Monday, November 7, 2011
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
How can you be more effective at creative problem solving? Use these six key principles of creative problem solving. Avoid the common mistakes that are made when attempting to solve problems. Instead understand these six principles and you can find more productive and innovative solutions to the problems that challenge you.
You Know Nothing
You might find this hard to believe. But this is where you need to start. The reality is that we don't "know" anything. We only "believe" that we know things. Remember when everybody "knew" that the world was flat? Things changed and what we though we knew changed. If you think you already know the answer, you will not be creative. To be more creative in your approach to problem solving you need to start with the words of Sergeant Schultz from the old TV show, Hogan's Heroes, "I know nothing."
Problems Are Treasures
Problems are the source of new products, markets and opportunities. Naturally that is not the first reaction that most of us have when we face a new problem. We are usually annoyed and troubled by the problem because it presents difficulty and uncertainty for us. However, almost every new product (and service) was the answer to a problem. Every product is an aspirin to a headache. If you are experiencing a headache, there is a product for that – that might be waiting to be created. Want more treasure? Search for problems.
The principle of deferred judgment states that while exploring the possible solutions to a problem, first you diverge with your thinking and then you converge. Two separate stages. You can only do one at a time. To diverge ask "Why?" and "What if?" After you have finished diverging – then you converge. To converge you ask "How?" and "What is needed?" Zoom out then zoom in.
Fools and Experts
Creative problem solving demands both fools and experts on your team. Fools are the ones who ask the divergent questions. They look at the big picture. They often ask foolish questions that spawn new ideas. Many of those ideas might be silly or impractical – but be patient. Listen to the questions and explore the ideas. Fools will help you be effective.
Experts are the convergent thinkers. You need them to examine the wild ideas and focus on the best ideas. Experts will tell you how to implement. Experts will help you be efficient.
Creative problem solving is a process of asking advancing questions. It's a matter of asking the right questions at the right time to move the process forward. If you want to be more creative in your problem solving, learn the questions to ask and the proper sequence. When you ask questions – listen without judgment.
Rules are Tools
Rules are tools. They should not become barriers. All rules were created to make life easier for someone at some point in time All rules should be questioned because conditions change and the rule might no longer apply. Ask "Why?" to discover the root of the rule. Maybe it's time to change, amend or remove that outdated rule.
Transform your problems into opportunities, new products and treasure. Follow these six key principles of creative problem solving.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Source: Drucker, Peter F. (1985). Innovative and Entrepreneurship, Practice and Principles. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.
Peter Drucker and Innovation
Innovation involves finding a new and better way of doing something. Much of our modern society is based on innovations that have occurred in the past that provide us with the standard of living we enjoy today.
Entrepreneurship and innovation are companion terms. Entrepreneurship involves looking for a new innovation and taking advantage of it.
Drucker's Seven Sources for Innovative Opportunities
Drucker outlines seven sources for innovative opportunities that should be monitored by those interested in starting an entrepreneurial venture. The first four are sources of innovation that lie within the industry. The last three arise in the societal environment.
1. The Unexpected - An unexpected success, an unexpected failure or an unexpected outside event can be a symptom of a unique opportunity.
2. The Incongruity - A discrepancy between reality and what everyone assumes it to be, or between what is and what ought to be, can create an innovative opportunity.
3. Innovation based on process need - When a weak link is evident in a particular process, but people work around it instead of doing something about it, an opportunity is available to the person or company willing to supply the "missing link".
4. Changes in industry or market structure - The opportunity for an innovative product, service or business approach occurs when the underlying foundation of the industry or market shifts.
5. Demographics - Changes in the population's size, age structure, composition, employment, level of education and income can create innovative opportunities.
6. Changes in perception, mood and meaning - Innovative opportunities can develop when a society's general assumptions, attitudes and beliefs change.
7. New Knowledge - Advances in scientific and nonscientific knowledge can create new products and new markets. So, if you are looking for a new business opportunity, monitoring these seven sources may provide you with an innovation opportunity.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
In the recent webinar, "Innovate the Steve Jobs Way: 7 Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success," Carmine Gallo shared seven principles for innovation which he learned from studying Steve Jobs for many years. The webinar was a prelude to his book The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success. I found it extremely useful to attend the webinar before reading the book and I combined what I learned in the webinar with what I learned from the book. The book provides concrete examples of how Steve Jobs innovates and the author conducted several interviews with former Apple employees.
To support what he says in the book, Carmine Gallo also looked at what other innovators were successfully doing. He defines innovation as, "A new way of doing things that result in positive change." How can you innovate the way you do your job? What innovations are occurring in other industries that you can transfer to yours?
Carmine Gallo has identified seven principles to guide innovation based on what he has learned from studying Steve Jobs, the Co-founder and CEO of Apple. The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs has 15 chapters, an introductory one and two chapters devoted to each principle. Though the book presents a lot of information on the way Steve Jobs approaches innovation, there are many examples of others who are innovating in similar ways and achieving success.
Principle One: Do What You Love
Passion is everything, and it keeps you going when you face inevitable setbacks. Be obsessed and improve the areas that you love. To achieve success, passion is not enough – follow your obsessions, tailor them to your skills, and focus on what you can make money from. What is your calling and your destiny? How can you change the world?
A simple formula is Success = Passion + Skills + Market Demand
Principle Two: Put a Dent in the Universe
Innovation doesn't take place in a vacuum. Have a vision, because innovation cannot occur without one. What's the bigger picture and how can you share your vision with enthusiasts who will make your vision a reality. How is your product or service going to change the world? How can you leave the world a better place than you found it? How can you make your customers' lives better?
Margaret Mead's quote, "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has," encapsulates this principle.
Principle Three: Kick Start Your Brain
Seek our new and novel experiences, and bombard your brain with them. Who is doing something remarkable that you can learn from? Steve Jobs studied the Four Seasons Hotel and Mercedes Benz because they are aces when it comes to remarkable customer experiences. Jobs introduced a Concierge Service in the Apple Store based on what he learned from observing the Four Seasons Hotel.
A critical part of this principle is to make connections among disparate things and force yourself outside of your physical and mental comfort zone. To live a vision requires creative thinking which requires immersion in novel experiences.
New experiences expand the way you think. Surround yourself with people from different cultures. Experiment, and try new things. What are two things that you can do differently to improve the way in which you deliver your product or service?
Principle Four: Sell Dreams Not Products
Understand your customers, and help them to fulfill their dreams. Get to know them better than they know themselves. How can you change your customers' worlds? Create remarkable customer experiences and market that.
Your customers often do not know what they want, so be a linchpin as marketing guru Seth Godin says and anticipate what they need before they do. It's a twist to the concept of build it and they will come, to build it and convince them that they should come.
Principle Five: Say No to 1,000 Things
Take the road less traveled. Remove distractions so you can focus on the core product. Eliminate distractions from the customer experience. Don't spread yourself too thin, and go for simplicity. Steve Job told Nike's CEO Mark Parker, "Get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff." Go for simplicity and elegance.
Simplify and focus on your product and service offerings. What are you best at? What is one thing that you do extremely well? Focus on it and simplify.
Principle Six: Create Insanely Great Experiences
Create emotional connections with your customers. What are five ways you can enrich the lives of your customers? What relationships are you forming with your customers? Look outside your industry for examples. Create memorable experiences so you have rabid fans. Before you innovate, hold your customer in your mind's eye, and proceed from there.
Principle Seven: Master the Message
Effectively communicate your vision. Innovate around the way you communicate the vision. What are master presenters and communicators doing? Emulate them. Be a great storyteller, and be consistent in your messaging.
I enjoyed reading The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success because I had to stop several times and think about what I was reading. The many examples demonstrated how others were using these seven principles with great success, and I understood how I could use them as well. I also learned about innovative products that others were delivering.
For instance, DNA 11 creates art with their customer's DNA and became a multi-million dollar business in five years. The owners Adrian Salamunovic and Nazim Ahmed didn't conduct focus group interviews to decide if there was a need for their product, they created the product then created the demand for it. They also noticed that some of their customers were asking for art with their pets' DNA, so they offered that to other customers who might not have thought of that.
What Carmine Gallo has shown in his book is that innovation does not necessarily mean creating something radically new. Sometimes it is simply doing something in an entirely new way. This is a practical book written in a clear manner. I recommend The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success.