High tech seems to be on everyones lips - but should this be the same for innovation?
In this blog, we share why technology shouldn’t be the start of your problem solving, and how being a 'tight arse' can actually help you to innovate.
I hope you’ve been marching through this month and still managing some time to innovate. If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been hiding in the last several months, I haven’t been hiding anywhere rather I’ve been working hard immersed with a number of organisations around the globe helping them with their innovation. I’m an introvert and when ever I’ve got back home off a plane, rather than catch up with everyone to tell them what I’ve been up to, I found myself flying in my hang-glider to recharge and get a fresh perspective on things.
What I’ve loved about this time (let’s call it a secondment of sorts) working so deeply with other organisations is how much better my understanding has become of the clients and people I help, just like you. Being a consultant, speaker and author can at times keep you at arms lengths from the real world that so many of you face day to day. My last 12 months adventures has chopped those arms off and then some.
Whilst I’m not at liberty to say what top secret programs I’ve been working on and who I’ve been working with, what I can share is there are some universal challenges that exist around innovation and most of them are relatively easy to deal with. What gets in the way however are components such as lack of time, lack of support and lack of training. The good new is these can all be dealt with, and once dealt with, innovation can become an everyday part of your life.
More and more organisations seem hell bent on making their world more complex. Whether this is a result of having too much time on our hands or simply needing to justify why we do what we do, we end up making things much more complex than they need to be.
An example of this is the common desire to make every solution a 'high tech' solution. Yes technology and automation can make many tasks faster and easier, yet only if we have refined the design and principles behind them from the start. You’re more than likely to be very familiar with the term 'high tech - high touch'. A term I am using at present is 'no tech - high smarts'. What that essentially means is rather than default to look for an available technology to solve a problem, we should instead solve the problem first with good ideas and then look at technology as a possible means to executing it.
Recently an organisation I had just started to work with had been looking to build an innovation space to prototype ideas. Their intention was to build a ‘rapid prototyping space’. The initial solution they came up with was to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on the latest 3D printing equipment and buy some fancy pants furniture. While the intentions were good, the focus was all on 'high tech' versus 'smarts'. Part of the 'unlearning' that needed to happen for them was to ask 'why do they want to rapidly prototype?'
Their response was “to test ideas quickly”. After a little more digging what we established that they wanted was to have the ability to build and share an idea quickly. They didn’t need the 3D printers for that, what they needed was 'low tech' arts and crafts materials and a space that would enable them to glue things together and build concept prototypes that would communicate their ideas. Once they got their head around that concept they found that they could take a leaf out of the ‘maker’ movement and create their own maker lab to help facilitate quick assembly of materials to convey a new idea.
The solution was 'low tech, high smart'. It was cheap, fast and commercially successful. Just what the CFO wanted.
In the coming posts you’ll find some big changes. We’ve been expanding and have some cool new people on board (people much smarter and funnier than I am) and we’re giving ourselves a new coat of paint and changing names from Innovation Blueprint to Ideas with Legs. We’ve got a series of great events lined up for this year and we can’t wait to connect with you again.
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