Tag: innovation

Creativity On A Shoestring – Get Yourself A Cheap Whiteboard!

Creativit on a shoestringThis article came about as part of a project to create some ideas around ‘Creativity On A Shoestring’. I thought about a) keeping things simple (one of the major requisites for both Creative Thinking and Innovation) and b) keeping things relatively low cost.

Top of my list was a whiteboard. These can be useful for a number of things including capturing ideas when they leap into your head, logging issues and problems and for people to contribute to solving such issues. In fact, you can use a whiteboard for just about anything. The main thing that guarantees effectiveness is its location.

First of all, let’s talk about cost. You can buy a cheap one but it is likely to be small. But what is a whiteboard? It is just a shiny white non-porous white surface so you could use any white gloss painted surface. So you could make your own from a large offcut of wood or (as I did) use one side of a white door. You can even paint part of a wall if you feel so inclined. If you have a home office you might find your spouse or partner complaining about this. Please use the right side of the door.

So where should your whiteboard be located? I am assuming that you have the luxury of choosing a location where everybody in your business, office or team has access. No one person should be seen to be the guardian of this precious resource.

You might be suspicious of staff or colleagues but they have to be trusted at some point. Locate the whiteboard where it can be accessed by the maximum number of people. This could be near the watercooler or coffee machine in a small office e.g. a solicitor or financial adviser. For larger offices, use your common sense (or imagination).

The only major things that you must do are to give people an idea of why this whiteboard has appeared and what it might be used for. It is also important to acknowledge all contributions and suggestions.

Happy whiteboarding!

 

 

Innovation – Do You Have Your Head In The Sand?

Innovation head in the sandDo you have your head in the sand regarding your Innovation efforts? Could you be caught in the dreaded cycle of ‘Non-Innovation’?

Let me explain. Over a number of years, I have observed that many businesses enter what I call the ‘Cycle of Non-Innovation’. Businesses for whatever reason, decide that they must innovate. They also decide that the initial spend is an investment and so should produce an appropriate return. So far so good.

The initial state is what I call ‘Market Directed Innovation’. It is a state in which a business feels it must respond to something in the marketplace. Not wishing to spend too much money, a business will decide, we can do this, it’s not difficult. For many, this becomes a state of ‘False Confidence’. You think you know what to do and how to do it but don’t.

As time progresses a business will realise that there is more to this Innovation lark than meets the eye. maybe you realise that there is a lack of planning, finance or even management. You are now in a state I call ‘Scramble’.

You now carry on, perhaps spending even more. By now you have not made an investment, but have a significant cost instead. Your spend has gone up but there is no return on your investment. Enter the ‘Panic’ state.

At this point, your competitors, who were behind you, are now overtaking. You must do something. And the next state? Next, you progress to ‘Market Directed Innovation’. You are in a cycle which will become ever more costly and ever more dangerous. On the way around, you do have a couple of opportunities to break out but the more you go on, the more costly and more brutal the interventions become.

So please don’t get caught with your head in the sand, help is available. Please get in touch via my contact page to find out how to break the cycle of Non-Innovation. If you simply would like to get some useful hints and tips on a monthly basis then please subscribe to my newsletter.

Newsletter – Do we still need designers?

Dear Reader,

Slowly but surely things at HQ are getting back to normal although the UK’s weather (we Brits love to talk about it) has resulted in a little less doing and a little more thinking! This will be the last newsletter for the summer as I skip August when most people take a holiday.

The series of short videos which I am gathering together under the title ‘Rough Cut Creativity’ are being added to but are not yet published. If you have not had a peek yet then you can find them via YouTube by clicking here.


#justdaydreaming

What is the purpose of a door? Many see it as a negative object and talk about not banging on closed doors or referring to doors that are left open or ajar. In practice, a door is a lump of wood that fills a hole. We pass from one side to the other. It would seem that a physical door has a different meaning to a door that we think about. What other metaphors might we be incorrectly applying? Some might be harmless and some not.

#justthinking

I’ve been hearing an awful lot about customer service lately but not seen much of it in practice. I’m not sure that it is a lack of action, maybe more of a lack of understanding. Many authors, speakers and trainers sell you their version of how things should be. You buy it and it is different but it doesn’t really work. This is just best practice (probably taken out of context) and if everyone did the same nobody stands out which is surely the point of good customer service. So if you are going to embark on doing something different then please make sure that someone understands what you are doing and why. In fact, keep on asking ‘Why’ and you will soon get to the bottom of things.


‘Now, back to the point, designers …

Do we still need them? Of course we do, so why am I asking the question?

I have written from time to time about the usefulness of something that is known as ‘Design Thinking’ when related to Innovation. In a (very small) nutshell, this means to start with we think in a broad fashion, without judgment and possibly a little ‘off the wall’.

In order to make the results useful, I proposed that we use a set of questions that should be asked of ourselves, customers and other stakeholders so that we get the maximum amount of information to work with. The more questions we ask, and the more people involved, the richer the knowledge that we acquire.

Somebody either read my article and didn’t fully understand it, or more likely, saw the title and thought that I was suggesting we disband the brotherhood of designers. His comment was ‘surely we just leave it to designers?’ The answer has to be no since all designers are not the same. And even if we are talking about a new logo, we all want design input.

Even companies that we think of as designers are staffed by actual designers (graphic, product, industrial etc) and lots of other people who ask questions and gather information. No matter what we do in our day to day jobs, we are all designers in some way.

So ‘design’ and ‘design thinking’ are actually processes that we can use to help make our products and services better and more appealing to customers. In turn, this helps to improve the profitability of our businesses. Designers are really specialists in functionality, aesthetics, usability etc that help us to achieve our design aims.

What the gentleman who commented on my article might have meant to say is that it is often a false economy not to spend money on design and try to do it yourself. Whatever you do, ask lots of questions along the way. And if you want to know how Design Thinking could help your Innovation efforts then please get in touch.

Please do get in touch or provide feedback by replying to this newsletter, or using any of the contact methods listed on the website derekcheshire.com.

Happy reading,

Derek Cheshire

Can I help you to find the difference that makes the difference?

Derek is a Fellow of the RSA, a speaker, facilitator, award-winning radio presenter and Adjunct Professor at VIT University, Chennai. He has been working in the field of Business Creativity and Innovation since 2002.

Can Innovation be measured?

Innovation MeasurementCan Innovation be measured? The answer is of course yes! The problem comes when your definition of Innovation and mine do not coincide!

Many people will trot out a list of KPIs that are just modified version of standard production/manufacturing indicators. These could include number of ideas generated, number of ideas actually turned into products, time from conception to production etc.

What I am interested in is the behavioural aspects. What actually is there that will allow a business to innovate? Its a bit like the voltage in a battery. The battery may not be doing any work if its not inserted into a device, but what is its potential to do some work? How can you measure the potential of your organisation to innovate?

For details of the Innovation Equation you can visit my website or send an enquiry and ask for details of Innovation Measurement. In a nutshell, the Innovation Equation is a model, the components of which are Innovation Output, Creativity, Knowledge and Maturity. These can be assessed via surveys to give a detailed picture of the organisation.

Surveys can be taken with demographics recorded such as location, function, job description etc. The resulting data will allow scarce resources to be targetted at the appropriate parts of the organisation rather than trying to pass every employee through an Innovation Programme. You will also find out where the barriers are.

Results are given via an easy to read target diagram and a colour coded traffic light system. More detail is there if you wish to have it.

 

Coffee With Derek on IMAN FM 02/03/2017

My weekly radio show Coffee With Derek broadcast on March 2nd 2016 on Iman FM. The show contains some Business Creativity and Innovation. Entertainment is provided with a little music from Dire Straits plus an interview with Caroline Palmer from Raising The Baa – Leadership and Management training using Sheep.

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