Think back to your childhood. Did you ever use those Dot To Dot drawing books, those ones with hundreds of numbered black dots? Did you manage to join the dots?
The idea was that you started at number 1 and then joined them in sequence. If you completed the job correctly then you would see a picture of a unicorn, bear, or maybe a childrens’ toy.
Depending on your age, grasp of numbers or many other factors you might not have joined all of the dots in the correct sequence, and the finished drawing looked a little wonky. For some, it did not matter but others might have been scolded by their parent for ‘getting it wrong’.
Older readers might remember the classic Morecambe and Wise comedy sketch where Eric Morecambe is playing the piano. He is scolded by the famous conductor Andre Previn for playing ‘all the wrong notes’. Eric replies ‘look sunshine, I am playing all of the right notes but not necessarily in the right order’.
Situations similar to this happen in our businesses all of the time. The dots or notes are thrown at us and we are expected to rearrange or connect them in a particular order. But if this ‘order’ is expected, why bother?
Great discoveries (penicillin) and Innovations (the Post It) come about when there is no preconception about what individual components mean or how/if they should be connected at all.
This sounds a little like play and in a way it is. Is prototyping simply not play by another name?
Sticking with the dot joining metaphor, we should allow employees to play with the dots and add new ones as necessary. The trick is to know how to keep people working with a relevant set of dots and have a healthy dose of serendipity present to detect those truly ‘aha’ moments and know what action to take.
This sounds like hard work but really it is not. The key is to just be a little organised and realise that Innovation is a Strategy and as such will touch every part of your business. This helps in a way because it means that you do not have to worry about interfacing a separate Innovation department with your mainstream business. If you would like to see an example of how this can be done please download this case study Selther Case Story and feel free to ask questions.
If you would like to know more about joining dots or you are wondering how to embed serendipity into your organisation then please get in touch.