innovation excellence weekly - issue 35
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DESCRIPTIONWe are proud to announce our 35th Innovation Excellence Weekly for Slideshare. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the world's most popular innovation web site and home to 5,500+ innovation-related articles.
May 31, 2013
Issue 35 May 31, 2013
1. Language is Killing Our Ability to Innovate ................................................... Lyden Foust
2. Entrepreneurs Define Risk Differently ...... Deborah Mills-Scofield
3. Its Time to Engage with Employee Engagement ............ Holly G Green
4. modelH Health Model Co-Creation Forum (part 4)........... Kevin Riley
5. Eight Innovation Drivers for our Innovating Future ....... Paul Hobcraft
6. Acceleration is King ......... Mike Shipulski
7. 8 Step Process Perfects New Product Development .... Robert F Brands
8. 10 Lessons from Tribecas Disruptive Innovation Awards ..... Julie Anixter
9. Innovation Lessons from the Rise of Tesla Motors ...... Tim Kastelle
10. Innovation: Lost in Translation .......... Jeffrey Phillips
Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and
strategic advisors to many of the worlds leading companies.
Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making
innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.
Cover Image credit: johntalks.wordpress.com
Language Is Killing Our Ability to Innovate
Posted on May 26, 2013 by Lyden Foust
There are many inventions whose origins we simply cannot trace. One glaringly obvious, yet equally elusive innovation is
that of the spoken word. Before we had language, we made sense of the world through pictures, sounds, and smells.
Humans estimated time by looking at the position of the sun, and gained a sense of direction by looking at landmarks. We
can get a pretty good glimpse at what was going on in peoples lives by looking at pictures etched into cave walls.
The use of images to make sense of the world is perhaps our most primitive form of intelligence.
Eventually we developed the capacity for language as a form of communication. This made our brains highly flexible and
intelligent. Through crisp communication the human race became more efficient. We were able to organize quickly with
minimal friction. Somewhere along the line however, a problem began to develop. Since words were such an effective
medium for communication, we started relying heavily on them. In the process, we began to lose connection with the
The problem with grammar is that it locks us into certain ways of thinking about things. In other words, if there are no
words for certain concepts, we tend not to think about them. This means a key component of successful innovation is our
ability to think beyond the constraints of language.
There is even current research being done at Yale University that shows that language affects peoples inclination to
save money because of the way in which the communicate present and past tense, making the future seem closer or
Be Able to Switch Between Visual & Verbal Communication
Language is a wonderful tool, but is often too tight and constricting when communicating a concept that cannot yet be
captured in words. Sometimes it is better to tap into the multi-layered forms of visual intelligence in our brain.
Those who are truly creative have developed the ability to think beyond language. There are a swath of inventors and
entrepreneurs that swear by the process of visualizing problems. The picture of the periodic table came to chemist Dmitri
Mendeleev in a dream, and Richard Branson is known for leaving trash cans full of napkin sketches. Albert Einstein once
wrote The words of language as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought.
As technology improves, and problems get continually more abstract, a new design-centric approach to problem solving is
emerging. The use of images, diagrams, and models can help reveal patterns of thinking and new directions you can take
that would be hard to imagine exclusively in words.
Human working memory is limited. We can only keep in mind several pieces of information at the same time. However,
humans have a remarkable ability to remember pictures. An experiment decades ago shows that people can remember
more than 2,000 pictures with at least 90% accuracy in recognition tests.
This is not really that surprising. Before the invention of language, the ability to remember various aspects of ones
environment was vital for survival. Our capacity for remembering pictorial material is well developed and superior to verbal
recognition. So why are we still presenting Powerpoints with loads of text & numbers?
Put it to work
The hand brain connection is something deeply wired within us. When attempting to sketch an idea, we must observe it
closely, gaining a feel through our fingers on how to bring it to life.
When you are trying to solve a hard problem, think beyond words. Here are a few prompts for things you could visualize.
Is there a way you could depict all the stakeholders in a process, what are their needs? What do your next three months
look like? Three years? Thirty years? Could you create a mental map of your to do list? What are all the possible
outcomes of a negotiation, could it be a mix? What does your supply chain look like? Have you tried mind mapping a
presentation or a meeting?
Revert to your most primal form of intelligence, visualize the problem, and watch the solution illuminate before your eyes.
Image note: I have included the mind map I used to write this essay.
Lyden Foust is a Research & Innovation Associate at The SEEK Company. A student practitioner of design strategy, Lyden
is fueled by relentless sense of curiosity, and a desire to improve lives through innovation. His scrappy attitude has driven
him to found and expand a successful business before graduating college & to curate the first TEDxXavierUniversity.
Entrepreneurs Define Risk Differently
Posted on May 25, 2013 by Deborah Mills-Scofield
Most people think entrepreneurs are willing to take on more risk than
the average person. Ive often wondered if thats really true. After
almost three decades of working with large corporations and
entrepreneurs, Ive developed a theory.
Now, this theory hasnt been vetted with controlled experiments and
testing. It is based solely on experiential and intuitive data drawn
from my life experiences. For instance, I have 12 years of working
with entrepreneurs as an early-stage venture capitalist; 19 years working for a large corporation (Bell Labs & AT&T) and
consulting to their multi-national, multi-billion dollar customers; 10 years of mentoring entrepreneurs; and created a carve-
out start-up within AT&T.
Heres my theory: most entrepreneurs arent more risk-o-philic than anyone else they just define
For some Ive known, the risk of losing autonomy and control of ones destiny was far riskier than losing guaranteed
income and benefits. Working for someone elses company, reporting to a boss, and living under rules they werent sure
made sense were a lot riskier than creating their own business. The risk of not pursuing their passion, of not making a
meaningful and significant impact on the world around them, feels much riskier than starting their own venture.
For them, risk isnt as defined by losing tangibles (e.g., income, benefits, stuff) as it is by losing intangibles: fulfilling a
passion that wont let go, defining their own sense of purpose, sating their own curiosity, looking themselves in the mirror.
The difference here is between risking outputs and outcomes. Outputs (such as products, profits, etc) are necessary
and good, but they have their most profound effect when driving significant, palpable outcomes like reducing chronic
pain, creating a prosthetic leg for an Olympic runner, or inventing an app that eliminates a time-consuming task. Most of
the entrepreneurs Ive worked with would gladly risk a few outputs for an outcome they believe in.
For many entrepreneurs, another critical risk worth taking is making themselves vulnerable in order achieve the outcomes
they envision. As John Hagel has said, the risk of embarrassment, ridicule, skepticism, perhaps even humiliation is
much less than the risk of not putting oneself out there to try. Anthony Tjan astutely summarized it this way: The
willingness to be vulnerable isnt driven by the desire for exposure, but by the possibility of what that exposure might lead
to be it a meaningful role, the possibility to affect change, and, of course, greater financial gain.
Ive seen, heard, and felt so many entrepreneurs intense passion and purpose for the outcomes they want to create. It is
what defines who they are and why theyre here. I know that risk-reward equation. While food, shelter, education, and
health matter a lot, I need to see outcomes when I look my children, husband, friends and clients in the eye, not just
outputs. If I dont see a positive, wonderful impact on their lives and the lives they are responsible for and encounter, then
my life was just a series of outputs maybe even large ones but not outcomes; and I will have failed tragically.
While this is a theory ripe for a more scientific validation, Im pret