Behavioral Innovation

A fantastic talk by Umair Haque, Director of Havas Media Lab on Behavioral innovation and the Great Compression.

He gave this talk at the Brite (Brand Innovation and Technology) Conference.

Umair’s key message was that for business to survive they need to redefine how they treat  innovation. We have a global crisis where the economy underestimates costs and overstates benefits. A company wants to maximize profits by making consumers worse off. Consumers are being sold things they do not need. (e.g. mortgages)

He argues that the value businesses are creating today is inauthentic, brittle and unsustainable.  Many industries today are unable to survive the global crisis.

To get past this we must re-conceive value creation. Value creation is done through innovation.

Innovation is normally addressed with strategic output likes launching better products, shifting from products to services, redesigning value chain, managing resources more efficiently, profit centers etc…. all management innovation.

The problem with this is that it has companies acting strategically and strategic behavior does not spawn the type of innovation we need now. We need innovation that allows a company to reinvent itself yesterday for tomorrow’s challenges.

An example he provided was Google- they think beyond strategy and always have. He compared it to Microsoft where the strategy has made them very rich, but they are unable to grapple with challenge of re-invention required for today’s economy.

He suggests that we move away for strategic behavior (dominance, control, brand, differentiation) and use 5 paths of behavioral innovation to unlock new sources of advantage.

5 paths to Behavior Innovation

Stewardship

  • Is about not exploiting resources to point of depletion.
  • Think about advertising- it has been over done.  The cost to advertise got too high, there were too many ads and now consumers don’t want to see ads anymore. Now the media industry is struggling with reinvention.

Trusteeship

  • Is about the good, always playing on a level playing field.
  • Not manipulating people.

Guardianship

  • Is about the common good.
  • Nobody is looking for the common good when everyone behaving strategically.

Leadership

  • Is about challenge.
  • Having willingness to disrupt yourself.
  • Challenge the status quo in your company and industry.
  • Doing things in a different way.

Partnership

  • Is about outcomes.
  • Focuses on people’s outcomes.
  • Making people better off in some way. (e.g current food industry does not see people as partners- the obesity epidemic).

Definitely worth watching..

Umair Haque at BRITE ’09 conference from BRITE Conference on Vimeo.

What value do you bring?

I heard someone talking the other day about finding your personal value proposition.

Determining what skills you have to offer your employer, your clients/customers, your staff- every working relationship in your life.

While the world is experiencing the shaky economic climate, what can you do and what will you do to ride the wave and be successful?

If you don’t know what value you bring, how can you expect anyone to pay you for what you do?

Take a few minutes and ask yourself these questions- really think about it.

If you can’t find any value in your work, then brace yourself  because it’s only a matter of time before someone else notices!

Actually to be honest, they probably already have.

So what better time to see what you can change- find ways to work smarter, increase productivity, increase profit and stimulate your business in 2009.

Take your ego out of the job

I just read this article on Joel Cohen, a writer and producer from The Simpsons. The article talks about the creative culture and innovation required to keep The Simspons fresh considering they’ve made over 400 episodes now.

What stuck out for me was his comment– “Take your ego out of the job

In innovative and design lead organisations there are often so many smart creative people trying to solve problems that sometimes you’ll find your ideas and concepts being dismissed.

As everyone, we’ve all felt that sting of being shot down when we really thought we were onto something. Sitting in a brainstorming session, spiting out our brilliant idea to only find it being quickly passed over or even worse, slightly considered and then passed over with the next suggestion. Ouch!

Cohen suggests that this happens because “Not every great idea is the right great idea“.

To survive in a creative environment you have to leave your ego at home.  You can not let ego or hurt feelings come into play or you won’t make it. You probably love working with your colleagues because they are smart and talented and ironically it’s those characteristics which creates the reality where their ideas are chosen instead of yours.

However, if you are good at your job, for every idea that is dismissed I guarantee another one will be picked up. Just be prepared that your idea belongs to everyone so it’s going to be massaged and amended with team and management input. That’s just the way it goes and quite often with collaboration the outcome is far superior then had it only been worked on by you.

How do you start your development projects?

The starting point- it’s different for every project and often it’s not where you thought it would be.

A project can start because there is a business requirement or a user need. Either way,  I have found over the years, it doesn’t matter how big or small your project is, there always needs to apply a business analysis layer to it.

I say this, as people on a project team, especially the solution design team, need to understand the who, what, when, where and why if they are to deliver an excellent outcome.

Quite often it’s the why that ends up being the most important factor as you really need to get in there and understand what the problem is before you can solve it.

I don’t think you’ll ever regret taking the time at the start of a project to dig into the questions,  allowing yourself to develop a well structured problem before diving into developing a solution.

I read an interesting article today on the Six Secrets of Top-notch Business Analysts.
Having worked with many BAs and as one myself with multifaceted teams,  this article resonated well with me.

Check it out here