Lessons Learned From Five Years of Failure


Sometimes the execution of the idea doesn’t need to be the best to succeed. In 1989 a video game designer called Gunpei Yokoi changed the world with the launch of the original Nintendo Game Boy. It took gaming out of the hands of geeks and paved the way for the industry to become the most … Continue reading Lessons Learned From Five Years of Failure

Minority Dissent: Why Intelligent People Fail To Solve Problems


At the end of November 2018 my blog posts dried up. I’ve not published one for over seven weeks – the longest gap for a couple of years. The problem wasn’t that I had nothing to write, rather I was afraid of the reaction to what I’d say. I have five draft posts I’ve struggled to … Continue reading Minority Dissent: Why Intelligent People Fail To Solve Problems

Nine Ways To Unlock Creativity In Your Organisation


Some organisations are obsessive about finding the silver bullet—the one-shot wonder that solves everything. In an effort to strengthen performance, we’ll often make disproportionate investments in a single initiative to invoke change. Others are fixed on generating ideas – jumping towards uncontrolled creativity as the solution. However most of our organisations don’t suffer from a … Continue reading Nine Ways To Unlock Creativity In Your Organisation

How To Avoid Innovation Theatre


Consistent investment, dedicated teams, proper evidencing of decisions, alignment with strategy. A simple but critical recipe for innovation in future-ready organisations – Tom Cheesewright One of the questions I get asked most frequently is“How do you define innovation?” This week I’ve been asked it several times so here’s a short post to recap my thoughts. … Continue reading How To Avoid Innovation Theatre

The Rise Of Business Bullshit – And How We Can Fight It


“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this, but we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.” – Harry Frankfurt  On Bullshit Many people in the social sector will have heard about … Continue reading The Rise Of Business Bullshit – And How We Can Fight It

The Danger Of Listening To People Who Talk A Lot


Research indicates that even when everyone within a group recognizes who the subject matter expert is, they defer to that member just 62% of the time; when they don’t, they listen to the most extroverted person – Khalil Smith Innovation must be founded on a deep understanding of the problem we are seeking to solve. It … Continue reading The Danger Of Listening To People Who Talk A Lot

Failure: We Need To Move From Slow And Stupid To Fast And Intelligent


In the history of pointless technology, it takes a lot to beat the Twitter Peek. Aimed at those interested in Twitter, but who didn’t own a smartphone,  it asked customers to spend $100 plus a monthly subscription. With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly designed to solve a problem that didn’t really exist.  If you were … Continue reading Failure: We Need To Move From Slow And Stupid To Fast And Intelligent

We Need To Be Boringly Reliable and Radically Disruptive – At The Same Time


Our organisations are generally bad at innovation. That’s because they are designed that way. Just as your body is designed to fight a common cold, most of our cultures protect the organisational DNA from any foreign antibodies. Add something new and it can get rejected. It’s not personal. It’s just an automatic survival mechanism. Purposeful thinking – … Continue reading We Need To Be Boringly Reliable and Radically Disruptive – At The Same Time

Ending The Myth Of Collaboration


The best organisational cultures are tolerant of the loner, the thinker. – John Wade “If I was you,” said a colleague recently “now would be a very good time to involve customers, to get more people involved”. No, I thought, right now that would be the worst thing we could do. Collaboration can kill creativity. … Continue reading Ending The Myth Of Collaboration

Why We Need To Learn To Love Project Managers


‘There isn’t a child alive who dreams of being a project manager’ –  so said Scott Berkun. He pointed out that project managers can unintentionally reinforce their work as (let’s be honest) dull – by trying to get everyone to pay attention to spreadsheets, specifications, PowerPoint presentations and status reports, failing to realise these are the … Continue reading Why We Need To Learn To Love Project Managers

How To Kill Innovation In 10 Easy Steps


Many of our organisations, without realising it, act as inhibitors of innovation. Rules and protocols are put in place — often for very good reasons — that preserve the status quo. Over time, organisations develop a set of social norms — ‘the way we do things around here’ designed to protect the business from failure. … Continue reading How To Kill Innovation In 10 Easy Steps

The Problem With Finding Answers


Don’t Look for a Great Idea. Look for a Good Problem – Greg Satell Yesterday I spent five and half hours in a room with my colleagues Carole and Simon trying to get to the root of a problem. Three colleagues – over 16 hours of valuable time, just thinking. It was worth every minute. … Continue reading The Problem With Finding Answers

We Need To Stop Talking About Change Or Get Comfortable With Failure


Every year businesses will embark on a series of reports , meetings, visioning sessions , training events and communication strategies. In almost every case the goal will be the same: to make fundamental changes to how business is conducted in order to cope with a new, more challenging environment. 70% of these programmes will fail. … Continue reading We Need To Stop Talking About Change Or Get Comfortable With Failure

How To Find And Kill Zombie Projects


According to Clayton Christensen , of the 30,000 new consumer products that are launched each year – 95% fail. Compare this with the public, voluntary and non-profit sectors – where hardly anything fails. The social sector must either be fantastic at launching new initiatives, or there’s a lot of things going on that shouldn’t still be living. … Continue reading How To Find And Kill Zombie Projects

Stop Talking, Start Experimenting


Thinking different isn’t enough, you have to act different – Jorge Barba I took a call this week from a person working for another organisation, we’ll call her Bill. Despite having a hugely supportive executive team the problems Bill faces are numerous: Managers are asking why are we working on a new initiative when the … Continue reading Stop Talking, Start Experimenting

Complex Problems Require Rapid Experiments


“Multiple iterations almost always beat a single-minded commitment to building your first idea” – Peter Skillman Most of you will have taken part in the Marshmallow Challenge or a variant of it. It’s the team exercise where you get a load of spaghetti, some tape, a marshmallow, a piece of string, and 18 minutes to … Continue reading Complex Problems Require Rapid Experiments

Do You Default To Simplicity – Or Complexity?


Although it doesn’t show up explicitly in any personality test, some people seem to be more prone to creating complexity than others. Instead of cutting to the heart of an issue, they tangle it further; rather than narrowing down projects, they allow the scope to keep expanding  –Ron Ashkenas Are you a simplifier or a … Continue reading Do You Default To Simplicity – Or Complexity?

Know Your Customers, Just Never Ask Them What They Want


We do not really know what our potential users will really respond to, what they will understand or what they’ll hate until we really see them using it –Jonathan Courtney If you are working on any new service change or product there’s one question I guarantee will be asked of you at some point: “What … Continue reading Know Your Customers, Just Never Ask Them What They Want

Why We Solve The Wrong Problems


Everywhere I look I see organisations and people investing heavily in new initiatives, transformation, and change programmes.  And in almost every case the goals will never be met. One of the most crucial causes of the failure? The right questions were never asked at the outset. We default to ideas and plans. Too many of which … Continue reading Why We Solve The Wrong Problems

Embracing Challenge to Build a Stronger Innovation Culture


  Just as your body is designed to fight a common cold, most of our cultures protect the organisational DNA from any antibodies. Add something new and it can get rejected. As Chris Bolton has written organisations can have immune systems and idea antibodies. As Chris says – It’s not personal. It’s just an automatic survival mechanism. … Continue reading Embracing Challenge to Build a Stronger Innovation Culture