Innovation safety net ... is one possible?

Several years ago I had a chance to learn how to fly on the trapeze. A local Bloomington, Indiana circus, The High Flyers Family Circus, had their equipment in the back yard of one of the members. I grabbed several of my roommates and convinced them to go over to the yard and give flying a try.

What made this an easy decision was the net below the rig. This net gave us the confidence to try something new with safety.

Several weeks ago I heard about the California Pizza Kitchen's approach to getting people to try their pizza with safety; If you tried their pizza and did not like it then you got your money back right then and there. The money back guarantee was the safety net.

When companies develop new products and services, it sometimes requires the company's employees to jump in a new direction. In the innovation world the talk is about moving from one S-Curve to a higher S-curve. You want your employees to make these leaps. You want those new S-curves. You need to lead your company across that gap from S-curve to S-curve. What can you do to create a guarantee or a safety net? Can there be such a net?

Live at Front End of Innovation

Today the whole InnovationCreation team will be in Boston for the Front End of Innovation to promote the Innovation Igniter product. Early registration and check in is Sunday evening.

Since most of Sunday was free, I took some time to check out some sights. Fenway Park is just down proverbial street (got to take the subway a couple of stops or walk about 15 minutes.... I chose to walk). I also took in some good weather and sunshine.

During the walking I thought about how businesses get started. An analogy I thought about was trying to find a place you have never been. I needed to get some equipment so I Googled the nearest Best Buy. I had a paper Google map of the area I was staying (the Boston Hosteling International) so off I went. Even though I had a good enough map, had the address of Best Buy, and I was keeping a look out for sign posts, I still turned the wrong way and did not notice until I saw the building numbers going down instead of up. A change in direction and I was at Best Buy in a few minutes.

When you start a business, you are trying to get to a place you may have never gone before. You have some maps (business plan, advice, previous experience, etc), and you are keeping an eye out for sign posts. But even then you may get "turned around". In this analogy, the act of getting turned around in starting a business is not necessarily bad. But it is important to recogognize that you have gotten turned around and decide if "going the other way" or not is a good course of action.

I will capture some pics and get them uploaded ASAP. I expect to talk with some interesting people Monday and Tuesday so I will attempt to capture some audio as well. Lastly, I plan to chat with John Wall of The M Show.

Innovation tool: SCAMPER, assumptions, rapid rapid prtototyping

Thanks to all those attending the the idea generation workshop at the IUPUI Solutions Center Conference.

For those that missed it, here is what we did.

The goal: To leave this room with a tool to generate many new ideas or alternatives.

The first step was to provide a challenge on which the whole group could work. To get that challenge, a tool called assumption challenges was used.

The assumption challenge: write down all the things you take for granted or assume about your desk chair.

Here is a summary of what the groups thought up:
  1. There is a swivel.
  2. The chair is quiet.
  3. The chair rocks.
  4. It is comfortable.
  5. The chair will be there everyday (!!!).
  6. The chair rolls.
  7. The chair is movable.
  8. The chair has back support.
  9. The chair has a good appearance.
  10. The height is adjustable.
  11. There is a head rest.
  12. The chair will not break (!!).
  13. The chair is stong enough to support a person.
  14. There is a warranty.
  15. The chair saves legs.
  16. The chair is spill proof.
  17. The chair provides a massage (what a desk chair!).
  18. There is a head rest with a long back that reclines to allow for naps.
  19. The chair has breathable fabric.
  20. The chair absorbs sweat.
Now for the group challenge: Remove one of the assumptions above and design a desk chair that did not have that assumption. For this workshop the assumption removed was "The chair has back support".

Using this challenge the group, in teams of 3 or 4 people, were to create new ideas using the SCAMPER tool: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify/Magnify, Put to other uses, Eliminate or minify, Rearrange/Reverse. Google SCAMPER to get a range of resources detailing the tool.

Using the initial challenge (design a desk chair with out back support) and the SCAMPER tool, the groups came up with a series of ideas as individuals and as a group. As a wrap up activity, each group took one of their idea concepts and, using the available material, built or sketched their concept.

It is important to keep in mind that it was not a requirement that the end concept be a desk chair without back support, but to generate many ideas. Several of the groups presented concepts that were not just chairs but the whole desk experience. Some extended the concept to a whole building.

Resources from workshop:
The end result of this 45 minute workshop was to provide a taste of generating ideas, tapping tools like SCAMPER, challenging assumptions, and rapid rapid prototyping with available material.

Example art work from workshop

"Comfort the disturbed disturb the comfortable"

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