact we have the ability to create positively, however, the biggest challenge is, when taking decisions,  we are faced with the possible consequences. We are not alone and our attitude has implications in other individuals, groups or organizations.

To make a decision, we can proceed through four phases or steps, beginning with one that Roger Martin calls “salience”. Here we seek to know what types of information or what variables are relevant to making a choice.

This first step requires courage to not deal with situations of tension with the relief of factors that may be relevant.

In a second step, “causality”, we should seek to identify what types of relationships may exist between the various variables. It is useful to create a mental map of causality and establishing links between the various variables. When we established critical relations we do stand out saliencies found on the first step.

In the third step, called “sequencing”, it is time to create a global mental model, based on the choices we made from the first two steps. We decide where and when cut inside the issue, bearing in mind the wealth of connections between each component of the problem. This is bringing some parts of the problem to the surface and taking other backwards.

Finally, after identifying the relevant variables, build the causal map and establish the sequence of actions, we are confronted with the most difficult step, the “resolution”. It is difficult because they were many headed back, but it is not possible to work with all the variables of the problem.

This challenge has to be seen as a tension to be creative and to be able to manage flexibly. This requires a lot of tolerance to ambiguity and uncertainty and an attitude of openness to continuous improvement.

Don’t forget: “Experimenting is a critical innovation skill.” Tim Kastelle

The experiences of thought accelerate results and reduce costs!

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The influence of a few in many

The assessment of the potential of a person should not be done without defining in what context his potential will be put to the test. I can be introverted or extroverted, I can be an expert or a leader, but of course, in a society more open and culturally diverse, potential can be called into question at any time.

I have always believed that a good team overcomes “almost always” in effectiveness the ability of a very good individual isolated. Probably an individual alone, even being very talented is capable of making more and bigger faults that a good team, because alone their critical capacity is less.

The teams are fundamental in an organization but only work well if there is a good leadership and if its constitution is suitable for projects that they engage. A leadership, that we should not forget, is almost always replaced in organizations with regularity.

Even when a team or teams are composed of great figures, including some scientists, is always a good thing that the diversity and interdisciplinarity contaminate these teams.

When Dunbar reviewed the transcripts of the meeting, he found that the intellectual mix generated a distinct type of interaction in which the scientists were forced to rely on metaphors and analogies to express themselves. (That’s because, unlike the E. coli group, the second lab lacked a specialized language that everyone could understand.) These abstractions proved essential for problem-solving, as they encouraged the scientists to reconsider their assumptions. Having to explain the problem to someone else forced them to think, if only for a moment, like an intellectual on the margins, filled with self-skepticism.

This is why other people are so helpful: They shock us out of our cognitive box.

We as individuals are more or less intelligent. The intelligence defines our ability to abstract thinking, reasoning, learning, planning and decision making or problem solving or our ability to deal with diversity.

-And as a team?

It is well known that for teams to function and perform to the best of their ability, they must focus on structure, processes, leadership and the right organizational support and context…

What research now indicates, however, is that collective intelligence in teams, can lead to higher performance. We have evidence that speaking in turns by group members, the proportion of females on a team and especially social sensitivity are all elements that lead to higher team intelligence…

Research shows that people in power, especially men, speak more and interrupt more…

Women use, at least to some degree, different working and communication styles, which are often more social and communal…

Social sensitivity is the ability to decode nonverbal cues and read the emotions of others – something that people who are empathetic typically do well…

Although they may arise some problems of communication and understanding in groups where there is great diversity, be it gender, racial, ethnic, or cultural, the teams end up becoming “more social”, because they bring a great variety of perspective, experiences and attitudes to the set.

Work teams composed of competent members with diverse origin work more effectively than the workgroups that are homogeneous, or composed primarily by members with similar backgrounds. Hardly in homogeneous groups, has one of its elements outside his cognitive box.

When combined, the different members of the teams generate a unique dynamic team that is more comprehensive in various directions and thus better equipped to deal with complex problems and challenges.

At Microsoft we recognize that the U.S. and global diverse markets represent tremendous sources of value in the workplace and marketplace.  The growth of diverse populations worldwide and the potential of these segments make them important targets as prospective employees.  By the year 2050, 85% of the entrants into the U.S. workforce will be people of color and women.  Moreover, developing regions, such as China, Brazil, India, and Africa, make up an increasing share of the world population…

By increasing the diversity of our workforce we will create a team that effortlessly designs products with the needs of these growing customers in mind.”

The vast majority of organizations is passing or will pass soon by this confrontation with diversity and the best way to deal with it is learning and integrating the knowledge that the new values and environments transport.

We all need  to get out of our cognitive box and seek to understand the contents of the other’s boxes.


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Beliefs in the wild!

The conditions under which we accomplish some observations affect not only how they are conducted as information and transformed into knowledge, but also induce their storage location.

For example, if a person believes in something, it is more likely to happen than would be if he doesn’t believe.

Beliefs are the assumptions we make about ourselves, about other people in the world and how can we expect things to be.

Beliefs can be construed as a representation that is not necessarily justified in its entirety and is not necessarily totally true. The belief is a conviction that something is true but need not be absolute, i.e. may involve uncertainty.

When based on faith is a belief in something for which there is no proof. On the contrary, the belief based on critical thinking is a belief that is resulting from the application of critical thinking in the evaluation of evidence, but is almost always a temporary belief.

Throughout our lives what we believe will suffer changes and at some point we can see that our opinion on topics such as creativity and knowledge has been built based on insufficient information. In fact more than 90 percent of what we know about the brain, we’ve learned over the past 20 years.

Therefore, I think we can say that knowledge is not only justified true belief.

As it is also not justified belief, between many company managers, that some people are creative but most are not.

Neither seems to be justified on other beliefs, for example:

-Many people believe that money is a motivator of creativity but they forget that the time spent by those designers thinking in their premiums is not creative time.

-People often think they are more creative when they are working under severe pressure of time limits, but it’s just a feeling.

-There is a widespread belief that the fear and sadness somehow stimulate creativity but rather possibly are blockers.

Beliefs can help both sides of our life, the good and the bad.

They help the bad side of our life, when they limit the steps to tolerance and to collaboration and hold us to prejudices and unfounded truths or drown in sorrow.

But when we believe in ourselves and in our ability, we have created conditions for addressing the problems with passion and enthusiasm and to develop the good side of our lives.

The belief in learning through every success and every failure is also an asset for the development of creativity and the good side of our lives.

It is therefore important to question our beliefs while creators or builders and try to realize to which side is that we are pushed.

Questioning only brings evolution. We must ask ourselves so that we can learn and enrich our knowledge about us and about society or ecosystem where we entered.

Our beliefs determine our choices and the answers obtained when questioning our beliefs illuminate the alternatives and point path to well-being!

It is curious that some beliefs may hinder critical thinking essential to our healthy growth.

If we believe that we will fail when trying to resolve a problem, probably won’t try and not trying to, we will lose the opportunity to learn and develop our skills.

If we believe that intelligence is largely a potential to be developed we are using critical thinking to create a possibility for growth. If we do not, we just believe that we are doomed by the biological limitations.

Despite appear to be in opposition, creativity (expansion of ideas) and critical thinking (evaluation of ideas), and they suffer influence of our beliefs, we must, in both cases, challenge our assumptions and prior knowledge.

In critical thinking we should do this to determine the accuracy and validity of our statements and creativity to go beyond them.

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The reward of distinction

Some people are afraid to be different, perhaps because they think that way they do not fit within a group or team. But the truth is that we look to our workplace or even our social environment and we meet different people, but being them leaders or not, they are people who do what others are not doing.

What seems to happen is that the fear of being different or the desire to belong and conformity leads us to the behaviors learned that safeguard our survival, i.e. the imitations.

We see well the imitation behaviors when someone feels that his life is at risk. If a person runs away from something that is considered dangerous, soon a large number of people also mimics the behavior and flees, without even having grasped the supposed risk or risk.

Similarly we tend to mimic behaviors observed that we give pleasure or satisfaction, as we do when we believe someone as a model, either at sport or business, entertainment or know.

The imitation has to give some benefit and these benefits can be to increase survival, sex, power, self-esteem, or simply personal enjoyment.

The bigger is the benefit, the greater is the possibility of imitation.

Usually people, as they have the ability to think, remember the past and projecting the future, use varying degrees of imitation to achieve its goals. However people, who “tend” to live with low self-esteem, are not given the large imitations.

There are limits on imitation behavior when it comes to self-esteem and personal pleasure.

Certainly some of us already been willing or knows someone who has been willing to go a few kilometers to have our “special” meal and for that we pay a well high amount.

Our behavior as consumers is affected by situations that work as a motivational reward. Our preferences are often influenced by the distinctive character that presents things and our need to be different or have something different has an impact on other actions.

” Distinctiveness is an important identity motive that often impacts consumer preferences. People purchase distinctive clothes, for example, because they want to stand out from others, or order unique entrées to differentiate themselves from their dining partners. Thus how unique a given product or brand is has important implications for evaluation, choice, and preference.” – Jonah Berge and Baba Shiv

If on the one hand we find people who seek to make a difference when fed in groups or in society, on the other hand there are people whose tendency is to align their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors with those who are around them. This is a powerful force that can take the form of explicit social pressure in times when we most like to think of ourselves as unique individuals.

It is this force, under the form of social pressure, which might justify the different state leakage or singular for the state of belonging, when we saw large groups of people using the same brand of jeans, tablets or to take the café of the same brand and claiming at the same time its distinct identity.

When we talk about innovation, we seek to go beyond the novelty, style (design) or something different and we want our creation being comprehensive and reach large groups of people. What is “unique” is now replicated and directed to groups, tribes or clans, all over the world because it results from the need to meet the needs or desires of belonging to groups with unique features.

We can be different if we are not sadly alone and if we respect differences in others!

“What interests me, however, is the irony of the situation. Here we all are, seeking uniqueness, looking for those things that neatly express the idiosyncrasy of our peculiar personalities. And yet, our uniqueness (at least as consumers) is mostly a sham. Somehow, we all end up in the same place, chasing the same trends while drinking the same drink while staring at the same app on the same phone.”– Jonah Lehrer

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Designing the future

Sometimes, in conversation with other people, I notice that some of them consume more time talking about uninteresting details (for me) than to clarify ideas or more relevant aspects of the themes of conversation. It seems that there is a tendency to consume time without the worry of finding something that makes sense in the conversation.

It cause me some admiration that some (many) people are not aware of our need for lifelong learning and are not aware that yesterday’s skills are not necessarily the competences of the future, especially when we talk about work.

Our ability to determine the deeper meaning or importance of what is being expressed at a given moment is, according to the Institute for the Future, one of the ten most important skills for the future work forces.

“As smart machines take over rote, routine manufacturing and services jobs, there will be an increasing demand for the kinds of skills machines are not good at. These are higher level thinking skills that cannot be codified. We call these sense-making skills, skills that help us create unique insights critical to decision making…

As we renegotiate the human/machine division of labor in the next decade, critical thinking or sense-making will emerge as a skill workers increasingly need to capitalize on.”

This means that we cannot make use of knowledge that we are integrating during our lives without it first makes sense in our mind and to do that it is important to find relevant information to increase our critical capacity.

When we extract pieces of information that seem relevant according to the context in which we operate (it is very important the contextualization of information) we can create something new and with viable interpretation, that is, what we need is to process this information, insights and ideas so that they can converge into something more useful or stay together more significantly.

However, all this is only possible if we are not dependent of the limitations of any hierarchy of reasoning that naturally and with prejudices selects the desirable detriment of relevant factors.

The article mentioned above about the competences of the future can lead us to think about how we design our future.

We can design around a reality toward a desired future state, but let us not forget that the real worlds of the people are a mixture of family, work, personal goals, immediate needs, uncertainties, etc.

It seems to be clear that when we take decisions, we do so based on our experiences and that is what makes things have sense.

When we want to build something that is a reality in the future, we need to understand “how people think today” and “how they will think in the future.”

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

A projection is not something that makes sense necessarily if we ignore the reality of the experience of the individual. It is a future thinking which generates scenarios where we imagine speculative alternatives.

“By examining and testing different possible outcomes–potential threats, emerging ideas, exciting opportunities–we strengthen our collective capacity to deal with what really does transpire. Thinking about the future, and doing so in a careful, structured, open and collaborative way, makes us a stronger civilization. Focusing only the challenges of the present may seem imperative, especially when those challenges are massive and frightening. But without a sense of what’s next, a capacity for understanding connections and horizons, and a vision of what kind of world we want, our efforts to deal with today’s problems will inevitably leave us weakened, vulnerable, and blind to challenges to come.”- Jamais Cascio

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Working the land to sow

Probably many of us have thought of changes we would like to do in our life. When it comes to cause changes in health-related behaviors, most people know what to do.

People think having a varied and nutritious diet, keep their body mass index, getting enough sleep, vigilance with medical examinations, reduce stress, etc.

“Making healthy lifestyle changes affects not only our risk for disease and the way we feel today but also our health and ability to function independently in later life. What we do for ourselves is often more important than what medicine can offer us. Yet making healthy changes is easier said than done. Even when we’re strongly motivated, adopting a new, healthy habit — or breaking an old, bad one — can be terribly difficult.” – Harvard Medical School

The change of behavior generally requires a gradual progression of small steps towards a larger goal.

When there is the intention to perform a specific behavior, we are influenced in the way we think, that is, there is a set of inner thoughts and feelings that result from the combination of standards and control mechanisms of society.

After all attitudes are a small thing that makes a big difference!

For example, we may think that knowledge plays an important role to get people to begin to change the behavior, but this is far from truth.

In fact, so that people begin to change, you must have the ability to socialize with others and encourage them to collaborate in order to provoke change.

Likewise our ability to express ourselves, to explain clearly what we want is essential so that we can encourage people to collaborate on this change through ideas.

We know that empathy is an individual capacity, which resides within the person, but only arises when in fact there is an exchange. For this exchange takes place, we must use our ability to understand the intentions and desires of others, and consequently we relate well in society.

The change arises if our behavior create a perception of honesty.

However, make changes in our professional lifestyle or work may not be a simple thing.

In organizations, apart from our own resistance to change us we counted hurdles often coated with informal characteristics as is the case of company culture.

The organizational culture includes the norms, values and beliefs that are shared by the company’s employees and whose frame is built by the leaders, by history and by the way work is valued and rewarded.

When a company begins to feel the resistance to change and to innovation, is probably a resistance with origin in leadership who doesn’t believe in their ability to be successful with innovation.

But when there is a company with a strong culture of innovation this can give the company a powerful competitive advantage, because culture permeates all levels of the company, including the beliefs shared by the leadership.

But, how can we go from a “culture of resistance to a culture of innovation?

For an organization to become innovative and don’t submit resistance to change the company have to make sure that the land where is developing their culture is fertile and that seed of receptivity to change were well launched.

Only when the culture becomes permeable to change is that collaborators are more likely to have an active participation in innovative environments.

The first steps are the recognition of the need for change and the definition of urgency.

It is important that the Organization recognizes clearly what are the reasons that push for change, and where they should focus their efforts.

It is also important that the leadership show employees how will be the Organization after the change and expresses support in addition to develop a compromise between all.

Once they have done the work on the ground with the seeds, it is necessary to maintain the transition as if it were a growing plant until they reach the mature stage to collect the fruits of this change.

As in any other culture, innovation culture requires a special care in the treatment of the land where we want it to be developed.

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The submerged part of people’s value

Organizations are always looking for new ways to reinvent their activity and find new approaches to optimize talent is a critical aspect of organizational performance.

Optimization of talent is crucial because the competitive battle is focused on best people, the true creators of value, value that grows as we encourages and develops collaboration and as we streamline the work and social networks.

“An enterprise that is constantly exploring new horizons is likely to have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. When a once successful company runs aground and starts to list, its most talented employees usually don’t stick around to bail water, they jump ship. A dynamic company will have employees who are more engaged, more excited to show up to work every day, and thus more productive.”– Gary Hamel

It doesn’t seem difficult to imagine that a company that, in addition to be judicious in their hires, promotes the development of collaborative work grows and consolidates its strength on the market.

What happens is that the sets of talents in collaboration become a “machine” highly productive and creative.

Moreover, when a company, or its leaders, knows how to work these formal and informal networks of talent, they have access to their vital energy and can manage it according to the common interest.

Some of the key points of organizational development and behavior, such as the organizational hierarchical structures, are now developing and facilitating talent networks.

But this new perspective to deal with the performance of individuals is not easy to understand and develop. Often the performance assessment is based on individual responsibility, although today most of the work in companies can be a collaborative workspace. More, what were the workflows and decision-making processes are not today reflect a spirit of collaboration, co creation and innovation culture.

Sometime ago I wrote on this blog:

“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 (“Innovation Leadership Network”)  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.”

So, in this changing environment, it is important to take conscience of formal and informal networks of talent that companies incorporate and try, through its mapping, to define where improve collaboration of its elements, through talent management processes, always bearing in mind the environment of diversity driver of wealth that networks represent.

What’s true in nature is true in business—a lack of diversity limits the ability of a species to adapt and change.

Problem is, the gene pool at the top of many companies is a stagnant pond. The executive committee is usually comprised of long serving veterans whose experiences and attitudes are more alike than different. Homogeneity has its virtues—it facilitates communication and speeds decision-making—but it also limits a company’s ability respond to unconventional threats and opportunities.” – Gary Hamel

An analysis of the organizational network mapping and its diversity can help managers to see the specific types of relationships and collaborations that enable employees to become more effective and to know what are their broader contributions of collaboration for the organization.

A recent study titled, “Building a Well-Networked Organization” and featured in Mit Sloan Management Review provides us with an interesting hypothesis (adaptation) for the identification of some “types” of talent we can find in organizations and from which we can try to map networks. They are:

High-performing talent – They are people who tend to excel individually while at the same time developing, leveraging and contributing to their networks and those of selected others within or outside their organization. Personal relationships help them extend their expertise and avoid learning biases by tapping into pockets of knowledge and accessing valuable resources across their networks.

Marginalized talent – Are collaborators with low score in both individual performance and contributions of the network.

The effectiveness of marginalized employees can often be improved through either performance management processes or individual development plans that create an informal network connecting them to critical organizational segments.

Hidden talent – Although they may make significant contributions to their colleagues in ways that benefit the organization, they don’t appear on the top talent lists and usually aren’t considered for promotions or plum project assignments.

Underutilized talent – Many organizations have a surprisingly large group of employees who are in the top performance category but who make relatively little collaborative contribution. In some cases, this is both appropriate and deliberate. For example, it’s common for companies to limit the amount of time scientists and engineers spend in meetings and committee work; making modest changes in the way they collaborate can keep critical talent focused while adding to knowledge flow in the network.

I think that an approach to resources/talent, through collaborative networks of enterprises, which can be mapped as suggested, transforms the perspective of the company’s value presented by traditional methodologies in something very surprising.

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Organizations, leaders and compensation

Although curiosity is an innate ability of many living beings it cannot be considered an instinct because this is the inherent disposition of a living organism toward a particular behavior and expressed in a fixed form.

Curiosity is common in humans and at any age. This is an exploratory activity that tends to be shared with other people, often giving rise to endless conversations.

This huge need to find answers to questions or problems is often the main lever of innovation or scientific activities.

From the “why” to “Eureka” it is the path that traverses anyone looking for answers or solutions to problems. The wonderful unknown world is what makes humans want to know more and more to dominate a new “matter”.

For example, curiosity leads me to ask:

Why is it that some business leaders relinquish their compensation bonuses and others create strategies to increase it?

Portuguese Banker invokes recent sick leave and financial crisis to decline the prize of 2.9 million Euros last year.”

“They take all the time to get to the top and then find that the top is a soul-destroying place in the modern capital markets. So they do it for a few years, make enough money to retire, and get the hell out. Of course, some fight the inauthenticity, so the problem isn’t universal. But it is darn hard to fight the forces arrayed in favor of a fixed and inauthentic game.”– Roger Martin

It is indeed a huge pathway that managers have to reach the top. But let’s see! If we go back a few years ago with the help of our memory, or if we are good observers nowadays, we see that, for children learn to communicate among themselves is a significant step towards independence and self-sufficiency.

Children create games with ease and play roles of future with mastery, but always impregnated with naivety.

Many children with ten years age dream to be the CEO of a large company and foremost they dream enjoy the benefits inherent in the performance of those functions. They do not dream of creating sustainable businesses or real companies. They dream of creating a place to live!

Of course that not all who dream will find his place and probably those who today dream will find different places.

It is the difference between what is “real” and what the “expectations” are as explains Roger Martin according to Steve Denning!

“The “real market,” Martin explains, is the world in which factories are built, products are designed and produced, real products and services are bought and sold, revenues are earned, expenses are paid, and real dollars of profit show up on the bottom line. That is the world that executives control—at least to some extent.

The expectations market is the world in which shares in companies are traded between investors—in other words, the stock market. In this market, investors assess the real market activities of a company today and, on the basis of that assessment, form expectations as to how the company is likely to perform in the future. The consensus view of all investors and potential investors as to expectations of future performance shapes the stock price of the company…

The moral authority of business diminishes with each passing year, as customers, employees, and average citizens grow increasingly appalled by the behavior of business and the seeming greed of its leaders.”

But if on one hand the authority of the business has declined, on the other hand it seems to be emerging, a new wave of leadership that begins experimenting with bold, new ways to motivate and compensate and different models of setting goals.

They are new managers, full of curiosity, who act and does not ask for permission to innovate, they take risks and try to become better leaders so this way they can create better businesses.

“We must shift the focus of companies back to the customer and away from shareholder value,” says Martin…Instead, companies should place customers at the center of the firm and focus on delighting them, while earning an acceptable return for shareholders.”

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What can it be and why?

Companies always seek the best way to remain competitive on the market and for a long time that one hears and reads that innovation is the key to competitiveness in the global economy.

Often, what actually happens is that it is not the innovation that keeps these companies in the competition, but rather a kind of renovation of the offerings of these companies, through the continuous improvement of their business.

However, some companies seek to enter the market with truly new competencies, which include a deeper understanding of their consumers while people.

“Research has shown that design is a significant source of competitive advantage. Companies that invest in their design capability and develop a reputation for innovation can avoid competing on price alone…

Design Council research has found the design function being used by global companies to foster innovation across organisational boundaries:

  • LEGO has developed a new design system to run its whole innovation process… The system has allowed LEGO to cut its average design cycle from two years to six months.
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways uses design as a key competitive differentiator… and has created a service design department which works with the crew management and HR departments to develop and deliver new offerings.
  • Whirlpool now sees design and innovation as central to its growth strategy…”

We can think about design as a simpler level where people make choices about the design of things or at the level of how to create with greater fluency and expertise.

We can also think of design as design processes that can be used to decide what to do, employing interdisciplinary project teams that leverage the power of intuition or we can think of design as research that can give access to knowledge.

But what does promote innovation is the mindset of design thinking whose fundamental elements are a strategic direction to identify opportunities for innovation, inspiration and freedom of thinking to understand change and to imagine the future and anticipate the desires, giving rise to the ideas and co-creation to be refined in prototyping.

This way of thinking makes businesses more agile and able to respond to the regular and diverse requirements of the markets, and they are more dynamic and effective responses because creativity is not seen as an intermittent activity and linked to a restricted process.

To the design thinking teams is required flexibility and guaranteed the freedom to learn from the project that evolves naturaly.

“A company can’t will itself to be agile. Agility is an emergent property that appears when an organization has the right mindset, the right skills, and the ability to multiply those skills through collaboration. To count agility as a core competence, you have to embed it into the culture. You have to encourage an enterprisewide appetite for radical ideas. You have to keep the company in a constant state of inventiveness. It’s one thing to inject a company with inventiveness. It’s another thing to build a company on inventiveness.” – Marty Neumeier

Design thinking is, intrinsically, a prototyping process that feeds the deep understanding of what people want and enjoy (or not) about the way things are done, made, distributed, etc. That is, design thinking try to understand people as a whole when performing a specific activity, not just what they do, but how they feel and how is that their needs connect to other situations in their life.

Through design thinking, innovations do not come from incremental adjustments. They arise from the work of interdisciplinary teams of T shaped people, constantly encouraged to fail early to be able to respond to changing market conditions.

It is essential to look beyond what is, and see what could be, using the imagination to generate entirely new solutions and identify what will drive the success of the solutions.

It is the integration of design thinking in organizations that will dictate the success of its activities and this integration is fully and effectively when the employees of enterprises:

Embrace constraints. Design thinkers work with constraints (time, budget, location, materials). They identify their limitations and do not create the perfect solution, but the best solution, given the constraints.

Take risks. Design thinkers are comfortable with the notion of what can be wrong, but they do experiments and try new approaches.

Ask everything. Design thinkers ask numerous questions that may lead to the question of law, which will lead to the correct answer.

Design thinking is not a matter of tools. Design thinkers from diverse areas spend much time away from tools such as “new technology”, using paper and pencil to sketch their ideas.

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Resistance to change and to innovation

The courage to talk when you have a new idea or the courage to speak when you hear something that makes no sense, seems to be a usual thing, but if you look well, exposing us to the confrontation of opinions and to hypothetically ridiculous are moments that we frequently avoid.

This so-called lack of courage that we feel on many occasions is no more than a reaction to the discomfort that change brings, without any benefit to us.

To have new ideas and introduces them to an adjuster public is a risk that we are not always willing to assume.

We and our peers were subject to a formal education that has always given great importance to find correct answers to problems more or less specific. It is indeed that the privileged training in order to be employees in the companies that eventually can hire us and where we will discover comfort zones with ease.

People generally have a comfort zone that is where they feel happy. There are areas where things seem familiar and certain, the events are predictable and controllable, where there are no threats and consequently there is no need to change anything.

But, as we have evolved in the decision-making chain, the answers are not as easy or as fast as those required to perform certain routine tasks.

For example, the business issues are more ambiguous, complex and subject to a dynamic that is not inclusive of with a list of things to do, and can provoke a change for which we are not prepared!

In these circumstances, when faced with change and pushed for a decision, we run the risk of going into panic zones and all our comfort is called into question abruptly, causing concern, irritation, fear, resistance or inadequacy. Those are sudden changes that need support to not cause the personal and organizational break.

But is there anything wrong with comfort?

Of course not! Comfort is a nice area to relax, find meanings, deepen reasons, but almost sits there too long, you lose the value of the journey and ends up in a vacuum.

So, how to avoid panic zones?

The best way to not suffer serious injuries with change is learning to live with some comfort in the discomfort areas.

The discomfort zone is a place that lies on the borders of our comfort, but not far from it. It is the zone where begins the possibility of dreaming, where one can take root and grow doing exercise.

To challenge the discomfort requires the practice of regular exercise and the more we do, the more this becomes friendly and greater is the trust that we have to overcome these challenges. When we increase confidence we are lowering resistance to change and to the unknown and this allows us to face the fear of the areas of discomfort, often represented by only one of two things, success or failure.

Actively learn from our mistakes and learn not to know, i.e. unlearn some formal education guidelines that we had and which leads us by the way of quick and limited answers, puts us more comfortable in the areas of discomfort and fear of the unknown.

To feel comfort with the areas of discomfort we need to practice flexibility, movement, spontaneity and changing routines or create creative habits.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”M. Scott Peck

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