Innovation Process

August 7, 2017 | Author: Noé Rafael Colorado Sósol | Category: Apollo Program, Innovation, Banks, Sales, Creativity
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Book 1

The Innovation Process Energizing values-centered innovation from start to finish

By William C. Miller

INNOVATION CONVERSATIONS A Series of Three Books on Values-Centered Innovation Book 1 The Innovation Process Energizing values-centered innovation from start to finish Book 2* Innovation Styles® Stimulating innovative thinking throughout the entire innovation process Book 3* The Climate and Culture for Innovation Fostering values-centered innovation in the everyday workplace *To be released in 2008

Acknowledgements I wish to thank my wife Debra for hours of conversation, as well as her editing, which significantly raised the clarity of my thought, insight and writing. My appreciation also goes to Alain Rostain for twelve years of productive collaboration, and Jatin Desai for helping to bring values-centered innovation into the world. Finally, I am grateful to Georgia Stelluto, my editor at IEEE-USA, for helping propel this book into being. Published and Hosted by IEEE-USA. Copyright © 2007 by William C. Miller. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. Edited by Georgia C. Stelluto, IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Cover design and layout by Josie Thompson, Thompson Design IEEE-USA eBooks presents this special edition of William C. Miller’s book in collaboration with the IEEE-USA Innovation Institute and IEEE-USA’s Employment and Career Services Committee. It is made possible by a special dues assessment of IEEE members residing in the United States. Copying this material in any form is not permitted without prior written approval from the IEEE-USA Publishing Manager; write to [email protected] Creative JourneyTM and Values-Centered InnovationTM are trademarks of the Global Creativity Corporation. Innovation Styles® is a registered trademark of the Global Creativity Corporation.

INNOVATION CONVERSATIONS Book 1 The Innovation Process Energizing values-centered innovation from start to finish Introduction — The Art and Discipline of Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 PART I — Starting Your Innovation Conversations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Chapter 1 — What Is Innovation? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Chapter 2 — Innovation and Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Chapter 3 — Models of the Innovation Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Chapter 4 — The Creative JourneyTM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Chapter 5 — Your Creative Journey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 PART II — Expanding Your Innovation Conversations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 Chapter 6 — Taking on a Challenge Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Chapter 7 — Focusing Together on What It Takes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Chapter 8 — Finding Innovative Solutions Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 Chapter 9 — Completing the Journey Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 Chapter 10 — Being a SPIRITED Leader of Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89 Epilogue — Making a Difference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95

William manages to do the nearly impossible — taking topics as ethereal as spirituality and elusive as creativity, and transforming them into practical tools for revitalizing organizations. — Jim Kouzes, Chairman of Tom Peters Learning Systems Co-author of The Leadership Challenge


The Innovation Process

Introduction P

The Art and Discipline of Innovation

erhaps the most significant epic journey of modern times is not found in literature, but in the real-time voyage of man into space — walking on the moon, seeing the earth against the backdrop of the universe, and bringing that extraordinary shift of perspective back to the planet. Edgar Mitchell, a member of the 1971 Apollo XIV crew, is one of those rare people who had the privilege of walking on the moon’s surface. He once related his adventure to me, including how his experience in space led to his returning to Earth as a very different person. The idea of going to the moon was virtually an irresistible challenge. I characterize the space flight — of getting off the planet — as being an event as significant as when the first sea creatures crawled out onto land. Preparation for the Apollo flight involved many skills, plus all the academic work. All that knowledge and skill had to be practiced to a point where it was automatic. To deal with unexpected events, however, is when our judgment would come into play. The problem that posed the most potential for creativity was before we went down to the lunar surface. The automatic abort system had failed in such a way that if we tried to descend to the surface, it would automatically take us back into orbit. This was less than two hours before we were supposed to start down to the surface. We finally came up with a way to reprogram the computer, with just a few seconds to spare, only minutes before the engines were to be ignited. This powerful experience of seeing Earth and our whole solar system against the background of the cosmos had a very profound effect — an overwhelming sense of being connected to all things. I recognized that our scientific description of the way the universe is put together was at best incomplete and perhaps in some ways inaccurate. The universe is more of a living organism than a set of discrete things. What came out of that experience was an enormous sense of responsibility that goes with the power of creativity. We each have to accept, along with our creative potential, the responsibility that goes with it… to become proactive rather than just reactive. And that means letting go of fear. Automatically that brings this deeper sense of love and responsibility for one’s self, surroundings, environment and planet.


The Innovation Process

He summed up his transformation, and that of many fellow space travelers, by saying, “We went to the moon as technicians. We returned as humanitarians.” Man’s journey to the moon and back was not only an extraordinary achievement of technical and engineering innovation, but an indescribable hallmark in the history of mankind. For the first time, we, as humanity, saw ourselves floating in space. It was, and still is, a transformative experience that illumines our continuing quest for innovation and progress. The question is: Do we undertake that quest for innovation as technicians or as humanitarians? In one way, the history of mankind can be told as the epic story of man’s innovations in art, religion, science, business, technology and culture. Yet today, as the pace of innovation spirals in the context of the global economy, we can more readily see that innovation can have both positive and negative consequences. On one hand, we have rid the world of smallpox and are on the brink of eliminating polio. On the other hand, the major causes of death today are lifestyle-related (such as cancer and heart disease), not viral or natural; and we often use our healthcare innovations, such as pharmaceuticals, to temporarily relieve physical maladies, so we can continue our unhealthy lifestyle habits with less discomfort. As time progresses and we evolve as a community of species on this Spaceship Earth (as Buckminster Fuller called it), we see that we are co-creating the course of our planetary and cultural evolution through our innovations. So the questions of the day have expanded from “What can we innovate?” and “How can we be more innovative?” to include “Why are we innovating?” and “How can we focus our innovative thinking on more positive, useful purposes?” The call is not just for more innovation, but for innovation that contributes to the well-being of all stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, society and the environment — innovation with a social conscience, innovation driven by our higher human values. The Art and Discipline of Innovation Innovation is both an art and a discipline. As an art, it’s a human endeavor that can be driven by values as we work collaboratively to create what is most meaningful to us. As a discipline, it has processes and principles that are actually quite simple, and can be learned and practiced. The field of innovation has the Total Quality movement to thank for establishing two important principles: 1. Innovation is an important part of every job. 2. Every person has the capacity to contribute to innovation. When Edward Deming and Joseph Juran sparked the Total Quality Management movement in Japan in the 1950s, they taught the discipline of quality improvement: techniques to identify quality issues, find and implement solutions, and follow through with continuous improvement. The Japanese culture supplied the all-important social structure to implement those techniques by training everyday workers — those who were closest to the work processes that needed improvement — in the art of conducting


Introduc tion

“Quality Circles.” As we all know, by the 1980s, the world was beating on the Japanese doors to learn how to manage quality as well as they were. Two principles have emerged from this movement essential to the field of innovation. The first is that TQM demonstrated that everyone has the capacity to generate and implement innovative ideas, if given the right tools. That’s the discipline. The second is that TQM spread the responsibility for quality so that “innovating improved work processes” became everyone’s job; it was no longer just the quality engineer’s job. That’s the art. These principles apply not only to working on innovations in new products and work processes, but in marketing and sales, knowledge management, organization design, business models, and leadership practices. The Journey of Innovation To borrow a phrase, the art and discipline of innovation “is not rocket science.”But it is powerful enough to build and launch a spacecraft. It’s something we can all participate in, given the right understanding and framework. And when we are innovating skillfully, while practicing strong values, we will naturally contribute to others’ well being. Innovation means much more than just coming up with creative ideas; those ideas have to be put to work to create a benefit. Innovation can be seen as a journey that starts with setting a purpose or goal, and ends up with innovative achievement and new learning. All along the way, innovative thinking is required. So is knowledge. So are values. In this book about the process of values-centered innovation, the name of the innovation model you’ll learn about is the Creative JourneyTM. It’s a model that I developed in 1987, just after I left my position as head of Innovation Management at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute), and started my own consultancy, the Global Creativity Corporation. For the past 20 years, I have applied this model with professionals in a wide range of scientific, technical, engineering and R&D organizations. And just as well, I have employed it whenever a situation called for an innovative solution in marketing, sales, finance, IT, manufacturing, operations, human resources, strategic planning, or customer service. It has worked cross-culturally in more than a dozen countries around the world, with people as diverse as corporate executives, R&D scientists, and school bus drivers. This book will be a simple one without being simplistic. Its aim is to provide a way to understand the process of innovation itself, and how people of any job can apply it to the challenges and opportunities they find in their day-to-day work. When you combine your own knowledge and skills with the perspectives and tools offered here, I have great trust that it will boost your ability to innovate, both alone and in a team, and make a positive difference in the lives of your colleagues, your customers, and the course of our future. — William Miller October 2007


Part I

The Innovation Process

Starting Your Innovation Conversations nnovation is rarely, if ever, a solitary effort. It takes people working together to develop a goal, focus on it, generate an innovative solution, and implement it. Sometimes, that’s as simple as working with one or two colleagues during a normal daily routine. At other times, an innovation project could be large in scope, involving people from R&D, engineering, production, marketing, finance, sales, customer service, IT and human resources.


So, whether the scope of your innovative work is small or large, aligning and attuning your work together requires the art of good conversation. But what should that conversation be about? And how do we speak the same language, when we often come from so many functions and specialties? The goal of this book is to provide a common framework for having the conversations that will enable innovation to flourish between you and those you work with, as well as between groups, departments and divisions — wherever and whenever people in your organization need to come together and innovate. Part I of this book on the innovation process is to establish the basis for innovation conversations, on questions such as: •

What is innovation?

What provides the meaning and motivation for innovation?

What is meant by an innovation process?

What innovation process can we follow no matter what job we have?

What can people in any job, at any level, contribute to innovation?

To gain the most from any conversation, here are some guidelines I have found helpful: •

Speak sincerely and authentically

Care enough to hear fully from everyone

Encourage each person to express their own unique viewpoints

Listen patiently, with an open mind

Respect differences

Avoid criticism of others

Honor confidentiality

In short, to have uplifting, rich conversations, focus on conversing rather than converting. That will go a long way towards energizing the innovation process from start to finish.


The Innovation Process

Chapter 1

What is Innovation?

hen Michael Dell was a 19-year-old college student at the University of Texas, he ran a dorm-room business selling random-access memory (RAM) chips and disk drives for IBM PCs with revenues of $80,000 per month. He left school, much to his father’s chagrin, and began assembling and selling IBM PC clones under the name PC Limited. He sold directly to customers, rather than using retail outlets. By eliminating the middle-man, his price was less than half of IBM’s for a comparable computer.


When Michael started Dell Computers, and direct-to-consumer sales became the core of his business model, a revolution occurred in the industry. Every other computer manufacturer made its best estimate of how customers wanted their computers to be configured, and sold its inventory through retail stores. With Dell, each computer was built to the customer’s own specifications, and fully paid for before assembly — quite a nice financial model. And the business model needed less overhead. Not only did Michael cut out the need for an inventory of fully-built machines, he also established a unique manufacturing system — one in which the inventory of parts should have, in his words, “the shelf-life of lettuce.” Dell Direct became not only the theme of the business model, but a cultural norm as well. To facilitate the open sharing of information, ideas and intelligence, leaders in the company were actively encouraged to deal directly with each other, and avoid the kind of politics and turf wars so common in corporate life. Today, Dell Inc. is the world’s largest PC manufacturer. Would you say that the Dell’s direct-to-consumer business model was an innovation? Your answer depends on how you view and define innovation. Defining innovation What exactly is innovation? It’s an obvious question to ask, and a tricky one. It’s tricky because of the word exactly. Take for example this variety of definitions developed over the years: •

Introducing new commodities or qualitatively better versions of existing ones; finding new markets; new methods of production and distribution; or new sources of production for existing commodities; or introducing new forms of economic organization. (Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, 1942)

The act or process of innovating; something newly introduced, new method, custom, device, etc; change in the way of doing things; renew, alter. (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1982)

An idea, practice or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption. (Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 1983 and1995)

Change that creates a new dimension of performance. (Peter Drucker, in Hesselbein, Frances, Leading for Innovation and Organizing for Results, 2002)


The Innovation Process

The capability of continuously realizing a desired future state. (John Kao, The Innovation Manifesto, 2005)

The intersection of invention and insight, leading to the creation of economic value. (U.S. National Innovation Initiative, 2005)

Anything new that is actually used (enters the market place) - whether major or minor. (Eric von Hippel, Democratizing Innovation, 2005)

The staging of value and/or the conservation of value. (Daniel Montano, Innovation Strategies of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, 2006)

With this multiplicity of definitions, let’s bring it down to simple terms we can all use, day-to-day. A starting point is to first make a clear distinction between creativity and innovation: Creativity is coming up with new, original ideas. Innovation is putting those ideas to work and creating a benefit. Wayne Coyne, Senior VP for R&D at 3M, put it this way: Creativity is thinking of new and appropriate ideas; whereas innovation is the successful implementation of those ideas within an organization. In other words, creativity is the concept and innovation is the process.1 Or, as John Emmerling — innovation consultant and former ad-agency creative director — once said: Innovation is creativity with a job to do.2 The domains and aims of innovation Many people think of innovation only in terms of producing new products or technologies sold to make money — jobs that only a few of us might actually be working on. But that’s not all to the innovation scene. For example, the Clorox R&D group3 included process innovation as equally important: We define innovation as the implementation of creative ideas to produce new or improved processes or products. We do not limit our view of processes and products to those that are related to goods sold to consumers. Instead, we also include better ways of doing our jobs and new tools that make us more productive. This broadened view allows us to fully engage all employees in our creativity/innovation program and to tap into the creativity that is in us all. While new products and new processes are two very distinct domains where innovation can occur in an organization, so are two more equally important domains: knowledge and leadership. Knowledge innovations relate to how we create and manage knowledge so that an organization’s intellectual capital increases. Author Meg Wheatley4 described this domain of innovation: Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren’t there before.


Chapter 1

Innovations can also transpire in how the leadership of an organization develops new business models, designs the organization, fosters a culture, and manages its human resources. The aim of leadership innovation is to focus and inspire the organizational leadership and workforce. Michael Dell’s business model was an innovation that focused everyone on what and how to deliver their products and services. Innovative approaches to performance appraisal can actually inspire and encourage risk-taking and innovation, rather than squelch it (as we’ll explore in more detail later in this book). Organizations focus on four innovation domains, and each domain has its own specific aim. Chart 1 names these four domains as Top-Line, Mid-Line, Knowledge and Leadership (where Top-Line and Mid-Line refer to the intended impact on the balance sheet of the business).

Chart 1 — Domains and Aims of Innovation5

DOMAINS: (includes innovations in…)






New products and services, design, brand experiences, sales, marketing, advertising and media

Re-engineering, TQM, Six-sigma, kaizen, process and productivity improvement, supply-chain management, distribution channels

Knowledge creation and management, patents, market segmentation, communication channels, talent recruitment and retention

Business models and strategy, strategic partnerships, corporate culture, employee relations, organization design

Greater revenues and growth

Greater productivity, reduced time and costs

Greater intellectual capital

Greater focus, inspired leaders and work force

An important point to note is that in many roll-outs of a major innovation, all four domains of innovation could be involved. For example, when a new product is being launched, new processes may be put into place, new knowledge of customer segmentation may be created, and a new business model to make it all work together successfully.


The Innovation Process

Robert Reich6 underscored this diverse set of domains and aims for innovation when he spoke about entrepreneurs: They innovate by creating better products at less cost; establishing more efficient techniques of manufacture, distribution and sales; finding cheaper sources of materials; finding new markets and consumer needs; providing better training of employees; attention-getting advertising; speedier consumer service and complaint handling; more reliable warranty coverage and repair. The point is that innovation is part of everyone’s job — including yours, and everyone can participate in innovation — in at least one of these four domains. If you’re not producing the next new product or service, you might be improving productivity or quality, or sharing best practices across the organization, or improving employee relations. Innovation, change, and impact Invention is the creation of a new device or process… Innovation is the introduction of change via something new. — William B. Rouse, Strategies for Innovation, 1992 Every innovation introduces change — in what is being done, how it is being done, or even why it is being done. Classically, innovation can produce two distinct degrees of change: revolutionary-breakthrough change or evolutionary-incremental change, as shown in Chart 2. Chart 2 — Sustainable Innovation7

To manage innovation over the sustainable long term, we need to foster both breakthrough and incremental change. Focusing only on breakthrough change can lead to exhaustion, as we don’t take the time to integrate the change. And focusing only on incremental change can lead to extinction, as we don’t do what it takes to keep up with the times. Over time, both degrees of innovation are important for sustainable innovation.


Chapter 1

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether an innovation has produced a breakthrough or incremental change; it can all depend on one’s job perspective. For example, when electronic fuel injection (EFI) replaced carburetors in automobile engines, the engineers could very well consider it a major breakthrough in providing fuel efficiently and effectively. But from the perspective of actually selling an automobile, the salesperson might consider EFI to be an incremental improvement in the overall performance and perceived value of a car. A very important distinction — not often made — is that the amount of change introduced by an innovation is not necessarily the same as the overall impact of that innovation. In fact, situations can arise in all four of the quadrants in Chart 3.


Chart 3 — Degrees of Change with Innovations8


High Change Low Impact

High Change High Impact


Low Change Low Impact

Low Change High Impact



When most people think about breakthrough change, they typically assume that it means a change that will have high impact (the upper-right quadrant); however, that is not always the case. An example of high change, low impact (upper left quadrant) is the Simplified Keyboard, patented in 1936 by Dr. August Dvorak, an educational psychologist and professor at the University of Washington. He designed it to overcome the inefficiency and typist fatigue that was common with the standard QWERTY keyboard layout (which had been designed in 1860 for the first commercially successful typewriter). It has seen an increase in popularity in recent years among computer programmers who do a great amount of typing, and is included with major operating systems such as Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, and Linux. Still, the impact of this innovation is extremely low, given the dominant preference market for the QWERTY keyboard. Similarly, when most people think about incremental change, they usually assume that it means a change that will have a low impact (lower left quadrant). Again, this assumption is not always the case. An example of low change, high impact (lower right quadrant) is a story I heard while consulting with Ford Motor Company in 1994. A worker had come up with an idea that saved the seemingly insignificant amount of only $.10 (10 cents) on the cost of manufacturing a vehicle. However, it ultimately had the impact of contributing $500,000 to the company’s pre-tax profits.


The Innovation Process

So, you don’t have to measure the innovative contribution you make by the amount of change you instigate. Nor do you have to shoot for the big breakthrough to realize a big impact. The innovation cycle contains differing degrees of change as well as differing degrees of impact, to which everyone can contribute. How do you know when you’ve been innovative? Here’s an interesting question to ponder: If an intended innovation fails to achieve its aim and doesn’t get utilized, is it really an innovation? This question is a bit like the old philosophical inquiry: If a tree fell in a forest and no one heard it fall, did the tree make any sound? Here the question is, If something new is produced and no one is affected by it, is it an innovation? Twenty years ago, Sumantra Ghoshal and Christopher A. Bartlett pointed out in an HBR article (“Innovation Processes in Multinational Corporations,” Harvard Business Review, 1987) that some people would say that innovation occurs, whether it is used or not: (Innovation is…) the idea, practice, or material artifact that has been invented, or that is regarded as novel independent of its adoption or non-adoption.9 On the other hand, most others in the field of innovation (as we’ve sampled in the quotes that began this chapter) would say that innovation occurs when there is some tangible impact: (Innovation is…) a process which proceeds from the conceptualization of a new idea to a solution of the problem and then to the actual utilization of a new item of economic or social value.10 Another question often asked is whether an innovation has to be totally new — never before seen by the eyes of man — or can it just be the “first time” within an organization. Everett Rogers11, a pioneer and expert in identifying the patterns of product innovations as they diffuse through society, had this to say: It matters little whether the idea is “objectively” new as measured by the lapse of time since its first use or discovery. The perceived newness of the idea for the individual determines his or her reaction to it. If the idea seems new to the individual, it is an innovation. While these philosophical questions can be interesting to debate, what it all comes down to in our real, day-to-day work life is that an innovation does not have to be some invention “never thought of in the history of mankind,” or some other earthshattering idea brought to life. So long as it’s new for you and your organization, it’s an innovation for you. It just has to be a new concept that gets implemented and creates some benefit for someone, somewhere. That’s what it takes for you to say that you’ve been innovative.


Chapter 1

Having an innovation conversation Before we move on, let’s focus on you for a moment. To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can learn from each other. 1. What is your own definition of innovation as it relates to your work? 2. Looking over the four domains of innovation, which have you participated in? • Top-line / revenue producing innovation • Mid-line / process improvement innovation • Knowledge innovation • Leadership and management innovation 3. How involved have you been with incremental or breakthrough change? How does this relate to the level of impact that you produced as a result?


Chapter 2

The Innovation Process

Innovation and Values

n my days as head of Innovation Management at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute), I was convinced that values were an important driver of corporate innovation. I saw time and again that values provided the energy behind “product champions,” and “intrapreneurs.” After I left SRI, my understanding of the role of values grew to new heights upon meeting Frank Carrubba, one of the high-tech luminaries of the past 20 years.


As Director of HP Laboratories, and later as Executive VP and Chief Technical Officer of Philips Electronics, Frank became one of my favorite consulting clients. At both companies, he was responsible for all corporate research and advanced development, and he once received the “Inventor of the Year” award from the U.S. Intellectual Property Owners Association for his RISC architecture work. When he spoke, I listened. One day, Frank shared with me the results of a study he sponsored at HP Labs about the difference between product-development teams that failed, those that succeeded, and those that achieved extraordinary success. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed passing along what I learned from him about the relationship between innovation and the values held by individuals and teams. As you might expect, the study found that teams that failed differed from those that succeeded in degrees of talent, motivation and commitment to succeed. However, there was no difference in these factors between the successful and extraordinarily successful teams. Instead, two other factors clearly stood out. First, Frank found that Those teams that stood out had leaders and managers who treated their customers as they themselves wanted to be treated. He said those teams not only perceived that they had customers (a techie breakthrough in itself at the time), but also truly cared for those customers. Second, Frank saw that Team members found in themselves the qualities of spirit and truth… They were people who had no reason to wear a particular mask, because they were always what they were, every single hour of the day. He said they were authentic, and didn’t have to pretend to be something that they weren’t, or know something they didn’t know. There you have it — a remarkable finding that Frank also repeatedly observed as Executive VP at Philips: the difference between successful teams and extraordinary teams, in the ultimate high-tech world, was the presence of two sincerely-practiced values: caring and authenticity. Frank made sense of this discovery by saying that a team of people with high levels of talent, motivation and commitment will naturally find a way to achieve, let’s say, 75 percent of their potential. But extraordinary success demands more, and achieving 100 percent of their potential depends on the quality of relationships that they foster. And that’s where the values of caring plus authenticity come into play.


Chapter 2

The role of values in the art and discipline of innovation At this point you might be asking, “Why make such a big deal about values, when there are so many other important things to cover about the innovation process?” In the Introduction, I spoke about the art and discipline of innovation. As an art, it’s a collaborative human endeavor. As a discipline, it has processes and principles that can be learned and practiced. Values play a critical role in both. When innovation is values-centered at all levels — individual, team and organization — we are conscious of creating what is truly important to us and beneficial to others. And since innovation is more than just dreaming up a creative idea, and sometimes we have to work hard to actualize that idea, values are what motivate us to complete the full process, from start to finish. So to me, values are part-and-parcel of any discussion about innovation. The word value comes from the Latin verb valere, which means to be worth and to be strong. In our daily lives, values are feelings and convictions regarding what is of strong worth (i.e., of importance) to us in what we think, say and do. Values shape what is meaningful and motivating for us. Personal values have long been under-appreciated as a driver of innovation. People who are aware of their own values will naturally strive to find a way to express them through their work. Having personal values as the driver of innovation raises the level of personal investment, dedication and commitment it takes to innovate. Research by Barry Posner and W. H. Schmidt has shown that clarity about our personal values is more important to our job commitment than clarity about our company’s values. In their research, people were asked to rate three things: 1. How well they understood their company’s values 2. How well they were aware of their own personal values 3. How committed they were to their work Chart 4 shows a surprising result: the increase in commitment came only from an increase in self-knowledge about personal values, not from more understanding of company values! Chart 4 — Values and Commitment12












The Innovation Process

Of course, the ideal is an alignment between company values and personal values. It seems like every organization today has a set of values it wants its employees to embrace and practice. These values are part of the mission-vision-values that align and attune employees to a common direction and are intended to guide decisions at all levels and provide cohesion. According to former World Bank Values Coordinator Richard Barrett, consultant and author of Liberating the Corporate Soul: Building a Visionary Organization: Research shows that when the values of employees are in alignment with the values of the organization (the leaders of the organization), the organization is more successful and more focused on customer satisfaction and community service. Organizations that don’t have this alignment tend to be more inward looking, bureaucratic and stressful to work in. They may be financially successful, but find it difficult to hire and keep self-actualized individuals and talented people. The alignment between organization values and personal values often comes when people come together in teams. The Hewlett Packard Corporation once conducted an internal study to discover the best practices of their highest-performing managers. One finding was that their best 200 managers consistently worked with their people to define a set of group values that everyone was committed to. They then posted these group values as “guiding principles” for all decisions and actions. Through these discussions, these managers fostered the linkage between personal and organizational values. Whether you and your team or organization are trying to achieve realistic, practical, bold or exciting results with your innovative work, values are the key. They help individuals to tap into their greatest sources of energy and inspiration as they more fully invest themselves in what they are doing. They help teams to work collaboratively toward goals based on common priorities. And they help organizations foster a positive culture. Who benefits from innovation? It’s not hard to see the positive and the negative impact that the human propensity for innovation has had on our quality of life. On one hand, we have an electronic global network. On the other hand, we have the accelerating effects of global warming. On one hand, we have innovated with job design and job enrichment, in white collar jobs as well as manufacturing, to empower people with more complex and self-affirming jobs. On the other hand, with the allure, power and demands of these jobs, we have fostered a new breed of workaholics who choose to work rather than spend time with their families, leading to an epidemic of work-life imbalance. While this list could go on and on, it is an important reminder that what we do daily in our work has an impact on the people and environment around us, for better or for worse. Sometimes that impact is with just a few colleagues at work, sometimes it’s with our many customers, and sometimes it’s with our whole community or country, or more. Whether we focus our innovation impacts on our own sphere of life — work colleagues, customers, friends and family — or a larger picture of society, what we


Chapter 2

do today co-authors the story of the future. Marshall McLuhan coined the term Global Village to communicate that we’re all neighbors, and the actions of people 10,000 miles away can have a huge impact on us. And vice-versa. This point of view raises some provocative questions for every person and organization: Thus far, we’ve focused on the domains and aims of innovation from the point of view of the organization that is producing them. But what about the people outside the organization — such as customers, suppliers, society, shareholders, even the environment? Where do they fit in to the picture? Are our innovation activities fueled only by self-serving motives? Or are they energized by our wish to contribute to the well-being of others? Can we afford to do both? More than most people expect, when values are the driver of innovation, both are possible at the same time. An example of this dual choice for supporting “fellow villagers” while growing a successful enterprise comes from the Planters Development Bank in the Philippines. Floy Aguenza is its President, and the story she shared with me demonstrates what can happen when people in an organization integrate their values with the art and discipline of innovation. Originally, the bank’s Chair wanted the bank to join the top tier of big banks in that country, but as Floy stated: Somewhere along the way, this bank found a new calling. During the times when it was starting out as a small bank in a provincial town, it had no choice but to cater to the small businessmen of the area. We worked closely with them, giving them the proper guidance, and their businesses started to flourish. We became a part of their lives, helping their business as financial advisors and even more than that; we became friends. We saw the impact our bank was making within this small community, and it touched our hearts in a special way. From then on, we made a decision that we would continue to serve this niche, no matter how big we would become. The bank was innovative in the way it attracted new customers and developed relationships with them, deliberately including their customers’ values in their credit approval process: When talking to new customers, an important part of our credit process is finding out about the character and lifestyle of the principal. We go to their place of business to observe how they run their business and treat their employees. We want to lend to companies and businesses which are anchored on the right values. They even developed a unique approach and philosophy to growing the bank financially. This bank has been set up by the shareholders and they expect a good return. However, equally clear to us is that it is not profit at all costs. This must be balanced with all of the other concerns of the organization, and its role in society. In our case, profitability and social impact are fundamentally intertwined. We are the only development bank that is partly owned by multi-laterals such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). They invested in our bank because they saw our developmental impact and how we are


The Innovation Process

serving as a catalyst for economic growth by our work with the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). And what has actually been their growth? In terms of ROE, Planters Bank is the seventh most profitable private domestic bank in the country. Although we are larger than half of the commercial banks, we have resisted converting our license to such. The impact that we have made to the lives of the many small businessmen we have dealt with has inspired us to continue to deal with this sector. What is Floy’s message to the rest of us about the role of business in society? Businesses have a role to play in nation building and in building the character of the people. If we all do something, we can all gain. Businesses must live by the right values, not just strive to be number one while sacrificing all else. It’s clear that we can target our innovative efforts to contribute to the well-being of others — customers, suppliers and employees; society as a whole; shareholders; and the environment — even as our own organization thrives. It’s all a question of values. What is Values-Centered InnovationTM? A discussion about innovation would not be complete without acknowledging the link between innovation and learning. In the form of information and knowledge, learning stimulates innovation. And in return, innovation gives birth to new learning and knowledge. One way to experience the relationship between learning and innovating is to tune into our own breathing rhythms. Learning and innovating go together just like inhaling and exhaling: •

Inhaling = learning: acquiring, creating and sharing new knowledge; converting knowledge to wisdom

Exhaling = innovating: generating, deciding upon, implementing and celebrating innovative responses to opportunities and challenges

Values play the key role of asking, “Why are we breathing in the first place?” — and providing the meaning and motivation for this “breathing process.” In quick review, we could say that learning provides new levels of Know-what? Innovation produces new levels of Now what? And values pose the question, So what? When we put our values into practice, we also strengthen our emotional intelligence (EI) — our ability to perceive, use, understand and manage our emotions. Daniel Goleman’s model of EI and management effectiveness13 emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. In Frank Carrubba’s story at the beginning of this chapter, the key value of caring is part of social awareness and the value of authenticity is part of relationship management. Integrating all that we’ve covered thus far, we can now revisit and expand our original definition of innovation to include learning and values. We can conclude that...


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the application of learning and knowledge

to develop and implement

breakthrough and incremental improvements

in products/services, processes, knowledge and leadership/management practices

to contribute to the well-being of stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, society, shareholders and the environment)

while generating new revenues, reducing time and costs, increasing intellectual capital, inspiring the work force, and focusing the leadership

in alignment with personal, team and organizational values

Having an innovation conversation To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other. Consider: 1. What personal values do you hold as most important in your own work? 2. How are those personal values reflected in what and how you innovate? 3. How aligned are your personal values with your organization’s values? How does this impact how and why you innovate? 4. When you add the dimension of values, how does it change your definition of innovation from Chapter 1?


Chapter 3

The Innovation Process

The Process of Innovation

n May 25, 1961, just 43 days after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first human in space, U.S. President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of Congress to paint a vision and request the funds for the United States to “take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.”10


I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. Let if be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action — a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs. There is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. The commitment from Congress and the nation came, and Kennedy’s vision was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Apollo Lunar Module’s ladder and onto the Moon’s surface. But what did it actually take to achieve this monumental task? President Kennedy was quite clear in his May 25, 1961 speech about what he foresaw: In a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon. If we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation, for all of us must work to put him there. This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, material and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel. NASA took up the charge to foster a degree of dedication, organization and discipline that had not existed before. It adopted new ways of managing and developing all the innovations it would take to land men on the moon and bring them back safely. One tool NASA used was what has become known as a first generation model of the product or technology innovation process, called a phase-review-process. It was used as a management tool to systematize and control work with contractors and suppliers on space projects. The NASA model showed development in sequential phases, as shown in Chart 5.


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Chart 5 — Phase-Review-Process Model14 Concept Phase Phase 0

Definition Phase 1 Management Go-No-Go

Implementation Phase 2 Management Go-No-Go

Manufacturing Phase

3 Management Go-No-Go

This phase-review model drew from the 1930s pioneering of Joseph Schumpeter, the so-called godfather of the study of innovation, who believed that the process begins with inventions and ends up with innovations that make money — a view that became the basis for a linear, technology-push or science-push model. By the 1960s, insights about market-pull or demand-pull innovation — driven by consumer demand rather then scientific discovery — produced a different form of this linear model as shown in Chart 6. Chart 6 — Technology Push/Demand Pull Model15 Technology Push Basic Science





Demand Pull Market Needs




Since then, models of the innovation process for new products and technologies have been expanded, evolved, modified and morphed into perhaps an overabundance of possibilities to choose from. In my study of innovation processes at SRI and afterwards, I didn’t want to limit myself to product innovations. I wanted to review innovation process models across every domain of innovation: revenue producing innovation, process innovation, knowledge innovation and leadership innovation. In this chapter, I don’t intend to give an exhaustive — and exhausting — review of all the models, which could make your eyes glaze over. Instead, I’ll walk you through a brief sampling of the research which led me to initially develop and later confirm a model of the innovation process that could be used across all four domains, no matter what the innovative challenge was.


The Innovation Process

Innovation process models for top-line innovation By the 1970s and early ‘80s, models that mapped the process for top-line, revenue producing innovations had morphed from the phase review model into stage-gate models, such as this one from Coopers in Chart 7. Chart 7 — Stage-Gate-Process Model16

But these models faced criticism because of their apparent linearity: Models that depict innovation as a smooth, well-behaved linear process badly misspecify the nature and direction of the causal factors at work. Innovation is complex, uncertain, somewhat disorderly, and subject to changes of many sorts. Innovation is also difficult to measure and demands close coordination of adequate technical knowledge and excellent market judgment to satisfy economic, technological and other types of constraints — all simultaneously.17 Ulrich offered a modified stage-gate model, in which the roles of various functions are described and woven into an overall process. Such models (shown in Chart 8) brought closer attention to the process innovations needed to support product/technology innovations, such as quality control and improvement, responsive cycle times, and faster time-to-market.


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Chart 8 — Ulrich Normative Process18

The most recent network models aim at showing the complexity and uncertainty involved in the innovation process. One such model by Trott, shown in Chart 9, identifies marketing, research and technology, and business planning as the three most influential functions involved with innovation.


The Innovation Process

Chart 9 — Network Model19

As researchers continue to integrate the best of models, they give more detail to the complexity by mapping all the variables, such as this model in Chart 10 of the technology innovation process developed by Vargonen. Chart 10 — Technology Model20


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There have been many other innovation process models for new product and technology development. If you want to study them further, the internet provides a wealth of resources. Innovation process models for mid-line innovation These two historically-important process improvement processes were an inspiration for the later Total Quality processes. The first was invented by W.A. Shewhart in 1939, and made popular through Edward Deming. Their Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process was very useful in solving quality issues, and mapping a repeated cycle of continuous improvement, as shown in Chart 11. Chart 11 — Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Model21

The second was Value Analysis, developed by Larry Miles at GE during World War II, whereby cross-functional teams from design, engineering, purchasing and quality employed a formal protocol to improve the manufacturing process and reduce costs. That protocol had eight basic steps as shown in Chart 12. Chart 12 — Values Analysis Model22

Step 1: Information Phase — analyze data Step 2: Function Analysis Phase — identify and cost functions Step 3: Creative Phase — brainstorm ideas Step 4: Evaluation Phase — rank then develop ideas Step 5: Development Phase — quantify benefits and plan actions Step 6: Presentation — make oral report and prepare written reports Step 7: Implement changes Step 8: Monitor changes


The Innovation Process

This model was the precursor to the Measure, Analyze, Improve process that is the basis of the Six Sigma improvement process — though Six Sigma adds a Control step. Innovation process models for knowledge innovation Another domain of innovation is knowledge. Nonaka conceived of a model for knowledge creation that incorporated both tacit knowledge (resident in individuals and groups as personal experience or intuitive knowing) and explicit knowledge (formulated, captured concepts), as shown in Chart 13. Chart 13 — Knowledge Creation Model23 IMPLICIT KNOWLEDGE



Personal experience

Personal concepts


Integrated experience (socialization)

Combined concepts

The resulting knowledge creation process has five key steps, where the end result can be knowledge innovations in any field of human endeavor — impactful to the degree that the concepts are employed and then integrated into day-to-day experience: 1. Enlarging individual knowledge 2. Sharing tacit knowledge 3. Creating concepts 4. Justifying concepts 5. Networking knowledge Innovation process models for leadership innovation The domain of leadership innovation also has identifiable processes associated with it for us to consider. According to Gary McLean, author of Organization Development Principles, Processes, Performance in 2005, the action research model that is deeply embedded in the practice of Organization Development has a similarity to the Deming/Shewhart PDCA model, through a commitment to continuous improvement: •

At the Plan stage, decisions are made about what might be done to improve the organization and its processes, using a variety of decision making tools.

At the Do stage, those plans are carried out in a pilot or trial implementation.


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At the Check stage, measurements are taken to determine whether the pilot implementation did, in fact, result in the changes desired.

At the Act stage, the process, if successful, is implemented.

But because of the critique that models like this appear too linear and don’t portray overlapping stages, he offered a modification of the PDCA model that he called the organization development process (ODP) model. Each of the eight components or phases interacts with the other phases, as shown in Chart 14. Chart 14 — Organization Development Model24

Environment Organization or Suborganization Individual Team Process Global Entry

Start-up Organization-wide Assessment and Feedback Action Planning

Community and National





We’re almost finished with this review of innovation process models — just one last step to take: a quick review of creative problem-solving models that is an important part of the innovation scene. Creative problem-solving processes There’s a fine line between models of innovation and those of creative problem-solving. For example, consider the classic Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) model invented by Alex Osborn, executive vice-president at the huge BBDO advertising agency, and researched by academician Sidney Parnes. Their model has six steps as shown in Chart 15.


The Innovation Process

Chart 15 — Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) Model25 Step


1. Objective Finding

Discuss the situation and set a goal the group is committed to

2. Fact Finding

Search for all the facts that could be related to the situation and objective

3. Problem Finding

Focus on a clear definition of the real problem that needs a creative solution

4. Idea Finding

Brainstorm a set of options that might solve the problem and achieve the goal

5. Solution Finding

Assess which ideas have the most potential and select the best solution

6. Acceptance Finding

Consider what it will take for the idea to be accepted and implemented, and develop a plan to take action

Showing the parallels between the CPS model and models of the product innovation process is not difficult. For example, in 1988, Donald G. Marquis26 described a six-step innovation process: 1. Recognition (technical feasibility and potential market demand) 2. Idea Formulation (fusion into design concept and evaluation) 3. Problem-Solving (search, experimentation and calculation; readily available information) 4. Solution (solution through invention; solution through adoption) 5. Development (work out the bugs and scale up) 6. Utilization and Diffusion (implementation and use) A comparison of his model and CPS, in Chart 16, shows the overlap of concepts.


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Chart 16 — Comparison of Marquis and Osborn-Parnes Models27 Marquis



Objective Finding Fact Finding

Idea Formulation

Problem Finding


Idea Finding


Solution Finding


Acceptance Finding

Utilization and Diffusion

By 1987, overlaps like this were no longer new to me. During my years at SRI in the 1980s, I reviewed various corporate models, academic models and scientific models of the innovation process. I discovered then, and have reconfirmed over and over since then, that a common, conceptual territory shared by the innovation models from different domains of innovation exists — revenue producing innovation, process innovation, knowledge innovation and leadership innovation — as well as the CPS model. Seeing that common territory led me to formulate a simple, but not simplistic, model of the innovation process that people could use across every domain of innovation, no matter what function they were in. I’ll present that model in the next chapter, along with three key insights about what was missing in all the models I had previously reviewed. Having an innovation conversation To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other. Looking back on your past projects: 1. Have you used one or more specific innovation process models to guide your innovative efforts? 2. If more than one, did they have a common set of stages or tasks? If so, how would you describe them? 3. How effective was the model, or models, in helping you achieve your goals? 4. Did the model, or models, seem to miss anything that you felt was important? If so, what was that?


Chapter 4

The Innovation Process

The Creative JourneyTM

any years ago, a VP of Engineering from the Brunswick Corporation’s Bowling Division — one of the two leading makers of bowling equipment — called on me at SRI for help with a challenge he faced. They had been selling the same mechanical pinsetter for more than 25 years. At one point, while the U.S. market lagged, a big bowling craze developed in Japan, and Brunswick had sold a huge number of those pinsetters. But when the bowling boom there went bust, all those pinsetters went onto the used market. Brunswick sales were way down. The VP of Engineering thought he saw a solution: reinvent the pinsetter with up-to-date technologies, and have something totally new to sell.


How that project unfolded filled in a lot of the missing pieces I had seen in the innovation process models I had studied up to that point. The first thing we did was to look closely at the goal the VP had laid out: was the task at hand really to reinvent the pinsetter, or was it something else? We realized his real goal was to rejuvenate the entire bowling industry — to bring people back to bowling through a totally new experience of what it meant to play that sport. We began to select the kinds of people who could come together in a multi-day, crossfunctional innovation search — an idea-generation session that would focus on the entire experience of bowling, not just pinsetters. We ended up involving specialists in robotics, software engineering, digital detection equipment, and other technologies. We also invited a wide variety of other specialists, such as an expert from the luxury cruise industry, who knew about the entertainment experiences that people were looking for. We collected research on market trends in related industries and technology trends that might impact our search. To “experience the marketplace for this kind of entertainment,” my partner in running this project and I even bowled at a Saturday night Rock ‘n Bowl center in San Francisco, where every lane had monitors with rock videos, the music was loud, and scoring was optional. Based on this background, we selected specific focus areas, including topics such as new scoring systems and technologybased feedback-coaching systems. Then, we asked a few key specialists to deliver stimulating talks on those subjects to spur our idea generation. Over the first two days of the innovation search, we generated hundreds of ideas and clustered them in a variety of ways. As a sampling, here are a few of the ideas that were voiced: •

A pinsetter that sets whatever pins a bowler wants set for practice purposes

A “smart card” that “remembers” who a bowler is, his averages, and how he did on different pin combinations, etc.

A computer system that analyzes a bowler’s performance and recommends ways to improve technique, depending on what mistakes were being made


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Feedback on speed, accuracy, and so on, as the ball travels down the bowling lane

Put bumpers into the side gullies so that the bowling ball always bounces to hit pins — important for people new to bowling (including kids and adults)

Changing the normal scoring system by allowing a person to “bet” one’s pins on the odds of an opponent picking up on a particular spare, etc. (changing scoring methods)

Then, it came time to narrow down the ideas and select the most promising ones for technical and market feasibility studies. Certain ideas made it, such as: •

A pinsetter that sets whatever pins a bowler wants set for practice purposes

A computer system that analyzes a bowler’s performance and recommends ways to improve technique, depending on what mistakes were being made

Feedback on speed, accuracy, and so on, as the ball travels down the bowling lane

Putting bumpers in the side gullies

It took a couple of months to complete the feasibility studies and return to Brunswick to help make a final decision about what to take to the Board as priorities for development funding. Even then, the final decision wouldn’t come until after prototypes were tested in their labs and in actual facilities. Finally, they began to install and do final testing of new products in company-owned bowling centers within a few hundred miles of their headquarters. As the Engineering VP later told me, one of the early hits was putting in a ball-speed indicator — using a radar gun (like highway police use) — which gave bowlers feedback, so they could determine if they needed to speed up or slow down their ball delivery to hit the pins better. One key to the renewal of Brunswick’s bowling business was the new GS pinsetter, which led the way to being able to reset a previous pin combination when pins were inadvertently knocked down after a first ball was bowled. Today, the latest generation of pinsetter, the GS-X, is the #1 selling new pinsetter in the world, with more than 10,000 installed worldwide. The side-gulley idea (for people new to bowling) has turned into their Pinball Wizard bumper bowling system. Even the San Francisco ‘Rock n’ Bowl’ concepts we discussed during the innovation search have now become major hits in the bowling industry, through Brunswick’s products known as Cosmic Bowling® Light and Sound Systems and Lightworx® Division Lighting System.


The Innovation Process

The beginning of a new model This Brunswick project occurred when I was just beginning to formulate my version of the innovation process. It wasn’t that I needed my own process model — but I had seen the potential for a robust yet simple model that could apply to projects in any domain of innovation, and my professional curiosity got the best of me. What could I invent that might contribute to the field of innovation? Looking back, my initial “map” of the innovation process for that bowling project contained five steps, with some very fuzzy boundaries between them, indicating overlapping and simultaneous stages: 1. They set a purpose and direction (goal). 2. They gathered and analyzed data, and prioritized the issues that needed creative ideas. 3. They generated a wide array of potential ideas and concepts. 4. They did the feasibility studies, development and prototyping necessary to make a final decision of what to implement. 5. They scaled up and commercialized the new products — and continued to refine, add to, and produce new generations of those product lines. As shown in Chart 17, those stages corresponded well with the product innovation models I had been studying. Chart 17 — Comparison of Miller Observations with Other Innovation Process Models28 Miller


Various Stage-Gate



Set the Goal

(Moon Vision)

Tech Push / Market Pull

Mission Statement



Concept Development System Design

Idea Formulation


Analyze Issues Generate Ideas


Develop and Decide


Feasibility Study 1st — 2nd screens Decision to develop

Detail Design Testing/Refining


Implement Solution

Implementation Manufacturing

Development Validation Commercialization

Production Ramp Up


Even though I saw the Brunswick project as unfolding in stages, those stages played themselves out non-linearly, in keeping with the more concurrent, interactive innovation models; overlap often occurred in accomplishing the tasks of each stage.


Chapter 4

But the more I thought about it, something important seemed to be missing in this way of conceptualizing the innovation process. So, I kept searching… The innovation process models I had come across clearly focused on the mental side of innovation: setting a goal, performing analysis, eliciting ideas, making a decision, and implementing it. Yet, I had observed that during the course of developing an innovation, often great periods of uncertainty existed, even discouragement — not knowing what to do next, or where the final innovative solution was going to come from. Innovators had to face many risks along the way, invoking the need for courage and determination. Finding what was missing Many times when I conducted Innovation Searches with clients, I would bring in a person who was great at generating ideas, but who was from a field that had little relation to the topic at hand. That person could bring an entirely new perspective to stimulate our innovative thinking. In the same way, I expanded my quest to understand the innovation process to a totally different field — cultural mythology. A breakthrough in my understanding of the innovation process occurred after I read The Way to Shambhala by Edwin Bernbaum. I realized that virtually all cultures have stories about heroic journeys — from the Tibetans’ search for Shambhala to the mythical journey of Odysseus — and typically they have the following plot: • You’re on a quest, and you come to an impassable river (or some other obstacle), guarded by a demon. • The instructions are clear: Withdraw to gather strength — identify with a power (the Divine) so its energies merge in you; then call forth the demon to see exactly what you have to deal with. • Do battle until you are victorious in defeating, befriending, or taming the demon. • Engage the subdued/tamed demon as an ally to get you across the impassable river. On the other side, take an account, with gratitude, of what you’ve gained to assist you on the next stage of your journey. Then, in 1987, Lorna Catford and I co-taught a course called Creativity in Business at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. She helped me see the link between this heroic journey plot and the innovation process. From there, I could perceive four basic stages that describe that process, each with specific tasks to accomplish, as shown in Chart 18.


The Innovation Process

Chart 18 — Comparison of Heroic Journey with the Innovation Process29 The Journey

Tasks in the Innovation Process

Stages of the Innovation Process

You begin your quest and come to an impassable river and demon

You set a goal and begin to meet risks and barriers

The Challenge

You take on an inner empowerment and then call forth the demon

You stop to gain confidence and then face the truth of what’s real

The Focus

You engage in battle and defeat/tame the demon

You generate options and develop/decide on a solution

The Creative Solution

You cross the impassable river and take account of your gains

You implement your solution and celebrate your results

The Completion

I gained three powerful insights from this comparison, and based on my own experience with innovation I felt confident in concluding: 1. Every innovation process has risks that must be faced. 2. Every innovation process calls for the confidence to meet risks head-on. 3. Every innovation process includes the need to take account of the gains — new learning as well as tangible achievements. I went back to my experience with Brunswick to see how these characteristics might have played out. There was a lot at stake in whether or not Brunswick met that goal. The long-term growth and viability of the bowling industry was in question, and the growth of Brunswick’s bowling business was tied to that. Furthermore, as we talked, personal risks were tied up in this project as well. The Engineering VP was putting his career on the line to come up with something viable. And while his engineering staff was great with mechanical devices, what would happen to their careers if everything went digital? Many times during the course of the project, we had to confirm and reaffirm a sense of confidence that this goal could actually be achieved — that the industry could be rejuvenated, at least in part through new technologies. The VP was genuinely open and confident with the prospect of bringing in totally new technologies with which Brunswick had no prior experience. His staff and their colleagues in marketing were dedicated to the larger picture of the entertainment value and sport of bowling, determined to rejuvenate interest in it. Needless to say, the success of their new products has not only rejuvenated the industry and increased revenues, but also brought a great deal of satisfaction to the company’s employees and bowling center owners. And it has provided more fun to bowlers who wanted a new level of entertainment to go with their sport.


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The Creative JourneyTM model of the innovation process I assembled my insights into a four-stage model with eight inherently overlapping and sometimes simultaneous tasks, as shown in Chart 19. The arrows in the middle portray the true non-linear nature of this model — it’s more of a “map” to know where you are and where you’ve been, so that you don’t ultimately miss any important tasks along the way. Chart 19 — Creative JourneyTM Model30

Thus, what I began to call the Creative Journey model was born. The Creative Journey is a roadmap of the innovation process that enables anyone to practice the art and discipline of innovation with greater awareness and skill, through four distinct stages: 1. The Challenge — deciding what you want to accomplish and acknowledging the risks along your path 2. The Focus — tapping into your source of confidence and prioritizing issues you need to resolve 3. The Creative Solutions — generating ideas and then developing and deciding on the best solution 4. The Completion — implementing your solution and celebrating what you accomplished and learned along the way


The Innovation Process

Upon completing the development of the Creative Journey model, I then compared it with the models I had studied from various domains. Looking at Chart 20, you can see: 1. The four stages can be found in all the main innovation process models I studied from the four domains (though most of the stage-gate product development models were very light on where the original concepts came from). 2. Five of the eight tasks in the Creative Journey were mental tasks highlighted in most or all of the other models. 3. Two tasks were never highlighted in the other models: assess risks and tap into character. 4. A third task, celebrate results, was only infrequently mentioned in other models, and then only as monitoring or evaluating results Also noteworthy to me was seeing that each stage and task in the Creative Journey might have multiple sub-tasks to complete, involving a variety of tools and techniques. For example, the task of implementation for a new product could include the sub-tasks for engineering, manufacturing, IT, marketing and distribution — and each of those functions might need its own Creative Journey to determine how to accomplish its responsibilities during that implementation task of the larger innovation process. However, the three tasks mentioned in #3 and #4 above — all related to the three insights I had from Bernbaum’s book — kept drawing my attention, and I began to delve more deeply into their significance for the innovation process. Confidence and energy in the innovation process Looking again at Chart 20, I saw how none of the models highlighted anything about the character, values and sense of meaning that is required to drive the innovation process forward. They were replete with discipline, but the art was missing. I recalled tales that many innovation teams had told me about their emotional ups and downs during projects. Those teams often started with great confidence and enthusiasm, but as they began to face the risks, uncertainties and obstacles of their projects, they often felt frustration, fear, overwhelm and a loss of confidence. If they jumped from there straight to generating ideas for meeting their goal, then their ideas lacked boldness, originality and stretch — they were safe, status quo kinds of ideas. I was fast appreciating the importance of empowerment and faith when facing the impassable river and demon, and their parallels in the innovation process. I began to see a basic confidence curve, depicted in Chart 21, for the majority of innovation project teams. It quickly showed me the antidote for the feelings of fear and frustration, and I named that antidote tapping into character.


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Chart 20 — Comparison of Creative JourneyTM with Other Innovation Process Models31 Creative Journey (Miller)





Challenge (Moon Set the Vision) goal

Tech push / Market pull

Mission statement


Idea/ Concept

Concept development

Idea formulation

Deming/ Value Shewhard Analysis PDCA

Juran TQM

McLean OD

Nonaka Knowledge Creation

OsbornParnes CPS

Establish specific goals

Start up

Enlarge individual knowledge

Objective finding

Analyze Establish data plans Identify / cost functions

Assessment & feedback

Share tacit knowledge

Fact finding Problem finding


Brainstorm ideas

Create Planning

Idea finding concepts


Rank/ develop ideas; Quantify benefits

Assess risks Focus Tap into character Analyze issues


Plan Do Check

System design Creative Solutions Generate ideas Decide on a solution

Completion Implement solution

Celebrate results


Implementation Manufacturing

Feasibility study 1st – 2nd screens Decision to develop

Detail design Testing/ refining

DevelProduction Development ramp up opment Validation Commercialization



Justify concepts

Plan actions Make reports

Assign Implemenclear tation responsibility


Base rewards on results

Evaluation Adoption

Solution finding

Network Accepthe tance knowledge finding


The Innovation Process

Chart 21 — Confidence Curve32

I knew from my years of experience that when we tap into our source of strength and courage, our confidence expands and our minds expand. If we stay in frustration and fear, our creative minds shrink and we come up with only the meekest, most ordinary ideas. Over time, I’ve shown this diagram to innovation teams around the world, and most of them have had an immediate Aha! moment and spoken about their experience of the confidence plunge. Reflecting on this diagram, they recognized that an immersion into a state of fear and uncertainty wasn’t all bad, and that it could become an anticipated part of their process. This new awareness allowed their character to come forth, increasing their confidence that they could move through the dark times of anxiety and uncertainty, and come out stronger and more innovative for it. While most teams identify with this pattern, some teams have found the initial uncertainty to be energizing, with very little dip at all. Together, we’ve seen how their sense of purpose, values and determination made them almost instantly ready to take on the risks. And their sense of character spoke volumes: If we really believe in the importance of this goal, and if we are going to walk our talk with our values, then we’re not going to let these risks stop us. Jumping to the last task of the Creative Journey, I named that task celebrating results to emphasize that this task had a threefold purpose: 1. To assess how well the goal was achieved 2. To identify the new knowledge that is the “boon” to carry forth to the future 3. To renew energy for taking on the next challenge


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This task signified much more than post mortem sessions during or after a project. As my clients so often taught me, a true sense of completion was needed before people were mentally and emotionally ready to take on the next challenge. Repeated experiences of ending projects without this renewal of energy often led to burnout. With these insights and the Creative Journey in hand, I felt ready to see how it fit with the wide variety of clients I had, and the innovative challenges they faced. Having an innovation conversation To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other. Looking back on innovative projects you’ve worked on: 1. What have been the energetic or emotional ups and downs that you — and your teammates — experienced during those projects? 2. How did you deal with them when they occurred? 3. How did they impact your effectiveness in generating and implementing an innovative solution? 4. How do you currently complete your innovative projects?


Chapter 5

The Innovation Process

Your Creative JourneyTM

ver the years, one of the many things I’ve discovered when using the Creative Journey is that every person, from clerical worker to executive, has personal stories about taking on challenges that they’ve never faced before, and then finding ways to meet them. Every job presents such opportunities.


For example, I once met a woman named Mary Nelson who was President of Bethel New Life in West Side Chicago in the United States — an organization dedicated to helping rejuvenate housing in run-down communities. They were an early pioneer in what has become known as the “sweat equity” approach to building housing for people who can’t afford down payments.33 Like any of us with a difficult challenge, Mary had to deal with the emotional downs and ups of the entire process — times of uncertainty and anxiety, adrenaline rushes, self-doubt, fear of failing, excitement for new ideas, frustration over impediments to implementation, and the joy of celebration. I interviewed her about what she had gone through in the early days of trying to actualize this innovative approach to low-income housing. Here’s what I asked, and a brief summary of her replies: What was your initial goal? •

We wanted to create a low-income housing alternative to the welfare system.

What were the risks? What was at stake? •

We needed to do something about housing in our community.

In ten years, we had lost 200 housing units per year in a square-mile area. Soon, there would be no community left.

Our church was a congregation of poor people, and the governor’s office and bureaucrats said, “It’s not possible.”

What was it about you — your values, your experience, your character — that gave you the confidence that you could somehow do it? •

People said, We’ve got to do it, because this is going to be a visible symbol, a visible statement that the church cares, that this is our community.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, We know finite disappointment but we know infinite hope. We have a sense that what we do, with God’s help, makes a difference.


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What were the most important issues that would require some creative ideas to resolve? •

Financing housing was a big issue

So was getting people involved

We also needed the right skills, and a “can do” attitude

What were some of the options you considered, even if you didn’t use them? •

Having the government sponsor the housing.

Doing “sweat equity,” in which people gained ownership by helping to build.

Mortgaging the church to gain capital.

Asking contractors to donate funds, labor, and/or materials.

What were the options you chose? •

Mortgaging the church to gain capital.

Doing “sweat equity.”

What did you do to implement those solutions? •

We mortgaged the buildings five times — it gave the bankers comfort that we would do everything in our power to ensure the project wouldn’t go belly-up.

We enlisted people who wanted to be homeowners rather than tenants, even if they didn’t think they had leadership or building skills.

We had meetings to hash out issues like “who gets what apartment” and used these as occasions to practice communication skills that would help people continue to manage “their” property in the future.

What were the results, and what did you learn during the process? •

It not only made affordable housing available to people who didn’t have any cash, it was a great leadership development tool. People found out they were listened to and had skills they didn’t know about.

A building is so visible. It was a positive accomplishment that bolsters everyone’s self-image and “can do” spirit. So when it comes to the drug pusher down the street, they say, Wow, we did this building, then why can’t we get rid of the drug pusher. We can do it.

Time and again over the years, when I’ve asked people to think of a challenge or opportunity they faced at work that needed an innovative solution, they’ve always had a story (or ten!) to tell in answer to this simple series of questions. It doesn’t matter what position they held in the organization, or how long they’ve worked. Everyone has a story.


The Innovation Process

What’s Your Story? One of the easiest ways to understand how the Creative Journey works is to apply it to a real-life example of your own. So, now it’s your turn… Think back to a challenge you’ve faced at work for which you didn’t have a ready solution, and you didn’t quite know where you were going to find it. This challenge might be one of the situations you thought of back in Chapter 1, regarding any of the four domains of innovation: •

Top-line / revenue producing innovation

Mid-line / process improvement innovation

Knowledge innovation

Leadership innovation

What story can you tell? To relive your quest to find a solution, consider the following eight questions: 1. What was your initial goal? 2. What were the risks? What was at stake? 3. What about you — your values, your experience, your character — gave you confidence you could somehow do it? 4. What were the most important issues that would require some creative ideas to resolve? 5. What were some of the creative ideas/options you considered, even if you didn’t use them? 6. What were the ideas/options you chose? 7. What did you do to implement those solutions? 8. What were the results, and what did you learn during the process? These are, of course, the basic questions for the Creative Journey. They are your guide to the major tasks for innovation, and the key to having innovation conversations with your colleagues in any job or department, so you can engage in an innovation process together. You might wish to ask your work colleagues this series of questions and have an “innovation story-telling” session. Reaffirm for yourselves how everyone has an innovation tale and everyone has the opportunity to contribute to innovation!


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Innovation in every day work processes Quite often, we might be engaged in an innovation process, doing innovative work, without even realizing it. That is, whether we are a manager turning around an ailing company, or a customer service representative trying to resolve a customer complaint, our innovative endeavors share a common process. For example, consider the typical work of strategic planning, marketing, new product development, or quality improvement. Chart 22 documents how we might normally describe those work processes. Note the parallels to the four stages of the Creative Journey model of the innovation process. Chart 22 — Comparing the Creative JourneyTM Model to Other Work Processes34 INNOVATION PROCESS

Strategic Planning


New Product Development

Quality Improvement


Identify strategic imperatives and assess vulnerabilities

Set target goals for product/ service; gauge market risks

Identify market opportunities and competitive threats

Become aware of quality problems


Develop scenarios of market/society/ etc. drivers

Conduct market research and analysis

Determine priority Conduct rootneeds for targeted cause analysis or customer/market other analyses segments


Generate strategies across all scenarios; integrate into one overall strategy

Generate, define, decide on ideas for media, messages and channels

Generate, screen product concepts; test prototypes; determine market/technical feasibility

Generate, decide on ways to stream-line, re-engineer, provide quality assurance, etc.


Implement strategy for business growth, organizational competency

Communicate key messages to prospects; assess customer engagement

Plan, implement & assess product introduction in test markets; roll out full product launch

Implement and monitor viability of solution; continue to refine, optimize, and improve

The point is simple: no matter what job you have, you are probably engaged in some way or another in an innovation process aimed at meeting some tangible work challenge or opportunity. Recognizing that, you can begin to apply the Creative Journey as part of the art and discipline of being innovative, no matter what process you are engaged in or what your job description is. And every time you embark on this Journey, you are going through a micro version of the character-building, transformative journey that is spoken of in all of the world’s epic literature.


The Innovation Process

Your personal purpose The next four chapters are dedicated to helping you develop the discipline as well as the art of innovation as you go through the Creative Journey. They’re filled with questions to ask, techniques to use, obstacles to side-step, and stories to inspire. But before going there, there’s a personal exercise that will help you master the art of innovation to bolster each task you undertake. What’s essential to the Creative Journey is that we put our minds, hearts and souls into what, how and why we innovate. For that, it helps to periodically step back and get a perspective on what we want to do with our lives, and how that fits into our innovative work. Let’s start with what moves you: what contribution you want to make with your life, and what motivates you to make a difference. Author Brian Swimme35 said: Precisely because you are aware of the limits of life, you are compelled to bring forth what is within you; this is the only time you have to show yourself. You can’t waste away in a meaningless job, cramming your life with trivia. The supreme insistence of life is that you enter the adventure of creating yourself. Many of us engage in innovative work because our jobs require it, but we don’t take the time to reflect on what is most meaningful for us to do with our life, and how we can express that through our work. At worst, we innovate based on limiting beliefs and then are surprised by our own unwanted creations. What’s the alternative? It’s to navigate your life with a clear sense of personal values as your compass. Your personal purpose gives a coherence and depth to your values, to guide you through life and work. There is an exercise I have used consistently with corporate clients for the past 15 years, which has helped people at all levels in the organization gain a clearer understanding of their purpose in life. Using Chart 23, you can state your personal purpose in six different ways. There may be some overlap in your answers, but start from the top and work down (I’ve given a sample answer to each question to help you get started on your own answers). The triangle symbolizes how the questions become more and more foundational to your life purpose as you move from #1 to #6.


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Chart 23 — Personal Purpose Exercise36

1. What possessions or social status do I wish to acquire? I want a comfortable retirement and a home in the Caribbean. 2. What milestones do I wish to achieve? I want to be part of growing this business by 25 percent each year over the next five years. 3. What type of experiences do I wish to have? I want to work with people of different cultures from all seven continents. 4. What gifts and talents do I want to express? I want to use my natural enthusiasm, my analytical abilities, and my determination to do things right… to help groups perform at their best. 5. What difference do I wish to make to others? I want to provide my children and the people who work with me the best opportunity to fulfill their career aspirations. 6. What type of person do I wish to become? I want to become an example of a person who is loving, trustworthy and truthful.

Now examine the thread of continuity — the purpose — that runs through your answers and gives them unity. Honestly examine all your key intentions and activities at work, and see which statement(s) you find most enduring across all of them. That’s the basis of your real-time, not-just-nice-sounding personal purpose. Notice how your values are intertwined with and illumined by your sense of purpose. Along these lines, I had a conversation with Fred Schwettman, when he was head of Hewlett-Packard’s Circuit Technology Division. He beautifully captured the importance of finding and expressing a sense of purpose through our work: We had a discussion about values and beliefs in our staff meeting to really articulate what the personal purpose of each of us was — what each of us was doing to grow. As time goes on, my purpose turns more and more spiritual. What can I contribute to people’s lives? I also have to spend my time trying to figure out how we’ll survive within this industry; this environment is tremendously competitive. But overall, when the time comes to check out, you better feel really good about what you accomplished — and making a little profit here and there is probably not going to cut it.


The Innovation Process Chapter 5

Your sense of personal purpose provides the meaning that will guide you in your innovative work. It strengthens and unifies your values into a powerful energy that spurs you on and keeps you on track. Your purpose and values are what can make you a champion of innovation whenever and wherever you choose. Having an innovation conversation To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other: 1. How would you state your overall personal purpose? 2. Looking over your story using the eight questions •

What stands out as most unique, memorable — even remarkable — about how it unfolded?

What have you learned from this?

3. How do the processes you currently use at work parallel an innovation process?


Part II

The Innovation Process

Expanding Your Innovation Conversations p to this point in the book, you’ve come to a deeper understanding of the context of What is innovation? and the role of values to drive it. You’ve reviewed a number of innovation process models and learned about the stages and tasks of the Creative Journey. You’ve seen how you and your colleagues have stories to tell about being innovative. Now is the time to begin developing more knowledge and skills in each stage of the Creative Journey.


Your conversations about the innovation process will now center around eight core questions:

In the next four chapters, you will grow in the art and discipline of innovation, starting with the Challenge Stage. As a discipline, you will gain insights, knowledge and skills to assist you in taking and leading each stage and task in the Creative Journey. As an art, you will learn how to engage in innovation conversations as you work on collective challenges. At the end, you’ll be more capable than ever to proactively initiate the innovative future you want to be part of. The Creative Journey provides a robust process you can apply in any job, with any challenge — whether you are conducting a two-hour meeting, or managing a twoyear project. You will find that many, if not all, of the tasks have a kind of divergingconverging cycle. For example, you might come up with many different statements of your purpose or goal before converging on one that seems just right. You might gather lots of facts and analyze lots of issues before identifying the top priority ones. You might generate a wide array of ideas and options before forming them into concepts and selecting the most promising ones to develop and decide on. You might try out a number of approaches to implementation before converging on the one that will work best.


The Process Par t Innovation II

These chapters will discuss the stages and tasks one by one, since a book unfolds in a linear fashion. But remember, this model is flexible, not linear; the stages and tasks often overlap. You might end up jumping from one task to another and back again, or taking them out of sequence, in the organic unfolding of your Journey. If you do jump ahead in the sequence, make sure you go back and continue where you were so that in the end, you don’t miss an important task. As a final reminder before diving in to the art and discipline of each stage and task, innovation is rarely, if ever, a solitary effort. Therefore, although you can use everything in these chapters when you work alone, I will speak in terms of your working in a team or group setting, with questions and examples that can stimulate your work together on a collective challenge.


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The Innovation Process

Taking on a Challenge Together

n the 1970s, Charles Schwab noticed that the stock brokers in Wall Street brokerage firms faced an inherent, potential conflict of interest in their work situation. Their job was to advise their clients on buying and selling stocks, bonds and other investments using recommendations supplied by in-house analysts, and the brokers were paid commissions on the transactions their clients made as a result.


What was the potential conflict of interest? On one hand, the brokers were supposed to represent their clients’ best interests; on the other hand, if their clients’ best interests were not to buy or sell investment instruments, the brokers made no money. The temptation could be to induce clients to buy and sell, whether it was really in their best interest, or not, to do so. Schwab saw another aspect of this situation as well: the firms assumed that clients themselves did not know enough about what and when to buy and sell — that they needed the analysts’ recommendations. From all of this reflection, Charles Schwab saw an ethical opportunity and a business opportunity. He decided to establish a brokerage firm with a new basis and the following business model: •

Serve customers who know what they want to invest in

Do not offer advice or recommendations; just transact orders as customers

Pay brokers/traders on salary only; no commissions

Do not employ stock/bond analysts (not needed); thereby reduce overhead costs and allow for discounted prices

Be strict in upholding the values of transparency, honesty and integrity

Avoid at all costs even the appearance of conflicts of interest

Schwab’s “discount brokerage” firm was an innovation that revolutionized the financial industry. The business model, and the business, was a hit in the marketplace, and Charles Schwab & Co. grew quickly. One of the tests of the company’s values occurred in the mid-1980s, when mutual funds were becoming quite popular. A person had to go to the specific mutual fund company to buy shares in their mutual funds; that meant having many different account statements, which made it hard to manage a portfolio. Charles Schwab had another breakthrough idea: offer a service whereby customers could buy and sell shares in a variety of mutual funds through Schwab & Co., at the same cost as if they had transacted directly with the mutual fund companies. But this meant that the customers would not have to pay Schwab an extra transaction fee, so how would Schwab make money on this service? By having the mutual fund companies, not the investors, pay Schwab for each transaction.


The Innovation Process

Many fund companies saw this service as reasonable: it would broaden their market exposure and they could absorb the cost under that rationale. Others, however, wanted to create a special class of shares with a higher management fee charged to the investors, thus recouping the fees they paid to Schwab. Schwab would not agree to this scheme, believing that under this scenario, when customers realized they were paying a higher management fee, it would appear to them to be a hidden cost — and accuse Schwab of being unethical. So, even at the expense of not signing up a big mutual fund company to participate in their new service, Schwab and his executives held firm to their values of high ethics, transparency and integrity. They eventually named this service OneSource, and it revolutionized the mutual fund market. The Challenge Stage of the Creative JourneyTM

Challenges are simply situations we want to change, problems we want to solve, or opportunities we want to actualize. A challenge is defined by a purpose or goal plus the meaningful risks involved. After all, a goal would not be a challenge if there weren’t something important at stake, or if there was an obvious way to meet it. A challenge is a call to greatness. It is a time to call upon all our experiences, be bold, test our skills, and explore the unknown. Challenges are provocative, stimulating and sometimes risky. They summon our courage and focus our energy.


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Charles Schwab saw an opportunity to take the ethical high ground and start a new industry at the same time. He embraced that challenge. He also felt a higher mission, one that was bigger than his business. That mission was, and is, to inspire every person in the country to believe in and invest in their own future. As he has told his managers time and again, when people can trust in and plan for their future and their children’s future, they prosper. He assures them that by committing to that mission, the company’s own success will grow naturally. TASK 1: Establish the purpose or goal The first task of your Creative Journey is to identify: What is our purpose or goal? Why does this question include both of the concepts purpose and goal? In one way, they mean the same thing: your intention — what you wish to accomplish overall. But purpose can imply a direction to head in, while goal can imply a destination to arrive at. Depending on your situation you may want to use one word or the other, or you may want to use both. A statement of purpose or goal is powerful. It defines what is unique about what you want to accomplish, whether it is a large task or a small one. It helps you create a picture of how the world will be a little different once you have succeeded in your Creative Journey. It should be clear enough to provide you with a direction to follow, yet without pre-determining the solution for achieving it. There may be times when it isn’t easy to get started in defining your purpose or goal. You may encounter an atmosphere of apathy, where no one seems to care about what is going on. Or people might feel discouraged by the last time they tried to innovate and weren’t 100% successful. Or they might be thinking narrowly about what kind of goal to aim for. Under these conditions, encourage everyone to think about how your project has the potential to really make a difference in other people’s lives. Focus on the value of service: How can we best serve others as well as ourselves? For example One time I was working with computer software salespeople in New York City — a rather aggressive group. I asked them to state a goal we could Journey on together. That’s easy, one person said: How to make more money, more sales and more profits. I replied, Great start… and could you restate that in terms of a customer benefit? The group paused, stunned by the question and the task. I was asking them to focus on what they could give — what they could provide — rather than what they wanted to get. Eventually they came up with, How to provide customized solutions to individual customers at a mutually beneficial price. For them to define their goal as how to serve, rather than what to get, it opened up so much more creativity and energy than the first statement. It also showed the power and value of giving as well as receiving, focusing on the reciprocal nature of sustainable business growth and value-exchange.


The Innovation Process

Asking questions to define the purpose or goal The starting point question is simple: What is our purpose or goal? To make sure you have defined your goal in terms that are the most meaningful and motivating to everyone, some secondary questions often come in handy. Here are a few you can use to broaden the discussion, and bring out the values and meaning that will energize everyone in pursuing the goal: WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE OR GOAL? • What values are important in defining the goal? • What would make this an exciting adventure? • Who do I most want to serve? • What would make any hardship worthwhile? Including the perspectives of each person’s personal purpose (from the last chapter) will also stimulate a great deal of discussion about your shared purpose or goal. How can each of us fulfill our own purpose while working on this specific challenge together? At times, you may find that members of your group have competing statements, and it’s difficult to come to a consensus on the purpose or goal. In that case, look for a broader statement, one at a higher level of abstraction, for which the competing statements might all be potential solutions. Then, bring back those competing ideas later on, as the first creative options for meeting the goal. Also, sometimes it might be hard to pin down and craft a statement of your purpose or goal. If you find your group getting bogged down, agree to a simple, OK for now statement of your purpose to get you going on your Journey. Then, move on to the next task (assessing your risks) with the intention of coming back to refine your goal statement later. Remember, the Creative Journey is a flexible, overlapping process. You can always return to this task and clarify your purpose as your perspective gets clearer. One technique: The Right Scope for the Goal As you start on your Creative Journey, realize that you are taking on the responsibility for actually changing things. How big of a change do you want to take on? What fits with your level of empowerment to influence or make a change? A purpose or goal becomes frustrating if it is defined in terms that are too narrow to really accomplish what people are aiming for, or if it is so broad you don’t have the power or influence to actually achieve it. So, one technique you can use to make sure the scope of your goal is just right — not too narrow and not too broad — is shown in Chart 24.


Chapter 6

Chart 24 — Right Scope for the Goal37 Write the initial statement of your goal in the middle of an inverted cone. Ask, Why do we want this? Write the answer above your first statement. That can lead to a goal statement that is broader in scope. You can keep asking Why? questions to make your goal more and more broad. In the other direction, ask, What is a key barrier to achieving our original goal statement? Write that answer below the original statement. That can lead to a goal statement that is narrower in scope. You can keep asking, “What is a barrier to that?” to make your goal more and more narrow.

Broadest statement of the goal WHY? Broader statement of the goal WHY?

Initial statement of the goal BARRIER? Narrower statement of the goal BARRIER? Narrowest statement of the goal

Once you’ve taken this step, review the different statements. Choose the scope that best matches your power to implement an innovative solution and your willingness to make a difference. A case in point As an example, imagine that your company has gone through downsizing and a reorganization to enable it to respond faster to changes in customer needs and market demands. (Is this too hard to imagine?) You’re part of a team with representatives from all over the organization, with the goal of figuring out how to improve morale. How do you begin tackling this challenge? Your first meeting may be devoted solely to defining your challenge. Begin with any first definition of your goal from anyone. As a group, work with expanding or narrowing the scope until everyone agrees it is both big enough to be meaningful, yet small and manageable enough to empower your group to achieve it. For example, you could ask: Key Question: What is our purpose or goal? Formulate an initial goal statement: To ensure positive morale in our new work environment after a difficult reorganization To broaden your goal statement, ask Why do we want to do this? and restate your initial goal in broader terms: To create a work environment where employees are content and loyal to the company


The Innovation Process

To narrow your goal statement, ask What is a key barrier to achieving this? and restate your initial goal in more narrow terms: To ensure clear communication and high satisfaction among employees Choose a scope for your goal that your group is both motivated and empowered to achieve, and formulate your final goal statement: To ensure positive morale and high satisfaction among employees and management in our new work environment Checkpoint Every stage and task of the innovation process has a checkpoint to ensure that you’ve done it well. What the Creative Journey requires from a purpose or goal statement is everyone’s intention and commitment to achieve it. An affirmation that often signals your team’s full commitment is the feeling that, We can make a difference! So here’s the first set of checkpoint questions to ask when you’re leading a group through a collective Creative Journey. Checkpoint: Commitment to achieving the goal •

Have we defined our challenge based on our personal values?

Do we feel an inner motivation to stretch and serve others?

After a group feels like they have consensus on how they would state their purpose or goal, I often conduct a little test: I ask them to rate their enthusiasm for working on that goal, on a 1-5 scale, where 1 means little or no enthusiasm at all, and 5 means a great deal of enthusiasm. Then, I poll the group. If any single person rates their enthusiasm at a 3 or lower, I ask that person to offer a more motivating version of the goal, while encouraging the group to listen closely. I keep working on the goal statement until everyone is at a 4 or 5. Then and only then, am I assured that the group is ready to move on to the next task. TASK 2: Assess the risks The second task of the Creative Journey is to assess the risks entailed. What risks do we face? What’s at stake? Most often, once a commitment has been made to a goal, the first thoughts that pop up in our minds are all the risks. The more important the goal, the more likely a fear of failure will arise, or a reaction to back off and not “rock the boat” — to play it safe and stick with what already exists rather than to risk trying something new. Ironically, however, the biggest risk you can take in a fast changing world is to avoid change yourself.


Chapter 6

Many people believe there is a natural resistance to uncertainty and the chance of failure. Yet I’ve found it’s equally natural to prefer and even to seek those kinds of situations. As a simple example: When I’ve spoken at conferences, I’ve often asked audiences which they would prefer to attend — a sports match where one team was so superior that there was no suspense about who would win; or a championship game, where both teams were highly talented and the outcome might not be decided until the final minute. Invariably, the vast majority of people choose the latter. The point is that most of us actually like some level of uncertainty and suspense — and if the stakes are not high enough, we lose interest. When you’re facing a new challenge, it helps to name the uncertainty, the risks and the fears. Get them on the table, so you can all see what they are. Focus on the value of well-being: How might the well-being of our stakeholders and us be at risk? This way, no one is alone with their anxieties, and you have a chance to deal with them collectively. For example For many people, taking on a new challenge can feel like climbing a tall mountain. In fact, the art and discipline of innovation can draw many lessons from mountain climbing. Prior to 1953, people around the world thought that it was virtually impossible to climb to the peak of Mount Everest — Chomolungma as it was known locally — the highest place on earth at 29,028 feet. Imagine the uncertainty and risks that Col. John Hunt faced as he and his team of men started up its steep slopes. They had no maps to follow, and couldn’t predict the weather. They didn’t even know exactly how far they had to go. Injury or death was always a possibility — other people before them had suffered those fates. Hunt and his entire team of experienced climbers stayed focused on each other’s well-being. They knew that the best way to get to the top was to pay close attention to their environment, stay tuned to the risks they were taking, and then rely on their common purpose, innovative skills, and experience to carry them through to their goal — together. May 29, 1953 was the culminating moment for Col. Hunt’s team. On that day, a New Zealand beekeeper, Edmund Hillary, and a Nepalese Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, stood on the top of the world for the first time. They embodied the spirit of the entire team: The real point of mountain climbing, as of most hard sports, is that it voluntarily tests the human spirit against the fiercest odds. Hillary and Tenzing were two cheerful and courageous fellows doing what they liked doing, and did best. Neither went in for unnecessary bravado; they were considerate members of a team.38


The Innovation Process

Asking questions to assess the risks In this second task in the Challenge stage, think about what is at stake — what could be the consequences if you fail to meet the goal, or even if you succeed? Those consequences could be either positive or negative. The main question here is simple, What risks do we face? But here are some other questions you can use to broaden the discussion and bring out the values and meaning that will clarify what you’re dealing with: WHAT RISKS DO WE FACE? • What might be at odds with our values? • What’s at stake in this situation — what could be the effects of either success or failure? • What do we fear might happen in this situation? • What biases might keep us from seeing the risks objectively? We may easily define the risks, but to say we’re anxious or afraid is not often culturally acceptable. In acknowledging that feelings of anxiety or fear are normal, the issue is what to do with those feelings: Do we let them stop us? Do we try to suppress them? Neither one of these options really works, given the stresses that the innovation process can bring on. I’ve found that if these issues are not put on the table openly at this point, they come back later to haunt the entire innovation process. They surface as hidden agendas when people begin killing ideas and options right and left. On the surface, they say that the idea is no good; underneath, it’s because a risk or fear has not been put out into the open in defining the challenge. What works best is to bring the fears and anxieties into the light, and trust the innovation process to address them in a constructive way. When the risks are voiced in this way, then they become “grist for the mill”39 in prioritizing key issues and generating options for resolving them. They become the very stimulus for more innovative solutions, rather than the barriers to them! One technique: Knowledge-Differentiation Analysis Businesses and organizations use a great many tools and techniques to assess risk, including techniques for competitive analysis and vulnerability analysis. The choice of technique depends on your goal. For example, if your goal is to differentiate your organization from others in your field, especially in this information age, you might want to conduct a knowledge-gap analysis. Using the grid in Chart 25, fill in the key knowledge that is pertinent to achieving your purpose or goal.


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Chart 25 — Knowledge-Gap Analysis40 Others know

Others don’t know

We know



We don’t know



Then, assess the knowledge according to Chart 26.

Chart 26 — Assessing the Knowledge41

We know

We don’t know

Others know

Others don’t know

1 This knowledge is needed “just to be in the game”

3 This knowledge is unique to us

2 This knowledge is unique to our competitors

4 This knowledge could be a future source of differentiation

You can use this analysis to determine what kind of knowledge-based risks you face: •

What knowledge do we need to gain that others already know, so we can be in the game?

What knowledge do we have (in Box 3) to leverage for our advantage?

What new knowledge might we, or others, create (in Box 4) for future differentiation?

A case in point Come back to our hypothetical situation, where you’re part of a team trying to figure out how to improve morale and satisfaction in your company. Imagine that you and your group bring to light all the risks related to your goal, and what’s really at stake for your stakeholders. Your list might include: Key Question: What risks do we face? •

A breakdown in communications between management and employees

A lack of work coordination due to changing jobs and moving managers around

Increasing feelings of job insecurity: “When is the next layoff? Will I lose my job?”

Interference with good productivity

Losing the best of our remaining talent pool, as they seek new jobs elsewhere


The Innovation Process Chapter 6

Checkpoint The checkpoint for this task in the Creative Journey is that your team is fully aware of the risks involved and what’s at stake for failure or success. An indicator of this awareness is the assurance that, We know the risks — and we’ll keep going! So, two questions for your second checkpoint are: Checkpoint: Conscious risk-taking •

Are we aware of the potential risks and benefits?

Are we conscious of any blocks to taking appropriate risk?

Having an innovation conversation To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other. 1. What are the most memorable challenges you have worked on? What made them memorable? 2. How does your personal purpose and your values shape the kinds of goals you most like to work on? 3. When it comes to your current projects, what kinds of risks do you, your company, and your clients face? 4. How does it feel to be facing those risks?


The Innovation Process

Chapter 7

Focusing Together on What It Takes an you emphasize deeply held personal values and still run a successful business?


For Dick Eppel, general manager of a communication system division of a major electronics corporation, the answer is a resounding Yes! He took the job with the assignment of turning the division around. The marketing and sales departments had been so successful with an innovative campaign they overwhelmed the company’s capacity to deliver on its contracts. It was about to sink under the weight of failed commitments. He later told me the story of what happened: It was definitely a division in serious trouble, a result of too much success in their marketing activities without enough forethought for how they were going to execute that successfully. Clearly, one goal had to be to satisfy the customer. And the second thing was to get the people to believe that there was a recovery possible here. We set up a prioritization of what customers we were going to satisfy within a time frame, with the goal that we were going to satisfy all customers. We would not take on any more business whatsoever that would jeopardize satisfying our current customers. That was to convince the employees that we weren’t asking impossible things of them. Everything had to be credible — the “road map,” the vision, the “how-you’re going-to-get-there ”— all had to be credible. But the process was not easy for Dick to go through: I was the one who had to say “No.” I was the one who had to say, “Trust me.” I was the one who had to say, “Once we get through this, then we are all going to win.” I knew I was taking a risk. I knew the risk, and I put myself out there. For the first six months, I went home every night feeling sorry for myself. I had asked for more than I could swallow. I had feelings of just wanting to go away and hide. But over time I developed a certain sense of positiveness and perseverance. You’re not licked until you quit. More than once, a salesman came to Dick with a potential new customer who wanted a delivery date that Dick knew they couldn’t meet. The salesman wanted an exception to their strategy, so he could get the sale. Dick knew he had to stand firm: The worst thing I could do was cave in. I hung tough on not accepting business that we couldn’t deliver on. That was a test. One day, I met with a prospective customer, looked him in the eye, and said, “Do you want me to lie to you?” I used words that had an emotional impact, but there was no ambiguity. He accepted that. It turned out that we could execute good business, deliver on that business, and manage it on a schedule, even though there were threats of customers going someplace else, or walking away from it.


The Innovation Process

After two years, things were significantly improved. Turnover was down. We got the division to breakeven, or pretty close to breakeven. Every contract got delivered on — every contract. The most important piece that we saved has represented about $13-20 million per year of cash-rich profits ever since. What did it take for Dick and his division to succeed? He named two things besides having the right strategy: One was a sense of positive perseverance: positive expectations, positive visualization. That had a lot to do with the result. The second thing was that the management team, for one reason or another, came together in a way that was very unique to me. There was a sense of caring and concern for everybody coming out of this hole as a whole organization. I’ve always felt like I had good teams to work with, but in this one there was a bonding beyond friendship and camaraderie. I even say there was a genuine sense of love, even though that was never expressed verbally. The Focus Stage of the Creative JourneyTM

After the excitement of embracing a challenge comes the discipline of focusing yourself to prepare for the demands of your Journey. That focus actually has two aspects: • Inside, to have the confidence and courage that you and your teammates can be bigger than the challenge, given all the risks involved • Outside, to gather the facts and perspectives to fully understand what you’re dealing with as you strive to achieve your purpose or goal


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Thus, there are two important tasks in this stage — what I call tapping into your character and analyzing and prioritizing the key issues. Sometimes, in the rush to understand the issues right away, teams might want to skip past what they perceive to be the “soft stuff” of identifying the values and experiences that each person, and the team as a whole, brings to the Journey. Yet that temptation to rush is the very sign of being uncomfortable with the feelings associated with the challenge, and is a sure indicator of the need for this type of inner focus. This feeling of discomfort is exactly what Dick Eppel experienced. He was putting himself, as well as his company, on the line, and it didn’t feel good. At times, it seemed to be more than he could swallow. But he tapped into his own character, regained some positiveness, and soon his management team began to feel it too. So, when he focused on two key issues — satisfying current customers and not taking on more work until things were turned around — he and his team could work to come out of their trouble together. Task 3: Tap into Character The third task of your Creative Journey is to recognize what qualities you possess that will give you the strength to meet your challenges. What can you count on to pull you through tough times? As you look over your list of risks, you might feel overwhelmed, anxious, or dispirited. The mood of your meetings could be pretty low. If you plunge ahead to analyze the problem or generate ideas without addressing this problem, you’ll likely end up with even more tension and wheel-spinning. If people’s hearts aren’t in it, you’ll be going through the motions while people secretly don’t believe you can really be successful. During this period, you and others may need a sense of inner harmony and positive outlook. For that, cultivate the value of inner peace and find your own answers to What is the source of my peace of mind and self-confidence? This sense of self-confidence enables you to be more flexible and open minded. For example Every innovation process has its “dark nights” of low confidence, which must be accepted as just a natural part of the process — it’s OK. Even a genius like Albert Einstein had to go through those periods. After successfully describing a previously mysterious orbit behavior of the planet Mercury using his gravitational field equations, he said: In the light of knowledge attained, the happy achievement seems almost a matter of course. But the years of anxious searching in the dark, with their intense longing, their alternations of confidence and exhaustion, and the final emergence into light — only those who have themselves experienced it can understand that I was beside myself with joy for days.42


The Innovation Process

Asking questions to tap into character At this point you need to stop, look inward, and re-establish the inner peace and self confidence of everyone on your team. Remind yourself that you’ve been in tight places before and managed to beat the odds, and if you have done it before you can do it again. Here are a few questions you can use to broaden the discussion and bring out the values and meaning that will build your confidence for pursuing the goal: WHAT GIVES US CONFIDENCE? • What strength and courage do our values give us? • How can we handle the pressures we may face? • What knowledge, skills and experience can we draw upon? • What is the opportunity for personal/professional growth? In your Creative Journey, your personal purpose and values will give you the courage and determination you need to meet your challenge. It also helps to take stock of the unique talents and experiences you all bring to it. You will have to call upon the moral strength you get from your values, and your unique blend of talent and experience to get you through the tough times ahead. One technique: Relying on Each Other It’s one thing to rely on yourself and your own inner qualities to get you through a difficult situation. It’s another to do that within a work team or group. In the midst of work stresses, we might be tempted to try to seize control rather than rely on team synergy, yet there can be a welcome strength in numbers. Here’s an exercise to unleash that strength, build synergy, and uplift the spirit of everyone on the team. 1. For each person on your team, write your answers to two questions on separate sheets of paper — one sheet for each team member: • What is it about this person that gives me, personally, more confidence that the team can succeed? • What can I learn from this person? 2. Distribute these papers for each person to read. Afterwards, have each person report to the whole group on the following: • What pleased me the most from what I read was… • What surprised me the most was… • The team can count on me to… Keep the list of what each person can be counted on for. Use all this information to bolster confidence whenever tough times emerge.


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A case in point Let’s go back to the case of ensuring positive morale and high satisfaction among employees and management in the new work environment. Given the risks your team previously identified, the task now is to spend some high quality meeting time identifying the strengths of each individual, the team as a whole, and the company. For example, using the exercise given above, your list might end up including: Key Question: What gives us confidence? • We believe in each other • Each person brings a different skill • We feel motivated and energized, with a positive attitude • We work well together, towards a single purpose • We recognize that “there is only one way to go, and that is up!” • Executives are actively offering their support • People in the organization are hungry for a feeling of “We can do it!” Checkpoint As we’ve seen, every task of your Creative Journey has a checkpoint to ensure that it’s been handled well. For this task, the checkpoint is a willingness and enthusiasm to move forward, even amidst the risks and uncertainty. A sign of this intention is the affirmation, “We are confident and courageous!” To check this out with everyone on your team, here are two questions you can ask: Checkpoint: Character and courage •

Are we willing to stay true to our values?

Do we trust our inner courage and capabilities?

TASK 4: Analyze and Prioritize the Issues The fourth task of your Creative Journey is to analyze and prioritize the key issues that will need creative and innovative solutions to achieve your goal. What are the priority issues that need resolving? The first thing your team has to do is get a clear definition of exactly what is involved in the purpose or goal you want to achieve. Be sure you are dealing with the cause and not the symptoms. You may find that everyone has a different opinion of what the issues are. Patiently listening to everyone’s thoughts on the matter can be illuminating, even if at times it’s confusing to get so many different points of view. Welcome these diverse viewpoints and gather all the information you can to be sure that you identify the right issues. With your investigation, focus on the value of truth. Based on everyone’s input: What’s the true, complete story about the most important issues to resolve?


The Innovation Process

For example In September 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the U.N. Millennium Declaration. In doing so, they committed their countries to a new global partnership aimed at reducing extreme poverty, with specific targets to be met by 2015. Their assessment of the most important issues to address resulted in a set of eight priorities:43 1. Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty 2. Achieve universal primary education 3. Promote gender equality and empower women 4. Reduce child mortality 5. Improve maternal health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases 7. Ensure environmental sustainability 8. Develop a global partnership for development Each of these priorities was huge enough to become its own goal:44 The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions — income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion — while promoting gender equality, education and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights — the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter and security. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the over-arching goal of reducing extreme poverty would require innovative solutions at many levels:45 Overcoming human poverty will require a quantum leap in scale and ambition: more nationally owned strategies and policies, stronger institutions, wider participatory processes, focused investments in economic and social infrastructure, and more resources, domestic and external. An “umbrella” issue also needs innovative solutions: how to engage the political and social will needed to end “business as usual” and bring about change. As the new Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon stated in 2007:46 We will have time to reach the Millennium Development Goals — worldwide and in most, or even all, individual countries — but only if we break with business as usual. Success will require sustained action across the entire decade between now and the deadline. We must start now. It’s this kind of prioritization that allows groups of people — large and small — to see what needs to be addressed and begin generating the innovative ways to get it done.


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Asking questions to analyze and prioritize key issues In this second task of the Focus stage, the main question is simple: What are the priority issues? Here are a few questions you can use to deepen the discussion and bring out the values and meaning that will energize you in pursuing the goal: WHAT ARE THE PRIORITY ISSUES? • What do stakeholders say are their key concerns? • What are the primary barriers to overcome? • What is the hidden truth about this situation? • What truth is the hardest to accept? One technique: Stakeholder Analysis You can draw on a great many tools and techniques for your analysis — such as root cause analysis, force-field analysis, and morphological analysis — depending on the nature of your goal. One that is particularly useful in many situations is stakeholder analysis, in which you get input from as many people as possible who might contribute to and/or be affected by the solution you generate and implement. For example, suppose you were in a sales department and your best product began to decline in sales, what would you do? Develop a new sales promotion? Offer a higher bonus to salespeople to motivate them more? That might not get at the real source of the decline. To better understand what might be causing the decline in sales, you could bring together a group from all departments. Include R&D, IT, engineering, manufacturing, operations, purchasing, marketing, finance, and human resources — and then add some customers and suppliers to the mix as well. Ask each one to state, from their perspective, what they believe the key issues to be. In doing so, you might uncover a quality control problem that has recently cropped up, or a shipping or distribution delay caused by widespread cases of the flu, or a competitor’s product that just got announced. Who knows, until you find out? Ultimately, getting this kind of broad input, and doing this kind of search of key causes, will help you understand what you’re really dealing with. And that will focus you on what kind of solution is needed to achieve your goal. A case in point As your team continues its work on improving morale and satisfaction in your organization, your focus will get sharper when you involve people with diverse backgrounds to help identify, analyze and prioritize the most significant issues that need to be resolved. As one of the many ways of analyzing, you might examine the challenge from the points of view of different stakeholders. For example:


The Innovation Process Chapter 7

Key Question: What are the priority issues? Stakeholders

Key Issues


How to foster clear communications between employees and managers

Team leaders

How to get the resources each team needs from the executives


How to meet all of our customers’ needs with fewer people


How to make the numbers and ensure the organization is productive

Although this level of digging into the facts may seem tedious to some members of your team, meeting together to air different viewpoints will build trust and confidence that everyone’s key issues will be addressed. By focusing well on this task, people will feel that their input was respected; as a result, they will be more likely to provide their active support later on. Checkpoint The checkpoint for this task of the innovation process is to be sure that everyone is learning together to figure out what issues most need your attention. Affirming, We can learn from all viewpoints! is evidence of your team heading in the right direction. To check out how well you’re actually doing this, here are two questions you can ask: Checkpoint: Cooperative learning •

Have we sought input from people of different backgrounds?

Have we analyzed the issues from a broad perspective?

Having an innovation conversation To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other. 1. When you’ve felt frustrated or discouraged during past work projects, what was it about yourself — your values, character, or experience — that helped you through it all? 2. With teams you’ve been on, what has helped everyone to pull together during tough times? 3. When you’re faced with having to gather facts and get input to understand a problem or issue, do you rush through it, over-do it, or something in between?


The Innovation Process

Chapter 8

Finding Innovative Solutions Together

’m often asked, What do values have to do with creative brainstorming? What difference do they make? I directly experienced an answer to this question when I worked with the top 75 managers at Excel Industries in India. Excel is an agricultural-chemical company that has pioneered work in rain farming, watershed management, and other such eco-friendly measures using alternative energy sources; minimizing the effect of chemical fertilizers; and applying organic enzymes to make compost from municipal and industrial waste. From its inception, the company’s commitment to values was laid down by its three founding brothers. One of them, K.C. Schroff, has stated:


The 21st century will see the rise of a new culture, one that is based on holistic principles, harmony and sustainable development. In 1995, The Week magazine in India recognized Mr. Schroff as Man of the Year for his work on sustainable development in arid rural areas. In 2000, the Indian Environmental Association gave an Award of Excellence to him in recognition of his pioneering service for environmental protection and preservation for more than five decades. Excel’s 50-year mission statement ends with these words about its purpose for being in business: We have a responsibility towards the industry and community. The rural community is the heart of India. We will be friends and contributors to the well being of both the industrial and the rural community. Company is family. We will work and contribute, learn and grow together. This is our resolution and we resolve so. I conducted one session of Excel’s management conference on the theme of Building a World Class Plus Company through Innovation, Creativity and Enhanced Competence. At one point during the session, I had the managers generate ideas in small groups for how they could achieve a new level of being a world-class company within the next two years, using the following questions to stimulate their innovative thinking: • What can we imagine as our ideal, long-term future? • What can we do to build on what we’ve done? • What can we combine to form a new way of working? • What can we do that is totally unique? They were all sincerely engaged in bringing forth ideas to take their company into an even brighter future, and were having a productive time building on each other’s ideas. When I asked different groups to share their top ideas with the full group, the ideas were creative, diverse and potent.


The Innovation Process

Then, I had them generate even more ideas based on the following values-based questions: • How can we fulfill the highest ideals of our values? • What would be a natural expression of our values? • How can we include the values of everyone? • What would challenge/stretch us to grow in our values? The energy, intensity and “buzz” level in the room began to rise noticeably, and the idea-generation became more animated. When I asked them to report their top ideas based on the values questions, it was evident to all that there was more passion and commitment in their voices. The ideas that were stimulated by the values-based questions became the centerpiece concepts around which the managers built their sincere commitment to the future of their company. The Creative Solutions Stage of the Creative JourneyTM

Up to this point in your Journey, you’ve defined your purpose or goal, become aware of the risks, gained confidence that you can do it, and prioritized the key issues that you have to address. Now comes the time to generate, develop and decide on what you’re actually going to do to achieve what you’ve set out to do. This stage has two key tasks: (1) generating ideas that might meet your challenge; and (2) developing the best options and deciding on your optimal, innovative solution. It is tempting to do these two tasks simultaneously — coming up with one idea and evaluating it immediately; then, generating another idea and deciding whether it’s good or not, and so on. Unfortunately, this tendency can harm the effectiveness of this stage of the Journey, as good ideas can be killed before their potential is seen.


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I’ve found it very helpful to view these two tasks as quite separate — likened to the process of setting out all the dishes for a huge buffet dinner, and then choosing what you want to eat from the buffet table: • You first prepare and lay out all kinds of appetizers, salads, main courses, side dishes, drinks and deserts. You want to be sure that you have enough variety that everyone will have something they like. And you wouldn’t think of leaving out a whole category, like main courses or desserts. • Then, when people take their plates to the buffet, they’ll select some of this and try some of that, see what they like best, and leave other dishes alone — perhaps not taking the very foods that others want to pile on their plate. Later, each person may find a special liking for a particular dish, and come back for more. In the same way, when you generate your ideas, your first task is to lay out a wide variety of options, so that everyone’s tastes are represented. Then, as a very separate task, you begin to evaluate and select what you want to try — your first draft solution. After assessing the feasibility and promise of your first draft solution, and perhaps prototyping and pilot testing some of the ideas, you can make your most informed decision about what is best. Of course, you may jump back and forth between the tasks. As you are in the midst of developing and deciding, you may see the need to go back and generate more ideas to round out a concept. And as you’re brainstorming, you may take a peek at your decision criteria to help you see where you need more ideas. But by keeping these two tasks separate in your minds, you will end up with a more comprehensive, as well as creative, set of ideas to choose from, without overlooking perhaps the most promising concepts. Your personal purpose and values, as well as the team’s values, can stimulate, energize, guide and confirm your progress through this stage. At Excel, as they collaboratively worked to Build a World Class Plus Company through Innovation, Creativity and Enhanced Competence, they found that their values did just that. And the outcome was a committed and confident management group, knowing that they were coming up with the innovative solutions that would get them there. TASK 5: Generate ideas The fifth task of your Creative Journey is to generate as many new ideas as you possibly can: What creative ideas do we have? This task is where you want to bring your creative thinking alive. Each of us has our own special recipe for cooking up new ideas. You may like to gather lots of information that can help spark new ideas — including reports, articles, pictures, cartoons, famous quotes, or even a book of jokes. Or you may like to collect stories to draw from, or plan time to start from scratch, with a blank sheet of paper. Your most stimulating, even humorous, experiences as a team can occur at meetings where you dream up creative ideas to solve your challenge. Humor is a great way to spark new ideas. It gets you thinking differently about issues. Juxtaposing ideas that don’t logically belong together can open your mind up to a whole new world of possibilities.


The Innovation Process

You can generate ideas on your own, in informal team meetings, or full brainstorming sessions. Including different kinds of people in your idea-generation is also good to try. For example, you might want to include customers, technology specialists, experts, artists, workers, or even kids, to get some fresh perspectives and ideas. On the wall of your meeting room, place these reminders so everyone understands the spirit of idea-generation: • Stretch yourself to see the big picture • Write down your ideas right away • Be confident and take a risk — even half-baked ideas are OK • Try on new points of view • Don’t judge your ideas prematurely • Generate as many ideas as possible • Build on other’s ideas But if you find that your ability to generate more solutions is getting bogged down, it helps to remind yourself of the value of playfulness. Apply not only your mind, but lighten up your spirit and ask, What are creative ideas that make us smile? You may be surprised at how much energy and inspiration that question gives you to generate your ideas. Asking questions to generate ideas The headline question for brainstorming your ideas is simple: What creative ideas do we have? Here are a few more detailed questions you can use to broaden your innovative thinking, and bring out values that will spark a “buffet table” of ideas: WHAT CREATIVE IDEAS DO WE HAVE? •

What ideas are inspired by our values?

What ideas could give an ideal solution?

What ideas could build upon what we’ve done previously?

What ideas could be radically new and revolutionary?

What ideas could combine different elements?

When you are generating ideas, you need to be as original as you can. The more ideas and alternatives you can develop, the better. Be careful not to stop too soon, or to judge the quality of the ideas before you have a chance to see their full potential. Be aware of how often you interrupt the flow of ideas with idea-killers — those thoughts we tell ourselves or hear from others that bring up our fears of being seen as impractical or stupid. How many times have you thought, or had others say: •

Oh, that will never work.

That’s a crazy (or dumb) idea.

Top management will never go for it.

That’s already been tried.


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That idea is too far out there.

________. (silence)

No one I’ve met has gone through a brainstorming session without thinking of at least a few of these idea-killers, but you can actually use this to your advantage! Imagine a diving board: when someone jumps on the end, the board first goes down before springing the person higher into the air. By analogy, an idea-killing statement like, That would be too costly, depresses the board. But you can use that to launch a creative idea that would solve that same objection, by asking, How can we make this idea more costeffective? One technique: The Wheel Exercise Many good techniques are available to help you generate ideas. As you plan your brainstorming session, be sure to include techniques that start with facts, and those that start from scratch. Using both sides of your brain helps you come up with ideas that appeal to both your values and your mind. An easy-to-use technique is called the “Wheel” exercise. It starts by drawing a diagram like Chart 27. Chart 27 — The Wheel Exercise47

Then: •

In the middle, write your purpose or goal

In the outer ring, write your most important values, as well as the question, What ideas are inspired by our values?

In the top section write, What ideas could give an ideal solution?

In the left section write, What ideas could build upon what we’ve done previously?

In the right section write, What ideas could be radically new and revolutionary?

In the bottom section write, What ideas could combine different elements?


The Innovation Process

The hub of your wheel is your purpose or goal. The substance of the wheel is based on the strength of your creative ideas. And the wheel’s tire is your set of values. Values provide the spirit, from the Latin and Greek words for breath, that give you a good ride on your Creative Journey. If your values are deflated, the tires have no air, and the wheel — the idea generation process — won’t have all the power it could have. Use your Wheel to guide and prompt you in generating your creative ideas. Be sure to use each of the five idea-stimulating questions. A case in point Consider again the case of your team working to achieve positive morale and high satisfaction among employees and management. And suppose you were focusing on the priority issue (from the previous task — Task 4) of how to foster clear communications between employees and managers. Your team’s creative ideas might include something like this: Key Question: What creative ideas do we have? Focus Issue: How to foster clear communications between employees and managers •

A special event for everyone to interact in a positive and entertaining way

Follow-up staff meetings with managers, leaders and employees

Inviting families to participate in a meeting on where the company is going

Posters, plaques, banners to communicate new initiatives and positive messages

“Idea fairs,” where employees can have a booth to present their ideas for implementing new goals, and managers can “shop” for ideas they want to implement

Awards for “re-org and renewal” performance — getting things back up to speed

Fifteen-minute videos for staff meetings

Videotape interviews with customers about their needs, to inspire everyone to work together to fill those needs

Checkpoint The checkpoint for this task is quite simple: creativity that includes a diverse set of perspectives and ideas. This creativity will often be characterized by humor, play, sincerity, thoughtfulness and open-mindedness. An affirmation that signals this openness is, We seek creative ideas with open minds! Checkpoint: Creativity with diversity •

Do I have a wide array of creative ideas?

Have I generated ideas from multiple points of view?


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TASK 6: Develop and decide on a solution The sixth task of your Creative Journey is to find the solution that will solve your challenge and take advantage of your opportunity: What is the best solution? When you’ve finished your round of idea-generation, you have a set of creative ideas. Those now become your options for developing and making a decision about the right solution to achieve your purpose or goal. What to choose as your final solution is rarely obvious from the beginning. It takes a process of first converging on the most promising ideas, then seeing if anything is missing, or if there is an obstacle to be overcome to make that idea work. In those cases, you have to develop the ideas with some additional brainstorming. Then, you might need to do some in-depth market and/or technical feasibility studies to test out the value of the top ideas. You may even have to develop a prototype or model of the idea, and test it further. Finally, you’ll get to the point of applying your criteria to make a final decision about the innovative solution you want to implement. All along the way, don’t forget that it’s important to include other people in this task. Reach out to those stakeholders who could be impacted by your solution, and who might play a role in implementing it. Get them involved in developing your idea further, and ask them to give input to your decision-making process. Be willing to modify your idea to make it more practical. Focus on the value of collaboration at every turn, asking, How can we collaborate to decide on the best solution? That will help to gain everyone’s acceptance and support for your final decision. Here are five other important things to keep in mind: 1. Be clear on your criteria. Refer back to your purpose or goal, as well as your values. They will provide you with the guidance you need to assess which options have the best chance to succeed. 2. Let the best solution emerge. Sometimes we might have a favorite solution, an important self-interest, or a desire for a convenient solution. Or we might just be stubborn. Put aside these tendencies so you can work together to find the best solution for everyone. 3. Use intuition as well as facts. Facts and intuition are both important inputs for making a final decision. Facts and data may have a pattern that your intuition can reveal. And your intuitive feel for the situation can guide you to search for more facts, if necessary. With both, you’ll be playing with “a full deck of cards” in making your decision. 4. Look for low fruit and high fruit. Evaluate each idea for its short-term feasibility, as well as its potential to produce an innovative solution over the long haul. Then, connect the two, so that short-term solutions take you along the path to the long-term ones. 5. Seek values-based commitment. If a solution makes logical sense but doesn’t inspire commitment, that solution is not likely to fulfill your hopes for it. Use the same enthusiasm test you saw for the original purpose or goal statement


The Innovation Process

to ensure that the decision matches your team members’ values and personal purposes. For example A few years back, 3M’s Industrial Tape Division set growth goals that their product portfolio and products pipeline were not likely to meet. Their R&D director called me to conduct a multi-day workshop with her managers to generate new, promising concepts for technology development. On the first morning, I said, There’s a sea of issues and opportunities to explore, but first, let’s check out the boat (their teamwork). Among other things, we discussed the double-binds they felt stressed by. As they spoke, the pile of pressures began to seem more and more absurd, and they started to laugh at it all. Then, we began to examine how they could make their diversity of perspectives an advantage, rather than a hindrance, in this session. By the end of the morning, the group was seaworthy and ready to venture out onto the ocean of issues they faced. We had agreed ahead of time that their future business environment was hard to predict, and that it could be very risky to develop ideas based on any single set of assumptions about future conditions. So, we developed three qualitatively different scenarios for the future business environment that they and their competitors might all face. For each scenario, they generated new product ideas, concepts and strategies. Periodically, we took a break in the action to check out the boat. How synergistically were they working together? And what else could they do? A few weeks after the managers had identified their most promising concepts, the R&D and Marketing organizations got together to sponsor an “idea fair” to help select which ones to develop and ultimately decide upon. The R&D people had booths where they presented their concepts, while marketing managers visited the booths, heard the concepts, and made linkages between what they heard and their customers’ needs. When something clicked, an early partnership grew between R&D and Marketing to take a closer look, develop the concept into a prototype, and test it in the marketplace. Asking questions to develop and decide on a solution The main question for this sixth task of the Creative Journey is simple: What solution do we choose? As we’ve discussed, answering that question can be quite involved. Here are a few more detailed questions you can use to enhance your conversation and make it lively and earnest: WHAT SOLUTION DO WE CHOOSE? •

What solution is called for by our values?

What is a sustainable, long-term solution?

What are some quick wins?

What are the hidden gems?

What solutions are we willing to persist for?


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And remember, as you consider these questions, keep the five guidelines in mind: 1. Be clear on your criteria 2. Let the best solution emerge 3. Use intuition as well as facts 4. Look for high fruit and low fruit 5. Seek values-based commitment Two techniques: Collage Solution and Criteria Checkerboard You can use the Collage Solution tool to converge on the most promising ideas; then, those ideas might need further development. For this technique, you can start by declaring, Each person automatically gets their favorite idea accepted into a first-draft, “collage” solution. We’ll figure out inconsistencies and missing elements from there. This statement helps to keep everyone’s mind open to others’ ideas by postponing debate until the entire collage is assembled. The simple steps for this technique are: 1. Display the alternative ideas around the room. 2. Have each person take one Post-It Note and place it next to the one idea that he or she is willing to champion. Being a champion means he or she will take responsibility for seeing that this idea is implemented. 3. Give each person eight sticky dots. Have them place one dot on each idea that they also rank as a priority. 4. Write down all of the ideas that people have selected to be a champion for. Be sure to include the name of the person next to the idea. 5. Write down all of the top ideas based on the number of sticky dot votes they received. After that, you can discuss, Is there anything missing to give us a full solution? Are there inconsistencies or conflicts among the ideas? Are any ideas incomplete and need more work? There are, then, many popular decision-making methodologies. One tool to consider when you want a more rigorous evaluation of ideas using your criteria is the Criteria Checkerboard in Chart 28. Chart 28 — Criteria Checkerboard48 Criteria 1 Option A Option B Option C Option D

Criteria 2

Criteria 3

Criteria 4

Relative Merit of Idea


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• List each alternative on one axis of a matrix • List each criteria on the other axis • Rate each alternative on a specified scale (such as 1–10, or low-medium-high) for each criteria • Use the resulting checkerboard to see the relative merits of the options A case in point Coming back to our hypothetical situation… If your team was working to achieve positive morale and high satisfaction, and specifically focusing on the priority issue of how to foster clear communications between employees and managers, then a first-draft solution might include: Key Question: What solution do we choose? Focus Issue: How to foster clear communication between employees and managers • Inviting families to participate in a meeting on where the company is going • Follow-up staff meetings with managers, leaders, employees • “Idea fair” to present new ideas to management • Awards for “re-org and renewal” performance — getting things back up to speed • Videotape interviews with customers about their needs Checkpoint The important checkpoint for this task in the Creative Journey is to make sure you have involved your stakeholders and considered what’s in their best interest. Is it a solution that represents values and choices you all stand for? A sign of this commitment is the affirmation, We decide together based on our values! Thus, the questions for this checkpoint are: Checkpoint: Collaboration on decisions • Have we shared power and sought consensus? • Are our decisions aligned with our values? Having an innovation conversation To help you clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other. 1. What best stimulates your creative thinking? What gets your creative juices flowing? 2. What has been your best experience of generating ideas while working in a team? What made that team creative? 3. When your team has to start developing and deciding on ideas, what can get in the way, and what helps you get to a great solution?


The Innovation Process

Chapter 9

Completing the Journey Together

he practical power of values-centered innovation never fails to amaze me. When I conducted an “Innovation Search” for the DuPont corporation to develop new business concepts for a material called Nomex, the first day seemed very creative — 300 or so ideas — but there was no flash of brilliance, and I drove home puzzled. After reflecting on why there had been no spark to the idea-generation, I returned the next morning and asked the participants to share one thing in the world situation that genuinely concerned them. Instantly, the room became alive as they shared their sincere concerns for real-life, passionate issues: hunger, drugs, crime and resource depletion.


Then I said, Now that you’ve heard each other’s concerns, form groups with people you resonated with. As the participants brainstormed ways that Nomex might contribute to solving their deep concerns, their creative energy rose exponentially. Ultimately, they produced more than 1,000 ideas. They then organized those ideas into the top 50 key concepts, of which 10 were assessed for technical and market feasibility. What was the lesson thus far? I saw that while generating their ideas, they anchored their creative energy in something personal, compelling and emotionally real. That creative energy sparked innovative business ideas, and eventual success, based on deep, personal values. Two months later, we presented our findings on technical and market feasibility to approximately a dozen top executives in the division. We ranked the concepts according to the potential size of the new business. After hearing our presentation, an executive wisely said: There are some very promising business concepts here. But we know our product managers have a lot on their plate. If this executive team decides which to go after, and then assigns a concept to some manager or another, if that manager has a mediocre commitment to the concept, it will become, at best, a mediocre venture. And we’re not in business to be mediocre. So instead, let’s publish this list internally and invite managers to step forward to claim a concept they feel committed to, and have them tell us what they would remove from their plate to make room for the new. And so they did. I followed the progress of development and implementation over the following two years. Surprisingly to some people, the first concept to achieve a significant profit and market share was only number eight on the Top 10 list. The opportunity of protecting precious art during shipment from museum to museum was made into a profitable new business by a manager whose own values made him passionate about preserving art. We knew the story behind this success — the personal values investment alongside the business investment.


The Innovation Process

The Completion Stage of the Creative JourneyTM

Some people really enjoy meetings where they can generate ideas, but they quickly get disinterested when the time comes to act. Just because a great idea has been conceived doesn’t mean the work is done. Action takes the value of determination, and for your team to be successful, you must act on the ideas and innovative solutions you’ve decided upon. Here is where good project planning comes in. But planning alone is not enough. Any realistic plan of action depends on keeping agreements — for due dates, resource allocations and other aspects of implementation. When what we promise is what we deliver — when we’re committed to practicing a unity of our thoughts, words and actions — then we build trust and implementation occurs more smoothly. The DuPont executives were looking for this kind of integrity when they published the list of new business opportunities and waited to see who stepped forward to claim a concept they were committed to. They knew that when their managers made commitments based on what they believed was important to them, aligned with their personal purpose and values; it gave an innovative new business the best chance of success. Once the innovation process has completed its cycle, we then need a point of completion where we experience our results, even if they are not what we expected and/or wanted. The purpose of celebrating results is to give a full sense of completion. This completion experience starts by assessing not only the tangible achievements, but also what has been learned during the process: What new knowledge have we gained that will make a difference the next time around? You renew your energy for the next challenge by talking about what you did or didn’t achieve, and what you have learned that can make a difference to you and others in the future.


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TASK 7: Implement the solution The seventh task of your Creative Journey is to implement your solution. How can we best implement our solution? For many people, making their idea work in the real world is the toughest part of the Creative Journey. If your idea calls for sweeping changes, it may be threatening to the status quo. If your idea is unusual, it may be difficult for others to understand it. If you are unusual, you might find it difficult to get people to listen to you. So to get your great idea off the ground, you’ll need to plan how to do it, and how to involve others in its successful implementation. Take the time to develop a detailed plan, schedule and budget for your implementation. Make sure your plan includes both tangible and intangible resources, such as, time, money, equipment, people and information. You may not get all the resources you want, but it helps to identify what you need up front so you don’t find yourself halfway through your plan having to make unacceptable compromises. A commitment to quality is most needed at this point. If you believe in it, then your solution deserves to be implemented in the best way possible. Since you are going to have to persevere through thick and thin, keep asking yourself and others, How can we implement this solution in a high quality way? Before you finalize your plan, take a long, hard look at whether it accommodates your need for high quality implementation. Although you are going to need to be flexible, don’t let your dream die by making too many compromises along the way. Remind everyone that the true nature of commitment is to free you rather than restrict you. For example, dancers must commit themselves to learn the skills that allow them to express movements that most of us can’t even imagine ourselves doing. In the same way, the discipline of commitment and keeping your agreements frees you to make your plan come true. Overall, link your plan with your personal purpose and values, and make agreements only when you’re sure that everyone is ready to walk their talk — to practice a unity of thought, word and action. Throughout implementation, uplift and encourage everyone in how they stay true to their values and practice that kind of integrity. Then, you can be sure that a well-thought out plan, properly resourced, has the best chance to succeed. Asking questions to implement your solution Here are a few questions to supplement the basic question, How can we best implement our solution? You can use these to broaden the discussion and bring out the meaning and motivation that will carry you throughout implementation: HOW CAN WE BEST IMPLEMENT OUR SOLUTION? • What plan of action is aligned with our values? • What is the wisdom in others’ objections? • What do we need to let go of to succeed? • What is the right timing for action? • Where will we need to be firm or flexible?


The Innovation Process

One technique: Mid-Course Correction There are a great number of methods for project management, useful even for very small projects. Then, there are the complex tools for much larger-scale projects, such as up-scaling prototypes into full production. In both cases, you will probably need to make mid-course corrections to adapt to changing circumstances you didn’t anticipate. By analogy, during any plane flight, the piloting and navigation systems are constantly interacting, whether done automatically, or by the pilot. Perhaps for as much as 95 percent of the flight, the plane can be at least slightly off course due to variations of winds, pressure areas, and other factors. A plane must constantly make mid-course corrections, yet the sum of all these corrections results in a successful landing at the planned destination. To do the same with your implementation plan, you also need piloting and navigation systems. Before you begin implementation, consider the following: •

Identify what circumstances you might not be able to control that might affect your plan — workloads of key people, etc.

Identify how to monitor and keep up-to-date about those conditions

Identify the key milestones for your plan, and how each might be affected by those circumstances

Then, as you progress through your plan: •

Periodically meet to track progress and get updates about any uncontrollable circumstances

Use these meetings to proactively generate creative mid-course corrections as needed — adjusting your plans and resources accordingly

A case in point Let’s return to your hypothetical team that aims to achieve positive morale and high satisfaction. Your next task is to plan how to meet both short-term and long-term achievements: Key Question: How will we best implement our solution? Focus Issue: How to foster clear communications between employees and managers


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Component of the plan

First phase milestones

Second phase milestones

1. Invite families to participate in a meeting on where the company is going

Develop the agenda for the meeting. Make sure to include activities to engage all family members. Plan to get input and buy-in from spouses about what the future holds. Get executives prepared to be candid and down-to-earth.

Hold the meeting. Document what was discussed and concluded. Send out the results to all families. Include commitment to follow up.

2. Conduct an “idea fair” for employees to present ideas to managers

Get buy-in from top management. Send out notice to all employees inviting their ideas. Set up the idea fair site. Develop ways to document the managers’ interests. Invite managers.

Conduct fair. Collect results from managers. Report to top management. Get any needed approvals and resources.

Checkpoint As we’ve seen throughout, every task of the innovation process has a checkpoint to ensure that it’s been well done. This seventh task calls for unity of thought, word and action to ensure a high quality implementation. The evidence for this readiness and commitment is a sincere statement: We keep our commitments. Checkpoint: Congruence of thought, word and action •

Have we met time, performance and budget agreements?

Were we unified in what we thought, said and did?

TASK 8: Celebrate the results The eighth task of your Creative Journey is to take the time out to assess, recognize and celebrate your success. What achievement and learning have we gained? How are we better off because of our efforts? You might think that every innovation project naturally ends with some kind of evaluation. But that’s not true — many times they end and people go on to the next project wondering, How did we really do? What did we get out of that experience? How well did we really meet the goal? When evaluation sessions are held, they can be quite cold and analytical — sometimes they’re even referred to as post mortems (“after the death”) for a project — not exactly an inspiring way to think about them. This kind of feedback might be mentally satisfying, but without an emotional sense of completion that relates back to our purpose and values, we keep taking on new challenges without ever filling up our energy tanks. We get more and more run down until we burn out and feel, I’ve put everything I have into this work and feel like I’ve gotten nothing back.


The Innovation Process

Thus, this eighth task includes not only your assessment of results, but a celebration of your results. Let’s first examine an innovative approach to assessing results. With the innovation process, the results to evaluate are twofold: What did we actually achieve — did we meet our purpose or goal? and What new knowledge and learning did we gain that we can transfer and use going forward? Why, you may ask, should we assess learning as well as achievement? First, in knowledge intensive work, new knowledge is what fuels new innovation (recall from Chapter 1 that learning is like inhaling, while innovating is like exhaling). When we gather what we learn from one Journey and apply it to the next challenge, we continue to grow. Second, by assessing new knowledge gained as well as achievement, you give individuals and teams who set aggressive goals the chance to succeed on two possible fronts. 3M demonstrated this approach in one of their ads: 3M has made a lot of mistakes. We’re very proud of them. The ad goes on to say, Everyone who is alive and moving makes mistakes. The trick is to learn from your mistakes and move on. [If venture risks are reasonable], we tend to be willing to make an investment and learn. Still, it takes more than assessment to provide a sense of real completion to an innovation process. It takes celebration. By celebration, I don’t mean big hurrahs and pats on the back, although those are just fine. Something my clients have taught me over the years is that the deepest sense of completion comes with the opportunity to express gratitude — to say, “Thank you.” Giving thanks reconnects us to everyone else who contributed to the achievement and the learning. Celebration provides the moment to gain a deep sense of satisfaction and express sincere feelings of gratitude. It also allows the opportunity to acknowledge any emotions, even sadness at the ending of a special experience shared with colleagues. To move on, we must leave things behind. A celebration marks our passage. It applauds what we have learned and accomplished in the past, and puts it to rest. It frees us to move forward. So take time to look at all you have gained, and emphasize the value of appreciation: How can we appreciate and celebrate what we’ve achieved and learned? Share this with others; it will inspire others and yourself to move on to greater challenges with a renewed sense of purpose and energy. For example A company’s appraisal and reward process can make or break its efforts to ensure that innovation thrives. Frank Douglas, former head of R&D at Marion-Merrill-Dow and then Hoechst-Marion-Roussel, is a living example of how to do this. He once sponsored a major research effort to develop a certain drug, and as the research progressed it looked like a potential blockbuster. But a lab technician noticed something suspicious in their research, and a supervisor followed up. They found that the compound was depositing cholesterol in the liver, which could lead to extensive liver damage. The project was canceled and the research


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team was crestfallen. As Frank later told me, they were very anxious that management would see them as failures. He addressed the team by saying, First of all, I’m really very happy that the environment we have here is one where a technician can make an observation, and a supervisor can pursue that observation and come out with an answer, rather than ignore it. He then repeated to them his three priorities for any research project. His top priority was to develop compounds that addressed unmet medical needs while also advancing science. If he couldn’t do both, his second priority was to meet the unmet medical need. And if that wasn’t possible with the project, he at least wanted to advance science. He went on to tell his team: Your work on this compound is in the third category. It advances science, because nobody knew that this type of compound would stimulate specific cells to ingest cholesterol. I bet you anything that somebody will figure out how to use this compound to do other things without the side effects of getting trapped in the liver. So, this is a significant contribution to science. The team ought to be congratulated. It has saved the company a lot of money by discovering this now, and has also prevented potential side effects to patients. I’m going to celebrate what others would consider a failure, but what for me is a significant success. Frank made a point of publicly recognizing them for their contribution and concluded by saying: I think when you do that in this environment, then people don’t worry about failing, and you create an atmosphere in which they are more likely to make breakthroughs. Frank acted as a true sponsor of innovation. He appraised his research team and rewarded them for both their science achievement and new learning they could transfer to other projects. That, I have found, is the key to encouraging people to set stretch goals and take the risks required for innovation. Asking questions to celebrate results In this last task in the Completion stage, think about how you appraise and celebrate the results from your Journey: The main question is: What have we achieved and learned? Here are a few more questions you can use to broaden your team discussion, and bring forth the values and meaning that will help you complete your innovation process: WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED AND LEARNED? • What results are consistent with our values? • How can we share the credit with those who deserve it? • What important new knowledge have we gained? • How can we celebrate and move on? • What do we feel most grateful for?


The Innovation Process

One technique: SATISFIERS I once conducted research at the Pillsbury Co., with brand managers from the U.S. Foods Division, asking them to rank the following rewards (SATISFIERS) for innovativeness: S Self-determination — autonomy, flexibility in job assignments A Advancement — promotions T

Training and development — gaining greater expertise, personal growth


Intrinsic — doing what you most enjoy

S Social — being able to work with the people you most want to work with F

Financial — salary increases, bonuses


Impact — having an impact by achieving meaningful goals, serving customers


Environment — good working conditions, hours, nice surroundings, equipment

R Recognition — public or private recognition by bosses, peers, or subordinates S Security — confidence in a specific job assignment or overall employment Some of these represent intrinsic satisfactions that are experienced independent of others’ notice or involvement, such as autonomy, private recognition, and personal and professional growth. Others represent extrinsic satisfactions which involve someone else to help provide the sense of satisfaction, such as promotions, financial rewards, and public recognition. In the Pillsbury research, about half the group were inner-directed people who were most motivated by intrinsic rewards, but needed a maintenance level of extrinsic rewards. The other half of the group was composed of outer-directed people who were motivated more by extrinsic rewards, but still needed some intrinsic satisfaction. Any approach to rewards and satisfactions has to take this difference into account. A case in point In this last episode of your team working towards positive morale and high satisfaction among employees and management, the final task is to assess your achievement and learning and celebrate those results.


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Key Question: What have we achieved and learned? Focus Issue: How to foster clear communications between employees and managers Achievement

New Learning


Employees and managers are openly communicating

• How to respect each other, no matter what their position

Greater sense of selfinitiative and bigger impact on the future

Productivity is going up

• How including people leads to greater commitment to work

More chances for advancement and bonuses

Families are showing cooperation with what their family members are having to do at work

• How to engage employees’ families to support change • How and when to include the broader stakeholder base in strategic planning

More feelings of security and social connection (within the company and with the community)

Managers are implementing a wide range of employee ideas

• How to foster a climate for new ideas and more synergy between managers and employees

More intrinsic motivation to pursue new ways of doing things, and better environment for working

Checkpoint The final checkpoint for the Creative Journey is to ensure that results are known, new learning has been gained, and the energy is up — everybody is ready to move on. An affirmation that signals this readiness is, We are grateful for our success! And there is a single question to ask to verify this sense of completion: Checkpoint: Celebration of achievement plus learning • Have we assessed and gained satisfaction from both what we’ve achieved AND what we’ve learned?


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Having an innovation conversation To help clarify and integrate your insights from this chapter, consider the following questions. Use them to start an innovation conversation with your colleagues at work, and see what you can all learn from each other. 1. What is an example of a successful project implementation you’ve been involved with? What made for that success? 2. At the end of a project, what have you done to identify and share the new knowledge you’ve gained, as well as celebrate the tangible results you achieved? 3. What gives you the most satisfaction for having been a part of an innovative effort?


The Innovation Process

Chapter 10

Being a SPIRITED Leader of Innovation

raditionally, we develop ourselves at work to do better in our jobs. But that’s only one direction on a two-way street. The other direction is to see our work as an arena for personal and professional growth. Our growth serves our work, and our work serves our growth.


You can start now to use your innovative work as an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. A practical way to foster such growth is to initiate innovation conversations with your colleagues. Take the lead, no matter what position you are in, to discuss how your work provides the chance to be innovative, and how you all, as a team, can bring out the innovative best in each other. You can also take the lead in asking the key questions that lead you through the Creative Journey. It can be as simple as posing and posting them on the board of your meeting room to guide your meeting agenda: What is our purpose or goal? What risks do we face? What gives us confidence? What are the priority issues? What creative ideas do we have? What solution do we choose? How can we best implement our solution? What have we achieved and learned?” Sometimes it helps to identify role models — people we admire and learn from — to give us a better idea for how to provide this kind of leadership. I’ve met many such people in my career, and one who stands out is Janiece Webb, whom I first met in 1992, when she was vice president of the International Networks Division at Motorola. Janiece had worked her way up the corporate ladder over 20 years, having started at Motorola as a third shift production-line worker in one of their plants. Over the years, Janiece became one of my favorite clients, and I experienced close-up how she brought out the innovative best in every one of her staff. A few years ago, when Janiece was senior vice president of Motorola’s technology assets, my wife and I interviewed her for a research program we were working on. Here are some excerpts from that recorded interview, which I offer to you as a living testimony of the frame of mind, and values, that can catapult a person to be the best possible leader in taking people through a Creative Journey. Even at the beginning of her career while still in her teens, Janiece couldn’t sit still when an innovative challenge stared her in the face: I started at Motorola on the production line 30 years ago working the third shift, during the night. I would be curious about why the lines were down. I started listening to and watching what the engineer was doing, and I started writing these things down. We might sit for eight or sometimes sixteen hours waiting for someone to un-stick an ejector. I thought, “This isn’t right,” so I started by getting the machines up. Later, I found out that this followed the 80/20 rule that said we as workers could most likely handle 80% of the problems and that we only needed the engineers 20% of the time.


The Innovation Process

I also challenged the others on my shift to out-produce the shift before us and began writing training programs. So it was only a matter of time before management realized I shouldn’t be on the line, that I should be in the office, since I had increased productivity a lot. It was really just by developing an “esprit de corps49” and by being willing to push the envelope. If you look at my entire career, you’ll see that I’ve been in marketing; I’ve run engineering; I’ve run manufacturing; I’ve run service businesses around the world; I’ve run software; and I’ve run equipment businesses. I’ve run businesses from $2 million to $3.5 billion. I’ve had from zero people to 8 people to 8,000 people working for me. I have always been a visionary and have always found the problems that nobody else wanted to solve but needed to be solved. Janiece believed in the capacity of every person who worked with her to be innovative, and felt that her job was to bring that out: I believe in the pure potentiality of every single being. It really is unlimited and we are the ones who put limits on it. Now that potentiality may manifest itself in a different way than we thought it would when we started our journey, but we just have to trust. In truth, I believe that a position of power is a position of serving the people around you. I feel it is my job to serve people. No one gets anywhere by themselves. I am only powerful when my energy is connected with other people’s energy and we do things as a team. I encourage people to really believe in themselves and not let the system dictate who they are. I also encourage them to forget about the corporate hierarchy structure. I don’t identify myself with my title; that’s a label that someone decided to put on me, and I ask them to not let that get in the way. I believe in talent and I believe that you can create giants out of ordinary people when you act in balance and harmony with them. Sometimes this requires tough love, and that can be done within proper bounds. Sometimes I lead them and sometimes they lead me; I have to be willing to let them do that too. Yes, there are times when a command and control style is necessary in a crisis, but for me it must be needed, and it must be short-lived. Janiece’s views about unlimited potential extended beyond the people she worked with, to include the corporation as a whole: I believe that a corporation has a soul, and what that means to me is that yes, you do perform in a capitalistic model, but you do it with integrity, with absolute deep respect for people — not hollow words, but really treating them with dignity. You walk your talk.


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A company that has soul has compassion. It doesn’t mean they can’t be tough and it doesn’t mean they can’t strive for big goals. You can be competitive with compassion, but if you are competitive without compassion, you will lose your soul. I am productive and I do reach for goals — I do perform monetarily because that is expected of me — but I don’t do it at the expense of doing things that are wrong. People have said that I am ethical to a fault, and I don’t mind having that title. The role that business could play in benefiting the world could be huge. I honestly believe that if a CEO came forward and was willing to genuinely show their spiritual side in making and selling good products, as well as using their profits to help society, the results could be unbelievable. I truly believe that people want to follow goodness and are looking for these kinds of examples. I also believe if people could see that corporations are investing the profits they are making back into the society without a self-serving interest, it could be a new recipe for attracting and keeping shareholders. Being a SPIRITED leader of innovation Now is the time to step back and see what your journey through this book has meant to you. What new insights have you had about: •

Your work — How does it offer you an opportunity to be innovative, no matter what your position or work responsibility?

Yourself — How do you now see your own capacity to be innovative? How can you express your personal purpose and values through your innovative work?

Your colleagues — How can you hold innovation conversations that bring out the innovative best in each person?

My own observations of people I’ve met over the years at all levels and positions can be summarized as a list of eight SPIRITED characteristics. Use the items in Chart 29 as an opportunity to self-assess your strengths, and identify areas that you want to strengthen to be more innovative in your work. Two questions you can pose to yourself while going through the self-assessment are: 1. What are my strengths when approaching an innovative challenge? 2. What are areas that I want to strengthen in the next month? In the next year?


The Innovation Process

Chart 29 — SPIRITED Self-AssessmentTM 50 Leaders of the art and discipline of values-centered innovation are: SPIRITED Qualities S = SELF-AWARE • • • • •

Open to new ways of doing things Actively develop own intuition Willing to feel emotions Seek insights about self and others Know own personal purpose and values

P = PURPOSEFUL • • • • •

See the big picture Commit wholeheartedly Like challenge and self-expression Link goals to personal values Promote highest benefit for everyone concerned

I = INCISIVE • • • • •

Look for input from others Seek opposing points of view Assess situations systemically, holistically Show curiosity Discern objectively

R = REWARDING • • • • •

Share credit Appreciate the positive in others Value intrinsic motivations Affirm diverse viewpoints Celebrate completions

I = INVENTIVE • Generate many options • Switch easily between logic and imagination • Promote “Beginner’s Mind” • Play spontaneously • Envision what might be possible T = TRANSFORMING • Take persistent action • Energize self and others into action • Value and respect people • Act with integrity to keep agreements • Choose growth over fear E = EVALUATIVE • Make decisions based on values • Seek short- and long-term benefits • Look beyond “the numbers” • Seek consensus when possible • Anticipate consequences D = DAUNTLESS • Take courageous initiative • Comfortable with ambiguity • Take prudent risks • Act independently, if necessary • Maintain confidence in tough situations


Areas to Strengthen


Chapter 1 0

As you develop these qualities of a SPIRITED leader of innovation, they will give you the strength of character you need for each task of the Creative Journey, as shown in Chart 30. Chart 30 — SPIRITED Qualities and the Creative JourneyTM 51

Having an innovation conversation You can start now to use your work experience as the arena to strengthen each of these eight qualities in yourself. That, in turn, will enable you to do better, more innovative work. And as you support the SPIRITED qualities in your fellow colleagues as well — as they have the same potential — you will be doing even more to energize the innovation process from start to finish. Before moving on to some final questions for your innovation conversations, here are a few last words from Janiece — her wise advice to us all: It’s important for you to get in touch with your principles early and let them guide you. I add that while you may admire someone as your role model, it is important for you to be yourself and integrate what you see in him or her that you like, in your own way. If your goal is to live your principles and make sure that you left life better than how you found it, then you will be able to ride through the ups and downs and accomplish many things.


The Innovation Process Chapter 10

Now consider: 1. When have you taken the lead on your team to support your colleagues to be more innovative? 2. What qualities did you rely on in yourself to do that? 3. What are the most important insights about yourself and your work that you have gained from this book? 4. What’s a personal Creative Journey you could undertake to put those insights into practice?



The Innovation Process

Making a Difference

nnovation is a human enterprise, not just a technical one. People, not processes, bring innovations alive in the world. We’re the ones who choose what to innovate and why. And that’s a question of values.


As a model of the innovation process, the Creative Journey taps into this human side of innovation. As we become more experienced and skilled in the art and discipline of innovation, we become more self-confident. We look for opportunities to exercise our innovative muscles. Challenges are more inviting, uncertainties more engaging, and solutions more innovative. As you’ve seen throughout this book and, no doubt, from your personal experiences as well, we don’t innovate in isolation. As fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth, our innovations touch more and more lives of people around the world, throughout the global marketplace. Yet, we often don’t consider the collective impact we’re having. It’s hard to appreciate the impact of one raindrop until hundreds of thousands of drops start producing a flood. But it is this awareness that we need to bring to our innovative work, even if we believe we’re only doing a small project for a small business in a small town. In the global age, everything can have an impact. An important moment of my own awareness of this larger picture came just after the turn of the millennium, when I was a speaker at a Human Resources conference in San Francisco. The keynote speaker was an eminent author and consultant on strategic innovation, and on the last day he was detailing a number of assumptions that needed to be transformed for businesses to thrive in the 21st century. For example: we must shift from beating our competition any way we can to co-venturing with our competitors (as often happens now in the automobile industry). As I listened, I realized that the one assumption he had not listed was the mindset that the purpose of business is to maximize growth and shareholder return. Near the end of the Q&A session, I rose and took the hand-microphone from a conference assistant. I first said, I’ve read in the Harvard Business Review that if the global economy is successful in raising the material standard of living of all of China and India to the average standard of living in Europe and North America, it will take three planet Earths to provide the resources to sustain that system. Then I asked, If we keep encouraging aggressive, self-interested growth, knowing that it could bankrupt the entire ecosystem and global economy at the same time, isn’t that like bussing lemmings to a cliff so they jump off the cliff sooner?52 To the speaker’s credit, he paused and reflected a few moments, and then softly said, I am troubled by that possibility. We don’t have the answers to that yet. But I have faith in the goodness and intelligence of man to figure this out before it’s too late. Figuring all of this out is going to take a lot — a lot of good values and a lot of good innovation.


The Process EpiloInnovation g ue

I sincerely hope you can see in yourself a person who can play a part in values-centered innovation — no matter what job you have; no matter how large or small your innovative projects might seem. As with raindrops, when you practice the art and discipline of values-centered innovation, every small effort to innovate will combine with the efforts of others, sometimes well outside of your sight. Rest assured that what you do makes a difference. And that is your gift to us all.


The Innovation Process

Chart Guide Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart Chart

1 — Domains and Aims of Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 2 — Sustainable Innovation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 3 — Degrees of Change with Innovations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 4 — Values and Commitment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 5 — Phase-Review-Process Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 6 — Technology Push/Demand Pull Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 7 — Stage-Gate-Process Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 8 — Ulrich Normative Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 9 — Network Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 10 — Technology Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 11 — Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 12 — Values Analysis Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 13 — Knowledge Creation Model. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 14 — Organization Development Model. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 15 — Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 16 — Comparison of Marquis and Osborn-Parnes Models . . 31 17 — Comparison of Miller Observations with . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Other Innovation Process Models 18 — Comparison of Heroic Journey with the . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Innovation Process 19 — Creative Journey Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 20 — Comparison of Creative Journey with . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Other Innovation Process Models 21 — Confidence Curve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 22 — Comparing the Creative Journey Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 to Other Work Processes 23 — Personal Purpose Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 24 — Right Scope for the Goal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 25 — Knowledge-Gap Analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 26 — Assessing the Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 27 — The Wheel Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 28 — Criteria Checkerboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 29 — SPIRITED Self-AssessmentTM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 30 — SPIRITED Qualities and the Creative Journey. . . . . . . . . 93


The Innovation Process






Innovation Network webpage: definitions.html


Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science, Berrett-Koehler, 1994


Chart 1 — Domains and Aims of Innovation, WC Miller


Robert Reich, The Resurgent Liberal. Vintage Books, 1989


Chart 2 — Sustainable Innovation, WC Miller


Chart 3 — Degrees of Change with Innovations, WC Miller


G. Zaltman, R. Duncan and J. Holbeck, Innovations and Organizations, 1973


S. Meyers and D.G. Marquis, Successful Industrial Innovations. National Science Foundation, 1968


Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, The Free Press, 1983


Chart 4 — Values and Commitment, Barry Posner: “Values Congruence and Differences between the Interplay of Personal and Organizational Value Systems.” Journal of Business Ethics. (December 1993, page 174)


Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence, New York: Bantam Books, 1997


Chart 5 — Phase-Review-Process Model, G. D. Hughes/ D. C. Chafin: Turning new product development into a continuous learning process, Journal of Product Innovation Management 13 (1996): p. 92


Chart 6 — Technology Push/Demand Pull Model, Virpi Varjonen, “Management of Early Phases in Innovation Process”, Helsinki University of Technology, 2006. p. 18


Chart 7 — Stage-Gate-Process Model, R. G. Cooper/ E. J. Kleinschmidt: New products — the key factors in success, Chicago (1990): American Marketing Association, p. 46


Steven J. Kline and Gnathion Rosenberg, “An Overview of Innovation,”The Positive Sum Strategy, National Academy Press (1986)


Chart 8 — Ulrich Normative Process, K. T. Ulrich/ S. D. Eppinger: Product Design and Development, New York et al. (1995): McGraw-Hill, p. 15


Chart 9 — Network Model, Trott, P. 2005. Innovation Management and New Product Development. 3rd edition. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited, p. 20


Chart 10 — Technology Model, Virpi Varjonen, “Management of Early Phases in Innovation Process”, Helsinki University of Technology, 2006. p. 36


Chart 11 — Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Model, Brecker Associates Inc: Pittsburgh PA. 2007


Chart 12 — Values Analysis Model, Brecker Associates Inc: Pittsburgh PA. 2007




Chart 13 — Knowledge Creation Model, Nonaka, Ikujiro and Hirotaka Takeuchi, The Knowledge-Creating Company. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1995


Chart 14 — Organization Development Model, McLean, Gary N. Organization Development Principles, Processes, Performance, Berrett-Koehler, 2005


Chart 15 — Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) Model, Creative Problem-Solving Group, Inc. 2003., Williamsville, NY 14221, page 14, 16, Parnes, Sidney J., Source Book for Creative Problem-Solving. Buffalo: Creative Foundation Press, 1992


Donald G. Marquis, “The Anatomy of Successful Innovations”, Readings in the Management of Innovation, Ballinger 1988


Chart 16 — Comparison of Marquis and Osborn-Parnes Models, WC Miller


Chart 17 — Comparison of Miller Observations with Other Innovation Process Models, WC Miller


Chart 18 — Comparison of Heroic Journey with the Innovation Process, WC Miller


Chart 19 — Creative Journey Model, WC Miller


Chart 20– Comparison of Creative Journey with Other Innovation Process Models, WC Miller


Chart 21 — Confidence Curve, WC Miller


Today, the most well-known example of this approach is “Habitat for Humanity”


Chart 22 — Comparing the Creative Journey Model to Other Work Processes, WC Miller


Brian Swimme. The Universe is a Green Dragon. Santa Fe, N.M: Bear & Company, 1985, p. 117


Chart 23 — Personal Purpose Exercise, WC Miller


Chart 24 — Right Scope for the Goal, WC Miller


Time magazine, June 1999


“Grist for the mill” means using something that is of interest or value to form the basis of a story or analysis or to take something and use it to its advantage


Chart 25 — Knowledge-Gap Analysis, WC Miller


Chart 26 — Assessing the Knowledge, WC MIller


Horace Freeland Judson, The Search for Solutions, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1980






Chart 27 — The Wheel Exercise, WC Miller


Chart 28 — The Criteria Checkboard, WC Miller


The Innovation Process


From Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary - Esprit de corps: the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honour of the group


Chart 29 — Chart 29 — SPIRITED Self-Assessment, WC Miller


Chart 30 — SPIRITED Qualities and the Creative JourneyTM, WC Miller


Lemmings are small rodents usually found in or near the Artic. Driven by strong biological urges, they will migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great. Lemmings can and do swim and may choose to cross a body of water in search of a new habitat. On occasion, and particularly in the case of the Norway lemmings in Scandinavia, large migrating groups will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until the urge to press on causes them to jump off the cliff and start swimming, sometimes to exhaustion and death. Lemmings are also often pushed into the sea as more and more lemmings arrive at the shore. (


About the Author

William C. Miller

or over 20 years, William Miller has been an internationallyrecognized expert on values-centered corporate innovation — both as head of the Innovation Management program at SRI International (mid-1980s) and as president of the Global Creativity Corporation (since 1987). Most recently, he has co-founded Innovation Styles Inc., ( which offers web-based resources to organizational leaders and consultants who wish to boost innovation in all facets of work.


Since 2003, he has been acclaimed by Leadership Excellence ( as among the top 30 leadership consultants worldwide. Two of his four books — The Creative Edge (1987) and Flash of Brilliance (1999) — have been rated among the top 30 business books of the year in the USA by Executive Book Summaries. His audio program Creativity: The Eight Masters Keys was the first audio-tape training program ever endorsed by Fortune magazine. His new audio program, The Art of Spiritual Leadership in Business, was released by Sounds True Inc. in 2003. William has also published over two dozen articles, been quoted in Fortune magazine and the U.S. News & World Report, and interviewed on PBS radio and CNN-TV. As a co-founder of the Global Dharma Center, he has expanded his focus to include the emerging practice of spiritual-based leadership. William has been a Guest Faculty member at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and he has consulted and delivered keynotes in countries such as: India, China, Japan, Singapore, England, France, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Canada, and the United States. His clients over the past 20 years have included corporations such as: AT&T, Charles Schwab, Chevron, Ciba Geigy, Compaq, Disney Institute, Dow Elanco, DuPont, Eli Lilly, Exxon Chemical, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Kraft Foods, Levi Strauss, Marion Merrell Dow, Monsanto, Motorola, Nike, Northern Telecom, Philips Electronics, Pillsbury, Pizza Hut, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Searle Pharmaceuticals, Shell Canada, Silicon Graphics, Taco Bell, and 3M.

1828 L Street, NW, Suite 1202 • Washington, D.C. 20036 +1 202 785 0017 •

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