“The New Normal” – my initial thoughts

I have been given a copy of Peter Hinssen’s “The New Normal“.

This book is about the

“advancement in technology” that “is creating a new ‘normal’ where relationships with consumers are increasingly in a digital form.”

Hinssen claims that we are “half way”, and that amazing things are going to be happening.

I’ve only just started reading the book, but here are my thoughts so far (as reviewed on  Goodreads) …

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The New Normal: explore the limits of the digital worldThe New Normal: explore the limits of the digital world by Peter Hinssen

28 February 2012

Just started reading this book…but so far I am unimpressed.

Hinssen is telling us nothing new. Yes, technology has made a big jump. Yes, there are young people today who have never had to use an “analog” anything. Yes, for them digital is normal.

And – another thing that irks me is the concept that we are “half way”. How do we know that we are half way? Half way to what? Saying that implies that there is a defined endpoint. And then what?

As mentioned – I’ve only started reading this book (up to page 14). The things that I mention above are enough to make me want to keep reading. I want to see if Hinnsen moves away from this “wow – all this new technology” stance and offers something that isn’t self-evident. I also want to see whether he expands on this “half way” idea.

I will add to my comments once I have finished the book.

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Here is a video that gives a “teaser” of his book…

Related Links

Summary of The Pharma Summit 2012 – by someone who was there

The following is an excellent overview that Carolyn Buck Luce has written on her blog of The Pharma Summit 2012, recently held in London . (Everything below is hers. The highlighting, however, is mine, and I have added my own comments.)

Clearly some very interesting topics have been discussed. And from Carolyn’s excellent notes, it’s readily apparent that there is a huge move in this industry.

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Insights from Economist Pharma Summit – Finding New Directions

Here are some insights that are “sign posts” of Pharma 3.0 where the patient is in the middle, not the product and the focus is on delivering health outcomes to individuals at an economic benefit for health systems and society.

  • GSK CFO, Simon Dingeman, observed that in emerging markets most medicines are paid for “out of pocket” by individuals. This reality has spurred a different business model by more closely integrating the Consumer, Pharmaceutical and Vaccines businesses to focus on ultimate customer.
  • Bruno Strigini, Merck President of Europe/Canada — reflected on the demise and bankruptcy of Kodak and observed that in hindsight the trends were visible to all but changing a business model is exceedingly hard. This is quite analogous to the pharma industry where it has to move to delivering outcomes. For Merck this includes increasing innovative partnerships with non traditional players like food and IT companies and building solutions and services.
  • Managing Director of GAVI, Nina Schwalbe, discussed that every two minutes a woman dies of cervical cancer but now, based on the system working together, there is a vaccine for this.
  • Stephen Whitehead, CEO ABPI, and Bruno Strigini, Merck President Europe/Canada
    — Fascinating conversation about value and outcomes. Everyone agrees that today there is not a common definition of what is the optimal health outcome with payors, patients, doctors and pharma having different perspectives. All stake holders have a role in the measures to assess value. And this can include a range of interventions to innovations. For example, if a pill can be taken once a day instead of 4 times a day could increase patient adherence and is therefore a valuable intervention.
  • Patrick Flochel, EY, observed that we are in the health business not the sick business. The HC system needs to put the patient in the middle. And the HC system will be shifting to health care everywhere – beyond the two pillars of the doctors office and hospital to the “the third place(s)” —wherever the patient/health care consumer is.
  • Theresa Heggle, Shire: A shift from provider to payor with the patient at the center has helped Shire shift their focus to the needs and value to the patient. Working with rare and orphan diseases, Shire works closely with patient organizations and families, possibly a model for the future of “personalized” medicines. There are already 300-350 drugs for orphan diseases and over 7000 such diseases.
  • John Pottage, ViiV: HIV is a good example of patient at the center model where patients literally took an activist part to become equal partners in innovation and regulatory process. Relationships, incentives, roles and responsibilities, data transparency etc were redefined.
    Now, ViiV is an example of a business model where the focused resources of two large companies contributed to a new company that is focused on just one disease with extensive partnerships and collaborations, from medicine to delivery with the patient at the center.
  • Wendy White, Siren Interactive. Patients and caregivers with rare disorders are now frequently the primary drivers of diagnosis and treatments given their active use of internet and mobile technology to get educated. Their activity can be predictors for future innovations as innovation happens at the margins.
  • Fascinating conversation about the value of transparency and data.
    For example everyone publishes what IS working in clinical trials but there is a wealth of insights in the data of what didn’t work but those data are not published in an easily accessible way.
    On Social media —notwithstanding the regulatory constraints of using social media in interactions with doctors and patients, pharma companies are beginning to dip their toe in by listening. However, there are challenges —in part due to the quick response expectations that don’t leave time for appropriate reflection and educated deliberations. Building trust is key to the industry so missteps in social media would be a real setback for the industry.
    (This is an excellent point. Listening, however, is an excellent start. There is a continual stream of incredibly useful feedback that the patients are giving. – Mark)
  • Sir Andrew Dillon, Chair of NICE — the trend of value-based pricing will continue. This is a growing trend that will touch both developed and developing markets.
    Sir Andrew encourages pharma companies to not “run away” from the developed markets to find countries without this approach as there will eventually be a NICE-like agency in China and India etc. The future will have funders, providers, innovators and users working more closely together earlier and earlier in the process to come up with good decisions. There will always be tensions but they can be creative tensions that produce value for health systems and better outcomes for patients.
  • Anders Ekbloom AZ - it was interesting to hear his perspective on what the innovators need from the payers:
    • reward value that medicines contribute to the overall cost of health
    • create trust by considering all the relevant data and being transparent in rules for decision making
    • insure rigor in how decisions are made to insure they reflect the needs of the population
    • justify decisions with clarity and give innovators opportunity to reflect and react
    • go faster as sometimes it takes payers up to a year after approval to agree on price but the IP clock is ticking

In the end, innovators have a long lead time and are making big investments. The more harmonized, clear and transparent rules and decision making across boundaries are with respect to reimbursement, the greater the win for all.

  • Reflections upon listening to Brian Griffin, CEO Medco International on Patient Data and how it will transform the Pharma Industry:
    Many of the health systems strategies around bending the cost curve through cutting prices has not been effective and the focus is turning to increased adherence which will be driven in part by better data —integrated, actionable and accessible to stakeholders, including investors.Facts in Europe. — 50% of patients don’t take medicines. This is made up of 1/3 don’t fill their prescriptions; 1 in 10 stop taking their pills; 1/2 forget to finish regimen and 1/4 of all patients don’t take recommended dose. This costs pharma companies in Europe $125B and causes 200,000 premature deaths per year.Focusing on real of use patient data and offering an integrated medication support package with a suite of adherence services can make a real difference and provide the base line improvements that support demonstration of value. These real use data will also provide key insights on patient behavior that will help build incentives and interventions to improve adherence and safety.
  • Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer Pfizer and HBA 2011 Woman of the Year, spoke on The Future of Medicines – The Disruptive Innovators.
    As usual, Freda had compelling perspectives of the future from the patient perspective and the need to approach this with a sense of urgency. She made the point that disruptive innovation is only disruptive in hindsight.
    Pharma can’t lower performance or be all things to all people – ie better, faster, cheaper – given the imperative to move to targeted precision therapies. More important that we start asking disruptive questions like 1) how to best characterize diseases, and 2) how do we streamline the matching of therapies to disease to increase precision and 3) how do we create 21st century science by upgrading 1950’s funding.
  • The conference ended on a high note with a keynote from Tachi Yamada, former President of the Global Health program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and now EVP, Chief Medical Officer of Takeda, speaking on changing the game in global health.
    Tachi spoke eloquently about the importance of the emerging markets to the industry and the “moral tragedy” of the current state — 8 million children dying unnecessarily life expectancy less than 50 years; with examples like TB which kills millions of people every year and is being fought with a vaccine that is 80 years old and medicine that is 40 years old.
    His answer is to revolutionize innovation, turn things upside down and get to work with the following prescription: 1) Challenge accepted dogma and promote those that challenge 2) Be willing to fail and fail often and take big risks 3) Forget peer reviews because innovators HAVE NO peers and don’t let the experts kill ideas 4) Decide fast while the excitement and enthusiasm is there 5) Create a sense of urgency so that desperate ideas are welcome.(The comment “Forget peer reviews because innovators HAVE NO peers and don’t let the experts kill ideas” is brilliant and worth repeating – Mark)

Forget peer reviews because innovators HAVE NO peers and don’t let the experts kill ideas

Carolyn’s original post can be read here. Also check out her other great posts.

One of the best definitions of “Gamification” that I have seen

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Michael Spitz over at PharmaPhorum has written an article on “The gamification of healthcare”. It looks like a great article, and I plan to review it shortly. However, I just wanted to share Michael’s definition of “gamification”, which is one of the best that I have come across lately.

Gamification essentially uses game design techniques and mechanics to connect and engage with audiences in an otherwise non-gaming environment.

I’ll write more about his article (and others) soon…

A comment by David on “Social Leadership”

In my last post, #SWCHAT – Social Leadership, I mentioned that there seemed to be the feeling that there was no such thing as “Social Leadership”.

In response, David Christopher, the host of the #SWChat’s, posted a really valuable comment. You can read it at the end of the above-mentioned post, but I feels it’s really worthy of its own post…

The term “Social Leadership” doesn’t really exist in business today but it was clear from the event that leaders need to start understanding and working towards being more social.

The reason reason? Empowerment.

With a social business infrastructure the old hierarchical structures are broken down and decentralised. Employee’s become more empowered and open collaboration becomes the norm.

Leaders therefore need to evolve their leadership styles to accommodate this type of new workplace, a social workplace. Once they embrace this type of leadership then the tacit and explicit knowledge of the employees can be shared openly and becomes an incredible asset. An asset that is often ignored or not realised.

This is the future, the next generation workplace as some call it but many companies are still a long way off achieving this.

The SWChat event last week clearly highlighted this.

I’m looking forward to next weeks chat. Thanks David.

Do you really “get” Innovation?

The good people at Innovation Excellence (that would be Braden Kelly, and Rowan Gibson) have published a post, written by Holly G Green, in which you have the chance to test your “Innovation IQ“.

Initially I thought that this would be a whimsical piece that would equate to one of those “self tests” in a Cleo magazine that we all like to take. (Or so I’ve heard…)

However, the article was actually quite a good one, and I learnt some interesting things about Innovation.

With permission, I republish the article below. However, you can save time and go directly to the “Innovation IQ” test by clicking here. Also – take a look around at some of the other great articles on the site.

Test Your Innovation IQ
Posted on December 7, 2011 by Holly G Green

Everyone knows that innovation means coming up with the next great idea in your industry, right? Actually, there’s a lot more to it than that. Test your ability to separate innovation fact from fiction by answering the following questions true or false:

  1.  Innovation is the act of coming up with new and creative ideas.
  2. Innovation is a random process.
  3. Innovation is the exclusive realm of a few naturally talented people.
  4. The biggest obstacle to innovation is a lack of organizational resources and know-how.
  5. The most important type of innovation involves bringing new products and services to market.
  6. Teaching employees to think creatively will guarantee innovation.
  7. The most powerful way to trigger your brain is to simply ask it a question.
  8. Most companies pursue incremental rather than disruptive innovation.
  9. Most companies are not structured to innovate.
  10. Listening to your customers is a great way to innovate.

Answers:

1. False. In business, innovation is the act of applying knowledge, new or old, to the creation of new processes, products, and services that have value for at least one of your stakeholder groups. The key word here is applying. Generating creative ideas is certainly part of the process. But in order to produce true innovation, you have to actually do something different that has value.

2. False. Innovation is a discipline that can (and should) be planned, measured, and managed. If left to chance, it won’t happen.

3. False. Everyone has the power to innovate by letting their brain wander, explore, connect, and see the world differently. The problem is that we’re all running so fast that we fail to make time for the activities that allow our brains to see patterns and make connections. Such as pausing and wondering….what if?

4. False. In most organizations, the biggest obstacle to innovation is what people already know to be true about their customers, markets, and business. Whenever you’re absolutely, positively sure you’re right, any chance at meaningful innovation goes out the window.

5. False. It’s certainly important to bring new products and services to market. But the most important form of innovation, and the #1 challenge for today’s business leaders may really be reinventing the way we manage ourselves and our companies.

6. False. New ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part is turning those ideas into new products and services that customers value and are willing to pay for — a process that requires knowledge about what your customers want and need, coupled with implementation.

7. True. Ask a question and the brain responds instinctually to get closure. The key with innovation is to ask questions that open people to possibilities, new ways of looking at the same data, and new interpretations of the same old thing.

8. True. Most companies focus on using internally generated ideas to produce slightly better products (incremental innovation). Then they strive to get those slightly better products to market as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. This approach is quicker and cheaper than disruptive innovation. But it rarely generates the results that lead to sustainable market leadership.

9. True. Most organizations are physically set up with accounting in one area, marketing in another, and management off by itself. Employees rarely interact with other departments unless they need something to get their jobs done. And leaders and departments often withhold information, believing that it puts them in a position of power. Innovation requires teamwork, communication and collaboration, not isolated silos.

10. Trick question! The answer is “it depends.” Research shows that customers can be a good source of ideas for improving existing products and services — if you’re looking to achieve incremental innovation. However, by itself, customer research is not sufficient for generating disruptive innovation because it only uncovers expressed, or known, customer needs. Disruptive innovation solves problems that customers didn’t even know they had or were unable to clearly articulate to themselves or their vendors. It redefines the market at a very fundamental level or, in many cases, creates a new market.

If you got 8 or more correct answers, give yourself a pat on the back. If you scored between 4 and 7, I recommend some more research and work on these critical leadership skills. If you scored less than 4, wake up and smell the burnt coffee! Get some help.

If you’re not constantly looking to improve your products, services, systems, and managerial processes, you will fall behind. And once you fall behind, it can be very difficult and often impossible to catch up!

Innovation Management

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I’m following the AIIM Enterprise 2.0 Practitioner course at the moment, and in Module 4, there is a slide that contains the following definition of Innovation Management:

Innovation management is the economic implementation and exploitation of new ideas and discoveries, and the implementation of an innovation culture in an organization, to promote and make possible the development of new ideas and business opportunities. Innovation management consists of innovation strategy, culture, idea management and implementation of innovation processes.

- John P Riederer, University of Wisconsin.

While reading this, I couldn’t help thinking about 3M. If you recall, in my post Innovation policy from an unexpected mine – 3M, I described how William L McKnight, the head of the company, did just what was described in the definition above. He gave Dick Drew an environment where Dick could develop his new idea, one that was totally different from the core product of the company. And it was this environment, this innovation culture, that allowed 3M to grow to what it is today.

The inaugural Innovation Excellence chat

Innovation #ixchat

Recently Braden Kelley moderated the first Innovation Excellence tweetjam.

Braden and Rowan Gibson both host the Innovation Excellence site for the Global Innovation Community. This is a seemingly endless store of tips, articles, presentations, etc, etc to inspire innovation. Definitely worth a visit. (http://www.innovationexcellence.com/)
Anyway, there was some interesting discussion in the tweetjam. And there was an amazing amount of retweets as the participants shared the innovation wisdom that was appearing on their screen.
Below I have captured the main flow of tweets.
(To get to the raw stream, scroll to the bottom of the page).
Getting set to kick off inaugural Innovation Excellence Office Hours over on #ixchat – I’ll be doing #innovation Q&A – Questions to #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Welcome everyone to #ixchat ! I am the author of ‘Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire’ and co-founder of http://t.co/QmGa6KO #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Q1: What is one of the most overlooked parts of creating #innovation success? – #ixchat
IXchat
August 16, 2011
Internal and external communications are central to successful #innovation and too often they are left for the end #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Successful #Innovation = Value Creation * Value Access * Value Translation /// and value translation takes time and focus to do well #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Value Translation is about taking the value that you’ve created with your new #innovation and evangelizing it in a way people get #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Value Translation occurs along a continuum between explanation for more incremental #innovation to education for true disruptions #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Successful companies focus on Value Translation from the beginning, testing messages internally and adapting for external audiences #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Even a great company like #apple underestimated the importance of value translation in launching the iPad and suffered ridicule #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
But within three months, Apple came up with brilliant OOH advertising that translated the iPad’s value perfectly in a single image #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Backlash against iPad’s launch statement should serve as cautionary tale of why investments in #innovation value translation matter #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
#innovation value translation should also not be expected to happen over night or to be the need of a single audience… #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
What things are you seeing done in cultures to create the environment to foster fun and safety to lead to innovative risk? #ixchat
Niskir
August 16, 2011
Take Segway example. Incredible #invention – game changer. Failing so far because regulatory, political, etc hurdles underestimated #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Because #innovation value translation can take time, often you must begin effort at the same time you begin creating the solution #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Other necessary #innovation communications investments include defining innovation and creating a common language of innovation #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Every context and culture is different, so every organization needs its own customized common #innovation language #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Without common language of #innovation, organization will struggle to embed innovation into culture or to unlock employee passion #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
I started to have a bit of connectivity issues. I hope the time was useful. We will bring you office hours from others in future :-) #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Q2: What things are u seeing done in cultures to create environment to foster fun and safety to lead to innovative risk? #ixchat via @niskir
IXchat
August 16, 2011
Introducing greater flexibility into the organization and its environment can help to foster more fun and #innovation connectedness #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Many organizations are redesigning their work space to increase likelihood of chance encounters and side #innovation conversations #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
@innovate Education is caused by starting at the wrong place. Start at value, then you don’t have to translate to value. #innovation #ixchat
DavidWLocke
August 16, 2011
Work space design should always link to how work is done & integrate connectivity in a way that doesn’t interrupt creativity #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
But workspace is a small part – the ability to take innovative risk in an organization is much more cultural and measurement focused #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
@innovate…organizations will struggle to embed innovation in culture or unlock employee passion #ixchat http://t.co/GbcpHS1
GowerPublishing
August 16, 2011
Organizations committed to #innovation give employees flexibility & capability to experiment & to shift some time to this activity #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Some organizations even allocate part of management’s measurement and compensation to how they foster and create #innovation #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Budgets must also become more flexible to allow 4 execution of day-2-day while also allowing 4 experiments – some of which can fail #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
One way culture can shift to support more innovative risk taking is by working to instill a culture of learning from outcomes #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
Quietly checking the 1st Q & A session of #ixchat w/ @innovate this wk. Excellent Qs about how to create a culture for #innovation > #ixchat
CreativeSage
August 16, 2011
Engaging people in learning not just from failures but also successes, & providing the space and support for the learning to happen #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
.@Gwen_Ishmael @bpluskowski & I wrote on #innovation #culture > Guide to #OpenInnovation & #Crowdsourcing http://t.co/NJNp3yd #ixchat
CreativeSage
August 16, 2011
Thank you all for attending our inaugural Innovation Excellence Office Hours – Sorry that things slowed down there at the end #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
@berkshire_ideas – #ixchat was 1st Innovation Excellence Office Hours giving people chance to tune in and ask #innovation questions #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011
@berkshire_ideas – We will begin listing future volunteer moderators here soon – http://ht.ly/64L3q – #innovation #ixchat
innovate
August 16, 2011

For a look at the raw #ixchat stream (along with a few interesting statistics about the tweetjam) click here.

John Mancini’s Keynote View of the Digital Future

John Mancini, President of AIIM International was kind enough to make a zipcast of his info360 keynote presentation slides. This allows him to do “present” his slides. I am very, very grateful that he did this, as I was not able to attend the conference.

I was really impressed by John’s comments. I made some “rough” notes.

(I call them “rough” because they don’t capture all of John’s message – If you want, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the link to his zipcast.)

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Rough Notes made from John Mancini’s keynote at Info360

We are in the middle of an interesting technology inflection point
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We have been through many phases, each with its content management focus.

  • Mainframe – Batch Transactions
  • Mini – Departmental Processes
  • PC – Documents
  • Internet – Web pages

Effectively what we have done is just taken the old world of paper-based records, ledgers and transferred it to the next phase of technology. This may the the source of some of the challenges that we have.

The next iteration after the Internet will be “Social” – a focus on interactions and conversations. The content management focus will be capturing and managing these.

John mentions that companies can’t just put a social layer on top of their current processes. They will need to think about the social layer and how they embed it in all of their processes and push it back through our web presences and information repositories so that everything connects up. A system of engagement that just has a front-end social process and nothing else behind it is not enough.

John also points out that we need to avoid pushing just old world concepts into this social world. We will need to adapt these ideas, and ways of doing things. The old transactional ideas had to do with control, auditing and securing. This won’t be always possible in the new way.

Implications
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CIO’s will need to approach things differently.

  • Traditionally – Minimise Risk and Reduce Cost.
  • The new is Add Value and Create New Reality

The end of the email era

John did an analysis of his e-mail:

  • 46% was actually unwanted (spam);
  • 21% was e-mails to colleagues – these could actually be better addressed with social media;
  • 21% was bac’n (interesting, but not essential, can be deleted without any harm).
  • The only things of real value were the e-mails sent to, and received from, real people outside of the organisation. This accounted for only 6% of total volume.

His point was – we need to think differently about e-mail. This is compounded by the fact that the people coming into the workforce are from the “social” phase, while the people making the decisions are from the “PC” phase.

The End of IT autocracy.

  • 10 years – the coolest technology was was you got at work.
  • Now that is reversed.
  • Workplace IT is lagging behind.
  • If a business imperative is important enough, it doesn’t matter how much IT control it, if going outside that control will allow a user to get the job done, people will do it.

Implication of Compounding

  • Information growth will be incredible.
  • At the same time the cost of storage is dropping.
  • However this is not proportional. (Information growth exceeds decrease in cost).

Why we should care
——————-

  • If we ignore this, we will make the same mistakes again. E.g. when e-mail came out, companies considered it a risk, and that it was really only needed for management, etc.
  • However, companies need to embrace this technology to remain competitive. Otherwise there is a risk of a “digital divide”. The longer that it takes, the more difficult it will be.

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Link to John Mancini’s Zipcast

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Trust the Process

I saw a tweet today from @visualloop with a link to a graphic that really hit me.

It is a graphic that sums up the characteristics of achieving success, and was created by Garrick Gibson, and features in a post he wrote about his road to where he is now.

I liked this graphic because he sums it up so well.  It’s advice that I’d like to pass along.

Success achievment goals dream

(Note – you can see his post by clicking on the graphic.)

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Captain Kirk is killing Innovation

Through one means or another (I think I saw a Tweet about it). I “discovered” a presentation on Innovation. It was given by Scott Berkun at the Carnegie Mellon University.

I was really inspired by Berkun’s presentation. I watched it once, and then again, and then tried to make notes of what he was saying during the presentation.

Berkun talks about how much of what we know about innovation is wrong as he explored the history of innovation and creative thinking.

The notes I took take up eight pages. These are available via the links below. However, in a nutshell, Berkun points out that innovation is not some magical thing that just happens. It requires a lot of hard work, and a lot of failure. Often when we look at someone/something successful, we don’t see the work that was put in to get to that point.

Berkun gives many examples of people famous in history for their discoveries, and points out that it is the “mythology” surrounding that discovery that we actually remember without being aware of the hours put in to get to that it. Two examples he gives are Newton who is remembered for discovering gravity when he got hit on the head by an apple, Archimedes who cried Eureka! when he was in the bath.

He goes onto to illustrate how failure is also a part of innovation. The Colloseum in Rome is lauded as being an amazing piece of architecture, and shows what great builders the Roman’s were. However, we don’t get to see the attempts that failed. They don’t exist any more. We just have remaining the attempt that was successful. There are several modern examples also that include Google, Apple, Flickr.

At one point in the presentation, Berkun claims that James T Kirk is responsible for killing innovation. Why? Because, James T Kirk is the only modern day icon for exploration that we have today. The main story of exploration that is widely known is that of Captain Kirk, and the Enterprise and it’s ongoing mission to seek out new life, etc, etc.

The problem with this is that within the first few opening minutes of the program Star Trek, a new planet has been discovered. And then with the next few minutes, something exciting has happened. And so it goes on. We don’t get to see the boring bits. We don’t get to see the time spent just trying to find a new planet. And this is what happens a lot in real life . A new “discovery” is being made. There is a lot of excitement, and then…nothing. This is because it usually takes years, and years, and years before the new discovery is something useful, viable, or commercially profitable.

As I mentioned, Scott Berkun’s presentation really caught my attention. He had a very dynamic way of presenting this information. I recommend you follow the links below to learn more.

My Notes from Berkun’s presentation

Scott Berkun’s presentation on YouTube

Scott Berkun’s Homepage.

My (rough) Notes on Scott Berkun’s “Lecture on the Myths of Innovation”

As mentioned in my post “Captain Kirk is killing Innovation“, below are my notes on a presentation that Scott Berkun gave at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Lecture on the Myths of Innovation (link to presentation on YouTube)

Worked at Microsoft for about 10 years. Team Leader role. Worked on Internet Explorer for about 6 years. His job was to lead a project team to think up new ideas to make using the internet easier. He would work with designers and engineers, and lead the team to develop the ideas, and put the ideas into a specification and getting it out the door.

The problem he didn’t know “how do you innovate?”, “how do you manage a team that’s supposed to be innovating, and creating new stuff?”

Scott knew a lot of people at MS, many who had been there longer than he was, many “inventors” – people who had worked on Mac, and UNIX. He tried to get information about what the process is, what the plan is, how do you do this. What most people knew where pet theories. There were stories, legends, mythologies, and a lot of people, even though they had a lot of experience and had been successful, put their faith in something that didn’t have a lot of substance. He decided that he had to become informed about this. To find out how people who had done this before him had done it. Not what we think that they did, not what is mythologized in films, but actually what they did.

He started reading about reading about Edison, da Vinci, Ford. He wanted to understand “how did they think about what they did”. This was as a “side project”. Wasn’t ever interested in history.

He left MS in 2003. Ambition to write books. First book was about management.”How do you manage teams of people?” The book sold well, and he was asked to write a second book. Second book was about innovation. So many books on innovation are based on hype, and mythology and romance. And this is not so handy if you want to be a practitioner.

A lot of people want to be innovator’s (especially in America). The lecture is not the same as what is in the book, but the themes are the same.

Started with some information trivia. Showed some pictures of famous innovators:

  • Van Gogh
  • Edison
  • Micheal Angelo
  • Bob Dylan
  • Newton
  • Einstein

"Innovators"

 

The common thing about these people is that none of them got a degree in innovation, or read a book about how innovation happens, or took a creative thinking class. None of the things that, today, are promoted as “that’s how you do it”. They just had an idea which they thought was interesting, and they cared about, and they followed it. Sometimes at the expense of their mental health, or finance (Edison)

Innovation is not reached by a specific type of people, of a particular pedigree, following a set of rules. It is usually the renegades, and delinquents who are innovators. The people who say they not going to follow what everyone else is doing. There is no official pedigree needed to be an innovator. However, we like to believe there is. There  is a romantic and popular notion that creativity is something that gifted people are born with One particular part of that mythology is the myth of epiphany. That is – there are “magic moments” that define what innovation is.

Newton – the “canonical epiphany story” – because it implies that there is one particular, “special” moment when an individual accidentally was struck “violently” by a piece of fruit and that’s why we know about gravity.

People tend not to think about the mythology, and, when we’re not paying attention, it influences what we believe should be happening – when we are working hard trying to solve a problem, there’s no magic moment, no epiphany, so we feel we are not doing it right.

With the apple story and Newton – a) it probably didn’t happen, but if it did happen, the true value of the story is not that it happened, because he had probably been thinking about gravity for a long time. He didn’t “discover” gravity. He was alive in the late 17th century. We knew about gravity for a long time before that. What he was actually famous for was proving the mathematics of gravity, to be predictive about how gravitational fields worked. It took him about 15 years to do that. However the myth remains. And the epiphany mythologies absolve us of the pressure of the work involved behind any break or innovation that we have heard of.

Archimedes is credited with having an epiphany while he was in the bath. The fact that he was “in the bath” is what most people remember. However, it is a comical story that makes the whole idea of innovation seem trivial.

These epiphany stories can be found everywhere – business success, literature success, everywhere. This is because they are comfortable, entertaining, and amusing, but they deflate all the hard work behind the success.

In Archimedes’ case, it is most likely that the “reported” moment was not the only time he spent thinking about the problem.

A big part of innovation is “creative thinking”. How do you invent? How do you develop a new idea? How do you find alternative ways that people haven’t thought of before? In preparation for the book, Scott became a student of psychological literature of creative thinking. He read journals, and books, and there is a popular notion about creativity, which is reflected in all these epiphany stories and that is, that an idea is a discrete thing. That it happens in a moment of time. This is how we conventionally think creative thinking is.

All the psychology behind creative thinking, and how our brains work, and how we develop ideas, talks about the value of “habits”. Creative people have different habits for how they use ideas, and how they play with ideas, and how much time is spent seeking alternatives. They are more comfortable entertaining odd, crazy, scary ideas longer than most people who dismiss them quickly).

So – it’s about habits, and when you hear about a story of an epiphany, or a magic moment, the magic moment isn’t going to inform you, but what happening 10 minutes, an hour, before that magic moment. What was that person doing?

How does this magic moment fit into the person’s pattern of behaviour. If you can learn the patterns of behaviour then there is something that you can replicate, or emulate, or borrow from to inform you about what process you have to follow to be creative. The “moments” are not important, it’s the habits that lead to the moments.

It’s like an iceberg…

Another example is the invention of the telephone. The “story” goes that the first words spoken were “Watson, come here”. If you were to invent a replacement to the telephone, what value would knowing “the first words spoken” have? It is useless information. What we mostly know about creative thinking is trivia. It’s interesting, but not going to help you be creative.

There is also the mythology in science. Often a lot of the way we learn science is following the footsteps of others, and what has been done before. So even though the words “experiment”, and “scientific method” show up in scientific education, is it very rare for people to do an experiment themselves, or ask a question and don’t have clear answers. So even though we talk about science, and “scientific method” we have a very biased sense of what that means. When talking about breakthroughs in science, the patterns that we follow are more comfortable to human nature than we realize.

Scott refers to the book “The Double Helix” which he read to understand what creative process was used. Did they follow the same iterative process that he had for software, did they have hypothesis, and explored outcomes. The book actually has very little about science in it. It is largely about a bunch of people who had an idea, who most people didn’t agree that it was possible. The people involved were, effectively, pursuing hunches and instinctive motivation. Even though backed up by science the motivating force was purely human. It was an intuitive and ad-hoc process. Anytime we talk about discovery, or break through, this is true.

Failure is also a part of break-through. Failures are essential. Often we do not see the failures. For example, the Colosseum in Rome. We marvel at what a great building it is, and how advanced the architects and builders must have been. What we don’t see are all the other buildings that are not standing today. The one’s that failed. This is common in the history of innovation. We never see the failures. So if you want to follow someone’s path to success, their innovation, you want to look at their failures. What mistake did they make, that they learnt something from, and was able to apply to something else.

This can be found everywhere. YouTube is an example. Originally the company was trying to create a video alternative to “Hot or Not”, a online dating site where photos could be posted and then people could vote whether the person in the photo was “hot” or “not”. In the course of building the “alternative” they recognized that there was better use for it in a more general direction. Flickr started out as a software game development company for an online, multiplayer game. After about a year they ran out of funding, but they were able to recognize that part of the thing they were building was a part where there was the ability to share photos. They realized that this little part had actually more chance of being successful than the game itself. They made a mistake, they learnt from it, and they went in a different direction.

Apple also had a similar story. Way back at the beginning, Steve Wozinack worked at HP, and he tried to get HP interested in making a personal computer. HP didn’t want to so Steve W. and Steve Jobs went off and did it their way.

Same with Google. In the beginning when the founders had a “page ranking algorithm” they were looking at selling their ideas to a search engine company. They were told by every search engine company that search engines weren’t very profitable. In 1999 this was true. They were told by Yahoo, and some other search engine companies, that they should really go out on their own if they want the idea to materialize.

So, the real value is looking at the mistakes to understand the process of innovation.

However, stories about failures are very rare.

If you hear about a company that has just had a breakthrough, or a magic moment, and you want to be an innovator yourself, you need to ask yourselves some questions:

Lessons Learned so far

  • What happened before the magic?
  • What mistakes did they learn from?
  • What ideas did they reuse?
  • What did they think of what they were making while they were making it?

INNOVATION HISTORY

Scott gives an example. “Imagine” he says “that you are working together on a project. The goal is to innovate – to create Web 4.0.”

We start with a prototype – we build some code. It goes so well, that some people who thought you were crazy to start with, start showing interest, and want to know more, and get involved. The project starts to grow, and we get more support behind it.” Interest starts growing even more, and there are blog posts about it, and articles are written in magazines about how this is the next new thing.”

What generally happens next is … nothing.

Scott goes on to talk about exploration. Exploration has many similarities to innovation.

He shows a photo of Captain James Kirk from Star Trek. He points out that James T Kirk is the only modern day icon for exploration that we have today.


Most of the planet has been “discovered”, and the main story that gets told these days, over and over, in the movies, on TV, involving exploration is that of Captain James T Kirk.

The problem with this, of course, is that Captain James T Kirk is not a real person. He’s just a character in a TV show. Looking at real explorers – Magellan, Cook, da Gama – they all spent most of their time failing. They started with a map with outlined “the world”, and then went “off the map”. And during this time, there were many unpleasant things that happened – mutinies, scurvy, etc – as well as lots, and lots of uninteresting stuff. The main point is that most of exploration is taken up with uninteresting hard work. This is the parallel with innovation. All the hard work is not as sexy as the point where the flag is put in the ground, or that “Eureka” moment.

The problem with James T Kirk is that, normally, within the first minute of the show, a new planet is discovered., in the next couple of minutes something dramatic happens. And then a commercial break. All the hard bits that make up exploration are skipped. The Teleporter, transporter, warp drive – these are all narrative devices to get you past the hard work parts of exploration.

Looking at real explorers, Magellan was famous for circumnavigating the globe. But there is actually many, many events that took place during this that people are not aware of.

According to Berkun, Cook was actually the model for James T Kirk, and the reason that the “red coat” is always the one that dies, is because the British marines wore red coats and they were always the ones sent in first and died.

Berkun brings the talk back to the fact that the time between when something (technology, etc) is thought to be “interesting” by the people working on it, and when it is considered a “breakthrough” by the mass market is often 15-20 years. Example – the mouse, the cell phone

Means in our example project above, once success is achieved, it now has to fit into the “narrative” of innovations. That is it becomes the latest of a long line of other innovative achievements that led up to it. The “details” about the pain, or mistakes, or the boring bits, doesn’t get recorded. This makes it seem ordinary, simple and obvious despite how complicated or risky it was to do.

O’Reilly Publishers created a diagram that describe the history of programming languages and how they are all related to each other (http://oreilly.com/news/languageposter_0504.html). It is an excellent way to get an overview of the languages, and allows you to get some perspective. However there is no language listed that was invented through using the diagram. It is not a tool used to invent. It gives a “god” perspective. It is easy to look at the diagram, at Object Pascal for example, and pass judgment. This is the risk of the chronological accounts of innovation.


Lessons Learned so far

  • Good history=fact-based stories, not trivia.
  • Seek out first and second person.
  • Study the origins of an ordinary thing.
  • Everything was once an innovation.

Berkun starts talking about Luddites. He tells that how in the circles he was working, the term Luddite was a slur, meaning that you are trying to resist something (new technology) that is going to become inevitable.  Of course, the real story is that during the Industrial Revolution in England, people who worked in the textile industry operating the looms were replaced by technology that did the same. The workers (supposedly lead by “Ned Ludd”) responded by destroying the technology with sledge hammers

He then asks his audience to imagine coming to work to find they have been replaced by a small box, and to be told that all other employees have done this. He suggests that people would have a violent response to the box, an emotional response and an awareness of how much the box would be taking away from their lives.

The lesson here is about innovation, because innovation is effectively a kind of change. It may be a positive change, but, in general, people fear change. And as an innovator, you are introducing change somewhere – your workplace, your work colleagues, your family, your customers. As an innovator, if you are not aware of the change, or the ramifications of the change, then the innovation is likely to fail. For example, if you introduce a new innovation in the work place, then maybe your co-workers will resist the change, because they didn’t think of it. Your boss might be embarrassed because he didn’t think of the idea, so he might suppress the idea. So Innovation is more about sociology than technology. This can frustrate technologists, who may have a technically superior product, but it takes a long time for it to be “accepted”.

There is a book called “Diffusion of Innovations” by Evett M. Rogers, an anthropologist, which looks at “history of technological advancement from a sociological standpoint”. Rogers focused on why certain cultures adopted certain innovations. For example – why did one culture adopt clubs, another better cooking innovations, etc. From this, he concluded that it is culture that precipitates, or enables, innovation. A quote from his book is:

“The diffusion of innovation is a social process, based more on psychology and sociology than technology”.

If you want to instigate change, you have to ask “who is negatively affected by change, and how do I negotiate that?” “How do I persuade them, negotiate with them, convince them?” If you do not have answers to these questions, it may not matter how great your innovation is.

Berkun finished his presentation with a story about 3M. 3M stands for “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing”. Now, one of the best known products from 3M is the yellow Post-its. There does not seem to be much of a connection between yellow sticky notes, and the name “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing”. It is an amazing leap to go from mining to Post-its.

In the early 20th century, the Industrial revolution was still big. Machinery was a product of these, and for these steel is needed. A group of entrepreneurs in Minnesota decided they were going to start a mining company so that they could make grinding wheels. They bought a mine, and started mining, but it turned out that they mined the wrong mineral. They held a meeting, and decided to go in a different direction – sandpaper. With this came a new set of mistakes, and problems, but after about 5 years they started a profitable sandpaper company.

One of their sandpaper engineers, Richard Drew, was working on a project where he had prototypes of new types of sandpaper. He went to one of his customers – an automobile manufacture – who happen to have a problem painting their cars two tones (blue and grey). They didn’t have a reliable way of separating the two colours. Drew noticed this, and said that he could probably come up with a way to solve it. He goes back to 3M and starts working on prototypes. Eventually his boss, William McNight, tells him to start concentrating on 3M’s products. Drew does this, but is still busy with a solution for this problem, and carries on working on it. Several times he is told to get back to his real work. However he carries on with the problem, and eventually comes up with a prototype which he takes to the automobile company. They love it, so drew shows it to his boss who agrees that it is OK, and that is how Masking Tape originated. Drew would go on to invent cellophane tape (“scotch tape”/ “sellotape”)

The interesting part of this story is not what Drew achieved, but more how William McNight reacted. Sells of masking tape, and cellophane tape far exceed those of sandpaper. These new things became 3M’s most successful product lines. McNight acknowledge that he had screwed up. Originally he had wanted to stop the development of these products. He decided to change his business philosophy to encourage the Richard Drews, to encourage new ideas. So he changed the company, and the direction of the company, and eventually became CEO of 3M, and made this philosophy a core part the company philosophy.

Berkun displayed a three paragraph piece from a report McNight had written on 3M’s business philosophy:

As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility, and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative.

This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.

Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes that he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.

Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it’s essential that we have many people with initiatives if we are to continue to grow.

- William McKnight, 3M Chairman, 1948.

Berkun points out that this was from about years ago, and is hardly ever seen in action with other companies today.

The main things that McKnight is saying are:

  1. Delegation – trust that a employee will do the right thing.
  2. Mistakes will be made – innovation means risks, and risks mean mistakes – a commitment is needed that mistakes will be made, and allowed.
  3. Initiative –must be encouraged.

Google have a rule where employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time working on something innovative. However, 3M came up with the concept originally.

Berkun maintains that if McKnight’s philosophy is followed, then innovation will occur. And this is also on a personal level. People are “trained” to follow the rules, and not to make mistakes. If you want to be innovative, you need to find a way to allow yourself to make mistakes. To be less critical of their creative ideas, and to follow them further before trashing them. Also – being innovative is a personal responsibility. No one is going to say “OK – now break the rules”.

Innovation policy from an unexpected mine – 3M

There is a well known company with a background that is nowhere near the image we have of it today.

That company is 3M.

I saw a video the other day discussing innovation, and the story of 3M was discussed. I found the story very, very interesting, and very, very inspiring. (I intend to write a separate post about the video I saw soon, and will go into more detail about it then.)

3M – a company known through the world for…Postit sticky notes. And scotch tape, and many other useful products. Do you know what 3M stands for? – “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company“.

Yes – 3M started out as a mining company. It was set up in 1902, with the aim of mining material for grinding wheels. This didn’t pan out though (no pun intended), and so 3M changed direction to sandpaper.

One of 3M’s sandpaper engineers was a man called Dick Drew. Drew was at an automobile company one day with the goal of selling 3M’s product, when he became aware of a problem the company was having. Drew thought that he might have a solution, and went back to the 3M lab where he started experimenting.

Drew’s boss, William L McKnight, advised Drew to stop what he was doing and to get back to his normal job. Which Drew did. But not for long, Drew was so engrossed in finding a solution to the problem that the automobile company was having that it wasn’t long before he was experimenting again, and working on a solution.

Eventually, Dick Drew was successful. The problem the automobile company was having was this: Two-tone cars were popular then, but the effect required workers to mask certain parts of the auto body using a combination of heavy adhesive tape and butcher paper. After the paint dried, workers removed the tape – and often peeled away part of the new paint. Drew invented masking tape. That was 1925.

3M saw how enthusiastic the automobile company was about this new product, and started to produce it regularly. And William L. McKnight became President of the company. Later, in 1949, he became Chairman of the company. And in 1948 he developed his Business Policy:

As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance.
Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.
Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs. Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative.
And it’s essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow.

Now … I’ve been reading a lot lately about innovation. Nielsen published a report “First-Of-Its-Kind Study” where it reveals that “companies with less senior management involvement in the new product development process generate 80 percent more new product revenue than those with heavy senior management involvement.”

Looking at McKnight’s Business Policy, and you can see that, in 1948, he pointed out the same thing.