Practical and Creative Innovation Methods and Tools
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In every beginning there is a magic - Hermann Hesse
Yes, you got the right blog. But today, for once, it's not about football or data. I'm back with fresh ideas from California, where I was also in Silicon Valley. So what could be more natural than writing a blog about innovation?
In San Francisco, the first 100% autonomous cars are already on the road from various companies. Data from millions of miles is analyzed and trained with AI.
This way, experiences and scenarios can be shared among all cars. One cab driver told me that soon his Tesla will be working for him.
I am not creative
This is the pretext and the alibi of many people. I am convinced that every human being is creative by nature. However, this gift has been continuously trained away in many people, probably after kindergarten. Like every ability, creativity needs a good mindset, favorable conditions, a good technique and regular training. Otherwise it withers.
During my work in the innovation sector, but also as a tactical and match analyst in the Super League, I have always been particularly fascinated by searching for and finding trends and developing new things. The types of innovations are diverse and range from the "simple" improvement, to the new invention, to the disruptive innovation.
When many things are alike, it's the difference that counts.
So I was able to develop my own ideas, help shape ideas, interpret the ideas of others, fail with ideas and fail again, but also bring a few good ideas to the finish line.
Innovation is rarely the result of one individual, but much more like a river that grows stronger and stronger from many ideas and inflows. Every future has an origin. What remains is the realization that in order to find something new, you have to try something new.
In this blog I would like to introduce you to a few methods and tools that are useful in generating, trying out and implementing ideas, products and services. All methods or tools that I have tried and used myself and found valuable from my own experience.
For me, it is an experiment to share such content with our football & analytics community. But I assume that the topic of innovation is interesting for many.
And experiments can't fail at all. Either they are successful or you learn.
"Only a fool does not experiment." Charles Darwin
I try to supplement the methods with practical examples as much as possible.
I like to go into the following methods/tools: Courage, Brainstorming, Timeboxing, Customer Experience Chain, Elevator Pitch, Product Development and Storytelling.
So get into the fun
Courage to tackle things and overcome defeat
Attitude and mindset are elemental and much more important than the tools. Culture eats methods for breakfast. My father, who sadly passed away much too early, was from Italy and told me when I was young, "Today you have all the opportunities, but people often lack courage. In the past, we had no opportunities, but we had courage". How true.
Without courage to make a first attempt, to take a first step, even on uncertain terrain, nothing happens. Nothing at all. It takes the courage to set out on new paths and discover new continents.
You can't live a fairy tale if you don't have the courage to go into the forest alone at night
Courage can serve us in many situations, but sometimes it can also create problems. In any case, it gets things moving. It takes courage to show feelings, especially in competitive environments where feelings are often seen as weakness. But use us to strengthen the bond with people.
It takes courage to express uncomfortable opinions or concerns, even if it's just a gut feeling. But if the concerns were evident, there would be no need to voice them.
It takes courage to leave one's cave and go out into the open field unprotected.
It takes courage to get involved in something new, with an open outcome. It takes courage to try something new. Beyond your comfort zone, incredible discoveries and moments await you.
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
From my experience, other cultures generally have more courage to develop and pursue their own ideas, and more resilience and tenacity in dealing with relapses and defeats. The Silicon Valley spirit of "Think BIG" is impressive. But it brings out the pioneering spirit, determination and faith that is not just a facade of these people.
Failure is not seen as a result, but as part of the process/path.
"Successful people fail more often than unsuccessful people".
More and more people are developing their own visions and innovative ideas that they want to implement in a product or service. An idea that meets the needs of customers and offers added value or is intended to make the world a little better.
"Whatever you can do or dream you can do, start doing it! Courage has genius, power and magic in it." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Go for it. Don't wait until you understand the meaning of life, to start.
Generate new ideas with brainstorming
Creativity is the fuel for innovation. But as soon as a sparkling idea is needed, there is a yawning void. Brainstorming is a good method to generate ideas.
Brainstorming is very popular and widespread. But rarely is the full potential exploited. Attention ready go creative, does not work just like that. You can't be creative at the drop of a hat without favorable conditions in the group.
Being creative in a group always means accepting personal risk, leaving the cave and being vulnerable. That's why the culture and relationship in the brainstorming group is elementary to producing good results. Brainstorming is a very powerful tool because you can inspire each other.
Here are best practices to help with brainstorming:
Identify a facilitator ahead of time to coach the process and help ensure compliance with the brainstorming rules.
Make sure the brainstorming objective is clearly defined and articulated before the session begins. This will help participants focus on the relevant issues.
In the brainstorming session there is no evaluation (not even nonverbal), but only collection. Scoring should always occur after the brainstorming session has officially concluded.
An open and respectful environment is important to create a safe atmosphere where all ideas are welcome. Appreciate the courage to come up with fresh and creative ideas. Have fun with offbeat ideas.
Not everyone is extroverted and comfortable contributing ideas to the group. Also create opportunities for the quiet and introverted to perhaps contribute in other ways
Write down all ideas suggested during the meeting on a whiteboard or chalkboard for all participants to see. This will help consolidate ideas and spark more ideas.
The point is not to find the one solution, but to find many possible solutions. If the session was fun, you have more chances that the brainstorming was playful, creative and productive. Being linear and serious makes sense when we are crossing the street, but not when generating creative ideas.
And if in the end the result is too homogeneous and too bland. If the consensus prevails and little exciting has been produced. Then next time, don't invite the boss to the brainstorming session....
Stay tuned. Brainstorming also needs to be exercised like muscles.
Do it with a smile :-)
People become creative when they are allowed to work professionally as they live. In free and trusting dialogue and play with ideas without fear of punishment.
Increase productivity with timeboxing
Do you know this too? You get a task with plenty of deadline, start early and improve the output again and again, so that in the end you have used too much resources in relation to the task.
Timeboxing is a project management technique to increase productivity that divides tasks into clearly defined time periods. Each of these time periods, or "boxes," is reserved for a specific task or group of tasks.
Timeboxing helps increase focus and productivity by forcing you or the team to focus on the most important tasks and plan effectively. No time for bullshit. The box should be chosen large enough to be athletic but doable in terms of time. Boxes that are too tight only produce stress and are bullying.
Because timeboxing is both an emotional regulation tool and a time management tool, you can use it to manage stress and increase work motivation and productivity.
Examples: Timeboxes in your agenda, Agile software development with deliveries in stages, 30min exercise a day, Reserved timebox for networking.
This blog was also created with timeboxing. Exactly in four time boxes. The first two with a breakfast break in between, letting the passion flow and produced about 80% of the result. In the third take I reworded parts and generally edited the text. The last take was after a break of about 5 days, where I added quotes and practical examples. Thats it folks.
Designing experiences with the Customer Journey
With a new product or service, one often and too firmly focuses on the core element. Namely the benefit of the effective service. So that the whole experience of the customer is not considered or controlled. Of course the meal in the restaurant or the transport from A to B in the train is important, but it is not the only thing. Because the waiter, the bill or the train toilet can also make for a negative customer experience.
Psychologists have discovered that a positive customer experience doesn't have to be perfect from A to Z. It's enough if the core of the experience is perfect. It is enough if it has a big upward swing at the core (peak) and a good conclusion. The perception of the rest can vary, but should not fall below a minimum.
The customer experience chain is a concept that describes how customers interact with a company, from initial contact to purchase and beyond. It encompasses all touchpoints between the customer and the company and shows how these touchpoints influence the customer's experience.
She process is presented as a series of steps or phases that a customer goes through. These steps can vary by company and industry, but generally they include the phases below. Think about what the customer experiences at each step and what actions can be taken to ensure or elevate the experience.
For a product or service, it is important to consciously design the customer experience of these phases and ensure their quality.
Perceive: How does customer become aware of the product.
Examples: MC Donald's pillars, flyers, bells on the ice cream cart.
Informing: Customer researches and learns about the company and its products or services.
Examples: Simple and easy-to-find website, summaries
Buying: The customer makes the purchase.
Examples: One-click shopping, suggestions based on other users
Benefit: Core element. The customer uses the product or service.
Examples: Intuitive product, Ease of use.
Paying. In the restaurant, when you look at the bill, the experience often goes down. That's why they add sweets to the bill. Clever waiters offer another digestive to kick the experience up a notch at the end. Or just put the bottle on the table.
Support: the customer receives support in using the product or service.
Examples: No hidden hotline number
Present the idea briefly and crisply with the Elevator Pitch & NABC
The "elevator presentation" describes the American scenario: You enter the high-rise elevator with the CEO and have 1-2 minutes during the ride to pitch your idea to him.
So how can you present your idea in a pithy and holistic way in a very short time?
The pitch should start with a hook (attention anchor). With a sentence or a question that raises the eyebrows of the listener and immediately attracts attention.
Then you can present your idea, your approach using NABC framework. NABC ensures that a holistic perspective is conveyed.
Need - the customer perspective
What is the problem, the need? Preferably with real customers and real example.
Approach - the internal perspective
What is the solution approach? What are the necessary steps?
Benefit - the value perspective
What is the benefit for the customer and for the company?
Competition - the external perspective
Are there alternative solutions and what are the competitors doing?
Not to forget at the end follows the Close (conclusion).
Formulate concrete next step or a concrete request to the recipient.
The NABC method also helps you shape the idea to look at the approach holistically.
When pitching to larger audiences, also keep in mind that different people and thinking preferences are addressed. For traditional managers, of course, facts and figures are very important. But don't forget to address emotions and social aspects as well.
Best practices in product development - from the idea to the product
The path from the idea to the product. One could write entire books on this subject. Here are just a few thoughts and best practices.
Everything starts with the customer: The idea should cover a real customer need or solve a real problem. That's why everything should start with the customer with a discovery. Go to the target audience, put on their shoes and try to understand their challenges and opportunities. The customer need must be real and relevant.
Not everything that is feasible is useful Don't look for the need for your solution
The biggest problem first: In every development of a product/service there are
problems to solve. Address the solution to the biggest problem first. Because if you can't solve that, any other problem solving was just a waste of time.
The product is not the product: it's tempting to focus on the core element. On the product or application your heart beats for. But the product is not the product. It is not enough to have a good application or service. It is the business model that matters and is responsible for the revenue. The "how I make money" is at least as important as the product. Invest resources also in the development and improvement of the business model.
fake it before you make it. Create resource-efficient simple prototypes to test your approach. A sketch or model is tangible enough to gather feedback they can work with. This also makes it easy to create variants that they can validate with the target audience. Then improve the solution in iterative steps.
Visualize ideas Visualizing the idea forces you to focus on the essentials. It also makes the idea more tangible.
Here as an example my favorite tactical piece and first attack block idea/prototype from 2012.
It's about deliberately overloading one side to strengthen counterpressing and use space quickly without opponent being able to shift completely.
Principle: Use created space when we want - not when we can.
Good ideas often come from trying things out rather than thinking about them. That's why it's important to get moving first.
Search the uncertainty The more complex a system is, the less we find new solutions with pure analysis, with pure thinking. The more complex a system is, the more we need to engage in experimentation to learn. Dealing consciously and skillfully with hypotheses and uncertainties is an important skill the more complex the system is . In medicine and science, experimentation is the tried and true standard procedure for gaining knowledge. However, dealing with uncertainty is very difficult for many people because we have been conditioned thousands of times not to want to fail. In order to find something new, however, we have to consciously put ourselves in uncertainty. And we must also be able to endure the uncertainty. Beyond the comfort zone, incredible experiences are waiting for you. Just make sure that when you fail, you fail fast.
Validate hypotheses When validating your hypotheses, don't forget to also look for evidence that disproves your hypothesis.
When testing, exaggerate the implementation It pays to exaggerate the approach when testing. Only in this way can you find out up to which point you can go and at what point disadvantages arise.
Storytelling - conveying core messages and emotions
"We are drowning in information and starving for knowledge " John Naisbitt
Good vacuum cleaner salespeople don't flaunt facts and figures, but tell you a good and exciting story.
Despite analytics and BigData, it is still the storytellers who fascinate us. Stories are a great tool to convey visions, strategies, ideas and dreams.
Nobody remembers facts and figures but the good stories we keep for a lifetime. You surely remember some stories from your childhood.
Additional pictures make the story even more tangible.
I hope that you were interested in these topics around innovation and that I was able to generate resonance with you. Let me know if you enjoyed the thematic excursion outside the turf and data.
Innovation can't be mandated or squeezed out. Innovation comes much less from ambition, pressure and competition. But much more out of curiosity, passion and cooperation.
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