Tuesday, March 2, 2010

ThinkInnovation - The Newsletter, Issue 2

In the second edition of ThinkInnovation, we will explore the concept of ‘Real’ and ‘Fake’ work, and their implications on the types of innovation we create for our organisation and society……

A typical brainstorming session, one where participants are asked to think and write down ideas that may be considered as solutions for a given challenge, does not usually generate breakthrough ideas. While the session produces a good volume of ideas, the ratio between usual ideas and creative ideas leans towards those that are already largely known. This empirical observation points to the limits of typical brainstorming sessions in generating unique ideas.

Why do we face such dynamics? This is because most brainstorming sessions are organised as idea dumping rather than idea creation sessions. By idea dumping, participants are encouraged to recall and release ideas that they already had. This is far from doing idea creation. While we cannot discount the value of these ‘already had’ ideas, they are still nothing more than old ideas.
To generate real ideas in brainstorming sessions, we need techniques that force us to think outside the box and Visual Connection is an ideation technique, which ideas are triggered from words associated with images………
Read more >

A few years back, on a wet and cold December afternoon, someone asked me a question, "Anthony, is asking the participants how they feel about the facilitator or trainer, delivery of the course content, ambience of the training venue, and quality of the refreshments a good way in helping me determine whether I should continue running a programme with a particular vendor?"

“Yes”, I said without hesitation. "After all, is this not how the industry reports the 'Return of Investment' of the workshops, training courses and developmental programmes it conducts for its clients?"

A month later, I was not so sure. I think there is another way to do this - a way where we could look beyond the 'impression management' and focus on real training outcomes and results. Less about blaming the trainers or facilitators for a failed performance and more about looking at the failure holistically and examining the role the organisation has to play in enabling transference of learning back at the workplace…………
Read more >

Recently, I have delivered a 3-day Strategic Planning Workshop, using the principles of 'Real Work', to a group of managers from a large public sector organisation.

This is an interesting workshop. It shows that we work very hard to produce results without realising that the outcomes that we are producing have nothing to do with moving the organisation one step closer to its vision.

Brent Peterson and Gaylan Nielson, the authors for ‘Why People Are Working Harder than Ever but Accomplishing Less, and How to Fix the Problem’, called this kind of activities 'Fake Work' because it is not aligned to any of the key strategic thrusts of the organisation and it contributes nothing towards the organisation’s long term goals. We are busy to show that we are productive. We are busy so that no one accuses us of skiving. We are busy so that management thinks we are worth the money it pays us. We are busy because we are busy. This is a business that wastes energy, time and money.

'Real Work' is activities that create an impact in securing the future of the organisation. Most of us could easily distinguish the theoretical differences between the two kinds of work. However, few of us know how to do 'Real Work' and stay away from 'Fake Work'.

Find out more about 'Fake Work' and what it means to be doing 'Real Work'.............. Watch this >

It is not natural that teams will succeed. They need to be really set up for success. Balanced Dynamics InnovationTM is a proven approach that has helped organisations increase their propensity in getting innovative solutions from their innovation teams. The approach addresses the challenges of bringing the right capabilities and capacities into the team and at the same time overcoming the difficulties of keeping the team members, with very diverse backgrounds, long enough to bring their innovative solutions to the market.

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to:

  • Gain important insights into your team’s current work preferences and dynamics. We all display different preferences at work. Some of us prefer to think while others prefer to do. Our work preference affects the way our team mates perceive us and impact the ways we contribute to our teams. So, what is your work preference? Do this quiz and find uncover your 'Work Preference Profile' at work
  • Uncover the key missing skills that affect your team’s resilience. The ‘Linking Skills Profile may reveal what is missing in your skill set……….Do this Quiz >
  • Leverage on the capabilities of your team to identify opportunities for innovation
  • Use your Challenge Statements to visually connecting to your ideas
  • Reach a consensus over the ideas that are most suitable for the Challenge
  • Win by identifying the Force Fields that may derail your innovative project

When we do improvements to a product, service or any other things, we are making an attempt to increase or reduce something related to it. This could be an increase in terms of the product or service's performance or its consistency in delivering its desired outcomes or the value the creation process brings to the consumers. Improvement could also come in the form of a decrease in the externalities the product or service brings to the environment or society, or a reduction in the complexities of moving it through its value chain or in lowering of prices the consumers have to bear for these products and services.

There will be costs in bringing about these benefits and the organisation will continue commit to doing improvement up to the point where the costs of the improvement equals to the benefits derived from it. This means that there are real diminishing returns in all kinds of continuous improvement.

However, what is the driver for this and what could we do given this reality? To appreciating these, we have to first understand the natural laws that govern the technologies that create……
Read more and post a comment >

By extending the concepts of 'Fake Work' to the other aspects of our lives, we should begin to notice that there are all kinds of work that we have busily manufactured around us that are utterly meaningless and useless.

We may have worked towards a professional qualification because we were sold to the idea that it will increase our chances of receiving a promotion and better renumerations without knowing how the knowledge and skills gained from the programme is going to significantly enhance our overall potential for employability in the long run. We may have being hopping from one life coach to another to look for guidance to transform our lives without realising that we are borned whole and complete, and are capable doing great things. We may have worked very hard to complete a project within the given budget and deadline only to find that it could not exponentíally position the organisation in the market better than it was before. These work are all fake. Our efforts contribute nothing to our own well-being and that of our society, organisation, and economy.
We may be seen to be innovating even though in our heart we know that we are just dressing up our products and services with improvements to pass them off as innovations no matter how seriously important a real innovation meant to the life and death of your organisation.

So, have you being faking work in your efforts to innovate?

Here is a self-assessment instrument which may help you find out if you have been 'Faking’ your work for innovation……………................................ Download and complete this >

The second edition of ThinkInnovation is created and produced by Anthony Mok on 16 Jan 2010.
Copyright 2010. Anthony Mok. All Rights Reserved.

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