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This blog posts to the IAOIP membership to keep members up-to-date on happenings at the IAOIP and throughout the innovation community. We will invite guest bloggers regularly. If you would like to contribute, send your contribution and preferred blog date to brett@iaoip.org.

 

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Blue hair and rainbows; zombies and smart companies

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017

A friend of mine, Kate Boyd, wrote a recent LinkedIn post about her five-year-old daughter saying “blue hair is just pretty cool.” She went on to talk about that her daughter, and son (blue cupcakes), have both proposed blue-related activities: “Why? Because it was cool. Neither are blue fans. These were not costumes or themes. There was no deep commentary on their personal perspectives on life. There was no ROI on the blueness.”


Why? Because it was cool. Neither are blue fans. These were not costumes or themes. There was no deep commentary on their personal perspectives on life. There was no ROI on the blueness.


When I look at zombie organizations I don’t see much blue hair and cupcake thinking. The reasons for that are pretty clear to me:

  • Our schools kill any “out of the box” thinking - see this wonderful TED talk by Sir Robinson (https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity )

  • Our organizations are set up to keep everyone in their “box” - so we have zombie organizations shambling forward in a straight-line


The result is disengaged employees (almost 70% according to Gallup). And that contributes to the inability of companies to adapt quickly enough to the changing, digital, world around them.


I say we need more blue hair and cupcakes. In fact, I think we need more colour on (and in) everything! But to do that we need smarter schools and to build smarter organizations where a rainbow of thinking is not just accepted but treasured.

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Meet Gordon Vala-Webb

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017
Gordon Vala-Webb is author of Building Smarter Organizations (available through Elevate Publishing or Amazon) and is an innovation professional, organization transformer, and an award-winning knowledge management practitioner and thought leader. Previous roles he has held include National Director of Innovation and Information at McMillan LLP, National Director of Knowledge Management for PwC Canada, and Cabinet Office Policy Advisor (Ontario). Gordon is a member of the Board of Directors of the IAOIP; he holds a Master’s degree in the Management of Technology. Gordon lives in Toronto, Canada.

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A Classic Dilemma: Go to the Moon, or Go to the Grocery Store?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Here’s an innovation story that follows a very familiar plot line, but the plot is so important that it provides an important reminder.

In an interview with a company’s new CEO, a reporter tells us, the company has … “combined breathtaking engineering to create a whole bunch of amazing prototypes.  But they rarely make it to market.  That’s because, over the last two decades, its culture has grown so competitive and insular, more consumed with getting and protecting an edge than pushing into riskier new businesses.”

Does this sound familiar?  It’s the story of almost every successful business, where the balance between protecting the established core markets, and pioneering new ones, becomes a high stakes poker game played inside the company, with various camps competing for innovation, development, and marketing resources, and the established units almost always win.

The article goes on to say … “People were motivated to produce things they knew their managers would like, rather than take risks on new ideas that might fail.  The company’s money-minting core offerings sucked up talent and attention while newer ideas got overlooked.”

But what we all know is that the established units win for a while, until major shifts in the market leave them flat-footed.  In fact, this situation is so common, the reporter goes on to note that “It has become accepted wisdom in Silicon Valley that large, successful tech companies can’t reinvent themselves.  Many have attempted to engineer comebacks, and the industry is teeming with failed empires that have evolved into middling businesses on the decline.”

Is this a story about HP?  Or Blackberry?  Or Yahoo?  It could be any of those.

Actually, though, this article is about Microsoft.  It’s a great piece in the latest Wired, a profile on the new CEO Satya Nadella.  The article is quite sympathetic to Nadella’s task, and frames him as a smart and sensitive executive who could well succeed in the monumental task that he is confronted with.

Nadella himself describes three layers of critical organizational performance, Concepts, Capabilities, and Culture, and notes that while Microsoft is awash in great concepts, “You need a culture that is fundamentally not opposed to new concepts and new capabilities.”

While “Not fundamentally opposed” puts the bar pretty low, he has a good point, and it certainly frames the work that he wil need to be doing in the coming weeks and months.

The next article that I’d like to read is about the how.  That is, How does Nardella expect to achieve this in the Redmond behemoth?  The Wired article unfortunately doesn’t say much about that.  But we do.  This is squarely in the InnovationLabs competence area, and we’ve written about it extensively, including in the two books mentioned to the right, Agile Innovation and The Innovation Master Plan.

Among the case studies we cover in Agile are Wells Fargo, Nike, and NASA’s Apollo Program, each tackling a different variation on the same situation, and each providing new insights.

At Wells Fargo, it’s about how to take risks in a highly regulated and controlled banking environment that is nevertheless subject to monumental forces of change; Steve Ellis gives us the metaphor of snowboarding to explain how he makes the organziation move faster.

At Nike, it’s about pushing a massive volume of new products out into the market, and then listening carefully to find out where there is resonance, and shifting even the brand identity when the company and the market become out of sync.

And for Apollo, it’s about how thousands of engineers and scientists created something of monumental scale, something that had absolutely never been done before – the moon landings – while balancing innovativeness and control.

Nadella is facing a task that has elements of all of these stories, and we will be fascinated to witness the new chapters as time, history, and the market write them.

PHOTO:  Buzz Aldrin on the moon.  Photo by Neil Armstrong.  Courtesy of NASA.

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Meet Langdon Morris

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Langdon Morris is one of IAOIP's board members as well as being a co-founder and Senior Partner at InnovationLabs LLC, and leads the firm's global innovation consulting practice for a wide variety of clients in business, government, and the non-profit sector. His work focuses on developing and applying advanced methods in innovation and strategy to solve complex problems with very high levels of creativity. He is also a founding partner of FutureLab Consulting, a strategy and technology firm that offers advanced solutions for global enterprises. He is recognized as one the world’s leading thinkers and consultants on innovation, and his original and ground-breaking work has been adopted by corporations and universities on every continent to help them improve their innovation processes and the results they achieve. His breakthrough white paper, Business Model Warfare is a landmark in the field, and is used as a standard reference at universities and corporations worldwide. His book Fourth Generation R&D, coauthored with William L. Miller, is considered a classic in the field of R&D management, and his more recent books The Innovation Master Plan and Permanent Innovation are recognized among the leading innovation books of the last 5 years. He is formerly Senior Practice Scholar at the Ackoff Center of the University of Pennsylvania. He has also taught MBA courses in innovation and strategy at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris and Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, and has lectured at universities on 4 continents, including Rochester Institute of Technology, Chaoyang University of Technology (Taiwan), Conservatoire Nationale des Arts et Métiers (Paris), University of Colorado, University of North Carolina, and Shanghai Jao Tong University (China). Langdon is the author, co-author, or editor of ten acclaimed books on Strategy and Innovation, with editions in Chinese (traditional and simplified), Japanese, Korean, and French.

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The latest from the president

Posted By Evan Shellshear, Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Updated: Friday, April 14, 2017

Dear Member, It would be an understatement to say that it has been an exciting month for the Association. We held our annual conference in Washington, DC at the incredible Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Center (Thank you Booz Allen Hamilton!), and saw the single most impressive member gain in the history of the Association as well as the addition of a new special interests group, Anti Human Trafficking. Also a big congratulations of our winner of the $100 gift card, Amy Arden, for answering our survey on what her experience of Innova Con was like!

New Members

In March, we added 117 new members and we are now just a few members short of 1,000 in 54 countries. Notable new corporate members include By Light Professional IT Services and Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport. To contact either of these new corporate members, check the directory in the website.

Innova Con Road Show

After the phenomenal success of Innova Con, IAOIP is now considering to do a roadshow to offer in person preparation and certification for the exams in the form of a conference tailored to your company. This would be a unique opportunity to bring the innovation conference in house and run the event with your employees and other members of the IAOIP community. We have limited availability to do this and a lot of interest, so if you and your company are interested, then please register your interest as soon as possible by answering what business and city it would happen at and how many people would come along here: http://www.iaoip.org/surveys/default.asp?id=IAOIP_Roadshow.

Your Webinars

For the next several months, watch for several new webinars to be announced. This coming month we'll be answering the question, do you have a zombie organisation? Don't know? Well find out in Gordon Vala Webb's webinar why many organizations are like zombies - just stumbling along and all going in the same direction. You'll learn 7 practical things you can do to accelerate the flow you need so your organization doesn't remain 1 of the undead. It promises to be great! Sign up here: http://www.iaoip.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=954710&group=. As usual, they are free for professional members and inexpensive for associate members. To register, go to the IAOIP website, check the calendar, and sign in. Also, please remember that all webinars are archived. If you would like to listen to an archived webinar, log into the store and see what’s available. The inventory will be growing significantly this year, so check back often. Also, as usual, if there is a topic you would like us to explore, please let me know.

The Easy Way To Certification

Due to the demand from members, we will begin sending out sections of the certification material to help everyone with learning to become a certified innovation professional. We have broken up the content of the body of knowledge and will be sending out a section once a month to everyone to help with learning as well as some practice questions. Happy learning!

Call For Papers

For anyone with a paper ready on the topic of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education Sector, then I highly recommend you submit it to the International Journal of Innovation Science here: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ijins. If you don’t have an account you can create on after clicking on the link. We are running a special issue on the topic and the deadline is the 18th of May, 2017.

Best, Brett Trusko, President IAOIP and Evan Shellshear, Author of Innovation Tools

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Focusing your energy where it counts

Posted By Evan Shellshear, Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” — John F. Kennedy  

The Rule of Innovation Number One: 85% of your focus should be on the solution and 15% on the problem. The goal of this rule is to make sure that you are heading toward what you truly want, not away from what you don't want. I think it is an important principle but it seems other deep thinkers such as Albert Einstein would claim the opposite when they said "If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution."

So why the discrepancy between my “Rule of Innovation Number One” and Albert Einstein’s 91% on the problem and 9% on the solution? Maybe I could have better stated that 85% of your focus should be on the creation and 15% on the current reality. It seems to be something which people find difficult to grasp. So, let me reverse Dr. Einstein’s quote to my way of thinking (I know very arrogant, but it worked for Niels Bohr), “If I only had one hour to create a world that didn’t need saving I would focus 10 minutes on my creation and 50 minutes defining what would help or hinder me from bring my creation into reality while I’m executing the plan.” 

According to Robert Fritz this is a simple Tension-Resolution system that gives rise to an impetuous for action. Instead of moving away from what I don’t want I’m moving toward what I do want. There is far more energy in really wanting a new creation to come into being than “reducing the pain of what you do not want.”  Once the pain is reduced enough then you quit working it, only for it to rear its ugly little head again later.

This is an important principle that appears again and again. In brainstorming, in design-led innovation and many more places. The general lesson is to focus your energy where it counts and it counts most doing what you want and making it have an impact. The hard thing which design-led innovation and other best practices teach us is to find the thing which will have the greatest impact!

John Wolverton

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Meet John Wolverton

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017
Meet a member of the board, John Wolverton: John Wolverton is a cynic (defined as a frustrated idealist): Eagle Scout, Retired GS-15, Retired Full Bird Air Force Colonel and believes in doing the right thing to better the quality of life for those around him. Innovating/creating is one path to achieving that goal. Started out in Research & Development, moved into manufacturing and then putting that technology to bed to make room for the next generation technology. During my 37 years of innovation and creativity I discovered there are no “eureka moments” where everything becomes clear by a random event. I’m an avid reader that has read hundreds of books across multiple topics, everyone was about “Innovation” and a majority of those books didn’t have innovation in the title. So I can create solutions to almost every challenge, the question is “do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far is as needed” to bring that creation into really?

Tags:  Wolverton 

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Technical Innovation versus Social Progress: Illusion of Technological Development

Posted By Administration, Sunday, February 12, 2017
Updated: Friday, January 27, 2017

Technical Innovation versus Social Progress: Illusion of Technological Development



The future of innovation


This piece discusses key ideas linking possible over-emphasis on technical innovations at the expense of social innovations that are necessary for long term human survival. It suggests that enough innovation must continue to be developed to achieve a minimum threshold of co evolution and co development across the human species. This would safeguard the higher achievements of the cutting edge innovations from the drag of the societal laggards. Finally, the piece adds to the debate on the danger of technological convergence versus the possible security in innovating for deliberate diversity.

Exploits of technical innovation


Human beings have maintained their position at the head of the top table of the animal kingdom, through discovery and innovation over millions of years. Thus, humans have achieved great strides in shelter, health, agriculture, transport and communication; among many other areas of endeavour. One would wish this stayed so for eternity. Contemporary global society is awash with innovative processes, machinery and devices. The explosion of communication channels, media, and content has created a pervasive ocean of choices for work, play and pleasure. This technical innovation is a powerful testimony to the unlimited capacity of the human mind and the power of its imagination. The evolving options for the onward march of the innovation drive may very well depend on some key considerations such as those discussed in the following paragraphs.

The challenge of social progress to innovation practitioners


It would appear that many of the innovations in human history were spurred directly by the need for security, shelter, food and comfort. Over time, in the fashion of Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”, humans developed innovations that sought greater entertainment and pleasure. Inequalities between continents, regions, countries, communities, families and individuals have grown. The United Nations recognises a “digital divide” as the developing chasm between the “haves” and “have nots” of the contemporary connected society. Innovation efforts must necessarily take these issues to mind. Most of the “have nots” live constantly under the discomfort and pain of thirst, hunger, disease, war, terrorism, and homelessness. Both the “haves” and “have nots” share the threat of one, or combinations of, the following disasters; climate change, earthquakes, volcanoes, severe storms of one name or another. Modern innovators need to keep sufficient focus on the long term survival of the human race as a whole. Below a certain level of universal co-evolution or co-development there will be an overall deterioration in quality of human life and inevitable evolutionary retrogression, in effect an illusion of technological development.

Security in diversity and danger in convergence.   


The connectedness between human beings, and between human beings and machines, is a double-edged sword that holds interesting challenges for innovators. The timeline of life on earth, both plant and animal, has been marked by the endless diversity that nature creates – hedging against failure of any particular lifeform or organic platform. Contemporary innovations appear to be focusing on convergence, with the possible danger of universal vulnerability. It may well be necessary to take heed of nature’s own diversity formula, mutation, by deliberately creating offshoots of technological innovations that are deliberately counter-intuitive or patently without current use in order to hedge against vulnerability. For the same reason, enough innovations must continue to be developed to strengthen the human organism itself, for its own independent survival rather than direct dependence on machinery.

Pivoting innovation on social progress


It may well be that the long term survival of the human race will depend on innovations that raise the average happiness and robustness of the human race and deliberately creates diversity and divergence. When practitioners of innovation carry out their ideation exercises it may be necessary to seed their ideas with deliberate creative mutations that lead us further from the centre rather than towards the common technological platforms. While the mainstream continues in the common direction, a sufficient few ought to pursue these mutations of imagination and maybe create brand new survival niches for humanity. We could call such counter-intuitive innovation practitioners, thinkinists.

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Meet Nesbert Mutare

Posted By Administration, Sunday, February 12, 2017
Updated: Friday, January 27, 2017
Nesbert Mutare is a born tinkerer with insatiable curiosity for all things science and engineering. His first degree is in mining engineering and that gave him a career lasting twenty eight years in Zimbabwe’s mining industry. In that time, he developed into a fully-qualified, self-starting, mining engineering executive with the last eight years spent as General Manager/CEO of a medium-sized mining company. He has a complete portfolio of experience in all facets of mining production, management, administration and leadership. Along the way he obtained a degree in computer science and information technology and in practice has developed a specialisation in systems modelling and operational optimisation. Nesbert obtained a masters in strategic management and has extensive experience in strategic planning and change management. He is an experienced innovation specialist recognized through an award in Zimbabwe in 2005. He has top level English language skills, writing fiction, to the extent of being referenced in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature in 1986. Nesbert retired from the mining industry in 2016, at the age of 52, to set up the Thinkinium Innovation Institute, in Redcliff, Zimbabwe, where he focuses on research, development, and promotion in the areas of science, engineering, technology and innovation. His key role is in addressing difficult organizational or technical challenges and developing innovative solutions for them. He calls himself a thinkinist. He consults in all these areas and has also been a part-time university lecturer in mining engineering for eleven years. When Nesbert is not doing science and engineering work he spends his time on his goat ranch where he keeps Boer meat goats.

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Newsletter Message From The President

Posted By Administration, Saturday, February 4, 2017
Dear Member, Consistent with our goal to continuously enhance the value of your IAOIP membership, we have significantly improved the job board. Whenever you go to the job board after January 17, you should see it routinely populated with more than two dozen open positions. To be honest, it may be many, many more. If you are a student or job seeker, this is a great place to find your next professional opportunity. You will also note that we have decided not to hold this year’s Innova-Con in Toronto. There are many reasons for this, but primarily because we wanted to hold an event that better fit our personality. Accordingly, we will be rescheduling the event very soon. Note that we are still supporters of ISPIM and you can receive a discount if you want to attend their event in Toronto. A third update is that the event committee is working hard, not only on the conference, but on adding webinars to the site. As usual, webinars are free for members, but $30 for non-members. If you know anyone who would benefit from the webinars, please let them know that the current one is in the store as along with archives of the old ones. A fourth important update is the formation of the UAE Chapter, based in the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce. This makes our fourth country level chapter with several others still in process. In addition, the UAE chapter brings 230 new memberships, primarily from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It is an exciting development in the story of your organization. Thanks for supporting the IAOIP with your membership and watch for more important changes coming over the next six months. Best, Brett Trusko, President IAOIP and Evan Shellshear, Author of Innovation Tools

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