Innovation The craft of disruptive innovation – working techniques to increase the likelihood of success
Recognizing patterns and establishing links between a wide variety of different contexts are skills that come from our DNA. These abilities can help unlock your employees’ talent.
In the first part of our series “The craft of disruptive innovation”, we looked at how you can radically accelerate your working and decision-making processes to develop new and disruptive sector standards. In the second part, we intend to concentrate on simple measures to help you make better use of your employees’ skills and better approaches to introducing new solutions in your organization. Why is this so crucial? Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple now have a chokehold on whole sectors thanks to their customer-centered strategies. Amazon alone is responsible for 50% of current e-commerce growth in Germany, with the remaining 50% divided between the rest of the sector. The central issue for European companies must therefore be how best to defend their positions and reignite users’ interest. Customers can be enticed to return only if companies understand that they are no longer simply product or range providers – they need transform into solutions providers. Giving up is not an option – nowadays, you need to put more effort into approaching things differently.
WORKING TECHNIQUES TO INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF SUCCESS FOR DISRUPTIVE SOLUTIONS
#01 – VISUALIZATION TO AVOID ANY UNSPOKEN MISUNDERSTANDINGS
I have so often experienced people who believe they have been speaking about the same thing and have the same opinion as other people, but when questioned more closely, this harmony quickly dissolves into thin air. We may think the things that we say and write are detailed enough, but ultimately, it is possible for everyone to have a different perception of what was communicated. The best way to prevent this is for people to start visualizing opinions and perceptions. No-one has complete access to other people’s minds. Only when you start to delve into your own thoughts can you come into a fuller understanding of what other people truly mean. This often allows you to pinpoint different views at an early stage and helps you to gain a better understanding of what the other person hopes to achieve. Nevertheless, we have discovered that many people have trouble visualizing their thoughts, often because they perceive their artistic abilities to be insufficient, i.e. they do not want to present any “unprofessional” drawings. As we work in a digital environment, we have started to design our own drawing stencil, allowing everybody without exception to quickly and easily sketch out their ideas in a professional-looking way (https://disrooptive.com/produkt/mobile-ux-zeichenschablone). This not only helps people overcome their inhibitions about drawing their thoughts, but also ensures everyone gains a clear impression of what is intended and avoids misunderstandings. At the same time, it gives people a keen sense of whether the proposed solution can actually work and where the potential weaknesses are from an early stage. This means discussions can be led in a better and more targeted manner.
#02 – PASSING THE BATON TO SECURE THE ORGANIZATION’S COMMITMENT
Mixed teams come up with the best results. They ensure that an idea is viewed holistically and from several perspectives. You should divide the idea formation process into several steps that can be worked on by individual people. You can work as a team to gather customer pain points for a given topic. However, the objectives that you want to achieve with your pain point solution should be formulated separately by individuals. Based on one of these objectives, another individual can conduct research into solutions already on the market. A third person then devises an initial solution hypothesis based on the objectives and market research. Transparency is key and must apply to this entire process and everyone involved throughout the project. This means that the results are a team effort, as everybody was responsible for at least one aspect of the final outcome. Empathy amongst team members also increases, because they all need to immerse themselves in each other’s thought processes and build upon each other’s work. And in the end, it is only the very best ideas which go forward. If we’re honest, we all know of times when we didn’t want to or couldn’t reject an idea that was created entirely by our boss or a particular colleague. If all the ideas have arisen from joint efforts, this problem disappears and office politics hold no sway over important decisions.
#03 – ATOMIZATION OF EVERYDAY TASKS FOR CLEARER UNDERSTANDING
If you give employees completely new tasks which are very different from their day-to-day work, most people will start to feel overwhelmed. If they have been stoically following a certain process for years and suddenly have to start asking lots of questions, they will generally experience mental barriers. As such, it is better to split major challenges into individual tasks: research companies which have solved a similar problem using methods completely different from your own firm’s approach. Describe what distinguishes these solutions and why customers like using them so much. Consider what these may mean for our own sector and how we can use them to our benefit, etc. You can make it much easier for your employees to achieve excellent results – even when it comes to issues requiring very innovative approaches – by dividing large tasks into smaller assignments and formulating them in a way that matches typical everyday tasks. This will also remove any anxiety about new topics and demonstrate that the work is within everyone’s ability.
#04 – WORKING AS INDIVIDUALS VS AS A TEAM TO DEVELOP BETTER RESULTS
Scientific studies have shown that teamwork leads to considerably poorer results than when people are allowed to work on their own. This makes perfect sense on closer inspection, since extroverts or skilled orators are at a clear advantage, even though their solutions may not necessarily be superior to those who are quieter and less able to demonstrate the ingenuity of their thoughts or opinions. When working in groups, the risk of alpha leaders and extroverted managers taking over is simply too great. Even without any malicious intent, these group dynamics can massively impact the end result and push a range of thoughts out of the picture. This is why you should always let individuals work on their own tasks and goals and only come together as a team to discuss and prioritize results. Use large meetings to keep everyone in the loop and ensure all viewpoints on a particular topic are heard. These perspectives can then be prioritized through democratic procedures. Small meetings, meanwhile, should be used for decisions.
UNLOCK YOUR EMPLOYEES’ UNUSED POTENTIAL AND LET THEM SET NEW BENCHMARKS
In an age of permanent digital change, efficiency is no longer the measure of all things – it is intelligent and productive working methods that make the difference: the ability to come up with the right ideas in a radically short time without squandering a quarter of your production power through structures, processes and procedures. We are often asked by companies where they can find these creative geniuses to help them come up with solutions – people who think outside the box, scrutinize issues and devise disruptive solutions. We always tell these companies the same thing: you already have the right people on your staff. It is only your existing processes that have encouraged your employees to think in standardized patterns and prevented them from straying from the beaten path. The rise of machines is leading to them becoming entirely replaceable. It is somewhat curious when you consider that the capabilities of artificial intelligence that fascinate us so much, such as recognizing patterns and establishing links between a wide variety of different contexts, are skills that come from our DNA. We try to radically suppress the latter skill through standardized processes instead of developing approaches to consciously use this talent, linking the developments from other sectors to our own and adapting them.
In our experience, however, everyone without exception is fully capable of developing new solutions. However, we have to make it as easy for them as possible by providing the right tools to allow them to think disruptively and formulate clear answers to existing challenges. In a technocratic age where we march to the beat of machines and show faithful adherence to algorithms, the most important resource companies have to differentiate themselves is people. This is why we need to promote and not neglect the skill of lateral thinking.
Ruppert Bodmeier speaks on this topic at Connecta Bern.
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