Archive for December, 2009

Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast

December 30th, 2009

We need to try more stuff.  Innovation is never about silver bullets. It’s about experimentation and doing whatever it takes, even if it means trying 1000 things, to deliver value.

Making progress on the real issues of our time including health care, education, and energy will require a lot more experimentation than we are comfortable with today.  These are all systems challenges that will require systems solutions.  Tweaking the current systems will not work.  Technology as a sustaining innovation may improve the efficiency of current systems but will not result in the transformation that we all know is needed.  We need to learn how to leverage technology for disruptive innovation and to experiment at the systems level.

My mantra is Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast. The imperative for all innovators is R&D for business models and systems.  We know how to do R&D for new products and technologies.  We need to also do R&D for new business models and systems.  It is not technology that is getting in the way, it is humans and the intransigent organizations we live in that are both stubbornly resistant to change. We have plenty of technology available to us. We need to learn how to leverage it to open up transformative ways to deliver value.  Designing and experimenting with new system approaches, particularly those that cut across sectors and silos, is the path to the transformation that we need.  We must design around the end user and learn how to harness the potential of social media platforms and storytelling to enable purposeful networks. Read more

Dribs and Drabs

December 14th, 2009

images12Drip, drip, drip.  One comment on a blog post. One re-tweet of a point of view. One new Facebook friend.  You might not even realize while it is happening but over time an audience is developing that is genuinely interested in what you have to say and gives you permission to share it.  Individuals are learning how to share their stories and gaining confidence by participating actively in social networks. Personal networks have become the new marketing channels and marketing has become the art of dribs and drabs.  The problem is that most organizations haven’t figured it out yet.

I believe the marketing model of companies deploying large internal teams of marketing specialists supported by even larger external advertising and public relations firms is dead.   Watching the series Mad Men reminds me of how little the advertising and communications industry has changed from a model that is clearly being disrupted by the new world of social media. Read more

Wanted: Mad Designers

December 7th, 2009

images11Maybe we need to bang together the heads of mad scientists and mad designers.

If we are waiting for randomized double blind studies to tell us how to address the big social system challenges of our time including health care, education, and energy we will be waiting a very long time.  That is not how we will transform these systems.  It will take passionate exploration, which is more iterative than traditional scientific methodology.  It will take design thinking and process combined with powerful storytelling to create novel networked systems to deliver the value we need and expect in the 21st century.  We need to try more stuff.

Last week I spoke at the Business of Aging: Ontario Innovation Summit in Toronto.  It was a great event attended by many innovators from across the public and private sector.  Attendees all shared a passion for focusing innovation on the opportunity emerging as the silver tsunami of an aging global population rapidly approaches.  I shared my point of view on the need to do R&D for new business models and systems and our work at BIF in the Elder Experience Lab.  As I always do, I blathered on about design and storytelling tools as the key enablers to system change, in this case developing age friendly environments and communities. Read more