It’s Mostly Random, So Just Do Something

Several recent books showcase Big Ideas in innovation:

  • Success often has random elements
  • Active experiments and reflective “incubation” are required for effective innovation.
Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson argues that most success “comes from things we cannot predict and plan: serendipitous moments, unexpected and spontaneous approaches, unusual combinations, and lucky breaks,” in the form of “click moments”, which can move people and ideas to a new, unexpected direction” in in Click: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World.

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow

Johansson, Leonard Mlodinow and Nate Silver (“American statistician, sabermetrician, psephologist”) all demonstrate that events are more random than people typically acknowledge, and Johansson recommends specific actions that individuals and organizations can take to favorably focus this randomness

Nate Silver

Nate Silver

Follow your curiosity:  Capitalize on interests and “passions” to drive creative explorations

  • Use cross-disciplinary, “inter-sectional” thinking to break “associative barriers”
  • Examine surprises and unintended consequences for possible inspiration and re-usable ideas
  • Be aware of opportunities everywhere, requiring a mindful engagement rather than living “automatically”, and explore “all” opportunities
  • Scan for momentum and align to it
  • Choose a less predictable, or more “contrarian” solution
  • Act: Place many “purposeful bets” to try many options, with no expectation or guarantee of “success”
  • Minimize bet size to reduce the impact of loss
  • Take the smallest executable step (measured by time, money, partners)
  • Calculate acceptable loss rather than focusing on return on investment
  • Create “large hooks” to scaffold and leverage creative “borrowing” from existing sources
  • Shift focus from the problem to enable cognitive “incubation” of ideas
  • “Double down” when opportunities are not obvious

Many of these recommendations are more similar to behaviors intended to increase creativity and innovation than to quantitative finesse maneuvers.

For example Johansson’s recommendation to engage in “purposeful bets” draws from Peter Sims’ recommendations to place Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, which are low-risk experiments to discover, develop, and test an idea.

  • Experiment to “fail quickly to learn fast”  – see post on Eddie Obeng
  • “Play”  by establishing a fun environment to cultivate innovation
  • Immerse  by interacting with customers
  • Reorient by make celebrating small wins and undertaking improvement “pivots”
  • Iterate by frequently testing, refining and improving-*How do you detect and optimize opportunities?
    -*How do you manage uncertainty in your career?

See more recommendations to boost innovation and creativity at: How and Who of Innovation  LinkedIn Open Group The Executive Coach

Related posts
Cognitive Biases in Unconscious Automatic Mental Processing, and “Work-Arounds”

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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds


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